Délices – pronounced day-lease – is a boulangerie-pâtisserie in Bedford owned and run by two French women. Géraldine Perrier Latour trained as a boulangère, or bread maker, and Diana Woo is a qualified chef pâtissière. After working at some of the most prestigious establishments in Paris, they moved to Bedford and opened their shop in July 2015.
Tucked away in Howard Street in the heart of the town centre, Délices is the kind of place where you can escape the hustle and bustle. When you step into the light and airy interior, there’s an unhurried feel that immediately reassures you there’ll be no rush for you to leave. It’s just as well because you’ll certainly want a bit of time to take in all the delicious goodies displayed at the counter. What should you have – something sweet or something savoury? Don’t worry if you can’t decide – Délices is open from 9am to 5.30pm, Monday to Saturday, and covers breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea.
Croissants fresh from the oven…
Everything at Délices is handmade on the premises each day. Should you need proof, you’ll often see Géraldine and Diana working in the kitchen through the feature window behind the counter. Géraldine’s buttery croissants are so popular she bakes them three times a day – they make a perfect continental breakfast teamed with an espresso or cappuccino.
Also fresh from the oven are other delicious pastries – or les viennoiseries – including pains aux raisins, pains au chocolat and almond croissants made with a cheeky hint of rum.
Oh la la – it’s lunchtime!
If you want to ring the changes at lunchtime, Délices do all the French classics, starting with the iconic Le Parisien baguette. At first glance it may seem like a straightforward ham baguette but that doesn’t take into account the finest ingredients used at Délices. ‘We only use the best here,’ explains Géraldine. ‘For example, we use Parisian ham that’s been cooked the traditional French way inside a cloth to preserve all the moistness and flavour.’
For vegetarians, the Green Goat baguette is a delicious mix of goat’s cheese, walnuts and pesto while the Brigitte Bardot teams Comté cheese with grilled peppers marinated in black tapenade and herby olive oil. Or if a full-sized baguette is too big – and you’ll probably want to leave room for a cake – there are also mini-baguettes with tempting fillings such as lardons, sun-dried tomatoes, goat’s cheese, figs and apricots.
It’s not all about baguettes, though. Pop into Délices for a French-style lunch and you can enjoy quiche, croque-monsieur and savoury croissants along with soups and salads.
Afternoon tea and cake
A visit to Délices wouldn’t be complete without sampling one of the gorgeous gâteaux. You’ll see them displayed at the counter, a line-up of totally irresistible cake confections. There are coffee éclairs, colourful macarons that look too pretty to eat and come in flavours like pistachio, raspberry and lemon plus melt-in-the-mouth choux buns filled with vanilla, crème au chocolat or strawberry and cream.
Many of the cakes are pure indulgence. Diana’s gooiest gâteau is Le Délicieux – a most definitely delicious mix of dark chocolate biscuits, caramel crème brûlée, dark chocolate mousse and salted butter caramel sauce. ‘French cakes combine at least five different layers, each with an individual texture and taste to create different sensations,’ explains Diana. ‘I play around with textures so you’ll experience melting, crunchy, crispy, smooth, soft, chewy – and all those textures mean the flavours will come through at different times as you’re eating.’ The result is simply divine.
As well as her regular cakes, Diana also makes gâteaux using the best of the season’s fruits. It’s all about warm, caramelised apples in her Tarte Tatin now but come the summer months she’ll be re-creating The Woo-Man – a French almond cake with almond-milk mousse and apricot compote. Perfect for enjoying at a table on the outside terrace.
Drinks that delight
At this time of year when it’s chilly outside, the hot chocolate goes down a treat. Made from an 18th-century French recipe, it’s a warming dose of dark Belgian chocolate and Madagascar vanilla – served with a swirl of crème Chantilly if you really want to put a smile on your face.
On the drinks menu you’ll also find coffees such as espresso, cappuccino, latte and mocha. And there’s an interesting selection of teas and infusions. Served in vintage crockery you might like the delicate cherry blossom flavoured green tea or perhaps the ‘Hanging Garden’, a fusion of lemongrass, rose petals and hibiscus flowers.
Food to go
Did we mention that Délices is a boulangerie? That means you can buy a fresh-out-the-oven loaf to take away. Hand-baked by Géraldine, the bread is made with additive-free wheat flour and goes through a slow fermentation process to give it a really good taste, texture and aroma.
Like everything here, there’s plenty of choice – baguette, buttery brioche, rustic loaf, chocolate bread, rye bread with figs, apricots, walnuts and raisins.
You can also buy French goodies from the retail area in the shop. All the products are high quality and beautifully packaged, which makes them ideal gifts for foodie friends and family. Along with loose teas, coffee beans and herbal infusions there are delicious jams, pâtés and spreads plus sweet treats such as liquorice-flavoured marshmallows and homemade truffles.
Bespoke gâteaux and business lunches
If you need a spectacular show-stopping cake for a wedding or other special event, Diana’s your woman. Just give her a call about what you need and you can leave her to work her pâtisserie magic.
With their sweet and savoury offerings, Délices can also provide food for special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries. ‘If someone is looking for something different, something French, they can take a look through our menu and we’ll get their selections ready for them to collect,’ says Diana. ‘We’d also like to encourage local businesses who might be catering for a meeting or conference to give us a try.’
‘We’re really proud to be bringing a little taste of France to Bedford,’ says Géraldine. ‘It’s a joy to make our food and we always look forward to saying “Bonjour” to our customers.’
Délices, 7 Howard Street, Bedford MK40 3HS 01234 353 280
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram: @DelicesBedford