Adventures in Eating & Cooking
I’ve been telling everyone: if there is only one place you can eat in Pittsburgh, then you must go to La Gourmadine! This cute, little, quaint bakery is tucked away in the mellow neighborhood of Lawrenceville, just 5 minute away from West Penn Hospital. It’s a slice of rustic France, with some of the frequent customers chatting to the ladies in French.
One can easily be distracted by the colorful, delectable desserts in the patisserie section… like this:
Pick any piece of bread from the viennoiserie section, and you will be graced by a unique, skillfully crafted, traditional French pastry made from leavened dough. This is Fabien and Lisanne Moreau’s (team husband and wife) specialty, bringing the simple classic pain, completely made from scratch, to the people of Pittsburgh.
The glorious Almond Croissant is the highlight of La Gourmadine. Yes, I had already snuck half of this into my mouth before taking the photo because it was just that amazing! And this is coming from a girl who usually steers clear of croissants, preferring the buttery soft scone over the flaky croissant. But I must say, Moreau’s homemade croissant has completely changed my standards on croissants altogether. The exterior shell is light and crispy with a few lightly roasted almond slivers embedded within. The innards bear a trove of gooey, rich, buttery, almondy, multilayered dough – absolutely heavenly. The only thing I can say is if this croissant is the only thing you ever eat in Pittsburgh, then so be it. Because it’s worth it!
This is called the Bostock, another popular item at La Gourmadine. I would say this is on par with the almond croissant in terms of awesomeness, especially if you are a fan of raspberry. The outer rim of the pastry is crisp and airy, while the center is lighter and breadier. Spread between the soft brioche dough is a thin layer of tart raspberry jam.
Tortillons au Chocolat is a lovely twist of flaky croissant-like dough with vanilla cream and chocolate chips. The custard-like baked vanilla cream with melted chocolate chips, perfectly fill up the holes in the twist. Together with the pastry, they create a harmonious balance of crispy and custardy, buttery and sweet, flaky and dense.
I was less impressed with the Abricotine, basically a danish with custard and a piece of apricot. I think the name misled me to believe that the filling would be completely apricotty. But it was not!!! I felt betrayed by the misnomer and lack of fruity filling. It was all custard, and not even apricot-flavored custard… The piece of apricot in the center just felt extraneous in this case because it wasn’t contributing to the overall pastry flavor. So eat this if you’re in a custardy mood, not an apricotty mood!
Now onto the patisserie section! I think my favorite item from the patisserie was this Tartelettes au Citron (classic lemon tart). The crust was firm and dry, as a traditional tart crust ought to be. The lemon filling was wonderfully refreshing, making the tart rather tart! It was full of the natural citrus flavoring of a lemon in the form of a gelatinous lemon curd. This is topped with a lightly toasted marshmallow fluff and chocolate, creating almost a s’mores-like effect. For some reason, it really worked well with this delightful lemon tart!
La Gourmadine’s take on Marquise cake is a dome of chocolate ganache enveloping a center of light chocolate mousse, creme brulee, and sponge cake. To be honest, the description sounded more formidable than the dessert itself. The creme brulee and sponge cake were so proportionately small to the mousse, I could barely taste it. In short, this was basically an over-glorified chocolate mousse dome.
Pistachio Eclair (top) and Clafoutis (fruit flan). The Clafoutis was pretty good, but not the best flan I’ve had. What really made this stand out was the hidden berry preserves suspended in the flan. These little nubbins are tart, slightly sweet, and refreshing, balancing out the eggy flan. The crust was solid, similar in make as the Tartlettes au Citron crust.
Gulnarnarnar’s Pistachio Eclair! We both thought this pistachio cream was on point, whereas Pri thought the cream needed more pistach. I guess it’s a matter of how much pistachio you want in your cream; it all depends on your personal palate. For me, I thought this cream had a good balance of sweetness, nuttiness, and green-ness. Hehe.
And if I remember correctly, La Gourmadine has great coffee too!~