Paulette Bakery

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http://www.paulettebakery.com/#

https://twitter.com/PauletteBakery

Main Location: Minneapolis (Mornings)

            There are so many fun little facets and parts to a successful Food Truck scene, and though our Cities’ growth in this has been tremendous we still have much a ways to go to catch up to the rest of the Nation. One of these aspects, as I’ve talked about with Racer at short-length, is a notable absence in the Breakfast scene. Sure we have a few trucks that have Breakfast OPTIONS, but none truly Specialize, and the number of them which actually show up early enough for the Morning Crowd is a notable minority.

            Hoping to lead the way in this mysterious territory, Paulette Bakery jumps onto the scene. Parking its small little self at various spots in our Downtown Minneapolis area, Paulette’s makes a note of ONLY serving in the early Morning times between 7 and 10am (not counting special situations and possible events). Whether the owner (whose name ISN’T actually Paulette –gasp!!– how dare she!) has considered extending these into lunch, considering how fast and often her goods sell out before 10, I’d say she’s probably fit to stay in that same-old timeslot.

            There are currently Two things one can get when they stop here: good quality, Fair-Trade Coffee (okay, they also have Tea), and Hand-made Croissants. The latter comes in 4 simple options: Plain, Chocolate, Almond, or a seasonal Savory Croissant (when I visited, it was Goat Cheese-Asparagus, yum!). Waiting in a simply stacked rack, these little joys make a quick bite for the Breakfast-seeker walking along the street.  

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Food: 9.5

             (Let me start by saying I am SOOOOOOO sorry… I forgot to actually take pictures of the Croissants themselves! I was so focused on eating them and getting back home it completely skipped my mind… guess that’s what they get for being so good. So here’s some better-looking ones I found online)

             3 words: Scratch, Made, Croissants. Unless she’s defining it differently, that means the owner is making the dough herself, from the base, and then rolling it into these amazing little pastries. Many people might not actually be aware of this, but this is HUGE. There are NOT a lot of places that actually make their own Croissant dough (or even Croissants for that matter); it is highly finicky, labor intensive, and ultimately a real bitch for any business unless one can actually do it right. That’s why most places rely on Factories for their dough; it’s all done exactly the same way, and one doesn’t have to worry about (your) Labor Cost. It’s basically the same as Puff Pastry, only not AS completely insane in difficulty.

             As for the results… BUTTERY. Rich, flaky, tender-soft Croissant deliciousness, which is then filled with even more deliciousness depending on what you get. Going for a complete review, I of course had to get 2 of these, so I settled for the Chocolate and (as mentioned) the Goat-Cheese Asparagus seasonal. Chocolate was of course that nice, traditional rich line of darkness, while the Asparagus… oohhhhhhh the asparagus. Now THAT’S how you use this ingredient; nice and soft in here (we don’t want the texture this time, too delicate of a wrapping), with that notable green, slightly pungent flavor, mixing with that tart, rich, creamy chevre. And the Croissant is an almost PERFECT pastry for it; much like the typical hollandaise used to garnish, its buttery nature complements the veggie nicely. I’m still doing a bit of a happy dance.

             These Croissants clearly blow all the well-known, average pastries out of the water, and even remind my Mom of a few of the ones she’s had in France. Now, going for any critical notes here, apparently they aren’t quite AS crispy as the “perfect” France ones (where they apparently learn how to make it when they’re kids, ugh). I also find myself somewhat wishing there was more to differentiate the simple chocolates from its competitors (besides the quality of the pastry); same simple design, but then again there’s a reason for that… it’s GOOD.

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Holdability: 10

            In the same line as Potter’s, grabbing a pastry in one of those small bags is about as simple as can be, there’s not much more to say about it. I was debating lowering it since the antiquital experience here is with BOTH Pastry and Coffee, but as one only needs one hand each with no issue.  

Price: 9

              Definitely a cheaper breakfast than getting an omelette or egg sandwich somewhere, with the croissants ranging between $2.25 and $3.50, with coffee for a bit under $2. As a Bakery, though, it is a touch disappointing they don’t offer one or two REALLY cheap options, like tiny Danishes or those little Frangipane-Puff Pastry “cookie swirls;” I’ve always found looking at and grabbing an extra little something to be a fun, naughty part of any bakery experience.

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Speed: 10

              Instantaneous like any bakery.

The TOE: 9

              Maybe not the first Truck to serve Breakfast, but definitely the first in our lineup to specialize in it, Paulette looks to lead the charge towards a whole new movement in our Morning Rush. With talks of Café Racer and others in tow, a new dawn of Breakfast Trucks may certainly be closer than originally thought. It seems only fitting that such a small, simple Truck like this be the one to create such large ripples in the lake. For if we’ve learned anything in our explorations of Truck Culture, the biggest impacts often come from the most unexpected places.

                      Tally: 47.5/50

                       

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Final Thoughts

            A great start to our Breakfast-based Lineup, fantastic for those who need a quick munchy and/or coffee on-the-go. Quick, Cheap, Easy to Hold, and Delicious, it fills all of the street-eater’s basic requirements.

            With the limited options, I’d just say get whatever particular style of Croissant suits your desire. However, if you haven’t had one before, DEFINITELY get the Almond one; filled with that sweet, rich Marzi/Frangipane, it’s always just so good. Not to mention the nut-based flavors go awesome with Coffee. For something a bit different, don’t be afraid to go for whichever Savory Croissant they have that day either.

            Oh, and don’t forget to stop by Starbucks on your walk and laugh at them as you point to your Cheaper yet Better Quality Coffee.

 

Ruhland’s Strudel Haus

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http://www.thestrudelhaus.com/

 https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ruhlands-Strudel-Haus/140150702705441

Main Location: Markets, Fairs, etc

           Inspired to try and make it big at the State Fair, Tom Ruhland, who had been working with pastry at the time, first started to make apple strudel. Though his original plans at the yearly artery-clogger festival fell through, that didn’t stop him in getting behind the wheel to spread the caramelly delight. Now, after picking up a concession trailer in 2002, they can be found trucking around to various events and fairs throughout MN.

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          As one can tell, Ruhland’s Strudel Haus specializes in, well, Strudal. Evolving from the original Caramel Apple, they now offer both Sweet and Savory versions, the latter including items such as Spinach-Artichoke, Chicken Marinara, and Brat n Saurkraut. Much like any other Fair-like Trailer, there’s also the generic selection of lemonade, floats, and other drinks.

          Ever growing, Ruhland’s has added various Farmer’s Markets to their venues; instead of the Truck, however, they bring a freezer filled with pre-formed, frozen logs of their various selections to bring home and cook yourself. This makes a fun opportunity for the customer, however it can be difficult differentiate it from the Truck when figuring out their schedule. When looking at their schedule via website, best to stick with the “Concession” for better luck.

         I also hear they have plans to get their Strudels into stores (think they already have a few).

 

Food: 6

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           Let’s start with what I got; to me and my cousin’s extreme disappointment, the Caramel Apple was sold out at the time (you could see Tom working on a whole group of them in the background). So instead we got one of the seasonal specials, a “Triple Berry Cream-Cheese” for our sweet and a Bratwurst-Sauerkraut for the savory test. Let me just start off saying that the fillings were pretty darn tasty and satisfying, just like a good homemade pie.

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           The pastry used was good; a bit disappointingly, they use the same kind for both sweet and savory, would have been nice to see an extra element of specialized dough. They also don’t actually make it themselves, but have it specially prepared by “Best Brands” to their specification; which is smart, considering the volume they need (these strudels are pretty big before cutting, and they do have farmers markets to sell to as well) and the difficulty any decent pastry dough can be.

           Despite its craft and tastiness, though, it isn’t real strudel dough; strudel dough is a special, delicate thing stretched over an entire table and carefully rolled into a single, almost braid-like bundle. The pastry here is cut into large rectangles, stuffed, and rolled over simply. I understand this is a difficult, delicate art, which is why I understand and don’t mind if restaurants get away with it; but when one has any business based purely around Strudel, think they may have to rethink their strategy.

           Now… there’s something in particular I REALLY want to say about the food, or at least about a certain item we got. Before I continue, as you can see from this picture, the edge of the order shelf is filled with fun, framed pictures of their menu items. I myself sorta like this, it allows one to see what they’re in store for without wondering if the display is tacky or not. Well, getting on with it, here’s the picture they use for the Brat n Krat:

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           It comes time when they are about to garnish it, and ask me if I want the mustard on top or side. Of course, I love any good German flavors (why I ordered in first place), especially with a little Dijon or other stoneground mustard, which this picture quite clearly displays. So, of course I want it right on top, my lips already wet from my tongue in anticipation, and what do I get?

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           A big, wet drizzle of cheap, generic, mass-produced yellow crap. Okay, that’s a bit harsh, I don’t mind yellow mustard really, it’s nice in the right situations. But when you have a picture that clearly shows the use of a certain kind of product, then one either uses that, something better, or apologize and serve with nothing at all. Not the most generic thing one can find; which, sadly, doesn’t seem to just ring true for the Brat dish, following this with a big dollop of pasty hummus on top of their Artichoke-Spinach. Not even home-made, I think it was Saba… or some other generic. Ice cream, as one would expect of a truck that feels like it belongs at the Fair, is of similar quality, though at least it’s always good with warm chunks of pastry and pie filling.

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Holdability: 6

           Cut into a notable square and placed in a basket with whatever toppings match, this is already not a handheld food option. Add that up to a wrap of pastry that, though flaking nice on top, has a bottom layer that is quite plastic fork-resistant, making for a bit of an annoying struggle. Other than that, it’s not too difficult to walk around with it and stay clean.

Price: 7

            Like this score, all strudels are $7 even; various drinks and such reminiscent also reminiscent to the Fair in price too!

Speed: 3

            This point is, simply and purely, very frustrating. Before I continue, let me say that the wait isn’t actually any longer than the usual wait one finds at a regular truck, such as Vellee or MO. However, considering the fact that ALL they have to do is cut off a piece of the strudel, all the available ones of which are ready to go and kept warm, and then simply top it with whatever (a drizzle of mustard, dollops of hummus or marinara, scoop of ice cream, etc), the few minutes spent just leisurely and casually going about this is unacceptable. Especially when there was a line forming behind me, and no one took another order the entire time, that is until there was trouble with my credit card and the front person passed it onto Tom in the back (finally freeing her hands). And no, this experience wasn’t just limited to me; I had to spend a few minutes behind two women myself, and I think that was midway through the whole thing.

           It’s just unacceptable.

The TOE: 5

           It feels like what it is: a stand that tried out for the State Fair but ended up working the streets. At the very least they retain that fun feeling of specialty, that one goes here for one thing and one thing only (and possibly something to drink), and it’s not something one naturally finds everywhere, increasing the specialty. However, with the design, menu, intent, etc, one wonders if they can’t just go to the fair this year and find some easy substitute.

          Maybe if they fixed the false advertising issue of their pictures and actually work on not taking their sweet time on the order, the other stuff might not matter so much.

                      Tally: 27/50

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Final Thoughts

            If you want a strudel, find them at a market where you can just buy a big frozen one to bring home. Don’t have to wait in line annoyingly, can get a lot more for what’s probably a better price, and can top it with whatever you want (like really GOOD ice cream).

            As far as strudels to choose, definitely go for the Caramel Apple; we weren’t able to try it, but it’s the oldest and has the most practice and reputation in it, so I’m positive it’s good. Plus, a fun little substitute for apple pie at home. Though, all of the sweet strudels are of similar deliciousness, them using quality local ingredients in their fillings. As for the savory, the only one that seems worthy is the Brat n Kraut; the other two are probably decent too, but in a generic fashion. At least the Brat really brings in all that rich, sour German flavors that go so well with the pastry dough (like a good meat pie… which reminds me, all meat pies need sauerkraut from now on).

            If one feels they have to visit the stand, all right; I suggest doing it when there’s not too much of a line (unless they fix their speed issue). Though, if you’re lucky, there’s probably better and more suitable dessert trucks around.