Your Standard Croissant

September 9, 2010 § 3 Comments

I went to Portland, Maine on a couple of missions. Mission #1: Spend quality time with a good friend, Mission #2: Journal, wander the jagged coastline, and quiet my monkey mind, & Mission #3: Visit Portland’s bakeries.

Now, Portland has got tons to offer by way of bakeries, coffee shops, and of course seafood, however—the bakery that was maybe the most recommended to me was The Standard Baking Company. It’s this incredible bakery tucked between taller brick buildings and set back a bit. If you weren’t on a mission, you might walk by the “Bakery” sign swinging on the sidewalk and think it’s just another of Portland’s bread havens. And you would be wrong. I mean, even my guru Lynne Rossetto Kasper and her buddies Jane and Michael Stern swear by this Standard. My friend, Ben and I ambled down Munjoy Hill in the 90+ degree heat of the day (already, at 10:30 in the morning). Not the most desirable of outdoor temperatures for visiting a toasty bakery. It was tough, but we were up to the challenge. Ben loves bread just as much as I do, and so it was totally amazing to me that he had never—after having lived in Portland a year and a half—been to the Standard. Dude is nuts. We walked in and I was utterly flabbergasted. These baguettes! These pastries! Everything looked just like, and smelled just like, real French boulangeries! I salivated at the sight of their blackberry peach muffins, sticky buns, and croissants. How on earth do I pick just one thing to eat for breakfast? Ben ordered this: The sticky bun. This is the thing Road Food folk, the Sterns , just raved about. So the crust is flaky on the outside, so it’s got this great little crunch to it—then it’s got these perfect, soft layers of sweet cinnamon roll bread spiraling inward and loaded with butter and cinnamon-caramel and pecans.

I finally picked out something to try, tooClassic croissant, right? It’s got all that light, airy interior and crispy flaky exterior. I was so impressed. It’s hard to find a good croissant like this in the states. A lot of bakeries try, but you just wind up with these pale little pillow-people croissants. We carried our goods back up the hill a ways until we reached Coffee By Design. You can smell them roasting beans all day long. They sell their coffee to shops all over Portland, and even ship some to Seattle—so that says something about how great this coffee is. We grabbed mugs of the java elixir, plopped down at a table, and dug in. I was in heaven.

Meanwhile, regulars were coming and going from the coffee shop, chatting about the weather. A local artist was hanging her paintings of the bay while drinking a chocolate frappuccino. The atmosphere around the city reminded me of Minneapolis a little. I saw friendly people whose daily footpaths swirled around coffee shop center points. It was nice to see. Man, if only Minneapolis had a Standard Baking Company to swirl around…

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