On the Menu: Parfait Paris — a croissant and crepe paradis in Point Loma
If you want to feel like Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron traipsing through the cobblestone streets of the bohemian Ménilmontant neighborhood in the springtime, you’d better put on a snappy beret and head to Parfait Paris for your fix of sweet and savory French delights.
Husband and wife Guillaume and Ludi Ryon are French nationals, co-founders and owners of the award-winning French bakery and pastry shop, a bustling spot in Point Loma’s Liberty Public Market, with other locations in Coronado, downtown San Diego, Del Mar and Anaheim.
Get Point Loma-OB Monthly in your inbox every month
News and features about Point Loma and Ocean Beach every month for free
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Point Loma-OB Monthly.
Perhaps their career is due to their French passion for fine food that they acquired from their respective grandmammas during childhood, or their finesse for blending flavors, or maybe their techniques for creating authentic dishes with ingredients imported from France.
“People work hard for their money and can spend it anywhere they please. If they choose to buy our products, we have to be grateful and make them feel special,” Guillaume said. “People will never forget how you make them feel.”
“Our strength is in our classics because we use the traditional techniques of baking. People try to speed up the process, but it’s an art and a science and it takes time and love.”
— Guillaume Ryon, co-owner of Parfait Paris
The couple’s diverse backgrounds seem to complement each other. Guillaume’s focus on wealth management and finance provides the strategic, business-minded component, while Ludi completes the equation with her extensive hands-on restaurant experience working both the front and back of the house since she was 16, along with formal training in culinary arts and hospitality management.
A few years after immigrating to the United States in 2008, Guillaume, inspired by the Starbucks takeover of La Boulange bakeries in 2012 for $100 million, was certain he could make it in the bakery business. He approached Ludi with his plan to launch multiple locations with a central commissary (currently in Mission Valley, where all the products are made daily by the same bakers).
In 2014, the couple opened the first Parfait Paris in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter, followed by the one in Liberty Public Market at Liberty Station.
The stand-alone boulangerie/patisserie/cafe with its signature orange logo hanging from a banner and painted on a wall pulls you in with eye-popping rows of handcrafted (and gluten-free) macarons in colors of electric blue (Earl Grey & Jasmine), pale pink (Garden Rose), fuchsia (California Strawberry), seafoam green (Sicilian Pistachio), alabaster (Madagascar Vanilla), sunny yellow (Lemon Pie), bright orange (Passion Fruit Mango) and varying shades of beiges and browns (Italian Espresso, Campfire S’mores, Caramel Sea Salt and Galaxie Chocolat Noir).
Macaron Mondays offer a 10 percent discount on all boxes.
Other glass cases display croissants baked that morning using the labor-intensive French method of “lamination,” giving rise to buttery pastries either plain or filled with almond paste or dark chocolate (pain au chocolat), a typical French breakfast.
For a change-up there are cruffins — the collision of a croissant with a muffin — an apple brioche and the traditional mille-feuille — French for “thousand sheets” — of golden, flaky house-made puff pastry alternating with layers of vanilla bean pastry cream that happens to be Ludi’s guilty pleasure.
“Our strength is in our classics because we use the traditional techniques of baking,” Guillaume said. “People try to speed up the process, but it’s an art and a science and it takes time and love.”
They even bake a 2-pound croissant because they can. “It’s fun, a showpiece, but it’s not what a real croissant is about,” Guillaume said. “Croissants are the most versatile food that can be made either sweet or savory. That’s what’s so cool about croissants.”
Guillaume is a chocolate connoisseur who savors super-dark, high-octane cocoa content (90 percent). Not surprising, his favorite dessert on the menu is the Parfait Signature, a triple threat starting with an almond biscuit on the bottom, followed by a crunchy praline layer, then a dark chocolate mousse topped with slick chocolate lace and petals made in-house.
For crepes — the hamburger of the French diet — Guillaume recommends the sweet and savory Galette Complete, filled with house-made cheese béchamel sauce and Paris ham and topped with Gruyere cheese and a fried egg. It’s accompanied by a side of organic greens dressed with balsamic vinaigrette.
Sweet tooths can indulge in the Gourmande (bananas, pecans, caramel and whipped cream), the Citron (lemon juice, sugar and whipped cream) and the Mixed Berry crepe. For culinary amusement, you can grab a front-row seat at the bar and watch the crepe-making process in action.
Other dishes include a breakfast sandwich on a croissant or bread of your choice. There’s the Alsacien, a croissant filled with two fried eggs, Canadian bacon and Swiss cheese; and the Avocado Toast Flight, a trio of multigrain slices, each topped with a different mash-up of ingredients, such as goat cheese, tomatoes, walnuts and honey on the first slice, a fried egg and balsamic reduction on the second slice, and curry, capers and pickled red onions on the third.
Le Saumon is a piscivore’s delight of smoked salmon, capers and red onion paired with house-made de la mer spread (crème fraiche, dill and chives), and Le Basque offers soy chorizo as a plant-based sandwich option.
Let’s not forget Quiche Lorraine with bacon, Gruyere, muscade and caramelized onions, or a vegetable version melding feta cheese with zucchini, basil and curry paired with organic greens.
A lunch special for $18 is offered throughout the week from opening until 2 p.m., including a sandwich of your choice with a side salad, macaron, and espresso or medium cappuccino or latte.
For an icy indulgence, try a cup of house-made gelato, including praline, coffee, cookies and cream, vegan chocolate and
charcoal vanilla dotted with black specks. And if you really want to throw caution (and calories) to the wind, go with the gelato macaron sandwich.
Many ingredients are imported from France, such as the chocolate, butter, flour, fruit purees and ham (along with the executive corporate pastry chef and sous chef). The prosciutto comes from Italy, the almonds from California.
Only organic, pasture-raised eggs are used, and where possible, everything else is organic, local and seasonal from farmers markets delivered fresh every morning.
“Everything is natural,” Guillaume said. “If you can’t pronounce an ingredient, that’s because it’s in French, not because it’s a chemical.”
If he and Ludi don’t personally like a particular item, they won’t put it on the menu.
“The best reward is not only seeing the smiles on customers’ faces but hearing the praises when they tell us they feel like they are in France while eating our food,” Ludi said.
“You recognize a good bakery by the simplest stuff,” Guillaume said. “Attention to detail, balance of flavor, richness of all ingredients, traditional techniques in making a pastry or bread, the aesthetics, color and texture. ... If that’s done right, the big stuff is going to be amazing.”
Where: Liberty Public Market, Liberty Station, 2820 Historic Decatur Road, Point Loma
Hours: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Fridays, 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturdays, 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays
Information: (619) 819-7681, parfaitparis.com
Vanilla bean macaron
• 70g cream 40 percent
• 100g white chocolate
• 11.25g vanilla bean syrup
• 0.96g gelatin powder
• 4.8g water
• Heat cream and syrup in a small saucepan on medium.
• Bloom gelatin with cold water.
• Place chocolate in heat-proof bucket.
• Melt gelatin by adding to the hot cream.
• Pour hot cream over chocolate.
• Use immersion blender and blend until homogenous.
• 64g powdered sugar
• 64g almond flour
• 25.6g egg whites
• 64g cane sugar
• 16g water
• Few drops of natural coloring or flavoring of choice
• Blend almond flour and powdered sugar. Set aside.
• Cook cane sugar with water and red coloring to 240 degrees.
• While sugar is cooking, combine second egg in the bowl of an electric mixer and blend on medium speed to start building meringue.
• In large mixing bowl with a paddle attachment, beat almond flour and sugar mixture with first egg whites (add food coloring or flavorings now). Beat until smooth and fully incorporated. Set aside.
• Once sugar is at temperature, pour slowly into meringue bowl on high speed. Whip meringue until it has cooled.
• Once meringue is cooled, switch from whisk attachment to paddle and quickly add almond paste to meringue while mixer is on low speed.
• Batter is ready when a figure-eight can be made and the “tail” melts back into the batter within 30 seconds.
• Bake for 12 minutes in a low oven at 280 degrees. When cool, make a sandwich by spreading the filling on one shell, then placing the second shell on top.
— Courtesy of Parfait Paris