I have a thing for croissants. This thing goes all the way back to my childhood days when I completely salivated over the pop of a Pillsbury can of Crescent rolls. Even today as a 30-something, I get the feels while I’m passing by the row of cans – and this is after years of training my palate to detest the taste of “stuff like that.” In essence, I love croissants and have for the longest. So, during my first visit to Alexandria, Virginia’s Society Fair, I was sure to put in an order of their almond croissant to finish out my brunch visit.
If you haven’t had an opportunity to read my standing ovation for Society Fair, please do. This post will only be me fawning over the croissant — nothing more, nothing less. So, let’s get to it.
After years of being on this earth, here is one thing I know for sure: the croissant can come in different sizes, shapes, variations, flavors… It’s pretty much left to the whims of whomever is holding the keys to the kitchen. There are no croissant rules when it comes to creating them. HOWEVER, you will quickly know when a croissant has been done right. And the idea of “done right” varies from eater to eater. Here are a few of my done-right indicators:
- Flakiness: I will go more into detail below about this point, but I will say this one thing: no matter the shape, no matter the size, no matter chocolate chips or plain… a croissant MUST have a flaky crust. There is no way around this. It just has to. This is the main reason why a lot of those pre-made, pre-packaged, store-bought croissants just don’t work. The what-should-be flaky crust is soft. No bueno.
- Flavor: Croissants have this indistinct, to me at least, flavor that all croissants should have. Based on my in-depth search on Wikipedia, the “eggs, butter, milk, cream and sugar” give it it’s “richer, sweeter character.” Yes, that’s it!
- The relationship between the outer flakiness and the inner softness/breadiness/doughiness (It’s a thin line.): This seems like it would be or, at least, should be the easiest thing to pull off. Make sure the outer is flaky and the innards melt in your mouth. But, I have seen this done wrong on many occasions, either: 1. both the outer and inner are flaky (what?!) or 2. both the outer and inner are soft (wrong!). There has to be a distinction. There just has to be.
After my amazing grilled cheese and tomato soup brunch, I was happy to find that Society Fair’s almond croissant was done oh-so right!
The flakiness, the flavor, and the delicate relationship between outer flakiness and inner softness were on point. Easily. What really blew me away was the almond paste. I’ve had almond croissants before. While good, after my experience at Society Fair, I can now say that they were being stingy with the paste! The inside of my croissant at Society Fair was slathered with almond paste. There was so much that I could sop the paste up with the outer layers of my croissant (and sop, I did). This was good. Real good. The best part is that you don’t even have to dine in to take these amazing croissants home with you, they are waiting for you, fresh and ready in their cute bakery/butcher/market area. I plan on taking full advantage of this in the future. Here’s to croissants done right!