Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out for March...Featuring Bakery Lorraine

This month, The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out is featuring my favorite San Antonio discovery of 2014 – Bakery Lorraine. This gem of a bakery is located in a cute little house on Grayson St., just off Broadway, near the Pearl Brewery complex. I recently stopped by to sample a couple of their lunchtime sandwiches and a few of their amazing artisan pastries. I was blown away by the baked goods – they taste great, and they’re absolutely gorgeous! Looking in the display case, I couldn’t decide what to select. There was a wide range of colorful tarts, macarons, croissants, sweet rolls, and cookies to choose from. Luckily, Chef Anne came to my rescue and selected a perfect sampling of the day’s offerings for me to try.
Photo courtesy of Bakery Lorraine
Bakery Lorraine owners and chefs Jeremy Mandrell and Anne Ng met while working at Thomas Keller’s well-regarded Bouchon Bakery in Napa Valley,  and they’ve been baking together ever since. Since their stint at Bouchon Bakery, they refined their baking skills in different kitchens around California’s Bay Area. They opened Bakery Lorraine in 2011, and it’s quickly become one of the most popular bakeries in San Antonio...and one of the most respected in the entire country. In fact, Travel + Leisure named Bakery Lorraine as one of America's Best Bakeries last year. All it took was one taste of their fabulous macarons to understand why...they're some of the very best that I've tasted anywhere. Every item that they put in their display case is handmade with extreme care and attention to detail. This dedication to quality is evident from the first bite – whether you’re enjoying one of their creative macarons or a hot-from-the-press paninis for lunch – made with fresh house-made bread! I enjoyed several items during my visit, and all of them were fresh and tasty.

I started my tasting by trying two of the sandwich specials that day, the Turkey and Pesto Panini and the Cuban Panini. Both were served on freshly house-made bread and toasted up crispy and hot! There's nothing better than freshly baked bread toasted up and filled with melted cheese, quality meats, and flavorful spreads. These sandwiches are some of the best I've had in San Antonio. They're quite large, making them perfect for sharing. Michael and I enjoyed a half of each of these paninis so we could savor both of them. Bakery Lorraine rotates out sandwich specials, so be sure to check their menu board to see what's being offered when you visit.
Next up, Chef Anne brought out a box full of assorted pastries for me to try. For a pastry lover like me, it was literally like being a kid in a candy shop...or a pastry shop in this case! Clockwise, my sampling included: Cinnamon Roll, Coffee Crumb Cake, Homemade Raspberry Pop Tart, Pain au Chocolat, and a decadent Croissant. All of them were fabulous, but I have to admit that the gourmet pop tart was my personal favorite. Imagine your childhood favorite all grown up -- sweet pate sucree is filled with fruity raspberry jam, coated in icing and sugar. So good! 
As I was getting ready to leave, Chef Anne had one more surprise for me: more goodies to take home and savor! This box contained sweet tarts and a six-pack of Bakery Lorraine's to-die-for macarons. My tart trio included a Citrus Tart, a Kumquat Tart, and a Lemon-Blueberry Dome. I'm a citrus lover, so the two tarts featuring citrus were my favorite. The citrus tart was topped with orange and grapefruit segments...and the lemon-blueberry dome featured a lemon curd-like topping, fresh blueberries, and crunchy nuts. 
I'm not exaggerating when I say Bakery Lorraine's macarons are some of the very best I've had. I've been lucky enough to have macarons at Bouchon Bakery in Napa Valley...and direct-from-Paris Laduree in New York. These are right up there with those in both quality and creativity. The cookies are light as air, and the fillings are intensely flavored. All of the ones I tried were fantastic, but I was partial to the pistachio and caramel popcorn. Flavors rotate, depending on what's in season...and what the chefs are in the mood to make. Whatever they have in the case, you can't go just go and have fun!

Bakery Lorraine offers their delicious baked goods at the bakery 7 days a week. Monday thru Friday, they're open from 630am - 630pm. That way, you can grab breakfast, lunch, or an early dinner...or maybe pick up a sweet treat to go! Saturdays, they're open 800am - 400pm, and Sundays 900am - 300pm. They also are at the Quarry Farmers & Ranchers Market each Sunday from 900am - 100pm. The location of this market is the Whole Foods parking lot. If you're out running errands, this is a convenient way to enjoy your favorite Bakery Lorraine goodies. I hope you'll stop by and pay Chef Anne and Chef Jeremy a visit and try some of their fabulous baked goods soon. San Antonio is very fortunate to have a bakery of this quality in our city, and I can't wait to go back and try some of their new Spring-inspired baked goods!

Disclosure: Bakery Lorraine hosted me for a tasting of some of their signature pastries and sandwiches for lunch to facilitate this feature. All opinions expressed are my own.

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