A Bread and Café Rendezvous at Le Pain Quotidien

On my way to meet Elyssa Fournier of Mixed Bakery at Le Pain Quotidien the other morning, I wondered briefly what a pastry chef, especially one who used to work for the company, might order along with her café au lait. Or, café mocha, in Fournier’s case—the au lait was for me. In the early 2000s, Fournier worked at a New York LPQ (as aficionados call the global bakery café brand) after graduating from the then-French now-International Culinary Institute.

So what does somebody who bakes for a living and has insider information order? A survey, as it turns out. LPQ’s Baker’s Basket ($9.25) is a selection of greatest bread hits, including their signature large-scale whole-wheat sourdough miche, a nice chunk of challah, sliced baguette, and—yes!—a hazelnut flute, which is sort of a richly fortified breadstick. Butter and preserves accompany, but the breads are truly the main event. Not to take anything away from the reliably stellar café au lait, one of my very favorites in Orange County.

Even so, I had an ulterior motive for meeting at LPQ, restocking one of those aforementioned giant sourdoughs—I just don’t feel right unless I have at least a quarter of one in my freezer, ready to slice for bruschetta: maybe ricotta, honey, and black pepper, or burrata, dead-ripe tomato, olive oil, and crunchy salt. Not a crumb ever goes to waste—it also makes the world’s best croutons. So glad to be set, for the near term, at least, on that account.

You can read more about Fournier, who lives and bakes in Corona del Mar, in September’s Orange Coast—I featured her in the Behind the Counter column—and she’ll share an autumn-y recipe with Taste of Orange County very soon.



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