Ask a Washingtonian if there’s a good place to get bread in the city and you’ll get an earful. I’m not about to debate our city’s carbohydrate merits. Rather, I want to talk about the opening of PAUL, a new bread shop and bakery that might be the one to raise the bar for bread in DC.
PAUL already has more than 450 bakeries elsewhere in the world (mostly in Europe), and so at first I was a little nervous about a “chain” bakery opening their first U.S. store in DC. What I found though was a bakery with a rich history, dedicated people behind it and quite frankly, fantastic bread.
courtesy of ‘bonappetitfoodie’
Last week, I had the opportunity to go to the bakery for a sneak preview of the shop and a bread baking class. Having never baked bread before, I stepped into a world where I immediately learned the cardinal rule: “Respect the dough.”
The people behind PAUL who I met are so very passionate about bread that their excitement is contagious. For two hours I watched Chief Baker & Pastry Chef, David Dequeker, explain different types of flours, how they score the bread, how they make their own yeast for the bread and how there is so much detail and thought behind the seemingly simple process of mixing bread flour, yeast and salt together. The end result is a perfectly golden brown, crunchy crust around soft, warm French bread. Commence drooling.
President & CEO of Groupe PAUL, Maxime Holder, explained how their process for baking bread has been handed down from generation to generation in his family over the course of 120 years. Maxime said that just by cutting open a loaf of bread at any PAUL store and examining the structure of little dips and craters in the bread, he could tell if someone had in fact “respected the dough” and had taken the time and care to follow his family’s process for making fresh bread.
In addition to bread, the shop will offer a variety of pastries, soups, quiches, French macarons, sandwiches and salads. My suggestion is when jazz in the sculpture garden starts up, grab yourself some nice sandwiches on fresh baguettes, head down to the garden for music and sangria and marvel at the fact that good bread is here to stay in DC.
PAUL officially opens May 2nd and is located at 801 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. They’ll be open 7 days per week from 7 AM to 7 PM.