There are only two types of people in the world who love a good croissant: the French, and everyone else. Truth be told, there’s nothing quite like walking into an aroma-filled patisserie in the morning and biting into a croissant that’s straight from the oven – warm, buttery, soft and flaky. And then, there’s also the magic and enchantment of nostalgia that makes it so much more special…
Some of my fondest memories of life in Paris are associated with this piece of pastry heaven. Croissants were a weekend ritual, and I remember the excitement of waking up on Saturdays, in anticipation of this delectable treat. It didn’t matter that we may have already had a few during the week. I also vividly remember being a teenager in Paris; I would go out dancing until the wee hours of the morning and wait, at 5 am, for the patisseries to open, just to get a croissant straight out of the oven!
So, give me a croissant, and I’m happy. But not just any croissant. It has to be authentic. When you’ve grown up savouring the buttery flavours and wholesome aromas, you can never really go back. The right butter, that hint of salt and the perfect tissue-thin flaky layers…within 5 seconds of the first bite, you simply know.
When we moved to Melbourne, I started looking up places that could give me the croissant that I yearned for. Some were obvious, others, a surprise! I discovered lesser-known places that put the biggest smile on my face as soon as I tasted their pastries! Now, I can walk into such spaces where, if I shut my eyes, I feel like I’m in Paris…the smell, the taste and the feeling is so familiar! These authentic French patisseries where you can taste the passion of artisan bakers…it tastes like home.
The reference, without a doubt, is Lune Croissanterie. I first discovered the stand at a market and then in CBD. Lune’s croissants, with their nutty complexity, soon became a weekend routine, best enjoyed with a coffee.
Then, we tried Agathé Pâtisserie, a French Patisserie at South Melbourne Market. Their croissant selection is extensive, also non-traditional. Apart from the basic Parisian crescents, we also found pandan and matcha alternatives, filled with an almond and red bean paste.
When it comes to heritage, you can’t beat Noîsette. David Menard’s family has been making croissants since 1825! Aside from the buttery croissants, there is a wide selection of French pâtisserie – I personally, love the mille-feuille.
We included the almond croissant at A Thousand Blessings cafe in Richmond in our Saturday ritual with delight.
Ned’s Bake has the most amazing display. It can get your mouth watering in an instant and have you wanting to try one of each kind! Along with a croissant, I usually go for the “snail” roule aux raisins. Have you tried it?
You can always look for your local Woodfrog bakery, there are plenty across the city!
My favourite, to date, is Penny For Pound in the heart of Richmond, for its hot, fresh and delectable pastry. I would never have found it if it hadn’t been for my hairdresser. (Thank you so much!)
I continue my quest to find croissants here in Melbourne that remind me of the ones I used to enjoy in Paris. There are days where I am not brave enough to try, afraid to be disappointed. On other days, my curiosity and hope lead the way.
I always order my croissant with a pain au chocolat. The pain au chocolat or chocolate croissant, is square, filled with 2 stripes of chocolate. Sometimes, when I ask for one, the person pronounces croissant incorrectly with the ‘t’, and it makes me smile.
I love the traditional croissant, although the almond croissant comes close. However, the perfect croissant has to be plain, simple and without any fancy add-ons. They say French flavours lie in the smallest, most subtle details, and being French, I do believe in such a thing as perfection in this culinary art.
Perhaps, we don’t realise how lucky we are to wake up, stop at our favourite croissant place at any time of day, and simply breathe in the goodness of humble ingredients that come together to make honest, distinctive and delicious French croissants.