Several weeks ago, Rachel and I went to the Patisserie Fauchere in Milford for coffee and French pastries. It is an authentic French bakery and has a charming room with fireplace (when it’s too cold to sit on the front porch) and marble-topped tables. It is part of the Hotel Fauchere which has been a Milford fixture since the 1850s. Louis Fauchere, a chef at Delmonico’s in New York City, moved to Milford in 1867 and opened a saloon previously called “The French Hotel.” It had been owned by Louis’ wife’s family and remained in the Fauchere family until 1976. It is a beautiful building and the patisserie is in a smaller attached building I discovered this summer.
I have been to the patisserie several times since my first visit — it’s right on the main street and in the summertime you can sit on the porch and enjoy people watching. Dogs are welcome so you might be sitting there and someone comes up to ask you to watch their dog while they go inside to get coffee or lunch. Typical of what I am finding about small town living, you can talk with the baker, discuss the merits of each pastry and how best to serve certain breads. On this particular day (of the fruit tart pictured here), it was cold and the café au lait and a pastry were just the thing. There was only us and one other woman with a heavy French accent on her cell phone. When she got off the phone she asked if we came to the patisserie often and started up a conversation as if she had known us for years. This happens to me a lot around here so we listened to stories about her daughter but particularly about her family that owned a patisserie in France, although it was unclear if she was from France, Switzerland, or somewhere else.
After a few minutes, she walked out, Rachel and I continued our conversation and finished our pastries. Then up comes Sonia to our table with the fruit tart (blackberries and blueberries) pictured, set it down on our table and told us we absolutely had to try it since it was the only real French fruit tart she had since leaving France. Very generous to say the least. She then went into the kitchen and brought the baker out to our table so that we could tell her how wonderful she was. It was so unexpected! Of course, we then HAD to eat the fruit tart as well as the pastries we had purchased. It was amazing and delicious and all that Sonia said it would be. The baker, whose name I never got, was very pleased. They both withdrew, the baker to her kitchen, and Sonia to pick up her daughter. She hoisted a Dora the Explorer backpack and walked out the back door.
Rachel and I speculated on whether she was related to the owners of Hotel Fauchere, finished our coffees, and picked up a few things to take back with us. I went to the kitchen and thanked the baker and we left. What an interesting experience — Sonia was very nice and certainly felt comfortable interacting with total strangers. It is the kind of experience that makes me appreciate this community and the people who live here. I expected it to be deserted in the winter but, to the contrary, Milford continues to be an interesting town full of surprises.