Friday, August 19, 2011

PB Boulangerie: A Wellfleet Highlight. Again. And Again. And Again.

Those buttery layers, filled with molten chocolate, are why I went to PB Boulangerie 10 times over two weeks in Wellfleet.  Sure I raved about it last year.  But this year I really fell in love.  My five year old, now a French bread connoisseur got it, requesting the baguette daily.  My three year old started waking up asking for "Cwahsints."  And I just wanted more.  The good news? I was able to try a wide range of their goods (You know. I HAD to do the research, right?)  So here is what we enjoyed:
Their raspberry tart was as beautiful as ever. Each raspberry was plump and tart, sitting on just the right amount of custard so that the crispy, buttery shell wouldn't get soggy.
The croissants were buttery, flakey, breakfast, lunch and dinner treats. I still prefer the dark chocolate and find the almond too rich, while the plain is just right.
The baguettes were our daily bread.  Each loaf is utter and complete heaven, especially when warm. Somehow they have just nailed the perfect salt to dough and tender to crusty ratios. They lose their spark by the next day, but are wonderful in soup (I doctored up some Kale soup and tossed them), and tossed with chunks of August tomatoes, olive oil and salt.
The lovely and tangy lemon tart was full of lemon zest and the deep dark and rich chocolate tart was so decadent four of us could share it.
The had two other raspberry pastries.  They have French danishes with raspberries (or blueberries) that  were baked in buttery croissant dough.  However, another of my favorites was actually a muffins sized tower that mixed with raspberries, brioche dough and cream.
The apricot tarte which had just sour apricot halves sitting on a buttery dough was delightful. (Other versions included the nectarine pictured above, cherries or rhubarb.)
The fruit tarts were as artistic as ever and featured a myriad of combinations of fresh figs, currents, peaches, raspberries, blackberries on a buttery cookie crust and topped with just enough custard to add texture without making the tart soggy.
The "Pain Au Chocolat" is brioche dough with nibs of white chocolate that melt into the bread and create, as my sister-in-law put it, a marshmallowy bread.  My mother declared it heavenly and she doesn't even like white chocolate or marshallows!
The "Pain Au Fromage" and "Pain Au Fromage et Lardons" were as smokey and savory and cheesy as ever.  This year I also tried the Pain Meteil and the Viverais, as well as the Pullman style White.
The huge farmer's loaf (which you can buy as a 1/4 or 1/2 loaf) which is tender, sour and full of wheat with a chewy crust.  This was spectacular when fresh, but also freezes beautifully to toast and eat with soup, cheddar cheese or slathered with Nutella.
The "Pizza of the Day" was perfect as an appetizer with a cold glass of white wine. On this day it was topped with the thinnest slices of zucchini and eggplant topped with Parmesan.
The remarkably bittersweet brownie, tender oatmeal cookie and dark chocolate cookie were popular with the kids.
Their meringues are almost one foot long and melt on the tongue. Think of it as cotton candy for adults with the fleeting taste of toasted almonds.
The Croque Monsieur, recommended to me by another customer, consisted of thick white bread layered with smoky ham, rich mornay sauce, gruyere and then...more mornay, Gruyere and ham.  It was so rich that I could only eat a few bites at a time, but it reheated beautifully the next day.

I was so much more impressed with the counter help this year. The main crew, Amanda, Rachel and Sam were as informative as one would hope and always helpful.  That being said, you still have to plan your time well and be prepared for a wait or go to PB Boulangerie at off hours.
So, some tips:  See the picture above?  No line!  I found that if I arrived between 3 and 4 pm, the wait was about 15 minutes.  Yes, the variety may be just a bit less than in the morning. But my baguettes were still warm out of the oven. The tarts were still glorious. There were still croissants to munch for a pre-dinner snack and brownies to buy for dessert. Really, a heated up day old chocolate croissants is still delicious.  Second option: Call 24 hours in advance and order $50 worth of goods. Don't worry: it is remarkably easy to spend that amount. The next morning, just saunter up to the front of the line,  sign on the dotted line and grab your stash.  If you absolutely need your croissant fresh as you wake up, bring a paper, a good attitude and chat up your fellow line mates.  'Cause the the morning line and system is as convoluted as I remembered from last year. The servers are very good, overall, but since they need to make coffee, cappucino AND deal with a myriad of customer questions AND ring up the items, the line is still S.L.O.W.  Expect about one hour wait for your goodies.  Fourth tip: on your last day, buy enough to fill the freezer. And then start looking forward to next summer's return.   Remember, they are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays so plan accordingly.

And if you have been to the Bistro, let me know what you think...Friends who ate there this year said it was good, and even better in the off season. Hopefully I will be able to make it down in the fall (and to stock up my freezer once more!)

PB Boulangerie, 15 Lecount Hollow Road, Wellfleet

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