For more than thirteen years since my first trip to France and with every subsequent trip I have had the fortunate opportunity to make, I have been seeking out ways to bring France and the many things I loved about the French culture into my day to day life.
The attention to quality without excess, supporting local artisans and talents, losing time in lovely and passionate conversation and an overall love for living well, are just a few of the many things that I adore about the French way of life.
So when I discovered just over three years ago a local patisserie that satiated my Francophile taste buds each time I was relaxing with a cup of chocolat chaud (hot chocolate) or nibbling on a buttery sweet palmier, I couldn’t believe my luck to have a touch of France in my very own backyard.
Colville St. Patisserie located on Colville street in Walla Walla, Washington, is owned by Tiffany Cain and David Christensen. Their French patisserie has been delighting customers with French pastries, desserts, gelato, espresso, wine, beer and specialty wedding cakes. And with the offering of free wi-fi and late hours, the patisserie has become my preferred workplace when I’m away from home.
~chocolate gelato, a handful of gelato flavors, hot chocolate and huckleberry danish~
The atmosphere is welcoming and simplistically unique, allowing customers of all ages who are caught stopping in for a quick sweet treat or a long conversation with friend, to make the space their own.
The staff is friendly and helpful, and after having the chance to talk with a few of them, genuinely love working with Tiffany and David – as baker Sara told me, she had scouted out Colville St. Patisserie before she moved here from Seattle as the her future place of employment.
~chocolate chip cookie dough~
With the many hours I have logged at the patisserie, while I work I’m delighted with the company that Colville St. Patisserie invites through their doors: the college student intently working on a term paper, a book club having a lively discussion, a professor meeting with a student, a first or second date meeting over artfully created lattes, parents with their children whose eyes have widened tenfold upon seeing the selection of chocolate and goodies and the many individuals looking for a quiet refuge to get lost in a favorite book or article.
As I am always looking to share simply luxurious destinations here on the blog, I have been eagerly waiting to share and introduce readers to Colville St. Patisserie. After all, it is their chocolat chaud that puts all other versions of hot chocolate to shame (even, I must say, surpasses Angelina’s in Paris), and I look forward each week to indulging in a cup of my own.
Here is a look at just some of the magic they create:
~for dessert: fresh berry tarts (center) and pear tarts (right)~
~baked fresh daily, front and center – cookies – chocolate chip, oatmeal and raisin, peanut butter, back and center – pain au chocolate (chocolate croissant)~
~left – the item Francophiles are tickled to find – Kouign Aman, center – canneles – one of owner Tiffany Cain’s favorite pastries, and right – one of my favorites, palmiers~
Using local seasonal fruit and produce, David regularly offers new pastries and flavors of gelato. Recently, huckleberries, nectarines and peaches were included, so I couldn’t help but pick up a huckleberry pastry after the photo shoot paired with a small cup of my favorite chocolaty drink.
Beyond the scrumptious treats and ideal place for a little quiet time to oneself, I wanted to ask Tiffany and David a few questions. After all, it is these two creative and talented minds that after having purchased the patisserie in 2008, have clearly tapped into a niche that entices visitors regularly and has become a favorite of locals. Have a look at their responses to a few questions below.
As the lone patisserie in Walla Walla Valley and surrounding area, what about the French approach to pastries do you find customers most appreciate or are drawn to?
We are always surprised by how many people are world travelers-some are so tickled to see the Kouign Aman, which they first tasted in Brittany.
Would either of you consider yourselves Francophiles, and if so, what is it about the French way of eating, living, etc that most intrigues you?
I wouldn’t consider myself a Francophile, necessarily, but I do love the idea of strong regional identities that exist in French provinces. That is starting to happen in the wine industry in Walla Walla, and I hope that, given time, Walla Walla, or the larger Blue Mountain region, will develop a distinctive culinary style.
I’ve read that you source as much of your produce locally as you can, what are some new creations you are looking forward to sharing with customers this fall based on what the Walla Walla farms produce?
This area has amazing soil and the small community really inspires us with their dedication. We just made a sweet corn gelato with corn from Welcome Table Farms and a caramel peach brioche from Edwards Farm. This fall, look for pear and hazelnut tarts, Pink Lady apple sorbet, spiced Hubbard squash pies, and honey-walnut danishes, all from local producers.
When not creating magic in the kitchen for the patisserie, what are you most likely up to?
David is a clarinet player and is often working on something for the community band. I love gardening, reading and sewing. We are also big on cooking and a new passion is fermenting and pickling.
What is your favorite pastry to enjoy in the patisserie?
I love the cannele, which is a little baked custard. It’s made in a copper mold, carefully brushed with beeswax. Not too sweet,crisp on the outside and super moist within – delicious! David would eat a huckleberry danish every day of his life if given the chance.
What has surprised you most about owning the patisserie in Walla Walla?
It has surprised us how much people love gelato, even in winter. It seems like the peppermint gelato is what’s paying the bills in January! We have also been touched how enthusiastic how customers are about our place-it’s hard work but can be really rewarding.
The Quick and the Dead by Joy Williams (David), The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder (Tiffany)
Favorite movie: Kill Bill (Tiffany), Touch of Evil (David)
Easiest way to lose track of time:
Sitting in the backyard in the evening with a glass of scotch (David), binge-watching BBC series (Tiffany)
Best advice you’ve ever received: Listen to suggestions, but follow your own instincts.
Bucket list travel destination: Iceland! Beirut!
A tremendous thank you to Tiffany and David, as well as their staff for welcoming TSLL into their business.
Image of Tiffany and David taken by Ali Walker. All other images captured by TSLL.