After a long walk I took one look at the line coming out of Rose Bakery and decided to move on. Not far - just across the street to Arnaud Delmontel - the winner of the the "patisserie of the year" in 2006 and the 2007 "best baguette." Why didn't I simply start here in the first place? Yes, there was a line, but at least it was moving quickly.
Standing in line gave me a time to collect my thoughts. Would it be wrong to not order a baguette from the place that supplies President Sarkozy his? (That's the reward for winning the best baguette - you have to supply the Elysee Palance with them for a year.) Yes, it would be wrong- I decided that I'd have to get one. Once inside, I hedged my bets by also ordering a strawberry-filled beignet.
When I got home I sliced open the beignet and watched it bleed strawberry onto the plate. The pastry was astoundingly tender and airy - it wasn't deep-fried as is the norm in New Orleans. The vibrant strawberry filling tingled in my mouth, so fresh it was. Once I'd gobbled it all, I resorted to licking the plate, cursing myself for the surgery I'd done for the photo.
Next up, the award-winning baguette. I hesitated, to be honest. I was in a "what is the right way to eat this" quandary similar to the one I was in at Poilane. After some reflection, I split it and coated it with fromage à tartiner au poivre. Doesn't that sound so much better than "pepper cheese spread"? It was crusty and resistant to the bite - pretty good to my uneducated palate. As I gnawed my way through, I wondered how the judges could've tried hundreds to arrive at the winner.