Sunday, March 22, 2009

Pain au Chocolat: Battle of the Bakeries

It is a widely held belief that the best pastries in Seattle can be found at Cafe Besalu. I have long subscribed to this belief. Thankfully, Besalu is not close enough to my house for me to be a regular patron. When I am in the neighborhood though...I make a point of stopping in for their out-of-this-world pain au chocolat.

Lately however, there has been a lot of talk about a NEW bakery in town. A new bakery that may just very well (gasp), take the top honors. Honoré Artisan Bakery even had the nerve to open a few blocks away from Besalu.

A taste test was in order. I was thinking of it as "The Battle of the Century" or "The Battle of the Boulangeries." The bulge? The butter?
Anyways, you get where I am going with this. I'll stick with the Battle of the Bakeries. Last weekend, Gavin and I had errands to run in that part of the city and when I suggested we stop and not one but TWO bakeries...he was on board.
On the left...the reigning champion: Cafe Besalu. In the other corner...the challenger: Honoré. Look at the challenger, all bronzed and puffed up. Besalu's fighter looks a little saggy, a little deflated even. I was starting to worry for my beloved Besalu.
But then, I took a bite. Sure, Honoré tries to one-up the competition with not one but TWO layers of chocolate. It's efforts however, are in vain. Besalu's pain au chocolat is flaky beyond compare. It's buttery, soft and tender dough balance just right with the bittersweet chocolate inside. It finishes with a slightly salty aftertaste.

Honoré's pain au chocolat looked promising, but was much less flaky. I would even say it was doughy. There would only be one clear winner in this battle...Cafe Besalu.
Honoré is good. They are definitely on their way to being one of the top contenders. One thing they offer, that Besalu does not, are macarons.

Now, here is where the excel. I have long been a fan of the macarons from Le Panier, but THESE Just wow. The white one above was coconut with salt caramel filling. The green was pistachio. Or, as my friend Therese calls them, "pistach-i-crack." I have a feeling another bakery battle is in order....

1 comment:

Ruta (aka Ruth Ann) said...

After seeing that photo and reading the desciption - a coconut and salt caramel macaron! - I MUST go there! It sounds amazing.