Sunday, October 13, 2013

Paris Pastry Crawl

 Sainte Honoré Citron from Pierre Hermé

Paris has a magnetic pull on me. It is hard for me to visit Europe and not spend at least a little time there, so we ended our European holiday with a few days in the City of Light. I realize that is like saying if you visit New York, you must also go to San Francisco, which is ridiculous since the two are no where near one another. But I suppose once I make the effort to cross the big pond I feel I am in the neighborhood even if I am miles/kilometers away. 

Our only agenda was to eat as much pastry as possible. So, we did a Paris pastry crawl. It is not quite the same ambitious pursuit as running a marathon or doing a traditional pub crawl, but we attacked it with the same vigor. Our small hotel was conveniently located between Ladurée and Pierre Hermé, which is precisely why I picked it. Location, location, location. 

So many patisseries... so little time... We did not come close to visiting all the patisseries I would have liked to, but we did our best with the brief time we had, helped by a very useful app by David Lebovitz. If you love pastry and Paris, this app is a winner. Even if you don't plan to visit, it will have you salivating from your armchair. Do check it out and his blog. Mr Lebovitz is such a clever and entertaining pastry chef and writer. 

Many years ago I worked for a design firm on a ferry boat in San Francisco. Meaningful logos, clever packaging, and stellar corporate images were our specialities. I believe Pierre Hermé has one of the most elegant logos I have ever seen. The interlocking PH is simple perfection. The French are experts at beautiful design and presenting their products in an intriguing manner. Fashion aside, never is this more true than in the patisseries. LaduréePierre Hermé, and Fauchon elevate pastry to an art as do so many others that I didn't have time to visit. I think I need an extended research trip.

Ladurée macarons

When you step inside a Ladurée salon where every one speaks in hushed tones and the wait staff navigate the room with the precision of a ballet, you feel as if you have stepped back in time to a more genteel era. There is nothing more civilized than their delicious pastries and tea enjoyed on their beautiful signature china. Ladurée is a little slice of heaven.

Ispahan and Religieuse Pistachio at Ladurée

If you prefer your pastry to go you won't be disappointed as the treats will be expertly and handsomely wrapped to enjoy on a park bench while watching Parisian life. 

Palm trees and painted murals give the main room of Ladurée on rue Bonaparte a tropical feel.

I would give just about anything to meet  Pierre Hermé. His pastry creations are a mix of traditional with a modern flair. I don't think anyone in the culinary world does this better or in a more interesting way. He is truly a pastry genius. I love his macarons for their generous fillings and clever flavor combinations.

The Sainte Honoré citron (lemon) made me swoon. The caramelized sugar was a golden iridescent hue. How does he do it?
Candy Apple and Sour Apple Mini Eclairs

The pastries at Fauchon are displayed like fine gems in a jewelry shore.The colors and textures are a feast for the eyes. I once had a pastry teacher who encouraged us to 'steal with our eyes'. He said no one ever got in trouble for stealing with their eyes. Their pastries are truly inspirational.

Fauchon's enticing window
Always thinking out of the box Fauchon puts the traditional round lemon tart in a square mold. Delicious.

Tarte au Citron

Thankfully we walked a lot, which was needed to work off all the pastry research during our pastry crawl. Ah Paris, I long to cross the pond once more.

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