Friday, December 7, 2012
P.S. Suisse, $2.85
Langley, Washington is not so much small as concentrated: you could drive in one end and out the other in about 45 seconds, or you could pull over and spend all day exploring bookshops, cafes, spas, boutiques, the world's best-organized thrift store, and, at the far end of a tiny pedestrian mall, the P.S. Suisse bakery.
Originally from Ligerz in western Switzerland, Peter Boden served a 3-year apprenticeship in Davos then worked as a confectioner and pastry chef in hotels and restaurants around Europe. After moving to America, he first worked in Illinois, then Michigan, then relocated again to Colorado--as much for the skiing as for the kitchens. Some of the framed memorabilia on the walls at P.S. Suisse comes from this period, including a feature story on the Vail Grand Marnier Chef's ski race, with a picture of Peter schussing down a slopes in apron and toque.
After several years as the co-owner of Vail's Alpenrose restaurant (est. 1975), Peter took some time off to concentrate on producing his sought-after chocolate sculptures and paintings...and somehow ended up in Langley, WA, in a tiny shop at the end of a small mall. I would've liked to ask about that, but the lunch rush crowding the bakery's few tables put a damper on investigation.
Peter's wife Sandra covers the front of the house, hustling plates and extracting pastries from the crowded cases. The cookie choices include spitzbuben (or "rascals," two-layer sandwiches with jam filling peeking out through holes in the upper cookie), linzer (similar to spitzbuben but made with hazelnut dough), shortbread Orcas painted with milk or dark chocolate, and almond horns (above) wrought from mildly sweet marzipan dough, dark chocolate, and a glassy sugar-egg-almond glaze. There are also strudels, tarts, danishes, Napoleons, croissants, and a shelf full of breads.
As the shop's sole baker and cook, Peter has plenty to do in back. In addition to keeping the cases and bread rack full and whipping up lunch plates, there are the seasonal specials. During my visit Peter was hard at work filling orders for Engadin nusstorte, a shortcrust pastry stuffed with walnuts, honey, and cream. A traditional holiday-time treat, the Engadin is named for the valley surrounding St. Moritz and is a soft-spoken reminder of the poverty endured by generations of Swiss villagers; the Engadin recipe probably spread as bakers went further and further afield in search of work.
221 2nd St #12A