Earlier today, my girlfriend Cheryl got in touch with me to tell me about a new “French” Bakery in nearby West Chester. La Baguette Magique. Cheryl is well-aware of Monsieur Bonaparte’s search for the perfect a halfway decent baguette in this country. She told me that the bakery was French-owned and seemed like the real deal.
Real French Bread? Right here in Pennsylvania? Oh lalalalalalalala!
I was a bit more than intrigued. I Googled and found some information on their website, but the information was rather vague: La Baguette Magique
Vague information or not, Bonaparte’s
love obsession for his beloved baguettes is epic. I’m not kidding. When we are in Paris, he has the bread purchase timed down to the minute. At approximately 5:15 PM he heads out of the apartment, turns left on Rue des Grands Augustins, makes another left on Rue Dauphine and heads up to Rue Bucci to his favorite pâtisserie, Carton.
Bonaparte runs, not walks,down Rue Bucci to seek out his daily bread. He takes the words from “The Lord’s Prayer”, “Give us this day our daily bread” to heart–and to mouth!
The bread is crusty on the outside, chewy on the inside and the subtle saltiness makes it heavenly.
Check the two loaves on the left hand side of the table. Bonaparte already dug into one of the baguettes. He guards that bread like a dog guarding a bone!
And when we are in the South of France, he puts in his order for the evening’s baguette at a small, local epicerie early in the morning. He’s bread-OCD! He even made friends with the proprieters of this little shop who get the bread for him!
Bonaparte’s favorite bread “dealers” in the South of France!
Oh—and because Bonaparte’s accent is heavy, he has me complaining and expressing concern to any local baker who “states” to have genuine French baguettes, but really doesn’t. The bakers at Wegman’s run the other way when they see us!
So you can just imagine how happy and excited I was when Cheryl gave me this news! When I checked the Facebook Page of La Baguette Magique, it was also noted as a *Food & Grocery*Sandwich shop* Bakery*. Bonaparte would be so overcome with joy when I present him with pâté, saucisson, maybe some good cheese, a pissaladière and, of course a Baguette Tradition! This seemed too good to be true!
My idea of French food and groceries include cheeses like this……
Nougat like this (which I can attest was completely delicious!) and….
Breton chips, more cheese, wine, rillettes, pates and other goodies!
I’m not kidding; I was so excited about this that I actually didn’t mind the 35 minute drive into West Chester in search of a decent baguette! With Chippy in tow, and a handful of quarters we were off—we listened to the songs of Serge Gainsbourg on the way—I felt as though I was driving on A-6 through the French countryside as I hugged the twists and turns of Route 29!
Upon arrival into downtown West Chester, it never dawned on me that this shop was so very new that its sign was not even in place! After driving around the block for a while in search of the place, I realized the storefront with Mylar balloons and a menu stand by the door was, in fact, La Baguette Magique!
Why was there not Croque Monsieur and Frites on this menu–after all this IS a French-owned place?
Croque Monseiur, Frites and Salade–a bit of lunch I enjoyed on the outskirts of Paris–THIS is the kind of sandwich I’m talking ’bout!
Now—the USA isn’t France. We are not the dog-friendly people that the Europeans are. Yet. So I left Chippy in the car with windows slightly opened and the promise I would be back shortly.
La Baguette Magique is spacious—in its baking/work area. The seating area wasn’t that large and I’m wondering as the place draws more customers—it’s across the courthouse and in a pretty active part of town, how they will be able to handle the breakfast and/or lunch crowd. To me, the space just didn’t seem well-utilized. For a place that seemingly touts itself for having great breads, groceries, sandwiches, etc., there was hardly any product. I did see cannelles and gâteau au citron, and a couple of jambons. There were a few almond croissants, but no baguettes. I’m not kidding. No baguettes at all.
Little tarts, Cannelles, and tiny gateau au citron–all looking delicious and tempting.
These looked like small flatbreads with ham and maybe onion, but there was no sign. Still, they looked appetizing!
Not. One. Baguette. My first thought was “Wow—this place must have GREAT baguettes if they ran out”. I asked a cute and very pleasant young woman who was commanding the register if there were any baguettes to be had. She explained that the bread would be ready in about 45 minutes. When I asked if there was any saucisson or pâté I received a look as though I was speaking another language. Then I explained how I thought it was also a “Food & Grocery” as shown on their Facebook page. It wasn’t—and that needs to be addressed. Whoever created the page surely needs to take the “grocery” word out of there! No pates. No saucisson. No French specialties.
This is a nice display of artisan breads–but there’s no baguettes! All I wanted was a Baguette Tradition for Bonaparte!
In the meantime, I purchased a Sucre brioche (they didn’t have the regular kind of brioche) and a pain au chocolat. These were purchased for research purpose by the way. I can tell you that both the brioche and pain au chocolat were buttery because my gerd has been with me for the past hour and a half. The brioche was decent, but it was just too sweet for my liking. The pain au chocolat was fine too, but it was just slightly more buttery than Wegman’s supermarket’s same little pastry.
Sweet buttery goodness, the brioche was too sweet. The pain au chocolat was fine. They were both decent, but certainly not earth-shatteringly amazing!
While waiting for the baguette, I decided to do have a little training session with my Chippy. He’s awful on leash. He drags, he barks at men running and men in uniform—and at most men. He sniffs everything in sight. He’s a handful.
Our training session went pretty well. He started dragging so I shortened the leash. He started barking at a couple of runners so I made him “sit”—and “stay”. He ended up with the “Sit” and “Stay” command every three steps.
THAT over with, I went back for the elusive baguette. I’m telling you, I was really, really excited. I was able to overlook the lack of “grocery” and other products because I just knew that a beautifully crusted, chewy, perfectly salted baguette was going to be coming home with me for Bonaparte to enjoy. Who says I’m not a giver!!!
Upon reentering the shop, I didn’t catch the aroma of freshly baked baguettes. When I inquired if the baguettes were ready, I was told that the “ciabattas” would be ready in 5 minutes. No baguettes. NO BAGUETTES!!!
This was not a great first impression. No baguettes. No proprietor—and shouldn’t the proprietor be hanging around when the shop first opens? This is deeply disappointing. When a new business opens the doors, a lot of preparation goes into every detail. I’m sorry, but detail seems to be missing on so many levels here. I’m also surprised because the owner is from France—I’ve never been in a shop throughout my travels in France where every detail was checked and rechecked and made perfect. What gives?
Will I give La Baguette Magique another chance? Yes. I will give it another chance. Saturday would be the perfect day to take a drive into West Chester and reserve a warm baguette—but they are closed on Saturday. Closed on Saturday—who does that??? Maybe on Sunday I’ll call in advance to see if they are selling baguettes go for visit number two. I cannot tell you just how disappointed I am. And it isn’t for me–it’s for Bonaparte. It would be so great to have a store where I can get his rillettes, his favorite pates, his Breton chips and his nougat. Looks like he’ll just have to wait!
Listen, I realize I’m a bit critical in my writing but it’s more constructive criticism. I wanted so much to be able to walk into La Baguette Magique and feel as though I was back in France. I wanted so very much to surprise Bonaparte with goodies that would make him feel as though he was back in his Paris apartment. I wanted him to have a decent baguette in this country instead of having to wait until our annual trip to France. Many bakeries tout their horns to be “genuine” French pâtisseries when they aren’t. There is no reason for this French owned bakery to be anything less. Plus–don’t state that you sell “groceries” when it is obvious you don’t. It’s so frustrating—I just suppose I’ll have to keep baking those goodies myself and keep practicing with the bread! I’ve already promised Bonaparte that I’ll make a nice Omelette Norvegienne for Saturday night–and I’ll post my recipe!
Other goings-on today. Paul Mc Brearty, Contractor extraordinaire, finished the backsplash and chair rail today! If you are in the Philly area and need his contact information, drop me a line! He’s incredible!
Look at that perfect job–and the grout looks fantastic too!
We received a cute letter from Bonaparte’s dad . He mailed it to us from St. Tropez on February 13th. It arrived today–can you believe that????
Even Chippy couldn’t believe the letter took that long to arrive!
Here’s a pick of the downstairs family room with both bookcases. All that’s needed is a small table on the side of the sofa by that blank space!
In honor of my baguette anxiety–here’s a fun dance song by Tyler Touche “Baguette”!!!!