Thursday, June 9, 2011
The bakery buzz is all around town: French brothers Greg and Guillaume D’Angio have opened an authentic bakery at the Prunetree strip mall on San Miguel Canyon Road in Prunedale. In the same parking lot as Burger King, Ace Hardware and Food Max, it breaks the mini mall mold with a high-quality, traditional French patisserie.
Opened around three months ago – at about the same time as a 24-hour fitness joint next door – this hot spot has ladies literally lined up out the door to get their hands on the new desserts in town.
The front of the bakery houses two large olive trees in beautiful pots with bistro tables and chairs. Inside the walls are a warm, dark yellow with simple, classy candelabras and room for about 12 to sit. When my three friends and I sat down, we were ready to try everything from the chalkboard offerings.
Next to us sat a woman who was clearly enjoying her cinnamon raisin pastry; she began raving about the Provence Bakery and went on for a good five minutes without taking a breath, saying she comes in every day after her workout next door.
“You know the workout cancels out the pastries,” she explained, “and I’ll be back after I do my shopping to pick up the raspberry lemon parfait!”
She gushed about every item in the case – she had tried them all and ordered a few cakes already. “I came in to find out what kind of cakes were available to order and asked they asked what kind I wanted,” she said. “Can you believe it? They make whatever you want!”
One of the brothers took our order at the table. We started with the ham-and-cheese croissant and spinach-tomato-egg croissant for $4.50, adding fruit for only 50 cents. They both came with perfectly scrambled eggs, so well executed that they brought back memories of the eggs my great grandma Tootsie used to make by using a little cream and continuously stirring – not too runny and not too dry.
The croissant came light and flaky without being greasy. All three of us agreed this was one of the better croissants we’d ever had, which made it hard to believe the great price we were getting for such a high quality breakfast.
We moved onto the sweet treats and ordered the three available pastries: the almond croissant ($3), chocolate croissant ($2.50), and the cinnamon raisin roll ($2.50).
The almond croissant was to die for – a light, golden brown color that was dark and crisp around the edges due to the crystallization of the marzipan. The marzipan center was generous but not overly sweet and the outside enjoyed sliced almonds and a dusting of powdered sugar.
Of the three pastries, this one was our favorite, but all approached perfection. The chocolate croissant had chunks of semi-sweet chocolate between the buttery folds and the cinnamon raisin delivered a crème custard within each layer and just enough raisins – Pain Aux raisins, no less. Keeping with French tradition – and allowing the complexity of the flavors to come through – all the pastries were not overly sweet.
Little lemon and strawberry parfaits, mini chocolate ganache cakes, chocolate éclair with chocolate custard filling, Neapolitan cakes, chocolate crème brulee, mini fruit tartlets, tiramisu and mousse mini cakes all primped prettily behind the glass and ranged between $3 and $4 apiece. We opted for the chocolate crème brulee, chocolate ganache petit four, the lemon meringue tartlet and the chocolate éclair.
The crème brulee felt more like decadent chocolate custard, while the chocolate cake lavished two layers of moist cake beneath an outer layer of rich ganache. The lemon tart, meanwhile, balanced the perfect amount of sweet with sour with a stiff meringue, and the chocolate éclair contained chocolate custard, a delicious first for me that paired well with the house chai latte with nutmeg sprinkles. Again, none were too sweet, providing beautiful punctuation to our gastronomic adventure.
For lunch you can also order a special foot-long baguette with the sandwiches of the week – when we went it was prosciutto with arugula and a nice cheese with balsamic vinaigrette ($6), chicken cordon bleu with gruyere ($6), and salami and cheese ($5) – and a soup or salad can be tacked on for $2. We each took a sandwich home for later, and I couldn’t help but eat it within an hour of our main feast. The bread was fresh, crunchy and light and the sandwich components came in admirable balance.
The D’Angio brothers are also the bakers – Guillaume does the pastries, Greg handles the chocolates and sugars – and the wait staff. They hail from Marseille, and studied for two years at Alain Ducasse’s famous French L’Ecole de Cuisine in Paris. More really good news: You won’t have to drive to Prunetucky to get your French fix – the brothers are planning to open another on Alvarado Steet June 27, next to Golden State Theatre in downtown Monterey. Oh oui.
PROVENCE BAKERY 8051 San Miguel Canyon Road, Prunedale • 6am-6pm Mon-Sat; closed Sun. • 233-4493.