In the centre of Bedford two women started a business from a passion that began in Paris. That passion was bread and gâteaux making. Géraldine and Diana are the proud owners of Délices (pronounced day-lease) boulangerie -pâtisserie. It’s situated away from the busy main high street in Bedford on 7 Howard Street. It’s a slightly odd location for such a beautiful café but once you step inside and get settled you see why they picked the premises. It’s a large open space shared with the Art Centre and Gallery to one side and Délices on the right. You have plenty of space to sit and chat with friends over a hot chocolate (made on site from an 18th century French recipe and served with a swirl of crème Chantilly – yum! ) and the area is child and buggy friendly thanks to the ramp on entry and exit, the children’s menu and play area towards the rear of the premises.
As I walked over to the main counter I was greeted by a compelling aroma of fresh, buttery croissants and freshly baked breads. You can see Géraldine and Diana busy in the kitchen most days through the feature window located to the rear of the main serving counter. It’s hard to resist all the temptations but I wanted to go and find out more about these two passionate business ladies first, so I went and had a chat to find out more about them.
Géraldine and Diana met on a bread making ( boulangerie) course in Paris. They formed a firm friendship and Géraldine went on to work at several award-winning French bakeries. Diana told me she is also a trained pâtissière and has worked at some of the best hotels, kitchens and chocolatiers in Paris. You can see why they make a great team together, and it’s enabled them to offer something truly unique to Bedford.
To be called a boulangerie, a French bakery must bake bread on the premises and this is exactly what Géraldine and Diana do every day at Délices. In fact all the food on offer including the beautiful pâtisseries will have been made from scratch and on site; I think that’s a really nice touch and one which will make them stand out from other businesses in the area. I am told that the ingredients used are authentic and the cooking process done in the same way as their counterparts in France. You simply can’t compare a croissant purchased from here with one found in a supermarket which lasts a week (shamefully I buy them for my son and feel very guilty now) The ingredients lists will be very different and that’s what Geraldine and Diana are so passionate about. Authentic taste begins before you start cooking, and the ladies will always choose (local or French) ingredients which prioritise quality produce over quantity. Even the oven used to bake the breads was sourced from Europe and not something you will see in a normal restaurant or café. You won’t see hundreds of different types of loaves and baguettes being made here, that’s not what they wanted for a business.
Not only that but the cooking process of their breads combines organic flours and a slow fermentation of the bread dough. This, I am told can make a massive difference to your body’s ability to digest your food and they tell me that they have had customers come back and say how their bread has helped them to be less bloaty. Definitely a bonus as I walked out with 2 large baguettes which were devoured within a few hours. At the time of writing this post a plain baguette ‘La BAGUETTE de TRADITION costs £1.60 and a larger loaf ‘Le Rustique’ was £3.50. They tasted great and I will definitely be going back for more!
The Lunch Menu
All the sandwiches are made using Délices crunchy baguettes or you can choose a freshly baked croissant with filling. I personally thought the baguettes were a little too generous in size for me and preferred the portion size of the Le Croque-Monsieur or the Ham Croissant . Of course the fillings will always be authentic, for example ‘Le Croque-Monsieur’ is made from sourdough and comes with ham cooked in the traditional French way (inside a cloth to preserve the flavour and moistness) Comté cheese and a homemade béchamel for £4.60 (at time of writing).
I have to say the pâtisseries are what everyone stares at longingly when they first arrive at the Délices counter. There are so many beautiful pastries, tarts, macarons, cakes and pâtisseries to choose from, all so beautiful and to be honest so pretty I was a little sad to eat them. I was having some guests over for lunch the following day so I decided to buy some treats to take away. I am not the best at making deserts so when you have a French Pâtisserie on your door step you need to take advantage for such occasions!
My choices were:
LA TARTE au CITRON MERINGUÉE £3.40 Fluffy on the inside, slightly crunchy on the outside – my husband loved this one
LE LOUIS XV £4.60 The wow factor! This little desert had a crispy, crunchy praline base and layers on chocolate mousse and crème brûlée with vanilla from Madagascar and Tahiti , it was finished with a chocolate glaze and hint of edible gold dust. – This was very rich, but lovely and my eldest son (5) ate it slowly over two days. I devoured mine in one sitting.
THE SWAN £3.20 Was apparently inspired by Diana’s love of the Bedford River. She wanted to make ‘something white, light and graceful’ so she used her amazing skills to create pretty swans fashioned out of choux pastry and crème Chantilly. The result is a beautiful light desert and a real treat for my guests to enjoy which such a lovely story behind it. (I didn’t take the credit for making them, (although I wish I had!)
Of course you can also come to Délices just for a hot drink if you wanted too. They serve tea from Le PALAIS des THÉS, Coffee by Wooden Hill (a Bedfordshire local fair trade roaster) and of course the famous homemade hot chocolate made from a traditional French 18th century recipe served with or without crème Chantilly.
This I haven’t tried out for myself but I saw it on the menu and one day I will give it a try. It’s £22 for Adults or £10 for children, which is the higher end of the budget for my friends and I but the menu looks good and for me the star of this show will be the homemade French douceurs & gâteaux. According to the menu, classic English breakfast tea is served with your food or you have a choice of coffees, hot chocolate or herbal infusions.
French gifts and food
I hadn’t noticed on my other visits to Délices that they also do a small selection of high quality French produce. From purchasing individual French Jams, to homemade packs of mini meringues and large hampers the range is small but welcoming and not overpowering for the setting. A great idea for foodie family member.
Délices is a great find to all who live in Bedford and surrounding areas. The uniqueness to their offering is what makes them stand out from other restaurants and cafes in the area.
For more information please go to their website www.Délices.co.uk
7 Howard Street
01234 353 280
Délices are open Monday to Saturday, from 9:00 to 17:30.
All information including pricing is correct at time of writing.
I wrote this blog page in my spare time and was not paid or given anything for free to write this post. Photographs were supplied by Délicies as I am not a food photographer and could not do the food justice with my camera!
All comments are my own. To find out more about me click here. http://mybedfordshire.com/about/