La Boulangerie, Surviving Boring Pastry, Straight?, And Viennoiserie

A visit to La Boulangerie on Magazine, now that Donald Link’s group has taken over:

Link purchased the bakery from the original owner Dominique Rizzo back last November, and the purchase included recipes. Skip forward to April, and the Times-Pic did an article entitled, ‘How Donald Link Ticked Off Uptown New Orleans by Buying a Bakery‘.

“I have seen threads on about murders, zoning changes, The Advocate’s damned red bags,” wrote Julie Graybill, secretary of the Faubourg Marengo Neighbohood Association, in an email. “But nothing has triggered the passion and outrage of NOLA citizens as much as the changing of the menu items at La Boulangerie.”

There was even an article in April as to whether the prices had gone up. It’s not uncommon to see the harsh on Yelp, but it’s there in abundance.

Out here are the little cafe chairs, but inside is a big swath of booths (though paired with what I think are Poitoux bistro chairs).

It’s so much more commercial inside, and the Simon art is gone.
La Boulangerie, New Orleans//
Pralines were very good
Pralines, La Boulangerie, New Orleans LA//

Know how when you bite into pastry like this you just want to live in those flaky layers (and sometimes you do, because there are flaky layers all over you)? Not so much here. I don’t know what it’s missing, but there’s no delicious buttery wonderfulness going on.
Peach Danish, La Boulangerie, New Orleans LA//

the croissant is okay
Croissant, La Boulangerie, New Orleans LA//

very heavy-handed almond croissant. I could have eaten small bites of this for 15 meals it was so heavy, but I didn’t want to waste the calories on something that wasn’t delicious. Just not great.
Almond Croissant, La Boulangerie, New Orleans LA//

paris-brest was almost flavorless (also: a little bit of salt here would have done a world of good)
Paris-Brest, La Boulangerie, New Orleans LA//

Paris-Brest, La Boulangerie, New Orleans LA//

Ugh, so negative! Disappointing especially because La Boulangerie is right on Magazine, so easy to drop into (after the initial craziness of finding a park), but it’s just not the bakery you have to go to that it should be. And it should be, because Donald Link knows what he’s doing (although: maybe a bakery is just such a different animal?) yet food from this day seems to fall short and the interior, too slick.

Even the replaced chalk menu board looks straight out of Fast-Casual Depot. Yawn.

The fact that so many people are upset about La Boulangerie of all things reminds me of the time I was shopping for — I think it was a sports Wacoal online, maybe at Macy’s. The reviewer talked about how it wasn’t made as well as other Wacoals, how their quality has gone down and the elastic didn’t do whatever the elastic was supposed to do etc etc etc and ended with “buying this was the worst decision of my life.” Truly, if the purchase of a disappointing undergarment is the worst decision of your life, you’re still doing pretty good.

I survived college on Top Ramen. Having to shrug off a boring peach danish shouldn’t be too hard.

In France, straight croissants are always made of butter, but they may also be made into the traditional crescent shape. If a croissant is made from margarine or the like, it must be crescent shaped and cannot be formed straight. As the New Yorker put it in Straightened-out Croissants and the Decline of Civilization:

Why is a croissant shaped that way, anyway? The first truth is that they are not, necessarily. As veteran visitors to Parisian bakeries know, the superior, all-butter croissants are already commonly articulated as straight pastries—or, at least, as gently sloping ones—while the inferior oil or margarine ones must, by law, be neatly turned in. This sometimes leads those who expect clarity and logic, rather than complexity and self-cancelling entrapment, from French laws to think that the straight croissants are all butter and the curved ones are reliably not. The truth is that a butter croissant can be any shape it chooses, on the general atavistic aristocratic principle that, butter being better, it creates its own realm of privilege.

That article above was written part due to the change at British grocer Tesco to only offer straight croissants. The Telegraph, of course, did its own piece.

“With the crescent shaped croissants, it’s more fiddly and most people can take up to three attempts to achieve perfect coverage, which increases the potential for accidents involving sticky fingers and tables.”

Should we really be calling them viennoiserie, though?

Legend has it that crescent-shaped rolls were made to celebrate the defeat against Turkish forces at the siege of Vienna in 1683, since the crescent emblem signalled the Turkish flag. Indeed, the pastries are still known as viennoiserie in France.

Culinary mythology claims they were brought to France by Marie-Antoinette as a 14-year old bride hankering for comfort food from her native Austria.

Today’s croissant is believed to have its origins in a Viennese bakery opened in Paris in 1838 by Austrian artillery officer August Zang. He served the kipferl, which became known as a croissant, meaning crescent, because of its shape.

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