I went to Paris for just five days, but after two days it seemed like I had lived in this city for such a long time. Still, there is so much more to be seen, dainty little pastries waiting to be discovered, baking books to be bought…
I set off to Paris with my friend Ramona, who has already shared her (far more detailed) account of our trip on her blog. Our main touristy endeavours proved to be exercises in queueing rather than sightseeing, so we did not see Mona Lisa’s smile. Neither did we gawk at the price tags at the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. We only walked around the Notre Dame and heard the bells. And no, we did not even make it to the Eiffel Tower.
Instead we saw the Lady with the Unicorn tapestry at Musée de Cluny, enjoyed the astounding views at the Sacré Coeur and Montmartre, and got to shuffle through the Mirror Room at Versailles, where I took this obligatory mirror selfie par excellence. But most importantly, we did what Marie Antoinette had told us to: we ate brioche cake!
Our first patisserie was Arnaud Delmontel, where I bought a strawberry and vanilla mousse cake and Ramona got a slice of the famous Opéra.
Next, we went to Maison Landemaine and got ourselves two tartes fines, one with pear and the other with mirabelles (small plums) and a giant pistachio macaron. We went back to the hotel and, this is the genuine truth, we had the most decadent dinner! Macaron for entrées, tartes for mains, and cake for dessert!
The strawberry cake was a great way to get acquainted modern French patisserie: a fluffy vanilla mousse, a light pink sponge and a center of strawberry jelly and fresh strawberry.
The tartes fines are so great in their simplicity, What more could you ask of a tartlet than a flaky butter pastry with lots of fruit and just a tiny bit of pastry cream and glacage?
The next day, we reached the holy of holies, the sanctuary of entremets, the shrine of macarons: Pierre Hermé’s. After waiting in the queue down Rue Napoleon, I set my eyes on the tarte infiniment vanille, while Ramona chose the plaisir sucré.
I felt like I was eating a beautiful cliché. Once you have had a taste of Mexico, Tahiti and Madagascar in one bite, you will become forever apathetic to artificially flavoured vanilla ice cream.
We thought we had simultaneously reached the top of patisserie mountain and incidentally also the bottom of our bank accounts after a shopping spree at MORA, a famous cookery shop. But then I was struck by Sadahuru Aoki’s wonderful collection of Japanese-inspired goods (not the patisserie pictured above, I should add). I knew I had to try either a sesame éclair or the mácha choux. As I am a great lover of green tea I went for the latter. Somehow, I managed to get it to the hotel room in one piece in spite of the manic Metro rides.
Matcha is not an easy flavour to pull off, but Aoki’s pastry cream was beyond this world. When I opened my suitcase back at home, I got a little emotional when I saw the empty box that once held this little gem. It occurred to me that I have to live without such beauty for a long time. But, I hope, not infiniment…