madrid spotlight: oriol balaguer [croissant edition]

Croissants. Just say it with me: cwahsahnt. The sound of it alone will make you either want to harshly judge the person who says it “french style” or merely want to bite into one with complete fervor. For me: its a mixture of the two, but with more emphasis on the latter. It also kinda reminds me of Julia Louis Dreyfus. (warning: link might ruin the sweet delicate nature of the croissant. however, the statement is worth ruminating over when ordering one and can cause severe laughter). And yknow, to be honest, I think we can all replace the croissant statement with “our ex” and it still works for extra laughter. Well, at least in my case. Also, knowing that Dreyfus says croissant “french style” makes me a little bit happier in life. But, I digress. This post is supposed to be about Oriol Balaguer and his genius pastry mind. Since living in Madrid, I have been obsessed with finding perfect croissants. I don’t know what it is about these deliciously flaky bulbous pastries, but my mouth can’t seem to get enough of them. They pair perfectly with my other obsessions — coffee and not dieting — and are perfect on the go (which is something I’m always doing. “para llevar” is one of the first things I learned to say in Madrid and my most used sentence).

Anyways, I found out about this pastry shop whilst browsing through spottedbylocals, which is a great website to know when you want to explore any place like a local. Apparently, theses croissants come from the mind of Oriol Balaguer — a specialized pastry chef who has received awards and critical acclaim for his culinary masterpieces. At the tender age of 21, Balaguer pocketed the award for Best Pastry chef in Spain. He also received the “Best Gastronomy Shop in Madrid (’08), Best Pastry Chef in Catalonia (’03), and Best Dessert in the World (’01).” Pretty impressive stuff right there. After reading this, I had to try his creations for myself. Upon entering the shop, I felt as if I mistakenly walked onto the set of “Tron.” The place exuded a minimalist vibe with their chocolate and cakes laid out like expensive artwork under futuristic LED lighting. It was one of those places that has too much plate, not enough food, and uses chocolate sauce as mere plate decoration and not a taste booster. To be honest, it was a bit too avant garde and luxurious for the likes of a girl who enjoys her musty “hole in the wall” spots too much. However, that wasn’t enough to make me leave sans croissant. I was surprised to find that the pastry prices were cheap compared to the extravagant surroundings I found myself in. At €1.50 for a croissant, I went crazy and bought two. I live dangerously. They didn’t have coffee to serve with the pastry, so I opted for it “para llevar” and decided to walk home to accompany it with some freshly brewed coffee.

So, whats the verdict: Hands down, one of the best croissants I have tried in all of Spain. The outer layers are perfectly crunchy and glazed over well enough so that you reduce the amount of messy flakeage (major points for that last one). But even with its harsh exterior, the interior is what you work for and look forward to. It is the heart to your artichoke, the pearl to your oyster, the meat to your lobster (?). It was fluffy, buttery, perfectly moist, melted on my tongue, and had the perfect paradoxical balance of being both light and substantial at the same time. Its certain, Balaguer knows what he is doing and those awards were all well earned. His pastries mark themselves as number 2 on my “Best Croissants in Madrid” list (right under Le Pain Quotidien. now thats a pastry). If you are a pastry lover like myself, or just want to try the creations of a master like Balaguer then I think it’s about time you head to his pastry shop.

44 Calle de José Ortega y Gasset
| +34914016463
Mon – Sat 10:00 – 14:30 & 17:00 – 20:30


2 thoughts on “madrid spotlight: oriol balaguer [croissant edition]

  1. i go almond. or chocolate and turn my coffee into a mocha (which is hard to find in barcelona btw), dont know bout madrid?

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