Don’t you just love it when famous places live up to their reputation? Bouchon Bakery is one of those. Happy dance!
I was heading up Napa Valley one drizzly morning, and since I was early for my appointment, I figured I could stop in Yountville and finally get to check out the famous Bouchon. You have heard of Bouchon, haven’t you? I am sure you have. Owned by Chef Thomas Keller of the even more famous The French Laundry restaurant, located just up the street, Bouchon Bakery opened in 2003 right next to Bouchon Bistro, and it was originally intended as a way for the two restaurants to have one-of-a-kind breads. Except it soon took on a life and identity of its own, for the delight and pleasure of us all.
Yountville is a pretty and small town just ten minutes north of Napa. You exit the highway and, if you sneeze while going through town, you have missed it. But it is certainly worth the detour, especially for the glorious food to be found here. I parked in the ample parking right across from Bouchon, then crossed the street and joined the line. There is always a line going into Bouchon, usually quite long, but it moves fast, as the baristas behind the counter are well organized. If there seems to be no line, wait about thirty seconds and there will be one. While in line, I have heard conversations in several languages and accents.
The imprint is definitely French, and like every good bakery worthy of its name, the problem when you get inside is what to choose. Can I have one of everything to go, please? I wish! Then there is the fact that, aside from a few staples, the desserts and pastries change with the seasons, produce availability, and the flair of the pastry chef. I love that, as there is always something new to try.
I did what I usually do in these situations: picked one of this, one of that, one of the other, all to go for later; then ordered a ham and cheese croissant and a vanilla latte for my breakfast. I have no photos of those, but they were divine! The croissant came heated like a panini, so it ended up pretty squashed, but crisp and tender all at the same time. Oh-so-good! The latte was sublime. Consider, if I crave a latte or cappuccino in Napa, I either head for Ritual Coffee Roasters inside Oxbow Market, or drive the extra miles to Bouchon. So far I have not found another coffee shop in Napa that matches these two, and I have tried about five different places.
Above is the outdoor seating area outside Bouchon. The red wall on the left is part of the building that houses Bouchon Bistro, which is among the top ten among my lunch or dinner have-tos in Napa Valley. Give me time, and I will be sharing about the Bistro as well.
Back to the delights from Bouchon: I asked to keep them aside for me to pick up later, after my appointment, so they would not be affected by non-refrigeration. They kindly did, so I stopped again on the way back. Immediately after getting home I got out some props and set up a photo shoot out on the patio. I was still living at the Cottage in the Garden at the time, so that is where this happened. Afterwards, I picked up the plates and walked over to Dona and John’s house. They had a friend visiting that afternoon, and the four of us sat around the table and shared dessert. We carefully cut each dessert into pieces so we each had a bite. It was hard to pick a favorite. Each one was perfect in look, taste, texture, degree of sweetness and flavor combinations.
The desserts I picked were: a lovely Strawberry Mousse Tartlet, a Cappuccino and Chocolate Double Eclair, a Lemon Meringue Tartlet, and a Frangipane Cherry Tartlet.
Then I picked a Monkey Bread pastry (the larger item on the plate in the photo above), because I had never tasted it before, plus a few Madeleines because I just love them, and a few Macarons because, well, you just have to have macarons.
I am now in love with Monkey Bread. It is like a brioche, but not exactly, almost like a Kouign Amann, but not exactly. Now that I am back in Napa I may just have to drive up there again and get another one, just to remind me how to describe it, as it’s been a while since I did this shoot. It’s a good excuse, don’t you think? Valerie, want to go with me?
Actually, I can think of a few more who would love to go with me. Maybe we should get a little group together and do a girls’ day at Bouchon!
Besides breakfast and dessert, Bouchon is also a good place to grab lunch, as every day they prepare a fresh selection of hot and cold savory sandwiches, salads, and other items like quiche and Beef Bourguignon Fouee. And let us not forget their assortment of wonderful fresh bread.
So, did you put Bouchon Bakery on your to do list for Napa Valley?
Hey! No licking of computer screens! 😉
open daily 7:00 am – 7:00 pm
More glorious bakeries & restaurants in the California Wine Country:
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