This is what I spent my afternoon doing. What about you?
No, I didn't bake that monster. I'm smart enough not to attempt anything of the sort. Rather, I found someone for whom breads, pastries and chocolates have been le raison d'etre for a quarter-century: Chef Michael Dupont.
Dupont might've opened La Baguette Normandy, at 16524 Keystone Boulevard in a Parker strip mall, but he brought a little bit of France with him. I went looking just for a loaf of bread, maybe a quick croissant to hold me over 'til dinner, but La Baguette is not the kind of shop a boy like me can walk out of without doing some serious damage to my bank account.
The boule above? That was just the start. I also picked up a loaf of French sourdough bread (La Baguette was out of its namesake baguette) with a thin, pliable crust and nutty middle nearly as dark as a whole wheat loaf, but mild, which is the classic French style. I got the croissant(s) I'd promised myself (one plain, rich with strong Normandy butter; one dense, rich almond; one chocolate), then added on a slightly hypnotizing lemon meringue tart, a sugar-glazed almond tart, a slice of napoleon, a lemon tart (so rich and so lightly handled that the only aftertaste was of the massive amount of butter in the shell) and a half-dozen shortbread holiday cookies. I stopped short of picking up an entire buche de Noel to eat in the car only because the shop only makes those with a week's advance notice.
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Dupont also makes his own chocolate (which I didn't get, only because I'd run out of hands to carry stuff) and a variety of holiday-inspired logs and cakes and what-not, but the biggest draw for me will always be the classics of the boulanger's and patissiere's trade--the everyday breads, the lemon tarts and croissants with which I would gladly fill my mornings, noons and nights if I were the Parisian bum I sometimes imagine myself to be.
Still, with places like La Baguette Normandy around, Colorado ain't so bad. And being able to get a hold of all the tarts, boules and meringues I need without having to suffer twelve hours on an Air France flight? That just makes it better.