Isabelle et Vincent is "absolument" unique in Fairfield County.
This is an authentic French patisserie and boulangerie -- a bakery where the owner arrives each morning at 2 a.m. to create an astounding assortment of breads, quiches and pastries, much of it utilizing the imported chocolate they make in-house.
"It's a passion," co-owner Vincent Koenig said. "You need a passion to do this, otherwise the job is too hard, too difficult."
This is a business rooted in tradition, but born out of that passion. Koenig is a seventh-generation baker who operated a successful business in his native Strasbourg, France, with his wife, Isabelle, for 18 years before the couple decided to have an adventure.
Without even knowing the English language, in 2007 they brought their children, Caroline and Philippe, to the U.S. to begin a new chapter in which they introduced Fairfield to the high art of fine French baking.
"We wanted to realize something really special and we had a dream," Isabelle said. "So we sold everything that we had in France to come to this country and realize the dream."
Upon arrival, the family met with various adversities, including legal and rental issues. Ironically, the challenges led them to form connections with many locals long before they were able to open their bakery in May 2008.
"Absolutely no one else can bring France back to me as well as Isabelle et Vincent can," said Anne-Elena Buckner of Westport, who spent the first 25 years of her life in Paris. "It's magic."
Buckner brings a French language group she leads on regular visits to the bakery, where customers are invited to spend time enjoying their coffee and cakes at one of several tables that enjoy a wide open view of the kitchen and, through a picture window, the chocolate room.
"They are the real thing, the true thing," Buckner said, "and they remind the native that somewhere out there, there's a piece of France that is waiting."
From the beginning, word of mouth has worked wonders for the Koenigs, who see it go out and invite it back in, drawing on regular customer feedback.
"We are really strict on the quality," Isabelle said.
One can expect to see handmade chocolate rabbits and eggs in the coming weeks, along with the homemade ice cream, bonbons, brioches and croissants regularly offered and created each morning.
"I'm never going to sell something from the day before," Vincent said. "Every day you need to have something fresh and something good. That is the first rule of my job. And I think after you have this, you're going to do fine." Read Full Article
Isabelle et Vincent, 1903 Post Road, Fairfield, 203-292-8022, www.isabelleetvincent.com/.
Jarret Liotta is a freelance writer. Follow him at Twitter.com/JarretLiotta.