C’est Si Bon!—Halfway through a meal at La Quiche Parisienne Bistro, which I enjoyed on their first day of business in late November, I pulled my head out of my soupe de carottes just long enough to realize that every table around me was ablaze with patrons, and every last one of them was speaking French.
I had to remind myself that I was in downtown Albuquerque, not a David Lynch movie or, better yet, a café on the Seine.
La Quiche is an authentic French bakery from husband-and-wife team Sabine Pasco and Bruno Barachin. Bruno is from Bordeaux, where he achieved Master Baker status years ago. Unfortunately, the couple found that "financing and opportunity is harder in France."
Sabine's background is in fashion design (it runs in the family: Her father was a tailor and their teenage daughter complains that Albuquerque is remiss in its shopping choices) but, ultimately, their passion for food has been unquenchable. "We love food and pastries," Sabine says in melodiously accented English. The couple has lived in Albuquerque for about five years, where they've worked at other French and specialty restaurants. They opened La Quiche late in the winter of ’06. (It's actually their second bakery—the first was called "Julien Pastry," in Pittsburgh, Pa.)
In addition to a large menu of sandwiches, pâtés, soups and stews (Sabine loves her bourguignonne, which she serves in a housemade pastry shell), La Quiche sells loaves of country bread, fantastically complicated bread showpieces and viennoiseries, a word I had never heard in my eight years of French lessons. Sabine explains it's basically another word for pastries, specifically those that traditionally came from Vienna—flaky, buttery baked goods like brioche, croissants and pain au chocolate. "People have a hard time saying it, but it's fun and you learn something." They use imported French butter, and it shows. You'll also find a catering menu and a variety of quiches, ready to go for Downtown’s abundant supply of workers with little time for a proper lunch.
And all those French people? They were friends of the family, who came out in droves to support the new business. "All the French people we know came and helped us," Sabine says, especially when it came to cleaning and repainting the former tenants' cloyingly pink walls. You can see each of the helpers' handprints pressed into plaster of Paris on one of the walls. "We owe them baguettes for the rest of their lives."