I love Paris. Who doesn’t? I sometimes have fantasies of moving there, of being as French as possible, of breathing my last breath in a brasserie, napkin tucked in, spoon in hand, crème brulée cracked. Maybe that’s my future, maybe not. Meanwhile, I’ll make do with an occasional fattening visit (see my article on that), and a periodic foray into the land of Francofilia a la Mexicana that our great Euro-leaning city affords. But the best French food here is to be found at The French Lady’s house, that is, when she proffers an invitation.
One of my favorite parts of life in Paree is that morning experience, always full of bittersweet nostalgia for I don’t know what, when, sitting in a café, I tear open a warm, crusty, buttery croissant. Never in Mexico, nor, for that matter, anywhere else in the highly civilized world have I been able to recreate that divine Proustian sensation. Believe me, I’ve tried. In New York, no matter how good the pastry is, either the cup is paper, the price annoying, the traffic blaring or the company ornery – none conducive to reflection. In Madrid they put sticky stuff on their pastries so that you have to eat with knife and fork or you get punished-–ants at the meditative picnic. Here in Mexico, in theory, we have all the right elements for romance: old-fashioned cafés, a laid back, poetic ambience, nice people who think about life and death a lot. But no good croissants. Until now, that is.
Dominique, who hails from the Alsace area of France near Germany, where they know a thing or two about baking, works miracles. Her eponymously named French-style hole-in-the-wall patisserie has been quietly churning out pastries and little French breakfasts for over three years now. I don’t know how I missed it. Located on a quiet, fairly well preserved street in Colonia Roma that recalls Paris as far as possible in this urban jumble, you walk through pretty turn-of-the-century doors into another world. Exquisite looking chocolate confections are preserved under glass, and baskets of fresh breads and those buttery breakfast morsels await. Sit at one of the two little round tables, surrounded by light, swirly French grande-mère décor, and order. The complete breakfast, consisting of juice, eggs, bread and coffee is, at 100 peso, a bargain.
There are only two choices both pure bistro: omelettes or oeufs en cocotte: eggs swirled with crème fraîche and baked in a little ramekin. Perfect. Coffee – I order ‘café crème’ of course – is rich as it should be. And there are those croissants. She even does the almond ones. Correctly. I can now have my Parisian moment not ten minutes from home. What does The French Lady think? With a reluctant Parisian sniff, she gives Dominique the heads up. Allons-y.
Chiapas 157-A (between Monterrey & Medellín), Col. Roma
Open Tuesday-Saturday 9:30-6:30, closed Sunday and, in true French fashion, Monday.
Don Cuevas August 18, 2011
Keep it up, Nick. We’ll be there within 2 weeks. Always looking for new and wonderful ways to gain weight.
Unseenmoon August 18, 2011
You will perhaps be shocked to learn that CostCo sells very good croissants. I am a croissant man, and I’ve been buying them at the CostCo in Morelia for years. Add a little orange marmalade, and you’re in business.
Dr. Giraffe August 19, 2011
Oooooooeeee you are in trouble now!
Watch them kilos!!!
Dottie August 19, 2011
So good, Nick. I’ve been longing to go to Paris of late, now maybe Mexico City will do! Great writing.
Socks Manly May 17, 2012
Visited here today as well on your recommendation, and though I missed the larger selection that earlier in the day might have offered, we bought an eclair, a chocolate mousse, and another small thing they had that I’d struggle to describe. All were really delicious, showing great technique and quality ingredients. I think my Mexican family raised a few eyebrows at the prices (140 pesos for the three things we bought, a larger tart was $260 I believe, and another was around $380?) but being from Toronto where we have a lot of these kinds of places it was right in line if not ~15% cheaper than what I’d expect to pay at home. Quality costs! And my taste buds thank me. Also a bit weird that the doors were locked on arrival, and I had to motion to some other patrons to open it for us. Maybe they’ve had a bad experience recently, better safe than sorry. Kind of a quiet spot there too in the middle of the street.