Saturday, July 19, 2014

Paris Baguette: More bliss than should be legal

There are times, not many, but there are times when I am about to eat a dessert, when I stop and wonder if I am about to cross some invisible line of decadence, go over some cliff of indulgence from which there is no return. One such moment occurred at Paris Baguette, when staring down this beauty, the choux tart:

This tower of delight is one of the larger desserts at Paris Baguette, and certainly the most expensive. As I sat down with my $7 castle of thick custard cream, strawberries, raspberries, and profiteroles stuffed with lightly whipped cream, I did stop and think that perhaps this was too much, even for me. That moment lasted about three seconds, before a man stopped with his tray of goodies that he'd purchased and offered to trade me for the choux tart. And being seated next to the window, it did not escape my notice that several people walking on the sidewalk slowed their pace to gawk at the beauty I was about to devour. It is, in short, a show stopper. But it is merely one of the many, many pastries that Paris Baguette offers, and I've spent many weekends investigating their cases.

Paris Baguette is new to Central Square, and had it not be recommended to me, I would've walked right by it. Why? It is located inside the new H Mart, a Korean superstore. It's not that I don't like Korean food, because I do. It's that I never in a million years would've thought, "Sure, I'll try the Parisian pastries from the Korean store." But as soon as you step in the doors and see the glowing cases of goodies, the dove grey tufted chairs, the beautiful decor, you are going to forget you ever doubted. Yes, this is an international chain of bakeries started by a Korean company that has actually founded the Korea-French Institute of Baking in a word, these folks ain't kidding around about pastry. The cake case harbors everything from blueberry chiffon to berry cream cake to...a caramel cake that has an entire package of Pepperidge Farm cookies on the top.

And those are just the offerings in the cake case. There are three other cases of croissant goodies. You take a tray, a pair of silver tongs, and go down the gauntlet, picking your own. This inevitably leads to a breakdown in self control.

I will say this about their croissant...they're very, very good. Perhaps the best I've yet had in Boston. Flaky exterior with that pull-apart, chewy, moist insides with the usual fillings (chocolate, almond). The croissant has been the Waterloo of many a baker, but Paris Baguette passes with flying colors. You will also find pastries stuffed with green tea, doughnuts with red bean filling, blueberry danish, and just about anything you can imagine that can be done with wheat and dairy products.

But I will say there is one item at Paris Baguette that you must approach with particular reverence, perhaps even on bended knee. The croissant doughnut.

This is mind-blowingly rich. Deep fried croissant dough filled with creme Anglaise. I've eaten two thus far, and each time, I had a transcendental moment, followed quickly by the realization that I'd just eaten more oil and fat than I should probably have in an entire week. It is profoundly decadent, perhaps too rich for some, and certain worth seeking out.

One of the beauties of this cafe is that there is something for everyone (except perhaps the gluten intolerant or dairy averse)...but you can pretty much bring your whole crew, and there is such a plethora of choices that nobody is going to feel left out. And on top of that, they have an amazing drink menu...I had an iced almond tea that came with a delicious cream foam that was infused with almond extract. In the summer they even have shaved ice parfaits. In short, any bakery tour of Boston would be woefully remiss not to include the Paris Baguette. Do go!

581 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139
(617) 714-3456

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