Sweet changes for downtown Lenox visitors

By Clarence Fanto, Berkshire Eagle Staff, Posted: 04/09/2011 10:37:21 PM EDT Sunday April 10, 2011 LENOX -- As residents come out of winter hibernation and visitors begin to flock into the historic downtown district, a new French bakery, café and tea salon has opened on Church Street, while a long-established ice cream parlor has relocated. Patisserie Lenox, a mom-and-pop shop opened April 1 by Jean-Yves and Yulia Bougouin, is already drawing a steady stream of customers to sample a wide array of colorful pastries, including fruit pies and tarts, croissants, brownies and other baked goods, as well as an extensive coffee and tea selection. With seating for 12, the newly redecorated space at 30A Church Street was home to the Napa restaurant until eatery moved next door five years ago (and eventually relocated to Great Barrington). After Napa moved, the town imposed restrictions preventing any cooking at his site, said Bougouin. He commutes daily from the couple's home in Becket to a friend's house in Springfield, where he bakes the daily offerings from scratch. The business is currently open seven days from 9 to 6. Previously the operators of stores and cafés on Long Island, N.Y., the Bougouins financed their new establishment out of personal funds because, he said, "there are no good pastry shops around." The Bougouins have a one-year lease and later on may relocate elsewhere in town in order to bake locally on the premises. Targeting residents as well as visitors, the shop also prepares wedding and other specialty cakes to order. They offer tea to larger groups in traditional Russian hand- painted kettles (Samovars) -- $10 for 10 servings -- and also showcase cold-brewed coffee. The couple described it as a traditional African method that uses no electricity and is claimed to have health benefits because of lower acidity. An extensive selection of gourmet coffee, espresso, cappuccino, lattes and 20 varieties of tea also are available. Patisserie Lenox updates its selections and hours on its Facebook page. The business can be reached at 551-9050.

Patisserie Lenox: Luxuriant pastries

By Sharon Smullen, Special to Berkshires Week Thursday July 5, 2012 LENOX -- Everyone deserves a birthday cake. As the summer solstice sun beat down, we beat a path to the door of Patisserie Lenox to celebrate my son's special day with a slice of sweet delight. Cool air greeted us as we entered the welcoming surroundings -- caramel-colored walls adorned with country scenes of sunflowers, a striking pink and white orchid, small round café tables. A larger stone-inlaid table was set in a sunny bay window overlooking umbrella-topped patio tables and the street beyond through lace half curtains. Plump cushions topped every chair, and the sounds of Jacques Brel and jazzy French pop filled the air. Approaching the counter to place an order is like entering Aladdin's cave. The dizzying choices in the pastry case will set hearts thumping and juices flowing: multilayered Nap o leons, cone-shaped cheesecakes, fresh fruit tarts large and small, mini cream- filled choux puffs, exquisite whole gâteaux. We selected a rectangular slice of Opera cake. My daughter described the decadent strata of chocolate and coffee ganache with almond genoise topped with a jaunty sliver of chocolate as "layers of scrum-diddly-umptiousness." The apricot tart seemed a perfect complement -- tangy, not too sweet, the orange fruit tinged with toasted tips over almond paste in a flaky pastry bowl, with a few blueberries offering a fanfare of fruity flavor. Milky swirls topped generous cups of café au lait, while the Puerto Rican coffee, already French pressed, arrived without the flourish of watching the grounds go down. While walking hot beverages back to the cream and sugar counter is somewhat precarious, it lets the café offer a wide selection of sweeteners, from brown crystals to liquid sugar and honey. While there primarily for desserts, we sampled lunch dishes, including a chilled gazpacho of cucumber, avocado and tomato -- perfect for a scorching day. The warm, filled croissant was deliciously flaky, even if paired with a somewhat bland spinach and ricotta filling. By contrast, the individual ham and Swiss quiche was crumbly, rich and cheesy. Fresh mixed greens came topped with a tangy citrus dressing. The pastry selection was ex tensive and appealing, with fruits, jams, cheeses, nuts and chocolate adorning croissants and breakfast breads dusted with sugar or glazed to a sheen. Patisserie Lenox makes cakes to order, and the walls display photographs of some magnificent wedding cake creations, including a striking "croque en bouche" tower. Busing our own tables was a small price to pay for such elegant and exceptional fare. Owner Jean-Yves Bougouin is the real thing. Hailing from Brittany, France, he apprenticed as a pastry chef in Paris, scoring the top grade on the graduating culinary exam. He moved to Montreal and honed his skills in top North American restaurants including La Gren ouille in New York City. He started his own businesses on Long Island, servicing res taurants and Air France; his pastries even flew on Concorde. A pilot himself -- he was a paratrooper during his military service -- Bougouin often flew on weekends to the Berkshires, where he decided to build his dream house in Becket for his Russian-born linguist wife, Yulia, and their young daughter, Sonya. "I bought a log house kit on eBay," he said in an interview after my meal there. "We love it here." Out walking in Lenox one winter afternoon, he saw the restaurant and decided to make the move. It wasn't a planned decision but a spontaneous one, he said. He and Yulia opened the patisserie in April 2011. The café has worked much better than expected, he said. Cust omers rave about it on Face book, and he counts Gov. Deval Patrick and James Taylor among his clients. The flourless chocolate cake with chocolate mousse is one of his favorite recipes. He bakes everything from scratch using fresh ingredients, organic local produce and European butter -- there's less water in it, he explained. "One of our signature cakes, which most people love and also looks gorgeous, is the white chocolate mousse and raspberry," Yulia said. Whether relaxing over a coffee and almond croissant, or walking out with a pink bakery box filled with delectable delicacies, a trip to Patisserie Lenox will always be a real treat.

Flourless Chocolate Cake Is Perfect For


By David Latt November 7 2012 Thanksgiving celebrates family and traditions. Shaped by a lifetime of expectations, most people think the meal must include turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes. Dessert is more variable, although pumpkin pie often seems to be on the menu. In our house apple pie and bread pudding are also constants. For this Thanksgiving, I've decided to bend tradition and bring a flourless chocolate cake to the table. On a late summer trip to the Berkshires, I was won over by French pastry chef Jean Yves and his deliciously light, flourless chocolate cake. Knowing I was coming to the area for a visit, he invited me to a hosted tasting at Patisserie Lenox, the cozy shop he and his wife Yulia Bougouin own and operate in Lenox, Mass.. Bringing French pastry to the Berkshires Chef Yves' pastries are exactly what one expects to find in a French bakery: light and flakycroissants, richly flavored puff pastries with a light custard filling, airy and buttery brioche, brightly colored macaroons, chocolate glazed éclairs, fresh fruit tarts and elaborately decorated cakes. What one doesn't expect in the Berkshires is a French bakery. The area is renowned for the art and music festivals that dominate the summer season. Performances at Jacobs Pillow Dance and concerts at Tanglewood are the prominent but not the only arts celebrations in the area. The bakeries and restaurants in Lenox are good but definitely not French. So the natural question to put to Yves is why the Berkshires? Marriage made in the kitchen Sitting down for coffee and a slice of his cake, Yves smiled as he talked about how he created one of his signature confections, a two-layer, flourless chocolate cake with a ganache filling. As a young man, he worked at elegant Le Grenouille on the Upper East Side of New York. The job demanded he create new desserts to satisfy an always hungry, upscale clientele. He remembered the densely flavored chocolate and thick whipped cream he employed to make rich chocolate cakes when he worked in a German bakery. He applied French patisserie techniques to those ingredients. The result was a cake that combined the essence of chocolate and cream without being heavy. It's dense with flavor and light on the palate. He looked down at his hands before he explained how he found himself in the Berkshires. Having worked in New York City, in the kitchens of well-known chefs and on Long Island in his own bakeries, he freed himself from a life that was falling apart when he discovered a soulmate in a young Russian chef who was as proud of her soups as he was of his cakes, tarts and pastries. This was a marriage made in the kitchen. Yves and Bougouin decided to raise their young daughter in the second home he had built in the woods and recast their lives in the Berkshires. The flourless chocolate cake - topped with cocoa powder, swirls of freshly made whipped cream and hand-dipped chocolate-covered whole almonds - was one of the ways he celebrated his new life and business in Lenox.

Cucumber Avocado Gazpacho

By Divvy Up Dining blog June 29, 2012 I am in the Berkshires this week visiting my family. For those who haven't been, the Berkshires are an area in Western Mass stretching from the CT border up to Williamstown, home of Williams College. It's filled with New England towns, farms, lakes, antique shops, good restaurants, and cultural attractions like Tanglewood, the Norman Rockwell Museum, and Shakespeare Theater. On Wednesday, my mom and I drove up to Lenox to visit some of the boutiques and have lunch. We went to the Patisserie Lenox, a place she had visited before for its great coffee and pastries. They also serve lunch and we decided to share a spinach croissant and salad. On a whim, I suggested we order the cucumber avocado gazpacho. I'm not ordinarily a gazpacho fan -- it used to remind me too much of V-8 juice - but I was hot, thirsty and the infusion of vegetables sounded good. And after trying this recipe, I'm a convert. The Patisserie is owned by a husband and wife, Jean Yves and Yulia. She does the cooking and tea selection, and he makes the pastries. Yulia generously shared her gazpacho recipe with us. She didn't follow any particular recipe but used her tastebuds as a guide, adding and tweaking to achieve the right balance. The addition of the avocado gave the soup the right amount of creaminess and depth to balance the tart, raw flavors of the cucumber and tomato. The herbs helped keep the flavor interesting. I also bought a raspberry brioche for Noah, but unfortunately only a third of it made its way home. I had to reframe the gift: instead of buying him a brioche, I "saved him a third of my brioche".
Patisserie Lenox
© Patisserie Lenox Inc. 2012

Our Customers Say...

“Like stepping into a Paris pastry shop! While we had a hard time deciding what to treat ourselves to, what we had was out of this world great! I don't think you could go wrong on any choice. The French style hot chocolate is NOT to be missed.” StoneWiegman “Gem - Save the airfair to France! Charming staging in petite location. Authentic, delicious and artistic pastries. Find it and go inside without hesitation, leaving your vows at the door -- because it is worth it.” PassoStelvio “You are masters of craft!” John L. Bortolotto “Amazing all around! We were so pleasantly surprised to find this little gem in Lenox! As soon as you walk in- you get this warm cozy feeling. They really did a great job decorating the cafe! And then a bowl of delicious soup (I had butternut cider bisque- love, love loved it!), and OF COURSE- desserts... OMG, this place is a heaven of pastries, croissants, danishes...I've been to Paris, but I swear pastries in Patisserie Lenox are even better than in some places in Paris (at least strawberry eclair and flourless chocolate cake- that's what we had). The service was great- very sweet girls working there. I am jealous to people who live nearby- If I did I'd be coming there a couple times a week for sure!!! Can't wait for my next visit!” KateJ “Unbelievable to find such great pastries in such tiny town. Real french” NicoF “What a great find! We stumbled across Patisserie Lenox while on vacation last week. It was a chilly day so we popped in to check it out and stayed for lunch, which was delicious. We had a butternut soup that was made with apple cider and a creme fraiche which was one of the best soups I'd had in many a moon. And with it came a decadent to die for spinach and feta croissant. It's worth getting a cup of tea just to experience the flavorful fresh tea leaves they bag themselves and hold together with a wooden handle that rests on the cup. Very cool. We took home a chocolate croissant and a chocolate and almond croissant to have for breakfast the next day which rivaled any I've had in the past.” LynnMAmesburyMA “Amazing Little Heaven! I'm going to Patisserie everytime I'm in Lenox. Great cozy place to stop by while browsing trought the town. Delicious French pastries and great hot drinks.Love their Hot chocolate yummy!!!!” strawberryGB “Love this bakery! Great if you want to indulge in a personal treat, the best cakes made to order decorated beautifully. The almond croissant is heavenly, should I go on?” fowler_frances “The Gem in Lenox! The warmth you feel here starts when you open the door and enter the small rather intimate space. The pastries here are so beautiful that all of them will appeal to you and they are made in the European tradition by a charming couple. The coffee is good although there are no free refills of the pressed pot brew. Fruit tarts, brioche, croissant and pastries galore. You may have to visit more than once in order to try several! Right in the center of Lenox but not on the busy mains st. It is surrounded by restaurants within walking distance so you have no excuse for settling for a mediocre dessert in a restaurant. Leave some room for a treat here after a short walk from your lunch.” baglady061 “Not to be missed! Stopped in here so we could have a late night treat on New Years eve. We are so glad we did. The pastries were incredible! Our eyes got the better of us and we purchased extra which we could not finish that night. They were so fresh that the next night you could not tell that they were not fresh that day. We live near Boston and have been to Modern and Mikes in the north end. Even though 2 are Italian bakeries and Patisserie is French...Patisserie blows away these tourist traps which are suppose to be the best in Boston. Try Patisserie's eclairs, cream puffs, brownies and tarts. (I said we went overboard) Best we have ever had.” CindyKBoston “Thanks for the wonderful contribution you make to our neighborhood....” Rosalie and Craig Berger “Dear Pastry Chef Jeanvyer(I know I spelled your name wrong, but I am taking a stab, so I apologize for the misspelling), the Birthday cake that you made for my 60th surprise party this past Saturday nightwas the absolute best birthday cake that I have ever had in my entire 6 generations on planet Earth. The cake from a presentation standpoint with all the white and dark chocolate was incredibly beautiful, and the taste was delicous! About 25 years ago I spent a lot of time in the kitchens of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in NYC, and I worked directly with Executive Chef Arno Schmidt, Sous Chef Kurt, and the head Pastry Chef Willy Harrel ,who I got to be extremely close friends with; and all I can say is that he was an absolute pastry genius. However the birthday cake that you prepared for me was light years ahead on any cake that I ever SAW and Tasted! Your cake that we celebrated my 60th birthday, and entrance into my 7th generation truly made the surprise dinner party for me a truly special night that I will cherish to I say “Finito La Musica”. Thank you & “Soigne”, Best regards, Ted Handerek.
Fine French Pastries, Macarons and Specialty Cakes Lunch served daily