Monday, January 30, 2012


One of my favorite tastes of Paris is Poilâne Bakery.  It is not far from l’Alliance, where I took French classes each day all day until I had exhausted every class you could take, and I remember my initial trepidation at ordering a simple loaf of bread in the bustling shop.  It is also steps from one of my favorite décor shops, Mis en Demeure.  Among the lovelies of Poilâne at lunchtime you can get a toasted open face sandwich called a “Tartine,” with various toppings, and often with a luscious French cheese.  Their large classic loaf is a whole wheat sourdough, with just the right amount of tang and simple, natural ingredients.  It’s what the French call “Bread, the old way,” before yeast.  The patriarche of the company was later killed in a helicopter crash with his wife, and the tradition is carried on by their daughter, Apollonia.  I could go on for an hour about Poilâne but will stop there.  Don’t visit Paris without a stop and the purchase of bread to take home or perhaps a sachet of punitions….

There is a Belgian bakery not far from me here in Laguna which has a bakery and also “tartines” on the menu.  But imagine my horror that they do not toast the bread for the tartines, even if the loaves are made on site. I have tried repeatedly to get a proper toasted tartine, but all they can respond is “our bread is special.”  Hmm...

If you live in Orange County, Bristol Farms in Corona del Mar flies in quarters of Poilâne  loaves each Thursday; they will slice it for you and I then pop it in the freezer.  I think other Bristol Farms stores also import, but you will have to check.  I am going to take a bread-making class this spring at the bakery, and understand that I am not being trop snob about the bread, I am on the quest for a good authentic bread.  Suggestions, recipes??  All are welcome!! 

Profiting from the warm weather this last weekend, I took a $6 loaf of Poilâne and made my own tartines; toast the bread, add the toppings, and pop them in the oven at the last minute; this is a great French lunch idea you can prepare ahead~


I served them on a silver tray covered in a worn French cloth; most then divided in two~


Here Gruyere over fresh Dijon mustard and Gruyere over Cremini mushrooms~


The favorite was home made “pistou” of garlic, arugula, pine nuts, olive oil, sea salt roughly ground in a mortar and topped with gruyere, plain or with boiled chicken breast~


The bomb, for me, toasted bread, butternut squash puree, wild arugula, fresh ricotta, topped with fresh pine nuts, olive oil, salt and pepper and the like….served hot below, cold on top….. YUM…


I served this on the small terrace in front of the citrus trees; it was an intimate affair for four~


Napkins of French linen and tied with French gilt gimp and a simple camellia from the garden~


Less is more; a simple camellia and crystal seemed enough~


the decanters held Perrier, California chardonnay, and for appertif, Pineau de Charentes; I had two little bottles of crème de Rose and crème de Violette to add to the wine, which some did~


Everyone got a cookie for the side of their plate….recette this week….


Roasted golden beets, grape tomatoes and green beans on the side~


Dessert was shaded, but coconut cake, linzer heart cookies and goat cheese cheesecake tarts with fresh berries….


more this week, including printable recipes….


  1. The tartines look delicious and fun to many choices! And your table looks lovely! I'm looking forward to the recipes!


  2. Your gorgeous images have totally transported me! That food looks amazing! X

  3. Oh my! My invitation must have been lost in the mail! ;}
    This all looks delicious - and ever-so lovely in those shots.
    I make a tartine on this bread with pesto, smashed avocado, smoked salmon and a squeeze of lemon...perhaps for your next luncheon on the which I'm quite certain I'll be invited, non?! (je plaisante, bien sûr!)

  4. All of these look wonderful! I have made homemade bread (without a bread machine) for years. When you speak of real authentic bread, do you mean in the Continental style with no fat? My family is English and we are huge bread eaters, but it always has butter in it. We do not make the plain loaves of just water and flour and yeast with a touch of salt. It is still real bread, though. There are many great loaves of bread to be found around the world.

  5. Andrea, what a treat to be invited to one of your luncheons. Oh yes I must have the recipes. Every little detail, the ribbon under the linzer hearts....all make it even more special. I love it all, the coconut cake recipe, please!

    Art by Karena

  6. I am on my lunchbreak at work!
    Andrea, this is all so beautiful! So magnificent! I'm going to pick up some fresh French bread and gruyere on the way home! How French is that!
    Always, thank you! I will be tuned in for rhe recipes!

  7. I took French classes there, too and at the Institute de Langue Franciase. Great Memories.

  8. PS. Linzer Tarts are my favorites....I went to school in Vienna and Linz was sort of an industrial town that we traveled through...such a tasty treat from there.

  9. just gorgeous.... thank you for sharing your meal. yummmm

  10. Bonjour Andrea,

    The tartines, the table, the photogrpahy - all looks marvelous.

    Let's catch up soon,

  11. Once you've had a great loaf of bread, it's hard to settle. I loved how pretty your table was.. omg, simplicity at it's finest. The setting and the food look fabulous.. xo marlis

  12. Hello Andrea,
    Ah just superb! I could close my eyes and be this perfect setting,
    Gorgeous linen, decanters,all of it,just puuuuuuurfect! Colx