Paul at Palác Flóra
Brewsta has a near-religious experience sampling the pastries at the French bakery chain's first Prague branch
Once again, we come to the holiday season, a deeply religious time that each of us observes, in his own way, by going to the mall of his choice.These shining shrines to retail worship are spreading rapidly in the Czech Republic.
To be honest, I don't like the malls here. There's no high principle involved. I like American malls just fine. It is just that Czech malls sell things I don't like for more money than I want to pay.
There are only two things that will draw me into a Czech mall:
Movies and food.
Which is why I dropped by the Palác Flóra mall recently.
I'd heard that Paul, the cafe, patisserie, and bakery, had opened there.
The company has a storied history that traces back more than 100 years ago to a town in northern France.
Now, they are all over Europe.
The interior recreates a little bit of France inside the mall.
It was empty late in the evening, but very full during the day.
On my first visit, I had a forest berry tarte (55 CZK).
A creamy, sweet, tart tarte. Good.
I was waiting for my friend, who was watching the IMAX film U2 3D. So, I had a 0.33-liter can of Pilsner Urquell (45 CZK) to wash down my tarte.
You might think it is an odd combination. And you'd be right.
I took home a pain au chocolate (19 CZK). It has two bars of chocolate inside. I wish there were three.
It was good, but since I bought it at the end of the day, it was not the freshest. I think if I had popped it in the oven at home a few minutes, it would be great. I must try that.
They also have plain butter croissants (19 CZK). There were many varieties of bread (37-75 CZK), including baguettes (24-27 CZK).
I also got a Moelleux Chocolat (44 CZK), a traditional dark chocolate cake.
For some reason, it was placed upside down in the box. And I present it to you thus.
I zapped it for 30 seconds in the microwave in my kitchen. I recommend this. It brought up a wonderful aroma along with the rich flavor and texture.
I had a coffee cream eclair (45 CZK).
They labeled it as a banánek or little banana. It was fine, but didn't rock my world.
On another visit, I tried one bread product -- a tomato and mozzarella sandwich on an olive ciabatta (69 CZK).
It was a little too much bread and not enough stuff in between. The mozzarella was good quality. The tomatoes were bland, but covered with a sour dressing.
It was filling, I'll say that.
There were other sandwiches with prosciutto, ham, and such. There were also salads (129-149 CZK).
I had a bottle of Bonaqua water with my meal. It was fairly priced for a mall (25 CZK).
I took a raspberry tarte (64 CZK) home after this visit. I'm something of a connoisseur.
When I first met V, she was working in a French café and understood my passions all too well. She used to bring me the most incredible raspberry tartes from the shop. The best ever.
Paul's was OK, but I don't think I'd get it again. It had a lot of raspberries, but the fruit was surrounded by an intensely sweet gelatin that I didn't like. There was a thin layer of cream on top of the crust, but I wished for a bit more.
The last things I tried were the chocolate tarte (44 CZK) along with a mini-croissant (7 CZK).
The tarte was my favorite of all Paul's offerings. There was an intense chocolate with the consistency of butter that melted smoothly in my mouth and caused my eyes to roll back in my head. It was a real chocolate high.
This chocolate rests inside a crust of mostly butter and sugar.
Sweet and also a little salty, it was the perfect, decadent match of flavors.
I don't see how I can avoid buying one of these on every time I'm there to see a movie. I loved it that much.
In fact, it was the closest I'll get to a religious experience in a Czech shopping mall.
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