I had a lot of fun learning about all the great, authentic Southern French sweet and savory items at Patisserie Vanessa from Vanessa and her friendly hubby Marc yesterday in Carnegie Hill. This place has had a booming business ever since it opened in April but it was not opened up without a lot of elbow grease—as a matter of fact, it took a solid week of work for several burly construction workers to get the 3000-pound display case into the store (and a bottom section of a wall even had to be removed)!
This lovely young couple who have ten years of experience in wholesale baking are interesting to chat with as they are true experts in their field. Just for the record, Patisserie Vanessa is their very first foray into the retail bakery market. They found the store’s amazing location in a striking 1888 landmarked building on the NW corner of Lexington and 89th Street simply by knocking on the front door one day. Patisserie Vanessa is two doors down from Andy Warhol’s famous townhouse that he lived in during the 60s and 70s.
I was grateful that Vanessa and Marc put out this collection of charlottes, choux, macarons and caneles for me to munch on! It goes without saying that they were gone pretty fast. Vanessa and Marc were able to help me learn what what caneles and charlottes are! Caneles (pictured on the left of the dish above) are particularly hard to make and only a handful of pastry chefs can make them correctly. There is a crunchy exterior with a super tender yellow bread-like texture that is unforgettable; they are also coated with an amazingly light and sticky caramel sauce. During my visit to Patisserie Vanessa, I saw at least four customers ask for caneles to go and just for the record, Vanessa has her own secret recipe for this much sought after item!
Besides getting customers that enjoy leisurely afternoon “me time” with great coffee and desserts, Patisserie Vanessa also gets a super strong morning crowd that runs in for a solid cup of European java and a lunch crowd that is crazy for quiche! There are five types of quiche served including the original “plain” recipe but the type that knocked me out of my chair was the Frittata Quiche (pictured above) which contains potatoes, artichokes and Gruyère (it is sided with a simply dressed wild organic greens and cherry tomato salad). The piece of quiche served is quite generous and I would say it is about 1/6th of a standard size pie plate.
Right now, Vanessa and Marc are prepping the holiday season with items you can order and pick up or get delivered. These include an amazing apple tart in a ring shape that is brand new for Thanksgiving. I did not get to taste this but from photos it looks like a cross between an oversized Apple strudel and a double crust French apple tart. You can see all of these new items up for grabs as well as the individual items sold in the store at VanessaPatisserie.com. A dozen of anything in the case or these madeleines on top of the case as pictured above would probably make any host happy…so grab some on the way to a party or at home dinner!
I will be back to try more of what Vanessa has to offer. The atmosphere is no rush even though it can get quite crowded. The special parts of the store are the indoor balcony that has about four tables and gives you a Birds Eye view of everything going on in the room and the outdoor tables which allows for great people watching on Lexington Avenue! The refrigerator case is like a museum of great French pastry and you will be tempted to come in and just stare (it’s just so pretty)! The address of Patisserie Vanessa is 1340 Lexington and everything served is actually made on the premises. Before you ask, they do make a few items that are gluten free including macarons, banana cake and a flourless cookie. There are holiday themed items available including financier bear cookies covered in orange and milk chocolate and orange Halloween macarons made with chocolate ganache and caramel. (I might be old but I would put on a costume and go trick or treating if these were handed out!)