Blissing Out On Bread At La Fournee

Impeccable pastries at La Fournee.

Impeccable pastries at La Fournee.

 

I have Deborah Kwan to thank for the added inches on my waist.

You see, the former pastry cook turned restaurant publicist, recently went on a bakery crawl around the East Bay, posting photos on Facebook along the way. When she got to La Fournee in Berkeley, I was so overcome with longing for the glorious pastries she showed, that I knew I had to make a beeline there the next time I was up that way. Thankfully, that came last Thursday.

La Fournee has been around since 2013. It was started by Pastry Chef Frank Sally, who used to teach at the San Francisco Baking Institute. It’s a little slip of a bakery, not far from the Claremont Club & Spa.

Like a little slice of France in Berkeley.

Like a little slice of France in Berkeley.

Walk inside and it’ll be as toasty as a fresh-baked loaf, owing to the fact that the ovens are only a few yards away from the entrance.

The breads are magnificent, with sturdy, hardy crusts. Most are made with a sourdough starter, so they have that longed-for complex, developed flavor with a bit of tang.

A proper loaf studded with olives and tomatoes.

A proper loaf studded with olives and tomatoes.

The tomato-olive ($5.50) is subtly sweet from the slivers of tomatoes inside and ever so briny from the olives. The rye ($12) is flavored with rosemary and salty, musky bits of preserved lemon. It’s amazing, with good chew, and not so dense that you think you’re gnawing a brick like some other rye breads can be.

The croissants ($3.25) are so flaky that shards fly off from the first bite. The savory tomato-Gruyere croissant strewn with sunflower seeds ($3.50) has the satisfying flavors of a summer sandwich, but done up in a much more elegant fashion.

The inside of the bakery.

The inside of the bakery.

A peek inside the refrigerated case.

A peek inside the refrigerated case.

The chocolate chip cookie ($2) is full of chocolate, though it may not appeal to those who like big-fisted American-style drop cookies that bake up with crispy edges and chewy interiors. This one is more like an oversized slice-and-bake, so more tender throughout.

The canele ($2.50) is chewy on the outside, and custardy and airy within. The burnished exterior is so deeply caramelized that it has a flavor like toffee mixed with the bitter edge of black coffee. Its flavor just goes on and on.

I can’t wait to try a loaf of the Pain Au Lait with herbs. Because in addition to thyme, chives, sage, rosemary, and pink peppercorns, it also contains duck fat. Yes, duck fat!

I missed out this time, because alas, it’s only available on weekends.

Oh, the agony of it all.

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