kayser

There are a few Kayser stores in Paris.  During my trip to France last year, the first one I attempted to visit, unfortunately, was closed.  The sign on the door posted an explanation, but I could not decipher whether it was due to renovations underway or closed for the obligatory summer schedule.  (Very limited French!)

I eventually stopped by the Maison Kayser store in the 5th arrondissement.  I was keen to visit the store as Eric Kayser is praised lavishly as one of Europe’s best artisan bakers, thoroughout one of my favourite books, Local Breads by Daniel Leader.

However, I had consumed quite an amount of bread at this stage so upon seeing the selection of breads, sweet breads and pastries, opted for something a little sweeter.  Something a little richer. 

I purchased a croissant.

The Kayser croissant absolutely put my recent croissant effortto utter, and complete shame.  They were plump, soft, tender, rich, and buttery.  Perfect in every way.  No wonder it has been voted one of the best croissants in Paris.

Kayser is a must visit and the croissant a definite must try.

Boulangerie Kayser
8 Rue Monge, 75005 Paris

 

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gosselinDuring my visit to Paris last year, I started to believe I could reach a limit on bread consumption.  My clothes were starting to feel a little snug and I thought I should ease up a little.  But then I pondered, “I am not in Paris every day so I must persist.  Eat, sample, trial whatever I need.  Diet later”.

Throughout my all consuming Boulangerie et Pâtisserie week, and despite the amount of bread I had sampled, I was looking forward to the offerings at Gosselin.

At Gosselin, it is all about the baguette.  Plain and simple.  Gosselin has been awarded the ‘Best Baguette in Paris’ so this was not to be missed.

I took a trip to the store on Boulevard Saint-Germain around lunch time.  There were quite a number of tourists and locals snapping up a range of sandwiches served on their famous bread.  Not one to want to miss out, I joined them and opted for the same.

It was delicious.  A far cry from the type of sandwich I would pick up locally in my lunch break.  The French really do know how to eat.

Definitely take a trip by.

Gosselin
258 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75007 Paris

fauchon

Next stop on my Paris Pâtisserie et Boulangerie expedition was Fauchon.  My Francophile friend, C., strongly urged me to include a little wander about Place de la Madeleine in the 8th arrondissement.  She is a true gourmand with impeccable taste, so I knew it was a ‘must visit’.

My partner is not so mad about patisserie as myself, but the mention of cheese, cured meats, and wine and you have his attention.  So we wandered to that gastronomically enriched area to take in the delightful stores.  We perused Hediard, la Maison de la Truffle and Maille for the most fabulous savoury delights.  Then my sugar radar forced me to wander over to Fauchon.  I would have had a serious conflict with Ladurée also in plain view had I not already dropped by the 6th arrondissement boutique.

At Fauchon, you are immediately impressed by the slick, modern presentation of the store.  There are no simple éclairs here!  The most vibrant decorations adorned these Pâte à choux treats.

Fauchon is also known for their madeleines.  I adore these little buttery cakes, so purchased a ‘souvenir’ tin full to take home with me.  With our taste and visual sensors surely heightened at this stage, we purchased a little snack to satisfy our developing hunger.  We then took a wander along the river to wrap up our day.  Paris, je t’aime.

Fauchon
24-30 place de la Madeleine, 75008 Paris

poilaneThe bread at Poilâne is distinctive.  Big, round loaves of sourdough are boldly stamped and proudly displayed like little pieces of artwork.  In the tiny 6th arrondissement store I visited on a recent trip to Paris, this ‘artwork’ was more than prominent.

I purchased some beautiful sourdough – for which Poilâne is famous – to do a little taste testing.  With one bite, you understand why.  Thick crusted and chewy.  Flavourful and delicious.  This family run business certainly produces some exceptionally tasting bread.  This bread was one of the culinary highlights of my trip. 

With my purchase, I was given some little butter cookie ‘samples’ to nibble.  A lovely sweet finish to a perfect savoury bread.

Poilâne
8 rue du Cherche-Midi, Paris 75006

le-boulanger-de-monge 

When sightseeing in Paris last year, my partner and I decided to combine a trip to the markets at Rue Mouffetard with a visit to le Boulanger de Monge.  It was not hard to find this little bakery.  It was the store with the line of customers out the door.

I wanted to familiarise myself with the offerings so took a wander by the window.  In full view of passersby and customers, staff were weighting and shaping great volumes of bread dough.  The speed with which they handled this task was astonishing.  It was a rare sight having this activity so upfront.

I wandered to the back of the line, and once inside, in shaky French unconfidently declared, “Je voudrais une baguette, s’il vous plaît”. After a few other dialogue exchanges – including a number of agreeable nods from me – I whipped the baguette offered to me under arm and proceeded with my partner to the markets.  We were off to find accompaniments. 

In the little narrow street of the markets there were a host of vendors selling beautiful fruits, flowers, cheeses, meats.  We both noticed this grand chicken rotisserie outside Pascal Gosnet.  We were instantly sold.  After the purchase of half a chicken and a few potatoes (soaked in chicken fat!) later, we then walked to Le Jardin des Plantes– a stunningly beautiful botanical garden in Paris – to find a quiet spot to eat.

The bread was impressive. The flavour was rich and complex, and it was almost nutty.  Le Boulanger de Monge only use 100% wheat flour and it showed.  The bread was earthy with a slightly off-white colour.  It was delicious by itself sans butter or any condiment.

I was amazed how each Boulangerie, with such a simple set of strict ingredients, can produce such unique bread full of depth. In this case I guess that is why Le Boulanger de Monge had a string of customers out the door.  I am sure most locals visit every few days for their daily bread supplies.  What a life!

While munching on our purchases at Le Jardin des Plantes we noticed a group of girls going from person to person. They reached us and said something in French I could not decipher (I probably should have lengthened my enrolment duration at Alliance Francaise!). They quickly switched to English (merci), and we found out that one girl was about to be married.  They were selling homemade crepes to raise money.  Well, despite my fill of bread, chicken and potatoes, how could I not support this girl taking her next step in life?

I selected Nutella as my topping of choice for the crepe. Typically I am strictly a lemon/sugar girl but thought a change would be good. The crepes were lovely, and it was so special to enjoy a homemade version of such a French specialty.  I am not sure if this is a tradition in France, but it was lovely experience.

Le Boulanger de Monge
123 rue Monge, 75006 Paris

logo160x180Today is Macaron Day (or Jour du Macaron) in France!

Created by Pierre Hermé and other members of the prestigious Association Relais Desserts, le Jour du Macaron raises money and awareness for the Federation des Maladies Orphelines children’s charity.

Today in Paris you can pick up four free macarons! at a Pierre Hermé boutique.  In exchange, the lucky recipients are encouraged to make a donation to the charity. 

Unfortunately, Brisbane is too far away from Paris to take advantage of this dream event, so I look forward to seeing posts and pictures from other bloggers who were fortunate enough to participate today!

In the meantime, I continue my macaron experiments in honour of celebrating my own macaron month!  So far I have attempted mint chocolate macarons and café au lait macarons.   This week, I think lemon and raspberry flavours may feature strongly.  Souhaitez-moi bonne chance … and happy macaron day!

chocolateMy visits to Pierre Hermé and Ladurée were rather extraordinary to say the least.   The sights, the smells, the tastes were truly amazing.  But that could not compare to my behind-the-scenes experience at Gérard Mulot.

After spending a little time taking in the delights on offer at the 13th arrondissement store (including the collection of macarons, les petits gateaux, and les chocolates!) we were ushered to the kitchen to share in some macaron and chocolate secrets.

I was captivated by the chance of witnessing macarons made by one of the masters in France first hand, Chef Patrick Leclercq.  A chance like that certainly does not come along every day!  Combined with my introduction to chocolate making by Chef Antoine Hesloin, and I was feeling very centred and complete indeed!

antoineChef Antoine explained the basics of chocolate making including tempering, flavouring and presentation.  The seemingly never-ending array of mouth watering samples confirmed sheer excellence in his profession; the flavours effortlessly outshone what my taste buds had sampled in the past. 

The memory of Gérard Mulot that stays with me is not only of the faultless chocolate and patisserie, but of an eagerness to share in the passion and knowledge of the craft.  Gérard Mulot is an institution in Paris and I am privileged to have such a rewarding experience there.  This boutique is firmly a “must-see” in Paris. 

Gérard Mulot
93 rue de la Glacière, 75013 Paris

laduree2The instant I clapped eyes on the celadon green coloured store in Saint Germain, there was no question I was in Paris.  It was undeniably stylish, tasteful and very French.  I am talking, of course, about Ladurée

Inside I was subjected to a feast for all my senses.  Visually the store was beautifully presented with a range of elegant treats ranging from macarons to cakes and pastries.  Handsome presentation boxes adorned the counter space and shelves on the walls.  There was a buzz of activity not only from my fellow customers but the staff as well.

I greedily ordered half a dozen macarons (chocolat, vanilla, framboise).  Each flavour was a delight to savour – albeit the savouring did not last for long!  During my time in Paris, I visited Ladurée multiple times.  It was quite a challenge for my waistline, but well worth the experience.

If you are obsessed with the macaron (like myself), you cannot go past a visit to Ladurée.  It truly is a special piece of France.  Trés Belle.

Ladurée
21 rue Bonaparte, 75006 Paris

laduree

pierre-hermeWalking into a Pierre Hermé boutique is an experience.  In a recent visit to Paris, I took a trip to 72 rue Bonaparte in Saint-Germain.  The store was a delight for all the senses.

Patisserie in France is something to be savoured.  Whether an afternoon pleasure, a post dinner sweet, or a celebratory memento.  Patisserie is paid rightful tribute in France.  It is not cream donut slapped into bag then gobbled while driving (oh, and having some of the contents fall into your lap while you do!).

At Pierre Hermé, each patisserie is a piece of art – and it is treated as such.  When you make a selection, the item is carefully lifted from the display case onto a single board.  It is then taken away from the main counter to be individually packaged.  Your patisserie is placed in a beautiful cornflour blue box and gently sealed.  The sequence is finished with the item presented to you like a gift.

It is like you are walking into a high-end jewellery store about to purchase a special piece of jewellery.  You are overwhelmed by the beauty of all the pieces.  When you choose, your item is treated with the up-most care.  And when you leave, you leave knowing you have something very special lovingly tucked away within the box you hold in your hands. 

After the visual experience comes the tasting…  Pierre Hermé is undeniably one of the pastry masters in Paris.  I do not think I need to explain.

Pierre Hermé
72 rue Bonaparte 75006 Paris.  Also at 185 rue de Vaugirard 75015 Paris.  Plus a new boutique at 4 rue Cambon 75001 Paris (dedicated to macarons and chocolate).

My macaron obsession was tested during a visit to Gérald Mulot at magasin La Glacière in the 13th arrondissement organised through a Meeting the French tour.  Oh, and my obsession was duly confirmed. 

I watched with intense curiosity as head pastry chef Patrick Leclerc demonstrated the making of the macaron.   Patrick has created many of the flavours at Gérald Mulot over the years and there certainly is quite an assortment – vanilla, coffee, chocolate, hazelnut, pistachio, nougat, blackcurrant-cherry, raspberry, lemon, coconut, orange-ginger, passionfruit and caramel.

Patrick made the macarons using the French meringue technique.  He whipped the egg whites, added colour, then folded into the almond/powdered sugar mixture.  They were piped evenly with some assistance to ensure uniformity of size (and speed!).  And to the question of whether or not to let the piped batter sit before baking?…  These macarons went straight into the oven!

  

If that wasn’t enough, on top of viewing first hand the elusive macaron being made by an expert, I was able to munch on a few delicious offerings at the same time.  I was like a kid in a candy shop (literally!!).