I look at my watch and see that it is now past 9 a.m., so it’s a good time to go and visit Claire Damon, whose bakery is a ten-minute bike ride away across the Montparnasse train tracks. Claire Damon is the thirty-something, female pastry chef behind Des Gâteaux et du Pain (cakes and bread), a bakery cum pastry shop designed like an upscale jewelry store, with dramatic lighting cast on the cakes and loaves. The atmosphere can be a little intimidating, but I keep my eye on the prize and order my croissant, with the special excitement of knowing it’s a limited-edition product.
A limited edition croissant? Yes indeed, for Claire Damon has made the unique decision to scale back her production. Croissants were selling remarkably well at her shop, but her process is so exacting, from the choice of ingredients to the lengthy fermentation and precise shaping, that she felt it was taking too much time and attention away from her other creations.
She simply decided her shop wouldn’t open until 9 a.m., when the early-morning, croissant-hungry crowd had long gone in to work. So the late bird catches this particular worm. Damon’s croissant is generous and impeccably flaky, with a bright taste of butter and a diamond-shaped silhouette.
And when it comes to croissants, shape definitely matters: It is the unique landscape of ridges and grooves that provides textural contrast between soft and crisp, and makes the eating experience so blissful.