Ellie’s Table at North Beach. 120 W. Avenida Pico, San Clemente. 714.636.6045. www.elliestable.com.
It would be great if life was such that we could live according to the rules of the kouign amman (pronounced queen ah-mahn). We could allot 40 percent of our workdays to air hockey tournaments, 30 percent to boozy umbrella drinks, and 30 percent to naps. We could spend 40 percent of our money on fully cashmere wardrobes and 30 percent on adopting puppies and 30 percent on hiring a full-time caretaker for those puppies, who also happens to make awesome pizza.
The point is—and there is a point—the kouign amman is a pastry that must abide by strict rules of production, but those rules are empirically great: 40 percent must be dough, 30 percent butter and 30 percent sugar.
Modern takes on the pastry do stray, but Ellie’s Table’s version is as indulgent as it gets. Their signature pastry is composed of a robust and beautifully caramelized pastry, packed to the brim with sweet and rich custard filling—indeed, the chef calls it crème brûlée filling. What works so well is the contrast between bouncy filling and flaky crust; between sweet cream and perfectly bitter burnt edges.
The inherent flaw in the kouign amman theory of living is that if you made the pastry 30 percent of your diet, you’d quickly die. But what a sweet way to go that would be.—Matt Cortina