My favourite bakery

Last updated 11:12 07/05/2012

It really doesn't look like much. Even through the "makes everything look cooler" filter that is "Hipstamatic", Le Moulin bakery in upper Willis Street, Wellington, looks pretty unprepossessing from the outside (see pic). No spectacular window display of gorgeous cakes, or marzipan towers, or brain-boggling design like some of these.

Moulin 1Actually, not much to suggest that what lies within is anything out of the ordinary, or even that it will be any good. I can't even really remember why I decided to give it a go. Maybe I just smelled the bread as I walked past one day; maybe someone told me it was good. But boy, if someone did give me the heads up, I really owe that person a huge debt of gratitude, and maybe a canele or two...

You see, Le Moulin is the classic example of how you can't always judge a book by its cover (though there is perhaps some validity that you can judge a restaurant by its toilets).

The thing that sets Moulin apart from a lot of bakeries is, as it should be, their food. You will be unsurprised to learn, upon viewing my burgeoning girth, that I have partaken in more than my fair share of bakery goodies, but I reckon they could take out most comers in most of the fields that they would compete in.

To this end, I have composed an impromptu Le Moulin Top 7 - my seven favourite bakery specialties from my favourite specialty bakery;

1) Baguettes  - oh, God, the baguettes! Anyone who has eaten the bread from Moulin will know exactly what I am talking about. The crust is crunchy, light and chewy, the soft white inner fluffy and almost sweet. A little cheese, ham and butter in there and you're dealing with a damn fine sandwich, though if you get a really fresh loaf, straight out of the oven, you may find it difficult to resist breaking off chunks and eating them on the way home.

Moulin 22) Canele - a canele is a traditional French pastry made from a custardy mix that is baked in a cup-shaped metal mold, which gives it a crusty, caramelised outer, while the inside remains soft and yielding. They are amazing. Moulin does them better than any other I have ever tried.

3) Curry puffs - Moulin's curry puff combines a soft, light, buttery pastry adorned with fennel seeds, with a filling of curried mince. Again, extraordinary, even if I reckon the filling is not quite so good in a full size pie - it messes with the ratio.

4) Almond croissants - another miracle of Moulin - day-old croissants are soaked in an almond cream, dressed with toasted almonds and rebaked, then dusted with icing sugar. So decadent, so delicious.

5) Mille-feuille - literally, "a thousand sheets", and also known as a Napoleon or vanilla or custard slice, this is a sweet treat that combines layers of buttery pastry with delicious milky custard and a combed vanilla and chocolate icing. At Moulin they are huge - I have even been known to share.

6) Pizza bread - if this sounds a bit boring compared to some of the fancier morsels described above, they do still taste pretty amazing, and come in vegetarian, ham, cheese and tomato, and cheese and onion flavours. For between $3 and $4, they would make a substantial contribution to a tasty, filling and cheap lunch.

7) Danish - more light, flaky, buttery pastry coupled with fillings that include lemon, peach, apple and wild berry. They are quite delightful.

Moulin 3So there you go, my "Seven Wonders of Le Moulin", and I have barely scratched the surface of their tasty delights - I haven't mentioned the peach slice, or the pain au chocolat, or the pepitos... I love how idiosyncratic the place is: closed on Mondays, and only open until 2pm, when the Omni lunchbreak falls - if I want to go there, I have to go before work.

The people who run the place are friendly and obviously take an incredible pride in what they do. Every time I go there, it seems "special" to me, and I am sometimes almost overwhelmed with joy by how much artisanal baked goodness a modest ten bucks will buy me - amazed that you can trade mere money for something so good.

Great job, Le Moulin - you are one of the things I miss most about home when I am out of town, and I thank you for giving me a reason to keep on swimming. Oh, and if this has whetted your appetite today, you will have to wait 'til tomorrow - they're closed on Mondays!

Do you have a favourite bakery? What is it about what they do that keeps you coming back? Are you a Le Moulin fan? If so, is their baguette the best you have ever tasted or what?!

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Benji   #1   11:21 am May 07 2012

When I saw the title of today's blog post, I actually clicked on it with the intention of posting about Le Moulin - then saw that's exactly what the post was about.

Le Moulin is hands down the best bakery I've encountered in New Zealand. I'm in Auckland now, but it was a Sunday ritual for me to go to the Willis St vege markets on Sunday morning, then across the road to Le Moulin, where there was usually a queue going out the door and down the street a bit.

I quickly learned to buy two baguettes since one never survived the walk home.

mike   #2   11:27 am May 07 2012

About 12 years ago living in Palmy, and my best mate and I worked at the same bike shop. Every lunchtime we’d head to the Golden Tulip on Broadway, where $5 would get you an amazing lunch. Perfect, gingery ginger crunch, fresh, never-soggy filled rolls, and their cream doughnuts were fantastic. Proper cream, real raspberry jam, and the doughnut itself done just right, so the outside had a slight crunch. This is when I was 20 and could eat whatever I damn well pleased without putting on a gram. Ahh, memories. Plus they were one of the few places you could get Nature’s Energy chocolate milk, which is by far the best chocolate milk in existence.

Can anyone confirm whether the Tulip’s still cranking out the good stuff?

Dr Bakery   #3   11:35 am May 07 2012

Pauanui Bakery

Cat   #4   11:36 am May 07 2012

Having read about it many times in the newspaper, I happened to be in the North Shore on a Tuesday afternoon (live in Tauranga) and searched down Little & Friday. I had a coconut, lemon curd cake - divine. My other half had a chocolate gateau with ganache combo - ditto. We took away a doughnut. I have to say it was literally the best doughnut I have ever eaten in my life. Best ever fullstop. It's lucky I don't live nearby or I'd be the size of a house!

Sharon P   #5   11:53 am May 07 2012

The Bread Builder (aka Flutey's) in Huapai (NW Auckland) is the best for miles around. Proper sourdough (along with all sorts of other breads), lovely danishes and on the weekends you can get a fantastic dense fruit and nut bread that is amazing sliced, toasted and buttered for a really filling breakfast. If you happen to be driving past there it is well worth stopping.

AndiNZ   #6   12:07 pm May 07 2012

@ Mike #2: Well the Golden Tulip is still in operation, but I can't comment on whether the quality is as you remember, as I haven't been in there for ages either. Might have to explore that next time I am in the 'big smoke'! :P

Gee   #7   12:12 pm May 07 2012

Golden Tulip still there.. however probably not as good as it used to be, as I wouldn't rave about it. Any chance you were a hungry student? Fairly good baking range, products are ok but not excellent, it has undertones of the same flavour in everything, is that the bakers marg or something? used instead of butter. Dunno. They have a pie of the week and do some interesting choices (I'm not a pie person tho).

Jess   #8   12:28 pm May 07 2012

This sounds amazing, will definitely have to try! The Golden Tulip is still going, I would definitely say it is hands down the best old school bakery I have been to, can still get a Roll/Pie, Slice and a can of drink for $5, deal!

LMB   #9   12:30 pm May 07 2012

It's lunch time and reading this is honestly making me ravenous for sinful pastry delights!

We spent quite a few years in Kapiti and I know we had to go to town (Wellington) to get decent bakery goods. We used to frequent the one in Johnsonville mostly as it was on the way home for hubby. The Nada it was. The baguettes were supurb and you never minded waiting in the queue to get a pile of yummy stuff, which had half disappeared by the time we got home, I might add!

Now we are in Tauranga and 8 weeks have gone by where we've finally settled in and organised everything. It's time to find The Bakery! We need help. Anyone out there? We've got by with supermarket croissants but we need more! And soon! Any bakeries that make great baguettes and pain au chocolat and croissants?

Kate   #10   12:50 pm May 07 2012

Damn, now I'm starving for bakery goodness!

Happily here in Chch Copenhagen has opened again - is way out in the burbs (like everything) but totally worth making a special trip for. Their pies are insanely good. Oh, the pies...

Actually, is a good thing I don't live closer as I'd be the size of a house. Trying to avoid Sweet Kitchen in Merivale is also pretty difficult. And the Naked Baker in North Beach...

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