It's the little things that matter, even when it comes to little pleasures in life. Every once in a while you have to revisit a classic to see how things should really be done. That’s the feeling I had when I visited the classic French bakery, Patisserie Poupon, located in the old Jonestown area on Baltimore Street a few weeks ago.
I was introduced to the bakery by a former boss who commuted to Baltimore from Washington D.C. and frequented the Patisserie Poupon there. The one in Washington D.C. is a larger full service cafe. The Baltimore location is so small and unsuspecting that you would never think that this operation was as acclaimed and world-class—that's right—world class as it is.
My boss used to bring in these divine little tarts that were so beautifully designed that they looked like miniature works of art. The only thing better than looking at them was eating them. The rich custard and fresh fruit is irresistible. Pastries are high on the to-do list as well—buttery, flaky, and light. Oh, the memories!
So I stopped in a few weeks ago because I was thinking about ordering a few treats for an upcoming meeting at my job. While I was in there, I felt it was my duty to do a little taste-testing and I started at the macarons. Here’s my disclaimer: “I have not tasted every macaron in Baltimore.” Now, watch as I contradict myself with reckless abandon: “You will not find a better macaron in Baltimore.” I feel this confident because once you have tasted bliss, you know you have never tasted anything like it.
I tried the variety from pistachio to lemon to chocolate. It was lovely-eating. I meant to say that. It was lovely to look at because the macarons are so dainty and the colors are so rich. It was lovely to bite into because when you pop it in your mouth or take a bite you instantly taste a range of textures. The balance of the delicately crisp top quickly fades into the sweet sumptuous filling and back to the crisp flaky outer layer—lovely. If people really knew what was going on in this tiny little bakery, there might be lines in the street on a daily basis.
The only negative I take away from Patisserie Poupon was one episode of inconsistency. I was coming back from out of town with a cousin, and I was so excited to stop downtown and bring her to the bakery. I told her to get some macarons, and I ordered some as well as palmiers, which were delicious par usual. However, my cousin also chose an apple tart. “Good choice!” I thought. I have had the apple tarts many times, but this particular time was not a stellar experience. The crust was buttery and flaky, but the apples were very mushy. I think the trouble might have been the time of day. It was late afternoon, and a few hours before the close of business. The tart was probably sitting too long, but that's the type of thing you have to be aware of because you never know when some blogger or food reviewer might be the one to taste it. Would this stop me from going to the bakery and ordering anything from them? No way. I have had too many great experiences for that one time to shake my faith in this wonderful little spot.
Patisserie Poupon is located at 820 Baltimore Street just a stones throw away from Port Discovery Children’s museum. Do yourself a favor and give your taste buds something to sing about. After all, it's the little pleasures that give so much joy.