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Upon entering Fendu Boulangerie, a specialty European-style bakery tucked in the heart of Manoa Marketplace, the doorbell jingle jangles cheerily, welcoming me into owner Niel Koep’s inner sanctum of sweets and savories. There is something happening here — you can sense it, smell it, taste it. And this something — an aroma that entices me to dance across the floor — is good. It’s a fresh-baked fragrance that even the most hard-core Atkins adherent couldn’t resist.
Looking to the left of the register, I find the culprit that has stolen my senses. It’s the fresh, hearth-baked sourdough bread presently being pulled piping hot from the oven. The crackle of the crust on the outside and oh-so-soft and chewy inside create pastry perfection, and mouthwatering loaves of this manna from heaven are available in full size ($5.50) or petit ($3.75).
“Our sourdough is different in that it is a French version, meaning it is milder and leans toward lactic rather than acidic under-tones of taste,” Koep says.
Searching for something to satisfy my sweet tooth, I catch a glimpse of Fendu’s Valrhona Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse Cake. Never before have the lyrics to Devo’s popular ’80s song meant more to me than now, because when it comes to mousse, Fendu knows how to whip it, and whip it good! Whether you dine in on a decadent slice ($4.75), or take home an entire 8-inch ($36) or 10-inch ($48) round, this cocoa confection featuring a chocolate mousse tucked between two layers of chocolate chiffon cake, and an outside crown of two-tone almond cake kissed with a drizzle of chocolate glaze won’t disappoint.
“The Valrhona chocolate is a French brand that I use in many recipes,” says Koep. “It is rich in taste rather than sweet with sugar, and each couverture has a distinctively different flavor.”
Koep also recommends Fendu’s seasonal Pumpkin and Hazelnut Cheesecake, available per piece ($4.75) from now until the end of November. A creamy concoction of pumpkin, cream cheese and mascarpone, this cheesecake base is also infused with finely ground hazelnuts and a nudge of cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and ginger, all perched atop an almond crust of golden goodness. I had one forkful and did indeed stop to give thanks. Amen!
When asked what he wishes for every customer to experience at Fendu, Koep simply says that he “hopes that what they purchase, they enjoy.”
2752 Woodlawn Drive
Monday-Saturday, 7:30 a.m.-7 p.m.
Sunday, 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m.