Daniel Corona III

On the corner of Olmos and McCullough, there lies a San Antonio culinary gem or rather, bistro.

Owned and operated by Lucille Vatel, Bistro Bakery has been open for three years and has provided the multi-cultural city of San Antonio with a taste of authentic French cuisine.

The fragrant aroma of freshly buttered pastries greets you as you walk in, and you hear the friendly call of “Bonjour” from the enthusiastic Vatel. Vatel is more than happy to give you a thorough run-through of the various confections Bistro Bakery has to offer. If you need assistance translating and pronouncing a little French, they’ll be happy to help you too.

The French have given us a gift nearly un-heard of in the States: the macaron. The bakers at Bistro Bakery have mastered the daunting task of making macarons and are proud of their accomplishment.

Macarons are not macaroons. These are not the mounds of coconut you can purchase at your local grocer but are two delicate shells of meringue and almond flour sandwiched together with an array of creamy fruit purées and flavors.

Macarons are devilishly tricky to produce, but pure heaven from the first melt-in-your-mouth bite.

Patrons can choose from almond, raspberry, lemon and chocolate. Macarons are seldom found in the United States, so San Antonio is lucky to have an establishment equipped with the ingredients and talent to whip up a batch or two.

The creation of these French delicacies wasn’t easy. “For two years, I tried, tried and tried different recipes and I could not get the right macaron,” Vatel said.

“Finally, last year, I called somebody I know in Paris and they sent me a guy and he taught my people [how] to make the macarons.”

Vatel and her staff are serious about their pastries. “It’s the French way to cook, but it is very difficult to find employees,” said Vatel.

“I am now going to see an immigration lawyer to try to get French cooks, although US laws make it is so difficult to get somebody from France. They can stay three months and after that, they have to leave; for me, this is not good.”

“People come here because they want French food,” Vatel said. Bistro Bakery uses only the finest ingredients shipped from France to ensure the authenticity of their food and pastries.

Bistro Bakery also serves items of a not-so-sweet nature such as a simple yet divine dish of puff pastry filled with fresh Gruyère cheese, ham and a dash of white wine: Comptoise. The perfectly flaky pastry is overflowing with cheese, and satisfies the strongest comfort food craving.

Should you find yourself at the foot of the counter staring in vain at the French menu, Vatel may suggest her Quiche Lorraine or Quiche Provençale. “We have a big success with quiche. I’ve never tasted American quiche, so I cannot say, but people say, ‘Your quiche is wonderful,’ but it’s just French,” Vatel said.

With quiche this popular, it is no surprise to find individuals who are willing to travel to Bistro Bakery from Boerne for a truly French breakfast. Vatel said that her clientele is “very varied; they come from very far away from here.”

Modest with respect to praise, Vatel takes compliments lightly saying that it’s just “the French way,” but Vatel is clear to differentiate her food from other French bakeries and restaurants. “We are not American; we cannot make American [food]; you’d have to go somewhere else, you know, but not here,” said Vatel.

Apparently, there are three main ingredients in French cooking: butter, butter and butter. “We use butter a lot, oh yes,” Vatel confirmed.

“In America, they add a lot of color, seeds and everything, but not in French cuisine,” Vatel said. “France has a good reputation with food, and even though we use butter, French people are not excessively fat like here, so it means something.”

 

Related Stories

More from Daniel Corona III/ Staff Writer

Editorial Board

At the University of Missouri, real change happened — but only when loss of university revenue was threatened. Missouri student…

More In Arts_and_life

Sofia Garcia Staff Writer

Whether you are an arts and music lover, or you simply enjoy the nightlife of San Antonio, First Friday is…