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What gets you first about the twice-baked almond croissants at Bakery Nouveau is the smell: Like warm, fresh bread, only sweeter, richer, better. Next, as you take a bite, it's the magic of croissants that surprises you—the way they manage to be crisp and flaky and chewy and soft all at the same time. And after that, you're just into it—fully committed and loving the restrained sweetness of the almond paste and the pure, luxurious kick of all that butter and all that sugar doing wonderful and terrible things to you. The twice-baked almond croissants at this little West Seattle Bakery (which just happens to be run by William Leaman, the guy who led the 2005 U.S. bread-baking team to victory at the World Cup of Baking) are far and away the best thing I've had there, but Bakery Nouveau also does a brisk trade in fresh bread in the morning (the loaves sell out fast); in plain croissants; in cookies and pastries and cakes and fist-sized pains au chocolat. But seriously, there is just no way I can walk into this shop without being drawn straight to those little almondy bastards. And there's never any point in picking up fewer than three because, at least in my experience, one of them will never survive the drive home; the second will vanish before midnight; but the third—if I can manage to show a little restraint—might actually make it to breakfast the next morning.
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