Paula said, casually, while walking past me in the kitchen, "where was that French bakery you read about?"
Nonchalant, a no-big-deal tone, but belying that this was in fact, not just an important issue, but the most serious question on planet Earth.
But I didn't remember. I had only read about the "supposedly" real French bakery when doing a bit of research on Kiel and told Paula about it, but that was months ago.
And then Paula got a migraine and headed to bed and I made it my mission to find the bakery as if this would somehow be medicinal for her.
So while Paula tended to her head, I perused the internet typing in every string of words I could until I found the video that the "Förde Fräulein" posted:
And Viola! Mission accomplished. I found it. Cafe Restez! Located down the street from one of our favorite Farmer's Markets (one of the only ones that we've been to regularly-- but Paula claims to have found a better, closer one-- ) and the fact that we can argue over which farmer's market we like more is a statement in itself of how much life has improved.
So we set out on our journey, arrived and I was instantly surprised and amused by how small this place was. A counter, a couple of chairs and that's it.
Paula and I were oogling all the pastries and the wall with the built-in ovens.
(a rarity-- there are so many bakeries in Kiel and yet I haven't seen one person with flour on their hands or an apron around their waist, or an oven to bake their fresh bread).
I went outside to find us a table and when I returned Paula was in a bit of a kerfuffle with the lady behind the counter. Paula had asked for something which the lady didn't understand (Paula only wanted a regular coffee with milk, but it seems like each place has their own name for regular coffee, Krema Cafe, Cafe Luggo, Americano, etc).
The woman behind the counter was so confused as to what we wanted (and whatever it was that Paula asked for) that it started to feel like we were indeed asking for some unique creation, like we were asking for something so strange and foreign we could only pantomime our needs with grunts and gestures. her face seemed to indicate that we had ordered something equivalent to iocane powder blended with fresh unicorn toenail clippings.
My Danglish proved ineffective, "nein, normalish coffee! normalish, mit milich! eins mit milch, eins normalish, schwartz bitte!! Normalish coffee. Espresso mit Wasser!" She reacted like she forgot who she was and why she was behind the counter. She kept repeating the word coffee like it was something she had never heard of and the espresso machine she was leaning against was an alien creation.
Eventually, another woman came to explain what coffee was to the woman who was so spun up and down.
Coffee was made. Coffee coup de grâce avoided... barely... but we just didn't care.
We weren't there for coffee.
We saw the trays of croissants fresh from the oven. We were on a mission.
We got our coffees and we got our croissants.
We sat outside.
We pulled our croissants apart. Flaky, buttery. The kind of buttery that makes you wipe your fingers after every bite. The guts, that doughy center was so moist you could literally pull it out in one piece (there should be a name for the center of a croissant... let's call it... Jesus). Paula pulled Jesus out and held it high.
It glowed like the sacred heart. Glowed like the sun. Glowed like the orb of goodness that it was.
The point is, these are the best damn croissants, not in Germany, but ever (for now).
I have no idea what the coffee was like.
We left happy.
On the way back we discussed the obvious, lingering, question....Where were they making those croissants?
There were two ovens, but the place is too small for a kitchen. There's no place to prepare anything. Yet there was a tray of fresh baked croissants and pastries. An oven, a hot tray, but no kitchen.
I'm so jaded by factory made bread I'm skeptical and worry that all the bread from so-called bakeries is frozen and then baked on site for some faux authenticity.
So there was an oven and there was a fresh tray, but who brought the tray and from where?
And while considering all the possibilities (maybe they owned an apartment next door where they prepped and baked, maybe they came directly from heaven) Paula stopped in the street and yelled:
"Nihil fit ex nihilo!!"
Paula is right these little magical creations, they have to come from somewhere. "What we should do" she decided, "is go there early one morning and sit and eat and wait until someone brings new trays. We might have to stay all day and eat all the croissants, but it'll be worth it."
But until then...Weeeeeeee!
oh, by the way...This is what happiness looks like: