Paris via Pune

With each bite, you understand why La Bouchee d’Or lives up to its name

Driving in Pune is a task that would have turned even Gandhiji into a seething curmudgeon. With rearview mirrors, helmets and any sense of driving etiquette conspicuous on account of its absence, it would take someone with the patience of a monk to brave this sea of madness. And yet, I did just that on a barmy (and balmy) Thursday morning simply because I had to get myself a slice of Paris over in Pune. There are many that might choose to imitate it, but few I imagine that can truly equal it.

With so many goodies on offer, you might find yourself spoilt for choice. The options will keep on increasing with time too.
With so many goodies on offer, you might find yourself spoilt for choice. The options will keep on increasing with time too.

Arriving at our destination, it is fair to say that La Bouchee d’Or struck me as fairly underwhelming. Housed inside a commercial plaza that doesn’t exactly ooze charm and with its humble seating arrangements laid out outside the shop, La Bouchee d’Or can easily put off the more hedonistic amongst us.

However, I was certain that to strike gold at this hole in the wall boulangerie one would have to scratch the surface and dig deep in order to hit pay dirt. And so it was that we settled down for a quick bite with a Chicken Salami and Cheese Baguette and Ham and Cheese Baguette to keep us company, with Macarons ordered to round off proceedings.

There are few things more gloriously French than Chanel, Hermes, Citroen, an unconditional surrender or a slender, long, unrelenting baguette. However, just like not all cars are made equal, so too are no two baguettes quite alike. My experience with this most french of french breads has sadly not been on the streets of Paris, but instead among the muggy lanes of Mumbai. Generally crusty, unyielding and firm to the last, the ones I have tried thus far did not believe in the proud French tradition of surrender.

With each bite of the airy, slightly flaky baguette, I found myself attaining culinary nirvana. Homely and humble sandwiches were never this good.
With each bite of the airy, slightly flaky baguette, I found myself attaining culinary nirvana. Homely and humble sandwiches were never this good.

And then, just like that, I realised what I was missing out on. Warm, crusty, chewy and slightly airy, this is what love must taste like. I can understand why the baguettes on offer here can evoke such passion. My Ham and Cheese was a near perfect baton of breadiness and I could, like Seinfeld, be reduced to little more than a mugger as I look to wrangle this out of the hands of whoever is unfortunate enough to be hanging on to it (for dear life, I’m sure).

The meat itself was succulent and sufficiently juicy, but a few bites in I was too distracted with visions of a picnic basket and the Eiffel Tower in the distance to take sufficient mental notes about the baguette. Ruhi turned down the chance to finish off her Chicken Salami and Cheese, and I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. Fluffy and hearty, these two baguettes are perhaps the closest I have come to being a little bit of a Parisian. Now all I need to do is learn how to be endlessly rude and I’d probably become an honorary citizen.

The Chicken & Salami Baguette was very good indeed, just as it seems to be.
The Chicken & Salami Baguette was very good indeed, just as it seems to be.

Memorable, sinful, indulgent and yet utterly refined, the macarons at La Bouchee d’Or are doubtlessly one of the showstoppers on display. Far outclassing some of its Mumbai brethren, even so far as decimating it, these Macarons are an objet d’art more than anything else. Light as air, crumbly and smooth as silk, these petite confections reduced me to Smeagol as I clung to it dearly and repeatedly cradled my precious.

Of the four flavours I tried (Raspberry, Mint, Coffee and Belgian Chocolate) I’d say the Mint and Belgian Chocolate were by far the most memorable. But by the gods, these slightly flaky, almost melt-in-the-mouth, crumbly and moist masterpieces are almost worth a trip from Mumbai just for the pleasure of savouring it to the last bite. I’d even go so far as saying they probably are.

Within these boxes lie myriad bundles of joy.
Within these boxes lie your own little bundle of joy.

We indubitably form our first impressions based on appearance. On that front, La Bouchee d’Or won’t fare well with most of us. However, if taste is the final word on which we are to judge everything, there are not many places that will satisfy your sweet tooth better. The offerings are fairly limited right now, with just three types of baguettes on offer in addition to other sweet and savoury items, but this mouthful of gold is a little gold nugget just waiting to be stumbled upon. Make sure you don’t miss out on it. 

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