Vive le Georgetown
Summer -- and its requisite vacations -- may be over, but if you're looking for a quick jaunt to France, you need travel no farther than Georgetown. Sure, the Potomac is hardly a substitute for the art-laden banks of the Seine, but a new outpost of a delicious European bakery chain means more flaky baked pastries than even Britney could house. Load up the iPod with Piaf, Nouvelle Vague or Muzzy, and boogie over to Georgetown for the croissant crawl.
Butter-loving hearts leaped for joy at the news that Le Pain Quotidien was heading to Washington. The European chain is known for its stacks of bread behind the counter, numerous fruit tarts, meringues, golden omelettes, heaping tartine sandwiches and, of course, morning pastries. The croissants crumble into golden flakes as you break into them; the chocolate filling of the pain au chocolat melts the moment it hits your mouth. Sure, it isn't perfect -- the muffins are over-sugary on top and the granola has too many raisins for my taste -- but stick to the French classics and it's basically a dream come true for those who dream of breakfast on the Seine.
Looking for more crescent-shaped goodness? Head on up Wisconsin to test out Patisserie Poupon. Poupon's croissants are widely regarded as the city's best and weekenders often fight over dwindling supplies. Unabashedly full of butter, the croissants come plain, au chocolat, aux amandes (an almond filling) or filled with ham and cheese. The macaroons are light, the quiche is rich and the tiny patio feels decidedly French for sipping a cafe au lait and reading Le Figaro or Asterix.
The French-on-the-run club favors La Madeleine, which is situated just up and across from Le Pain Quotidien. For me, something about juggling a tray and fighting for a table drains the magic from my Madeleine encounters. You'll find croissants in the plain, chocolate, almond, chocolate-almond and raspberry cream varieties, though I usually order tomato basil soup when I'm eating there. Stop at Marvelous Market and Dean & Deluca for a few more croissants to round it out.
Alas, one cannot live on croissants alone. Luckily, the French fun doesn't stop at baked goods. Within a few short blocks, Georgetown offers steak frites at Bistro Francais, cassoulet, boudins, duck and souffle desserts at the cozy fireplace-endowed La Chaumiere and mussels, terrines, pates and more than a few French wine choices at Bistrot Lepic. A perfect lemon tart with fabulous wine from Citronelle should top off the French fest.
So, Georgetown's got most of the things you'll need to make your faux French vacation complete. All you really need is a beret, which, come to think of it, should be readily available for your little tete at Proper Topper.
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