Ed. Note: Due to forgetting my camera all of the following photos were taken with my Blackberry. Apologies for the crappy quality.
Due to my upcoming wedding which will take place in Pennsylvania, I've been required of late to spend many of my weekends taking the bus south from New York to Doylestown, PA. One of my very, very favorite places to grab breakfast in Doylestown is a small shop called La Maison Cheese. The blatant incorrectness of the French here (The House of Cheese should translate as "La Maison du Fromage") gives you some of idea of the complete disregard for other people's opinions that makes this shop completely awesome. The opening time, as well as the spelling of the name, vary depending on the whim of the owner. On some signs the name is "La Maison du Cheese" which is slightly more correct, on others the "du" is left out. Some mornings they open at eight, others closer to nine.
There are generally two ladies working there, from what I have surmised with my extremely unjournalistic method of sitting there with coffee and listing to conversations is that Carol is the owner and there is a more elderly woman who works for her. I have seen them bicker during the morning rush, with such an amusing back and forth that I wanted to give them their own TV show. There is a cooler filled with cheese, and there was absolutely no signage telling you what the cheeses are or how much they cost. You have to ask the women working there if you want something, and you will often be greeted with a general sense of apathy if you don't have an intimate knowledge of all things cheese. I know, that's horrible, and it should make me to run out of there and never go back, but it doesn't. I think I worked so much retail in my life that having a person behind the counter who cares a lot about food and not so much about you and your day (or correct french) is almost refreshing, and is certainly terribly amusing. They've got too much faith in the food that they sell to suffer fools. If you're looking for a place that will be really nice to you and sell you inferior pastries, there's a Starbucks a block away.
Oh, and about the food? It's fantastic. This shop carries the best croissants I've ever had. Ever. They are soft and fluffy and moist and perfect. I have rearranged my morning schedule just to be able to eat one for breakfast. If it's a weekend they run out well before noon, but on a weekday I've bought one towards the end of their day and they've thrown in an extra one for free. On a recent visit Will and I were presented with complementary slices of cheese cake, because the woman who made it had extra. If you come into the shop, and it's not busy, and you're not a complete pain in the ass as a customer you end up on their good side, and that is a delicious place to be.
They also make a number of filled croissants (also excellent) as well as a number of seasonal baked goods. This past summer they had a mixed berry lemon scone that was moist and seductive. You bit into it to find huge chunks of strawberry and blueberries, all mixed into this fantastic lemon cake. Then I was stuck in a quandary: do I order the croissant or the scone? Usually I would bring someone with me and make them share, solving the problem. Except for the problem of all those filled croissants. And the cake they have sitting on the counter. And that case of those dreamy if mysterious cheeses that would spread beautifully onto my croissant…
On a recent visit Will and I both tried filled croissants, Will a Raspberry, and myself a Tomato and Goat Cheese. My croissant was savory and soft and buttery and deeply satisfying. On a weekend full of crazy bridal nonsense the highlight was sitting in the window of this tiny shop, which is decorated in such a way as to create the feeling of sitting in a country kitchen. From my perfect seat I sipped my coffee, ate a perfectly crafted morning treat, and enjoyed the theatrics of a small town. It was possibly the most relaxing fifteen minutes of the weekend. I breathed, I ate, I enjoyed. It's so easy to get wrapped up in all the craziness that's going on now, and all of the planning, but on the way out, I noticed something. Embedded in the sidewalk right outside the shop, they are nice enough to remind you of two things that can really make life worthwhile.