Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sugar rush - Part II

Apologies, apologies. I meant to post some before I went on my two-and-a-half-week-French-mandated-long-August vacation to NYC, Miami and Las Vegas (last two courtesy of my wonderfully AWESOME bf, JP, for our 3 year anniversary :)) but more on those later. I may have a flurry of posts in the near futures so bear with me. But lets start chronologically somewhere at the middle / end of July...

You may remember a while ago I went to a ton of bakeries in the Marais (if not, click on the link). This time, it was a ton of bakeries in the Saint-Germain-ish area (6th and 7th). Another macaron virgin - BB. Naturally, I wanted to lead her to Pierre Herme. Alas, it was closed. As was Gerard Mulot so off we went towards Sadaharu Aoki. The fun was only just beginning (I think my friends underestimated how much of an obsessed-with-food-establishments person I am). This guy makes serious French pastries with a Japanese twist

But we (almost) resisted. Et voila, 3 macarons for each of us (4 ppl = 12 macarons)

Pretty, isn't it? I went for the matcha, hojicha (roasted green tea) and sesame flavors. Suprisingly, we only doubled flavors once - the matcha. My favorite were the cassis, early grey, hojicha (roasted goodness!), matcha and sesame flavors (notice how I like all the ones I got? hehe). The yuzu disappointed and tasted merely of lemon rind. I think Mr. Aoki is more successful with the offbeat flavors. The chocolate was very one dimensional and not even in the same league as Pierre Herme's chocolate one. Overall, these macarons are solid but a little too sweet and unfortunately, they were somewhat stale. I'd recommend going with the more exotic flavors if you try them. But even with those, he is incomparable to the master (yes, Pierre Herme I am obsessed with you) and I kinda forgot I didn't really like his pastries that much. And yes, I brought a cutting board (you didn't think we just found that in the park, did you?) and a knife. But SM had a serrated knife - he one upped me.

And then we ate this green thing. Usually, I'm not one for eclairs but this matcha eclair was bursting with green tea flavor, which I can rarely resist.

While working our way towards Hugo Victor I couldn't not take everyone by Poilane for a taste of the best rustic apple tart in all of Paris. As my friend put it, it's like an awesome apple croissant with chunks of soft, baked apples and a dough slightly heavier (weighed down by the apple liquid I think) than a plain croissant. I can easily finish one by myself. This one we thankfully cut into quarters and proceeded to get out next sugar fix.

At Hugo Victor I opted for the apricot tarte tatin-like thing that I read about on Dorie Greenspan's blog the night before. Apologies, not the prettiest picture but I couldn't wait to dig in:

The top was apricot gelee and some liquid caramel running down the center with a base that tasted like a cardamom-infused hazelnut sponge cake to me (according to Dorie its a dacquoise and the cardamom may or may not have been galangal). I love cardamon but not in baked goods. Throw it in a stew or into my favorite chunky apple cranberry sauce (thanksgiving!) and it lends a warmth. In baked goods I just find it to taste stale and overpowering. Was totally jealous of these delicious strawberry verrines that both BB and SM got!

There was also a grapefruit tart floating around but I didn't take a picture. We were already feeling the sugar coma set in but no, we had to press on! On to La Patisserie des Reves. Dreams? Pastry shop of dreams? YES exactly. Pastries are displayed under glass domes and after perusing you order at the counter and they bring you a pastry from the back.

They all looked amazing, but I was there for one thing and one thing only...

...the Paris-Brest.

Has nothing to do with boobies (hah, boobies, I make myself laugh); the pastry is circular and named after an old bike race that went from Paris to Brest (or the other way around?) since it looked like a bike wheel (supposedly). And supposedly the best Paris-Brest in the city according to various sources including Le Figaro.

This is like putting liquid sugar in your mouth times ten (not as hot I assume!). We cut it up into the little ball sections. Choux pastry with praline creme and liquid chocolate praline on the inside, this was enough sugar to last me a long long time - never have I tasted anything this sweet. The delicate choux easily gave way and a bite revealed a liquid praline, caramel-like center. Delicious? Yes. But I wouldn't get it again, its too much! Thankfully there were ppl to share it with. The tarte de fruits noirs, on the other hand, was an interesting spin on the tarte de fruits rouges you see more commonly.

It had good flavor and a good textured crust but I was so done after that ball of liquid sugar. 

And who do I spot while walking back from our pastry hopping? Ms. Dorie Greenspan herself sitting at Au Chai de l'Abbaye (where I had a few weeks ago witnessed a little old man courting a well put together old lady in the cutest way...I think he got her number!) proofing (or so I think) her new book which she kindly held up to show us! I think SC was more excited than me since she is a pastry chef...I had to be coaxed into saying hello to her, which I did, under the pretense that SC would be doing the talking after that, and she did.

One more for the road before you head off to read SM's entry of pastry bliss:


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