Thursday, July 15, 2010

Oh My Darlin' Clementine!

Attic Gal Rachelle says:

I found my new happy place!

Yesterday I was running around doing errands, returning some unused craft supplies to our local Michael's with my 4 year old, and I happened to glance over and see a new shop that I had never seen before tucked into the corner between the Michael's and the Trader Joe's in Palm Desert. Intrigued by a big white Eiffel Tower in front, I ventured toward the shop rather than heading straight to my car as I was planning, due to the 115 degree desert heat.

I'm so glad I ventured! I discovered this place - Clementine Patisserie & Boulangerie! When I read the word patisserie, a little bell started ringing in my mind! Ding, ding, ding! FRANCE! Ever since my trip to France last summer I have been dreaming about the dazzling and delectable displays of pastries, and the inviting Parisian shops. Could I have possibly found a place like that right here in my own backyard?

When I stepped through the door into the cool of the shop a friendly French voice said "Bon Jour!" and that bell in my mind started ringing again. I knew I had found it! Oui!

Clementine is tiny, but visually so full! So many pretty and delicious things to look at that if it was any larger it would simply be overwhelming. It is not overwhelming - it is simply, well, whelming. It is perfect!

It is just hard to know what to look at first? The absolutely fabulous decor? The boutique selection of pretty European products? The beautiful baguettes, croissants, and boules? Or the pastries?

It's the pastries!

Oh, the pastries! Did I mention FRENCH pastries? Ooh la la!

Tea cakes, tarts, and hot lava cake. Since my little guy, Luke, was with me, I let him choose one for us to share. He picked a chocolate caramel crunch cake - the size of a cupcake, but denser and richer than a brownie with a large dallop of caramel on top. Luke chose well! Really wonderful!

Since we were on a bit of a schedule, we had to run, but I found myself smiling the whole drive home, charmed by this little spot of wonderful right in the middle of the scorched desert. I felt like I had had a little taste of Paris - a mini vacation in all of about 20 minutes.

I called my mom and told her I had something I wanted to show her, and made a date to pick her up the next afternoon. We shared trips to Italy and France together and I knew she would love it.

Mom had no idea where I was taking her, but she is always up for something wonderful, so she was in. When we drove into the Michael's parking lot she was a bit bewildered, I think, since I am no fan of Michael's. "Are they carrying a new line of craft supplies or something?" But then I directed her away from the craft giant to the little shop in the corner... Clementine!

Mom went straight to the pastries too... after taking it all in and catching her breath, that is!

We tried samples of the Fleur de Lys bar - a cookie bar piled with EVERYTHING! Really. Yummy! There were also the darlingest little petit fours, and something entirely new and fabulous - cheesecake pops! Cheesecake on a stick! Can it get any better?

Oh, and then there were the cupcakes!!!

If you know anything about me, you know I am a huge fan of cupcakes. Huge!

It happened to be Bastille Day, so they had some fantastic red, white, and blue - um, I mean blue, white, and red cupcakes to celebrate the French holiday. Vive la France!

But even if you don't celebrate Bastille Day, there are still plenty of other cupcakes to devour, like the one on the bottom left. Yep. Those really are chocolate dipped potato chips!!!

(Can I just say that I LOVE taking pictures of food!?! I mean, really, is there anything more beautiful than food?)

Of course, there were some lovely baguettes, boules, croissants, and biscotti. I couldn't walk out the door on my first visit without a baguette under my arm like I saw so many Parisians doing.

Besides the baked goods, they also served tea and coffee, and for me, a Pellegrino Limonata- an Italian sparkling lemonade - to cool me off! A man from Italy popped into the shop. He had spied the Pellegrino Limonata in the window, and had to have one. He said it reminded him of his childhood. Lucky kid.

One corner of the shop is set up as a pretty little French boutique with European food products and such, like this tub of honey - so pretty I'd by it just for the tin!

The trays and dishes look just like French and Italian pottery, but are really melamine, and very affordable!

There was just so much to look at, and so much that I wanted to taste!

In time.

The owners, Christophe and Jennifer are delightful!

His was the friendly voice of greeting wishing us "bon jour" when we arrived, just like they do in every shop in Paris. He is from France and a European trained chef. Jennifer is an American who lived much of her childhood in Italy. They married, had two beautiful sons, and Christophe decided that the restaurant business was no place for a family man, so he hung up his apron, and together they opened Clementine. They both agree they are the perfect team. Christof is not just a chef but has a head for business, and Jennifer is the creative genius behind it. She decorated the place! I think I want to live there!!!

Clementine has only been open less than 2 months, and it doing well, which is particularly amazing considering not only the economy we are in where businesses are closing left and right, but that it is the dead of summer here, and most definitely the off season. Christof said that they decided to open in the off season, because they knew that if they could make it in the off season when all the seasonal visitors are away, than they would be a success. They want to focus on the locals - get them to become regulars! So wise. As a local, I am happy to help with that!

They were so fun to talk to. They told us of some of their plans for the shop, and their ideas, and their family, and, of course, France. The other customers who were there were also involved in the conversation - just like neighbors do!

If you are a local, drop in for a visit! You'll become a regular too. If your not, you have two options: visit Palm Desert (I would suggest sometime between November and April if you can't take the heat) or else go directly to Paris.

After much mouthwatering deliberation, mom and I decided to share a pear tart - so Parisian, and an Italian cannoli. Christof was so good to heat up the tart in the oven for just a few minutes for us - just enough for the center to get soft and warm - every bit as delicious as the ones we had in France. It was amazing, as was the cannoli! And we heard similar reviews from the lady at the other table devouring her berry tart.

It all reminded us of France and made us both want to go back!

Someday. But until then, at least we will have Clementine - my new happy place!

Clementine Patisserie & Boulangerie on Urbanspoon


  1. It looks beautiful!! And tasty... maybe I can talk Alan into stopping on our way out of town... not that it's really on the way, but you never know :)

  2. Oh my goodness. What a find! I hope you let them know about the blog as you just gave them terrific publicity. What GORGEOUS pictures! Way to go lady. I can't wait to go. But I want to go with you as you can tell me what is what. What fun!

  3. Okay, this is really good news! I get cravings for tarts and Mark is sweet enough to run from store to store looking for the perfect tart. This is not always an easy task. Mark will be so happy when I tell him where he can find them. Thank you for sharing your "new happy place."

  4. Ooo La La! It was indeed a bit of heaven. The pear tart literally melt in the mouth, and the cannoli was amazing. Makes me happy just to think about it. Thank you for the wonderful surprise.

  5. YOu should be paid for this great advertisment. I am going to go with Alysa next week when I am down there, yum, yum. I can't wait and you did an excellent job of making it seem so inviting that I just can't pass it up!!!

  6. These pictures are amazing! I live in Germany - but this post makes me want to hop in a plane, fly over France, and VISIT this shop!

    Thank you for sharing!
    {visiting via TidyMom}

  7. This place looks enchanting! I can easily see why it's your "happy place"!

  8. Oh it looks delightful!!! I want to go there, it would be my happy place too!!! You should be their marketing director or design their website, you did a great job with the photos!!!

    New Friday follower in the house. Hope you'll come return the favor!

    Lots of yummy love,
    Alex aka Ma, What's For Dinner

  9. I had heard about this blog and had to come see for myself. WOW! Everything looks so delicious and your writing is impeccable! I have to come and visit!

  10. Hi Rachelle,
    I was in the shop with my son when you first walked in. What a coincidence. It is truly delightful! Your photos are divine.

  11. Baguettes AND cannoli? I'm there!

  12. I love Clementine. I go back and forth between them and Nana D's in Indio for a favorite place to get sweets.