Style secrets of the French by Casilda Grigg
Mon dieu, I can hardly believe it! On an uninspiring stretch of King Street in Hammersmith, west London, opposite a gloomy Methodist church, a proper French pâtisserie has just opened.
It’s called Pâtisserie Sainte-Anne, it has a tiny, no-frills café and it sells all sorts of delicious breads, cakes and tarts, including tarte aux pommes, pain de campagne and tarte normande, all made on the spot. The best stuff is up by the counter. My Japanese nieces loved the hollow, sugar-studded buns called chouquette (40p each), the mini croissants (£1) and the hot chocolate.
Displayed behind glass at the entrance are a selection of compact, sturdy cakes for around £14 each – feuillantine, automne, fraisier. They’re all Day-glo bright and retro-looking, the sort of thing you’d find in one of those dozy villages of la France profonde. Even though I don’t really want to eat them, just looking at them makes me feel as if I’m on holiday in some lovely backwater miles from Paris. I can almost hear the rumble of farm machinery and see the huge French cows.
Sainte-Anne makes its own dough, and shapes and cooks it on the premises. All its flour is organic. And its meltingly good croissants are made from proper French butter from Poitou-Charentes. In a part of London overrun with discount stores – and possibly the most terrifying town hall outside Soviet Russia – it’s wonderful to find a shop that sells food made with amour. I think I’m in love.
The shop is owned by a Franco-Japanese couple who upped sticks from the 13th arrondissement in Paris to open a bakery in W6. Why they did this crazy thing I can’t tell you. I forgot to ask. She’s called Keiko (pictured left) and hails from Tokyo – you’ll find her behind the counter. He’s called Alain – you’ll find him kneading bread at the back of the shop.
Pâtisserie Sainte-Anne, 204 King Street (nr Dalling Rd intersection), London W6 0RA, 020 8563 2046. It’s open seven days a week.