With over 80 locations of Maison Kayser around the world, it was only a matter of time before Parisian master baker Eric Kayser arrived on American shores. His first New York boulangerie/patisserie/cafe opened last week on the Upper East Side, and on day two was already packed with crowds, black-and-white-striped waiters shuttling sandwiches and pastries to tables, and of course many, many baguettes. We got a peek of the menu and kitchen, and learned about Kayser's plans for NYC expansion.
I first fell in love with Eric Kayser's breads and pastries in Paris more than twenty years ago, when I believe he had only a single jewel box of a shop. Kayser at the time was the boy wonder combination bread baker and pastry maker, an unusual double even to this day. My most vivid taste memories from my daily visits that week were the staggeringly good baguettes and the moist, light, and vividly flavored financiers.
Now, twenty years later, Kayser has built a bread and pastry empire, with twenty locations in Paris and 80 around the world. After a false start in Los Angeles a few years ago (the wrong partners Kayser says—it's always the wrong partners, isn't it?), he has come to America with a vengeance. His new large, bright, and cheery initial location on the Upper East Side is open morning, noon and night, and two more locations are set to open next year in the Flatiron District and midtown. We've decided to eat our way systematically through the breakfast, lunch/dinner, and pastry menus. Up today: breakfast.
The opening of a great new bakery in town doesn't just give us bread hogs another place to purchase our loaves. It also raises the bar for all the other bakeries, forcing them to work a little harder to make the best product. New to the mix is Maison Kayser, just opened on Third Avenue by master baker Eric Kayser, who is as ambitious and creative in Paris—and Dubai and Singapore—as Eli Zabar is here.
Bakers work notoriously long and irregular hours, with their days frequently beginning or ending in the wee hours of the morning. The question is, how to keep healthy? For Eric Kayser, globe-trotting founder of the Maison Kayser empire, and Yann Ledoux, overseer of his New York ovens, the answer is running.
The Met is one of New York's must-visit destinations, as good a reason as any for a tourist to put the Upper East side on their visiting list. Two years ago we released our first guide to food nearby for breakfast, quick bites, or full sit-down meals. Here's our updated version that adds all the great new things we've eaten since then.
The end of the year is a time of excess in the bread world. Bakers who spent 11 months tending their levains and sourcing locally-grown, organic rye flour suddenly pull out the white flour, sugar, booze, butter, and more sugar. But the city's bakers are an inventive bunch, so this year's crop of holiday breads offers incredible variety, both sweet and savory.
When you eat out as much as I do, summing up a year of eating is excruciatingly difficult. It's one of those "tough jobs, but someone has to do it." So here goes: a baker's dozen of things that made my 2013.
Good bread lies at the heart of New York City's culinary life. Sure, other cities also have their loaves (San Francisco sourdough and Dutch crunch, Boston and its brown bread) but New York's bread culture runs as deep and diverse as the history of our town.
Jeremiah Stone of New York's Contra came to love French food late in life, but when he moved to the country to cook there in 2010, he fell hard. Now in New York he has to look harder for good baguettes and croissants, but he still has some go-to spots for his French fix.