I had some errands near the Beverly Center this mornings, so I decided to go to Boule for a coworker. He loves cannelés and always buys them at La Brea Bakery when he gets his car services at the Jeep dealership across the street there. Well, if he loves cannelés, how could he not know about Boule? I got him a half-dozen of their cannelés bordelais - three of the vanilla, and three of the chocolate - as well as a late-morning breakfast for myself of a sour cherry almond cake and a brown sugar spice cake. And how could I not get a dozen macaroons to pass around? I bought two each of the match green tea, raspberry-rose, dulce de leche, passionfruit-milk chocolate, and my two favorite flavors, Venezuelan chocolate and lavender.
It was nice to be back at Boule, actually. The staff seems friendlier and happier to be there. The attitude is lighter. The last time I was there, the staff were haugtier than the salespeople at Cartier. (I'm not exaggerating; after all, the Rodeo Drive folks are used to dealing with gawking tourists.) The lady I got behind the counter was friendly and eager to help, smiling and happy to answer my questions about the upcoming Boule Atelier. (She didn't seem to know much, though. In fact, she mentioned to the manager I knew a lot about the store. The manager crossed her fingers when I asked if the kouign amann would be returning, and I also made my case for the licorice macaroons.) A dozen macaroons, six cannelés, a sour cherry almond cake, and a brown sugar spice cake came to forty dollars even. Ouch. But with the nice smiling help and the warm reception, I'm looking forward to making my next visit a lot sooner than the one-year-plus period between my last visit and this one.
The sour cherry almond cake was good, if not phenomenal. It struck me as a fancy muffin, although I can't think of a better muffin in town. Another coworker had a chunk of it - she was angry at me for taking all the crumbly top portion - and swooned over the buttery quality of it. The brown sugar spice cake was somehow both moist and dry - odd. It was passable, but, while not at all unpleasant, I don't think I would recommend it. The macaroons were wonderful, though, just as good as on my first visit during Boule's first week of operation. Only one of my coworkers was even familiar with Boule, and she was delighted to see them. ("You're fancy, like me!" - she's a natural-born Chowhounder.) With one coworker, it led to swapping stories of favorite bakeries. (She's a big Porto's fan and crosses town to get pastries for parties.) I had a handful of their advertising flyers and passed them out to those who asked, and everyone pronounced the name in Spanish: "BOO-lay."
As for the reason I went, the coworker who loves cannelés, he thought Boule's cannelés were better than La Brea Bakery's. He found them to be lighter, and he was surprised to see the chocolate ones, saying he's never even seen cannelés in other flavors before. Boule really lifted the workday today, and that's what great food - especially great pâtisseries - can do. It's nice to see a bit of a return to form for Boule, and I can't wait for the expanded Boule Atelier to open. (I looked inside the space through an open door this morning - just bare timber so far. It's going to be awhile.) If those macaroons and cannelés can brighten the day, I can only imagine what those wondrous, long-gone, hopefully-to-return kouign amanns could do...