Ive been meaning to post this for a long time. There is a really authentic French Bakery -- in North Raleigh of all places. Gourmandises de France is located in the shopping center at Creedmoor and Millbrook (just to the right of the Food Lion) -- not far from the Beltline and Crabtree Valley Mall. Its extraordinary. Even friends visiting us from NYC and San Francisco are impressed.
It is run by Denis Blanco, a french baker and his wife who immigrated to the US 2 years ago. Even though its in a shopping center, you feel like you are stepping into a bakery in a small village in France with charming posters and terrific smells. The wife, Isabelle, who runs the front of the shop is utterly warm and charming -- with a personality like Juliette Binoche in the film Chocolat. She speaks in a lilting french accent and greets you with a hearty "Bon Jour". We love to go there -- just for the experience. Isabelle's niece Fannie from France is helping out for the Summer.
But, the food is best of all. The pastries are wonderful -- the cream horns, the eclairs, luscious fruit tarts, light little chocolate rectangularly thingees. Their croissants (they have 55 layers) and baguettes are to die for. It's the real thing (they say they experimented for months to get it right since American flour, sugar & butter is so different). If you have never experienced a genuine crisp, chewy Baguette, you gotta, gotta try it. It's nothing like that oblong Wonder bread that places like Panera sell. That bread -- just with butter or maybe a piece of cheese or ham makes a sumptious meal. But you have to get their early since they often sell out of the baguettes by the afternoon.
They also take orders for custom cakes scrumptious and beautiful. But everything is great. There are a few tables and it's lovely to have some of their great coffee and a raisin croissant or pain de chocolate for breakfast.
I was motivated to post this since I just talked to my husband who is in New Orleans on a business trip. I sent him to Croissant dOr, a Chowhound-recommended place for croissants in NO and he reports that they are far, far inferior to the ones here in Raleigh at Gourmandises de France.
The Blancos are struggling both with the low carb fad (we really dont buy baked goods as much as we used to) and with some anti-French sentiments due to the war in Iraq. So, locals and visitors,they need your support! And you gotta experience the real stuff. It's just so rare here.