To be honest, I have no idea if there will ever be anymore parts to this series, but I just wanted to leave the door open to it, since I have a lot of world yet to see. I mean, let’s face it, if you had a croissant in a Parisian cafe and then you return home to have whatever croissant might be available, you’ll most likely want to spit out this foul piece of un-croissant you’ve just attempted to eat. There are any number of reasons why foreign croissants suck as bad as they do. In Spain, it’s because they obviously hate the French and to spite them, they make croissants using pork fat instead of butter. Why they don’t just go the rest of the way and try to use olive oil to completely shit upon all that is holy about the croissant is beyond me, but they suck in Spain. It’s much the same in the US where, instead of pork fat, we use some mutated series of chemicals instead of real butter and end up with a very similar, Spanish-like derivation of the croissant. Blarg.
So, what follows is an extremely short list of where to find good croissants when you are not within French borders. I hope it somehow proves useful.
Kinshasa, Congo: Hands down, it’s Patisserie Nouvelle. That link is my previous article on them and while I doubt many sane folks will be hopping a jet anytime soon just to “kick it” in Kinshasa, they have fanatically good croissants as well as pain au chocolat in that little shop.
Catalonia, Spain: I’ve tried many a croissant in this region and come to the sordid conclusion that pork fat does not a good croissant make. They’re always dry and make me wonder as to why I just don’t eat bread instead of these croissants as it would be a lot less painful. The exception are the croissants that they serve at La Plaça in Madremanya. The chef there is a smart guy who says, “If you have a good, fresh orange juice and a good croissant, your breakfast is pretty much done.” The croissants are delectable and perfect, even better than some I’ve had in France. Chef Vicenç isn’t too forthcoming about where he gets said croissants, but they are indeed made in Spain and are unsurprisingly made with butter, not pork fat. Molt bons!
San Francisco, California, USA: The immediate choice by many would be one of the many Boulange shops, but it is not to be. Boulange is okay, but it does drift in to being rather bland, flat, and if you ask for a pain au chocolat, the staff have no idea what that is. Sure, they’re better than Costco croissants (as is huffing paint), but they sure ain’t better than Pâtisserie Philippe. Unsurprisingly, Phillipe is French, which goes a long way in ensuring that not only his croissants are the best in SF, but also his pain au chocolat and quiche. It’s not a huge surprise that he was originally a chef for Boulange, who have obviously ignored all that he did there. His location down on Townsend and 7th is really out of the way, yet the fact he sells out of everything by 14:00 shows that people don’t seem to mind and find him everyday.
That’s about it for this initial list. We’ll see if I have more to write on this someday. If I make it to Haiti or Tahiti, where I heard the bread is great, it will make me wonder if the croissants follow suit and show that heavy handed colonizing overloads aren’t all that bad; at least in croissant-based endeavors.
As a note to self, I need to get around to trying Pastisseria Ochiai at c/urgell 110. update, tried it and not in to it