Monday, November 13, 2006

The heart behind Poilane

I'm a little peeved that the Hiltons felt it necessary to name their daughter after one of my favorite cities. Here I sit, but a peasant blogger, just trying to keep tabs on recent news and events happening in the city of lights. But my Google Alerts keep bombarding me with stories of notorious socialite shenanigans instead. I'm going to have to see about some sort of filter.

Thank goodness Google Alerts don't always lack relevance to The Great American Bakery Hunt. Tonight Google alerted me to a fascinating Washington Post story about a different Paris heiress: Apollonia Poilane. Poilane is the 22 year old Chief Executive of Paris- based Poilane bakeries, a family-run business she inherited from her parents.

Poilane is a bakery I have declared my love for in the past. However, this was the first I had heard of Apollonia's story. While running one of the best bakeries in the world, this Chief Executive continues her studies as a Harvard undergrad, where she will graduate with a degree in economics.

After discovering Poilane on my last trip to Paris, I can think of few bakeries that have a lovelier feel when you enter their doors. As you step inside, you are greeted with a cheerful "Bonjour!" by a group of French women in matching aprons, and the products--well those speak for themselves. If it's any indication, people have been eating their famous bread since 1932, which is made in a wood fired oven. Apollonia Poilane describes herself as having "a sweet tooth" for the family business.

Her story combines two of my great loves: a passionate energy for business combined with a serious love for quality baked goods. And now that I know there is so much heart behind this bakery, I love it even more. Although it's probably why I loved it in the first place. It is clear from walking into Poilane, from tasting their bread, from sinking your teeth into their apple tarts, that the company takes pride in the products they bake.

The Washington Post article conveys Apollonia's personal passion for the business. The story describes a letter she wrote to the Pope in an effort to convince him to take gluttony off of the list of seven deadly sins. With spunky moves like that, I can tell Poilane and I are kindred spirits.

A souvenir bag of Poilane flour has remained on my diningroom table since June. Untouched since its purchase, it is reserved for a special use. Although I haven't determined what exactly I will use it for, I'm hoping the end result will be so tasty that it would make the Pope blush.
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