Maison Kayser

Almost Everything Chocolate

by Anne Maxfield on February 11, 2016

Accidental Locavore Chocolate CaramelIf you were presented with an exquisite display of pastries, you’d decide you needed to taste them all, right? The Accidental Locavore decided it was a mission she could accept and decided to eat my way through all the chocolate desserts at LAC, a lovely, modern patisserie in Nice. And if a couple of stray pastries ended up in the mix, so be it.

Accidental Locavore a Dessert Named DesireIt started out innocently enough with Désire, a wonderful stack of praline, chocolate and chocolate mousse. Surviving that (former hazelnut allergies), I decided to see what other goodies they offered. Next up, Guerande, a chocolate mousse oval filled with apple purée and salted caramel.

Accidental Locavore Lac DessertThe deepest, darkest chocolate one, Intense, was well named, being a square of dense chocolate mousse totally covered in an even darker ganache. It got a little mangled on the way home (which is why it’s not the most beautiful picture) and it was super rich with all that chocolate, but I’d been spoiled by the previous two, which were much more interesting, with the layers and textures.

Accidental Locavore les ReligieusesMoving slightly away from all chocolate was les Religieuses Think of it as a round éclair base, with a smaller one on top and you’ve got the basic idea. Good for those days when you need a little pastry and a little chocolate, but not too much of either.

Accidental Locavore St. HonoreOne of my favorite non-chocolate desserts is a St. Honore. On the surface, it looks simple. A biscuit topped with whipped cream, topped with a mini cream puff glazed with almost burnt caramel. It’s rich and scrumptious and then there’s the extra kick from the crunch of the caramel. Done well (and it was) it’s one of life’s great treats. What got me hooked on these were the ones at Maison Kayser in New York, which are still the best in my book (because they have three mini cream puffs, giving you three times the crunchy caramel).

Accidental Locavore Chocolate LiegeoisBack on the chocolate trail, but not from LAC, was a chocolat liégeois. More like extremely chocolate whipped cream, this had a surprise at the bottom of the glass – a red currant coulis. Good, but too much like chocolate whipped cream to be a winner.

Accidental Locavore Chocolate GateauAt another favorite place, Le Safari, the patisserie du jour was described as a gateau au chocolate (chocolate cake in other words). Dummy me was thinking chocolate layer cake for some reason, but what came out was so much better! A round disk of chocolate, very rich, with a swish of even darker chocolate sauce, and some whipped cream if you needed to lighten it up a little (ha!). There was a cookie holding it up, which gave it some crunch and texture.

Which was my favorite? While they were all well worth the calories, I think that honor has to go to the Guerande (that’s why it’s the top photo). The mixture of the cake with the surprise apple filling and the salted caramel accents was a terrific combination. Which would be the first you’d want to try?




Happiness is a Warm Baguette

by Anne Maxfield on November 3, 2014

Accidental Locavore BaguettesCan we all agree that there’s nothing better than bread fresh from the oven? And if that bread is one of New York’s finest baguettes, fresh out of a very 21st century oven on a dark, blustery November evening, the night the clocks got turned back, the Accidental Locavore thinks it might be possible to survive until spring.

Accidental Locavore Master BakerThe bread in question was eagerly observed from formation, through its placement on the linen-lined belt, with four strategically placed cuts in the surface, into the brand-new oven, until the transformation into a perfect bien cuit baguette, twenty minutes later. As with most warm bread, it proved irresistible and like most of the baguettes I’ve brought home from the various Maison Kayser shops around the city, it didn’t make it to its destination intact.

They say that new coffee makers make the best coffee, and I’m really not sure that the same could be said for ovens, but this was a pretty spectacular baguette! If I tell you it was a conveyor belt, you’ll think mass production, but it was cutting-edge technology in the hands of artisanal bakers, and fascinating to watch.

Accidental Locavore Inside Maison KaiserWe were at the opening party for most recent Maison Kayser shop, opening November 6th on Broadway and 76th Street. Eric Kayser was there, working the crowd, and not looking at all like a man who had just run the New York City Marathon in under four hours (3:42:23). He got a rousing cheer from the packed bakery when he strolled in.

Accidental Locavore Tiny Pastries Like all the other MK’s I’ve been in, the staff was happy to ply us with anything and everything from the store. We switched from savory (butternut squash soup, mushroom tartines, mini croque monsieurs) to sweet (éclairs made from yuzo or blackberry/raspberry) and back again, enjoying every bite.

Accidental Locavore EclairsThe hardest decision was what to take home. I was under strict orders from Frank to bring home a baguette and some croissants, which only left all the amazing pastries to choose from. I split the decision with the woman behind the counter, who chose a raspberry tart for me and I picked a dome of coconut with a passion fruit center in my quest to eat through most if not all of  their desserts. Oh, and a bag of tiny financiers somehow made in with the rest of the treats.

If that’s not enough, next week will launch the holiday menu and I’ve been promised a tasting of all the (mini) bûches de Noël. Stay tuned!




Maison Kayser Revisited, or a Great Lunch!

by Anne Maxfield on September 2, 2014

Accidental Locavore at Maison KayserSometimes it’s just great being the Accidental Locavore! As you know I’ve written a couple of times about Maison Kayser (it’s my favorite croissant in Manhattan). Their PR person, Janet Mick, invited me to lunch at their newest location on Third Avenue and 87th Street and I eagerly accepted!

It’s a nice, airy space, with a big seating area and a smaller take-out counter. If you’re seated in the right spot, you can watch the croissants going in and coming out of a stack of big ovens, and if you weren’t hungry before….

Accidental Locavore Tomatoes and BurattaIn the interest of trying as much of the menu as two people could, we started out with beautiful small heirloom tomatoes topped with burrata and pesto – a perfect August appetizer! Then, we added the fois gras torchons which came with their great bread toasted, and a cherry chutney. If you’re wondering how good they were, the fact that they were both pretty much demolished before I thought to take photos should be proof enough, right?

Accidental Locavore Fig TartineAfter that, I had a wonderful tartine with goat cheese, fresh figs and caramelized onions. It was a perfect blend of flavors (and looked great to boot). Janet had the salad d’Été—a big bowl full of fresh summer produce topped off with shrimp and a light lemon dressing.

Along with all this great food, Marine, the manager of this location, made sure we had the full selection of the breads Maison Kayser is famous for. Because I’ve had nut allergies, we had to skip the wonderful looking turmeric bread with nuts, but she made up for it with their amazing light rye with lemon zest (can’t wait to take some of that home and toast it!), a fig bread that would be perfect with a nice chèvre, whole grain, seeded (poppy and sesame) and white breads, any of which would be great to have around the house.

Accidental Locavore Dessert TrioWe couldn’t leave without at least a little taste of one of their incredible pastries, so Marine went off to surprise us. She came back with a trio of desserts, ranging from a dense dark chocolate tart, the Adagio with a passion fruit center and a chocolate glaze, a trio of bite-sized raspberry tarts (proving, as my husband always says, “the French really understand raspberries!’) and my favorite, the Saint-Honoré, three small cream puffs resting on a pastry base with caramel whipped cream. The crunch of the caramel glaze along with the cream and the pastry was just spectacular!

Accidental Locavore Maison Kayser GoodiesPart of what makes everything so good is that each location bakes everything from scratch, every day. The croissants are made hourly, to ensure that they’re always fresh. I mentioned to Marine that I was going to grab a couple to take to my cousin’s (where I was spending the night). She said she’d put together a few things for me to take home and I left lugging a huge shopping bag. There were croissants, plain and a giant chocolate one, fabulous chocolate chip cookies, a flakey palmier and a sweet bun, so we feasted through the night and had a fabulous breakfast the next morning!

If you’ve had your fill of that other French place, definitely check out Maison Kayser. This time I was their guest, but when I’ve been there on my own, the food has been consistently delicious, more interesting and the service better. There are now five of them in Manhattan, with a sixth opening in time for pre-marathon carbo-loading on the Upper West Side.




France vs. the US: Croissant Chowdown

by Anne Maxfield on September 23, 2013

Accidental Locavor the ContendersMy friend, Julie Flanders, and the Accidental Locavore are always searching and debating the merits and sources for the best croissants in Manhattan. Together and apart, we’ve tried a lot of them from the usual suspects. Most have been lacking, some surprisingly awful-total wastes of money and calories (stick to making chocolate, Jacques Torres) and others redeemable with a little heat and the addition of some butter and jam.
This particular morning, since I knew we had a full day ahead of us, I volunteered to trot downtown to compare an old favorite, City Bakery, with the latest French import, Maison Kayser.
Accidental Locavore Deux CroissantsEverything is different, the prices, the bags, the spaces and the croissants. City Bakery’s croissants are big, whole wheat beauties, costing $3.00 apiece and wrapped in a standard bakery bag. Eric Kayser’s are in the more classic (i.e. smaller) French style and packed in a traditional almost-tissue paper bag, barely big enough for a pair and slightly less expensive at $2.75 each.
Funnily enough, when I got to Julie’s house, her husband was more than willing to taste and provide a tie-breaking vote if needed. We plated the croissants and pulled off a corner of the darker ones. They seemed a little over-baked and were more doughy than flaky. To my mind, a good croissant should be a constant mess maker. No matter what you do, there should be a shower of flaky pastry. Not so much with these.  They weren’t terrible, and a smear of maple butter made them pretty delicious.
Accidental Locavore the WinnerThe lighter colored ones were next. Same procedure, pull off an end and eat. Ahh…flaky pastry with a distinct buttery taste (and crumbs everywhere). We looked at each other and smiled-no tiebreaker needed here. Just for fun, Emil briefly heated them to bring out their deliciousness, and then they were gone.
The big winner? Maison Kaiser. Probably one of the best croissants I’ve had in New York. Just the right size, full of flavor and a perfect texture. Try one and let me know if you agree.


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