Monday, February 14, 2011

Swiss Confectionery

Swiss Confectionery

Founded in 1921 by emigre Henri Moecklin, Swiss Confectionery is now run by his great-grandson Larry. The shop's Alpine-crowned logo promises "The Peak of Perfection" and Swiss has built its reputation by living up to that promise at the most crucial of times. The staff estimate that of the 200 weddings that take place on an average weekend in New Orleans, they supply the cakes for 60. There's even a custom-built adjoining room where Swiss holds regular cake tastings for brides-to-be.

They also do a brisk business in traditional doberge cakes, beautifully iced birthday cakes, and prim little petit fours (bottom, left). Swiss can make any flavor you'd like, but around here, what most people want for their birthday cake is "wedding cake"--which in New Orleans means almond cake with almond buttercream. The bakery's air was so saturated with almond extract I could smell it in my hair for the rest of the day; it was like the heavenly flip side of enduring a smoky bar.

There's also an appealing quirkiness about the place--nothing forced or hipsterish, just a humor that seems to stem from being relaxed and confident. When I commented on the huge fish tank in the main room, the woman behind the counter joked that some people see it and assume they're a sushi restaurant. Asked if he was the baker, a guy in full kitchen whites grinned: "I'm the candlestick maker."

A sense of playfulness is also evident in Swiss' immaculate creations. The pastry "pattie shells" (below, right) are same kind you'll see elsewhere used to hold oysters or savory vol-au-vents; at Swiss they're filled with jelly and iced in Mardi Gras colors. If you look closely among the photos of elaborate wedding cakes in the shop's brochure, you'll spot this groom's cake: a perfect chocolate buttercream replica of a rumpled four-poster bed.

747 St. Charles Ave
New Orleans, LA

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