When I was little, my family and I used to go on holiday to France. I made scrapbooks to take back to school in September, and my dad helped me stick all my tickets and wrappers from every aspect of the holiday in my special book. One thing I remember glueing onto one of the pages was the thin paper of a french stick of bread. Every morning we would walk to the boulangerie to get fresh bread for the day, and, sometimes, for a special treat - a pain au chocolat. We would eat bread for breakfast, lunch and tea, (with other things), smothering it with Boursin, butter or eating it plain, on its own. My favourite way was to stuff it with squares of chocolate - soft, chewy, crispy, sweet and delicious.
I haven't been to France in years, and I miss it! So, on our last day of our trip to London a few weeks ago, I dragged my sister Sarah along to Le Pain Quotidien for a breakfast reminiscent of hot summer mornings in an isolated village in France. It is one of my favourite places to go for breakfast and as true to a French breakfast experience as any that my memory serves.
At Le Pain Quotidien there is a decent range of dishes to choose from for breakfast, but I knew what I wanted: bread, coffee and orange juice.
It was a good thing the Petit Déjeuner was listed on the menu because it was exactly what I fancied. I ordered a black Americano and a pain au chocolat as my choice of hot drink and pastry.
I love how they serve their hot drinks in little bowl cups. I think this is a particularly French thing, although I have never had coffee from a bowl anywhere else.
Sarah ordered a spelt and quinoa scone – which sounds healthy for something usually indulgent – and a cup of tea.
One of my favourite things about Le Pain Quotidien is the range of spreads and condiments they have laid out on the table. I asked for more, because I wanted the entire range to choose from, and the waiter happily obliged, going into a secret cupboard where lots of jars of chocolate spreads were hidden. Pictured above is just a few of them. My favourite was the Noir spread – a dark chocolate spread, thick and delicious like a slightly hardened ganache.
My basket of bread and pastry arrived and I devoured all but two slices of the bread which I just had no room for. Why is bread for breakfast so good? I'd like to go to France this summer. Even if it's just to Calais, a trip through my childhood town of Dover and a journey on the ferry would be a nostalgic treat in itself.
Have you been to Le Pain Quotidien? I would love to visit some other French restaurants for breakfast (or lunch/tea!) so if you know of any, please let me know in the comment box below or tweet me @hello_flower