Posts Tagged ‘Coffee’

New Orleans Quickie – Cafe Du Monde

Thursday, January 9th, 2014 by virginia


No trip to New Orleans would be complete without a trip to the famous Cafe Du Monde for some hot, milky cafe au lait and freshly fried beignets covered in powdered sugar.

Cafe au lait and beignets

Cafe au lait and beignets

Although there was a line for beignets to go, there were plenty of tables available in the large seating area under the awning when we stopped by for a late afternoon snack. J had plenty of space to run around and was originally reluctant to taste a beignet until we convinced her to take a bite. Then she couldn’t get enough and wound up sporting a spectacular powdered sugar mustache. Who could blame her? The beignets are piping hot, crispy on the outside, chewy in the middle, and the perfect vehicle for a mountain of powdered sugar. Cafe Du Monde is definitely a New Orleans institution that shouldn’t be missed.

Cafe Du Monde
800 Decatur St.
New Orleans, LA

Paillard – Quebec City

Sunday, May 5th, 2013 by virginia


We had one full day to explore Quebec City so we made sure to get a somewhat early start. We entered the Old City on Rue Saint-Jean, passing through a gate and out onto a busy street lined with restaurants and shops. There was definitely more of a European feel in the Old City, and I liked it immediately.

It was drizzling a bit so we quickly walked to our breakfast destination, Paillard, a cafe-boulangerie. It was a huge space with tall ceilings and lots of seating. The were little round tables in the front, as well as several long communal tables in the main area next to the bakery cases and coffee station. Josh went to the bakery line to order some food while I settled at the end of a communal table with J’s stroller, where there was more room for us to maneuver. Since it was mid-morning on a weekday, the cafe wasn’t too full and it didn’t take Josh too long to pick up our food.

The bakery cases and lots of seating

The bakery cases and lots of seating

We decided to share a few pastries and half a baguette. First was the croissant, which was flaky on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. One bite and the crust shattered delightfully in our mouths. Flavor-wise, it was buttery without being greasy, and had just the slightest hint of sweetness.

Buttery and flaky croissant shell

Buttery and flaky croissant shell

Next was the pain au chocolat, which was not as flaky on the outside as the croissant, but who can resist any kind of chocolate-stuffed pastry? Perhaps it was just not as freshly made, as the edges were a bit tough. Nevertheless, it was still devoured.

Pain au chocolat and croissant

Pain au chocolat and croissant

The baguette was a bit of a disappointment, as it had been sliced in half lengthwise and toasted. I would have preferred to try a freshly baked baguette in its natural state, and the toasting left the bread soggy rather than crunchy. Texture-wise it seemed a bit dense and flat, and the crust lacked any crispness, but that was due to the toasting. It must have sat in some sort of warming tray afterward and steamed itself. As a result, I don’t think I could fairly judge the qualities of the baguette, but it had good flavor and was a nice vehicle for butter and a pear-vanilla jam they gave us on the side.

Baguette/jam and cappuccino combo

Baguette/jam and cappuccino combo

I also got a regular coffee while Josh had a cappuccino. The coffee was good – not too burnt-tasting or bitter. The cappuccino was a lot stronger, and I saw people with giant bowls of it, but Josh settled for just a cup and seemed pretty content.

Overall we thought Paillard was a good breakfast option for some quick coffee and pastries. We weren’t in the mood for something heavy or overly complicated, and this fit the bill. The croissant was top notch, and there were some beautiful-looking desserts in the bakery case, though we didn’t have a chance to try any. While the baguette that came with our breakfast was disappointing, the assortment of breads seemed pretty impressive, and I would have liked to try a regular baguette since this boulangerie is so highly rated. I’ve also read rave reviews about their sandwiches, so it might be a good lunch destination if you’re looking for something fast and casual. Prices are cheap, especially compared to a nice bakery in NYC. Croissants are under $2 and most of the dessert items were less than $4. Breakfast for the two of us cost under $15 in total, and it provided us with enough energy to walk the entire Old City while pushing J’s stroller up and down many steep hills. I would recommend Paillard for its simple breakfast options and central location in the Old City.

1097 Rue Saint-Jean
Quebec City, Canada

Le Boulanger

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010 by virginia

Before heading out on the road from Claire and Sean’s apartment to South Lake Tahoe, we grabbed a quick breakfast at Le Boulanger, a bakery/cafe that has locations all over the Bay Area. The branch that we went to has a big glass wall through which we were able to watch them making fresh bread. It was kind of neat to see a giant mound of dough and the various machines used to shape and bake the bread.

Big mound of dough in front of a bread machine

There were lots of baked goods on display in a glass case in the front where you order. They looked pretty good but we wanted something a bit heartier.

Baked goods on display

Josh and I decided to go halfsies on two different breakfast sandwiches. The first was the bacon cheddar sandwich, which had an egg omelette, bacon, cheddar and Italian cheeses. It’s supposed to be served on a bagel but Josh didn’t want to have a non-NY/NJ bagel so he opted for a croissant instead, which was a good choice. The croissant was light and flakey and paired well with the rest of the ingredients.

Bacon cheddar omelette sandwich on a croissant

The other sandwich we had was the Italian frittata. This sandwich featured an egg omelette, sausage, roasted red peppers, and provolone cheese on a ciabatta roll. The sausage was mild and not too overpowering, which was good for me since I don’t always like sausage, and the peppers added a nice brightness.

Italian frittata omelette sandwich

Josh had regular coffee but I decided to get a caffe mocha, which was the perfect combination of coffee and chocolate – not to sweet and not too bitter. The whipped cream on top was a nice touch.

Delicious caffe mocha

Overall I really liked Le Boulanger, even though I typically stay away from chain cafe/bakeries (like Panera Bread and Au Bon Pain). The bread was obviously super fresh and the sandwiches were made to order so they were hot and all the right textures. It’s not too pricey and there was plenty of seating in the restaurant so it’s a great place to hang out with a cup of coffee and a pastry. I would definitely come back, and maybe next time I’ll get to try the award-winning sourdough bread.

Le Boulanger (multiple locations)
305 N Mathilda Ave.
Sunnyvale, CA