Whoa 2012, slow down! It's already December and all year, I haven't written about the one thing that makes my life complete. That single thing that gets me out of bed every morning (seriously). This year would not be complete without posting an article (or in this case, more like a love letter) to my all-time favorite bakery, whose name any regular KelsEats visitor should know by now. Yep, you guessed it! Knead Patisserie.
Before proclaiming my love for this bakery once again, I browsed through my previous articles, wanting to ensure that I didn't repeat anything I've written in the past. Although I've publicly given most of Shauna des Voignes' pastries piles of compliments, there is a noticeable, gaping hole: I left one MAJOR item out of all of my writing. Therefore, I'm dedicating this piece to the #1 pastry Shauna does better than any other patisserie in the world: the croissant.
Let me preface this by reminding everyone that I lived in Paris for the better part of 2006, and was actively into the culinary scene while I was there. Additionally, since moving back to the States I've gone back to La Ville des Lumieres for extended vacations almost every year. What I'm trying to say here is, goddamnit, if I know about anything, I know about croissants.
Shauna's croissant - just her simple, plain croissant - is arguably the best croissant I've ever tried. No no, actually there's no argument about it: it is the best croissant I've ever tried. It's incredibly buttery yet fluffy, with hundreds of layers that are soft on the inside, yet flaky and crunchy on the outside. Eating one that has just come out of the oven is like biting off a piece of heaven, but with more butter. And the best part? One croissant only weighs about five pounds, so you know you're eating healthy when you devour the entire thing in under a minute.
And yes, I might be making a strong statement. But, I visited Paris once again this past May, and to make sure I wasn't putting Knead's croissant on a pedestal, I went on a mission to find the best croissant Paris had to offer. I found it. I ate it right out of the oven. It was very good. Knead's is better.
And although a plain croissant is enough to make anyone happy, Shauna has created one particular variation that demands attention. While many other bakeries (like Tartine) offer chocolate croissants (pain au chocolat) or almond croissants, Shauna serves something I've never seen anywhere else: Brown butter, pecan croissants. Much like how almond croissants are filled with an almond paste, the pecan croissants at Knead Patisserie are filled with a sort of pecan paste, coarsely chopped pecans, and topped with a light, loose coat of sugar. It's ungodly how delicious they are first thing in the morning (and by first thing, I mean around 8:30...or 11 on weekends). Seriously, eating one is clearly a sin because something so good must be evil. In this case the devil isn't in the details, it's in the butter, which is why I blame the devil himself for the extra 50 pounds around my hips.
I recommend Shauna's croissants more than any other of her incredible pastries, save her epically awesome Pomme d'Amour. If you visit Knead Patisserie and see a heaping pile of freshly baked croissants, you must buy one. It's mandatory. And if you get the chance to try one, I challenge you to find one in San Francisco that beats, or even rivals, what Shauna bakes. I've tried my fair share and have yet to find an equal, so I'm interested in hearing about any challengers that can step up to the plate.
Once again, Shauna my dear friend/secret worst enemy, thank you for making the world a much, much better place through your gift of baked goods...delicious, evil baked goods.
3111 24th St
(between Folsom St & Shotwell St)
San Francisco, CA 94110
...while some might say this post is prone to hyperbole I'll simply say I was in Paris in April, I visited something like 19 Patisseries and ate at 26 Michelin Stars in those 9 days. I also visited New York, Vegas, Chicago, the Bay Area, Phoenix, Chicago again, New York again, Boston and ate at some stunning restaurants in each - and that damned Butter Pecan Croissant is without a doubt amongst the top 10 things I ate this whole year, potentially top 5.
I owe it to Kelsey for recommending Knead and completely agree that if I lived locally I'd be there on a rather unhealthy regular basis.