Wednesday, October 8, 2014

paris, part II

And now, the real highlight of the our trip to Paris: les sweets. 

Those closest to me can attest to my incessant sweet tooth and excuse for anything sugar-laden. {I have dessert after breakfast most mornings}. And there's no place outside of Paris that takes baking to the same level of lethal seriousness. Nothing compares to stepping into a traditional French boulangerie. The sweet, buttery aroma of croissants. Each creation set out on display behind pristine glass, artfully crafted and almost too delicate and lovely to eat. Before our trip, I spent an entire afternoon cataloguing the top Parisian bakeries to visit. From petit-fours and tarte tatin to rum baba and a macaron face-off, here's a run down of the few sugar stops I'm still daydreaming of.

1. Gérard Mulot

Mr. Mulot was right around the corner from our rented apartment in the 6th arrondissement. And in full disclosure we may have stopped there on more than on occasion. What struck me most about this little patisserie was the gorgeous, vibrant colors. Signature bright green oversized pistachio macarons with red raspberry centers, bold jewel-colored cakes and rainbow fruit tarts. And of course, the macarons. After some time of deliberation I chose the salted caramel, a perfect mix of sweet, salty, chewy and melt-in-your-mouth delectableness. 

 2. Angelina

We had to make a stop (or three) at the infamous home to Coco Chanel's favorite afternoon drink. Angelina makes world-renowned chocolate chaud (hot chocolate). It was a delicious and welcome treat, even in the heat of summer. Although I would venture to say this wasn't as much a drink as it was a rich, decadent and oh-so filling liquid dessert coma. Somehow after an entire pot we also managed to down a "real" dessert. The mont blanc, a merengue topped with chestnut puree, is the house specialty they've been serving since the early 1900's. I'd highly recommend it. That is, if you can stomach it after the pot o' chocolate chaud.

3. Ladurée 

Another Parisian treasure best known for it's infamous macaron is Ladurée. There are quite a few around Paris, but luckily for us one was only a few blocks from our doorstop. It wasn't until we ventured to the location on Champs Élysées that we realized it was not only tea salon, but a cocktail lounge. Yes, you heard correct. Macaron inspired cocktails. At €19 a glass you wouldn't want to make it your drink for the night, but it was definitely worth a trip. I opted for the classic rose macaron martini, while the dude tried pistachio, his personal favorite. I didn't think joy could be packaged up more perfectly than in a delicate macaron, until they made a libation out if it. 

4. Pierre Herme

Last but not least is the more contemporary name on the Parisian delicacy list. While Ladurée is best known as the classic and refined staple of Parisian bakeries, Pierre is better known as the rebellious, but equally luxurious, younger brother. In fact, Herme once held the reigns at Ladurée but his flair for adventurous flavor was a bit much for the conservative crew at Ladurée. It wasn't long before he took his own creative path and set up his own shop, first in Tokyo and later in Paris. After reading about Pierre pre-trip, I knew that I'd have to compare the old world to the new, macaron-speaking. In the Laduree vs. Mulot vs. Herme macaron showdown, I'd have to vote for Laduree. I must have a flair for the conventional, but even the most creative of macarons can't top that classically French staple. However, I will tip my hat to Pierre. the "Picasso of Pastry" for keeping flavors interesting. Where else could one find blood orange or milk chocolate passion fruit crammed into a macaron? Only at Pierre. Only in Paris. 

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