Le Clementine Bakeshop, a new microbakery in St. Petersburg, is enchanting residents at the Saturday Morning Market, Indie Flea St. Pete, and other area markets.
Featured photo by Andrew Braun
Long before the October launch of her microbakery, Le Clementine Bakeshop, Paulina Gervasi had a passion for working with her hands.
“I grew up baking, crafting, painting…” She glanced down at her open palms, “I like to create things.”
Sitting across from the young entrepreneur, I opened a soft-pink box she had brought for me. Inside stood two delicately detailed pastries.
Taste the matcha tart
“This one,” she indicated the dessert on the left, “Is a strawberry jam matcha tart. The other is a ricotta crème passionfruit brioche.”
Peering at the sugar-dusted goodies, Paulina’s artistic prowess quickly became apparent. The vibrant colors of the brioche were brightly highlighted under a careful sprinkle of peeled orange zest. On top of the tart, edible flowers rested on gentle peaks of vanilla meringue. As hungry as I was, I almost didn’t want to destroy her meticulous handiwork.
But then I smelled the brioche—and the rest is history.
Baking with heart and passion
Wiping ricotta crème from the tip of my nose, I officially declared myself a Le Clementine fan, though I will admit I’m definitely late to the party. In the short 6 months since the bakery began popping up around town, Paulina’s private business has gained a loyal (and sizable) following. In fact, I’d already seen her tarts and croissants all over my Instagram discover page. To finally hold them in my hands almost felt like meeting an old friend.
Now, with multiple bakeries on every ‘Burg block, the impressiveness of Le Clementine’s popularity cannot be understated. Especially with the organization headed by a 20-something former med student with no formal culinary experience. The proof is in the (figgy) pudding, however, that credentials can’t replace heart, the latter of which Paulina exudes.
“Baking has always been my passion. Since I was a little girl, I was in the kitchen making cookies for the holidays. I tried so many different things in life, but I was always drawn back to baking.”
Late nights, early mornings, and the “highest quality products”
Heart alone, though, isn’t the sole factor in Le Clementine’s success. Paulina is also a self-proclaimed perfectionist and a relentlessly hard worker. In fact, she—with the help of her husband, Vince—begins her daily pastry production process each market morning at 2am. This practice, she explains, helps ensure that her customers are always receiving, “the freshest, highest quality product.” And, in addition to the care placed on the exterior of her pastries, Paulina goes to great lengths to source the finest, local ingredients to lie within.
“When I get tired,” she shared, “I just remind myself that this is what I love. I say, ‘Even if I wasn’t doing this, I’d still be doing this.” She glanced down at her worn palms once again, “So I might as well make a business out of it!’”
A sweet and savory French menu
For the locals who have come to adore her pastries, Paulina’s business decision couldn’t have been more welcome. Fast forward a couple months, and her humble household bakery was dominating local pop-up markets. If you’re lucky enough to catch Le Clementine at one of these outdoor events, here are a few menu items to expect:
Lemon Poppy Almond Croissant: The most popular of Le Clementine’s sweets, Paulina handcrafts these masterpieces over the course of three days. The result? A twice-baked, buttery classic stuffed to the brim with a luxurious lemon almond filling.
Croque Monsieur: Not into sweet? Don’t worry! Le Clementine also makes killer savory options, including this one. Featuring creamy bechamel, black forest ham, and “lots of gruyere cheese” piled inside a hand laminated croissant, this quintessential breakfast sandwich is a morning must-try.
Maple Bacon Bostock: Paulina’s newest creation, this maple-soaked croissant loaf was created with St. Pete in mind. Striving to replicate the hometown, yet modern, vibe that characterizes the Sunshine City, each sweet slice is finished with salty bacon—a delicious nod to the very “Americano” bacon trend.
Pain Au Chocolat: Looking for something more rich? Then this double chocolate French staple is the treat for you. With melted dark chocolate spread between infinite layers of puff pastry, this satisfying snack can be consumed for either breakfast or dessert, which is pretty much permission to have multiple in the same day.
Follow those croissants!
A Saturday Morning Market favorite
Ready to get your hands on a box of Le Clementine pastries and savories? Then get those iPhones out and join the chase!
Generally, Paulina can be found weekly at the Saturday Morning Market, or the EDGE district’s Indie Flea, but it’s always good to double check. For a definitive schedule of Le Clementine pop-ups, foodies can visit the bakery’s official website, or track them on Instagram: @leclementinebakeshop
Oh, and pro-tip—get there early. Those croissants may take long to make, but they certainly fly out fast.
Foodies can find Le Clementine at the St. Petersburg Saturday Morning Market, which is located at 101 1st St. SE, amongst other pop-up locations and fleas. To place a custom order, or further explore the menu, diners can visit their website.