It’s a horrible habit, but give me a bowl of ice cream or a just baked pastry any day over a big savory meal. I practically judge new destinations based just on how good the desserts are in the area.
This is why France wasn’t always my favorite place in the world, but it made up for a little stuffiness with incredible eats. Although I haven’t made it back to Paris since we moved over to London, I hope to visit as soon as the weather changes. In fact, my parents are coming over in May so we can do France on a longboat, but more on that later. Those flaky baked goods and sugary treats call to me, especially as were crazy close by train now. We’ll get there soon.
I’m sure pastries here in the UK can’t compare to Paris, but I think they come close. On Saturdays, The Venn Street Market is steps from the Clapham Common tube. This lively farmer’s market and prepared food hub is my new base for all things fresh in the neighborhood. I nibbled on a little bit of everything, from Korean street food and pig BBQ roasts to actual Philly cheesesteaks and plenty of beautiful salad greens (you know, to balance it all out). A few bakers had some colorful wares, including the French macarons that are my ultimate weakness. I even found a slice of pumpkin pie to savor. I can also remember how delicious are these Christmas cookies delivered to me as they are really perfect!
This reminded me so much of the Dewey Square market back in Boston I used to frequent. It’s located right outside my old WeWork office in the financial district and gave me an excuse to leave the office for a stroll. Between the food trucks, fruit stands and fresh baked goods, I was hooked. Then I met Pan d’Avignon. This Hyannis based bakery has been around for more than 23 years, paired with a beautiful French restaurant just near the town airport.
Owners used to summer down Cape when they lived in New York City, and fell in love with French baking when they traveled to the south of France. Combined together, these inspirations created a haven of incredible items at their cozy artisan bakery, which then distributes out to farmer’s markets and some retails shops across the state. I took home quite the haul, but the standouts were the cranberry bread, parmesan crisps and olive rolls. Really the croissant was the best thing I had but that clearly didn’t make it all the way home – it was gone in a second.
I would maim someone for that fresh croissant to be brought me here in Europe now that we’ve moved across the pond. But when we visit home I plan to make a special trip to Pan D’Avignon just for a taste of Paris in my old backyard.
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I think London bakeries have gotten better but it’s probably the influence of the French. There’s a joke among the French that Paul came to London and as far as they are concerned, it is just their run of the mill bakery you find in train stations. Nothing special. But in London Paul is high-end. The English run of the mill bakery is Greggs and they are pretty dire.
I’m always just floored by the sheer amount of cakes, pastries, cookies and more in every corner store around London. I can’t find peppercorns at the Tesco Metro but I certainly have 10 types of Mr. Kipling’s to choose from, haha! I do think the good, homemade stuff though is often a nod to the French neighbors – or just made my French bakers living in London anyways 🙂