The Paris Patisserie Tour, Stop #6: Cafe Pouchkine.

So this was it – the last leg of the tour. And from the looks of the map, my last stop was very close to my previous one, Pierre Hermé. So I walked, and looked at the map; and walked some more, and looked at the map; and walked some more, and turned the map in all sorts of directions. I could not for the life of me, find this place. I walked back and forth up the same street. It started raining (but I really didn’t mind, after all I was in Paris). I started wondering if the map was wrong. Clearly I was on the right street at this point. I happened to look over and even saw a street number. So i counted in my mind where the cafe should be, and found nothing but a giant department store. I walked past the store and reached the end, and knew I’d gone too far. I didn’t come all this way and get this far on the tour to be thwarted. So I headed back and gave it one more try. I walked back, counting numbers again, and reached the corner where the cafe “should” be. I happened to glance down the street, and lo and behold, there it was – hidden on the side street, with not-so-eye-catching signage. Regardless, I had found it, and I practically ran through the rain to finally get to my last stop on the tour:

Stop #6: Cafe Pouchkine.

you can’t hide from me.

I made my way inside – they did have an adorable little sidewalk cafe seating area, however it was raining steadily at this point, so I decided to go in, and at least dry off while I ordered. Turned out, they also had a counter with seating inside, however it was somewhat cramped. There seemed to be a couple of empty seats though, so I thought I’d try to snag one. I ordered a Tutti Frutti, which at first I thought was a fruit tart, with frozen pieces of fruit piled on top.

Bop bopa-a-lu a whop bam boo.

I ordered, and as I was paying, I asked if I could sit at the counter. At first, the madame behind the counter seemed agreeable to this suggestion; until she offered me a drink, and I declined. I could see her face change – it was as if I was breaking a cardinal rule of counter-sitting by eating and not drinking. Reluctantly she pointed me over to the counter, and eventually delivered my Tutti Frutti. I will say that it was delicious – however it wasn’t a fruit tart. It was more like a slice of cake, with a gelatinous blob of melon-y fruit filled with strawberry syrup on top, piled high with frozen fruit globes.

inside edition.

I ate the entire thing, without drinking, and left. It was tasty and refreshing, and really was the perfect ending to my tour, even if the cafe itself wasn’t  the most personable. I’d definitely go back for the desserts – and just hope that Miss Congeniality was off that day. Or maybe, next time I’ll just order a drink.

So, this concludes my Walking Patisserie Shop Tour of Paris. It was worth every step and calorie. My only regret was not getting to all 11 original shops on the list. That just gives me a really good reason to go back (as if I needed a reason). 🙂

Bon Appétit!

The Paris Patisserie Tour, Stop #5: Pierre Hermé.

As I sipped my Angelina’s famous hot chocolate, I meandered through the streets of Paris toward my next destination, enjoying the sights, sounds, and most importantly – the taste – of the city. I eventually found my way to 39 Avenue de l’Opéra, which was not only a few blocks from the famed Opera House of Paris, but also home to:

Stop #5: Pierre Hermé.

reflections of…me in my sneakers.

I had promised myself I wouldn’t pick favorites, but that was before I stepped foot into Pierre Hermé Paris. The shop itself was stylish, clean, and classy – If i hadn’t known any better, I would have guessed it was a  high-end jewelry store – on the very high end of high-end. The employees were dressed in suits and ties; yet were warm and friendly, and welcomed all patrons equally. The macarons were just like you’d imagine – a gorgeous rainbow of colors, displayed impeccably under the counter, with each unique flavor sounding more decadent than the last. I was, of course going to sample them, however, I noticed the word “glace” on the front of the shop – my weakness for ice cream combined with the fact that I hadn’t had any for days made my decision easy. The salesman approached me, and I pointed to the sign behind him, and said only one word: “sorbet.” He smiled, quickly spun around and reappeared with a sorbet menu. I had never heard of combinations such as these – plus they were all sorbet sandwiches, with the “bread” of the sandwich being a large macaron. Oh, yes, you will be mine.  Sadly, I don’t recall exactly what flavor I ordered. But I did also order two macarons, and I do remember what flavor those were – rose (pink) and creme de menthe (green). After taking my order, the salesman disappeared momentarily; then returned, with the most exquisite presentation of purchased desserts I’d ever imagined.

they say you eat first with your eyes – and this made my eyes water.

After soaking in the presentation for a few moments, I paid for my desserts, and exited the shop (it was getting a bit crowded). I couldn’t wait to eat my sorbet sandwich, so I popped open the box the second I walked out the door. What I found inside, was the most beautiful thing I’ve seen.

the lost ark.

It was at this point, I had a perfect moment: I walked along the Avenue l’Opera, eating my Pierre Hermé sorbet sandwich, heading directly toward the Opera House.

sing once again with me.

It was a very good day.

To be continued in the next post: Stop #6: Cafe Pouchkine – the final frontier.

The Paris Patisserie Tour, Stop #4: Angelina.

After a successful first day, I woke up even more pumped for day #2! I had a long walk ahead of me to reach the next stop, which was perfectly fine, and even welcome, since I knew it would be another day of eating pretty much nothing but desserts. I decided I should at least the start the day with some “real” food, so I had an orange along with a cup of delicious french coffee, and headed out to:

Stop #4: Angelina.

As I walked and walked and walked and walked, I enjoyed Paris more and more. I highly encourage exploring a foreign city on foot whenever possible. I also did not realize that Angelina was right down the street from the Louvre, until I saw the giant architectural masterpiece looming ahead of me on the other side of the street, in all its museum-like glory.

i louvre you.

.Once past the Lourve, I reached my destination and was ready to enjoy some pastries along with Angelina’s famous hot chocolate I’ve heard so much about. It was so lovely inside – with a dining room full of lovely people sitting at lovely little tables enjoying the most lovely pastries. I loved it.

it’s delightful, it’s delicious, it’s de-lovely.

I had no idea what to order! I knew I wanted hot chocolate – but this tour was about sampling pastries, so I had to get some type of pastry, too. I contemplated dining in what may have been the most french-looking dining room I’ve ever seen – but I really had to be on my way. I was worried that I would not be able to get a cup of hot chocolate to go, so I decided to purchase a bag to take home, along with a white chocolate praline that looked like a piece of the moon.

praline in white.

The girls behind counter were all lovely as well, and although they did not speak english very well, they were more helpful and courteous than many english-speaking shops I’ve had the privilege of giving my business to. I asked for a cup of hot chocolate, and I thought she said that I couldn’t order it here – she pointed behind her to a hot chocolate machine that appeared to be out of commission, and then said something about the other room. I was already anticipating this, so I was glad I bought the bag to take with me. I paid, and turned to walk out, when the girl called to me “madam – your hot chocolate!” and she went running into the other room with a cup. Then it dawned on me – she said she had to go into the room to get me the cup of hot chocolate I ordered. Now that’s what I call service. As I anxiously awaited my hot chocolate, I happened to look up, and noticed just how beautifully detailed this shop actually was.

let the sun shine.

Well the world was right – the hot chocolate was by far, the best I’ve ever had. As for the praline, I’m pretty sure it must be illegal in the US, because I’ve never had anything quite like it back home – it just melted in my mouth the instant it touched my tongue. My only regret was that I only bought one.

To be continued in the next post: Stop #5:Pierre Hermé. Nobody does it better. Makes me feel sad for the rest.

The Paris Patisserie Tour, Stop #3: La Boulangerie Jean-Noël Julien.

I’m not gonna lie: La Boulangerie Jean-Noël Julien was not on my original list. Stop #3 was originally intended to be at Philippe Gosselin. After wandering around in circles searching for Rue St. Honore for what had to be at least 45 minutes, I finally found it, but I was of course, blocks away from Philippe Gosselin. So I headed down the Rue, and along the way, happened to pass La Boulangerie Jean-Noël Julien. I was intrigued, and thought about going in, but as it was not on my list and had I not been lost for so long, I decided to just keep going.

Well, I did finally reach Philippe Gosselin….and it was closed. Now, I couldn’t tell if it was closed for the night or forever, but it looked pretty abandoned. I hung my head in defeat. All that wandering around in circles for nothing! I turned to leave, and then suddenly, I remembered the bakery I passed and almost stopped in just a couple blocks earlier! All was not lost! I put on a happy face, and headed back towards my new

Stop #3: La Boulangerie Jean-Noël Julien.

I liked this place. They had bread – a lot of it. The first two shops had no bread. And I love bread. I’d marry bread, if that were legal. Anyway, I couldn’t decide what to get – and they did not speak english here, which was ok – I knew the names of all the pastries/breads from school, and really, that was all the info I needed. The breads were all really big though – and I was only going to be there for another 24 hours, so purchasing an entire loaf just seemed like a waste. Then I saw it, there, glistening under the glass, whispering to me in french – “Jeanine! Achetez-moi!”. Thankfully, my name is the same in french and english, so I knew it was talking to me. I approached the counter. “Un palmier,” I spoke softly, in practically perfect french (but pointed to it, just in case).

big, buttery, and beautiful.

It was big. Light, but big. There were no seats in this shop, so I had to take it to go, but they wrapped in the perfect pastry paper. I almost saved the wrapper, I liked it so much.

Parisian pastry paper.

Anyway, I carried the giant palmier all the way back to the cafe next to my hotel, and wound up eating it for dessert after my dinner, which, because I had eaten so many pastries was rather scant. Yet, so very french.


olives and wine: it’s what’s for dinner.

The palmier was delicious, by the way. I ate the entire thing, and it was flakey, and sweet, and ended my first day of the tour on a high. So it’s true what they say – when one pastry shop closes, another one opens. And you should always be sure to go in.

To be continued in the next post: Stop #4: Angelina. Hot chocolate is not just for kids anymore.


The Paris Patisserie Tour, Stop #2: Pain de Sucre.

On the heels of a very succesful first stop on the tour at La Chocolaterie de Jacques Genin, I forged ahead with a skip in my step and a truffle in my hand to:

Stop #2: Pain de Sucre.

Although only a mere 15 minute walk separated them, Pain de Sucre could not have been more different from Jacques Genin. There was no inside seating first of all – this was an order at the counter and go kinda place, although they did have a few tables right outside facing the street. This was something I’ve never seen anywhere but Paris, and just adore the concept – every shop, cafe, restaurant, etc, sets up seating outside along the street, FACING the street, encouraging you to people watch. People love watching people and people love being watched. It’s a win-win.

Anyway, Pain de Sucre was like the pastry shop from outer space. It was super modern inside – stark white with splashes of red, and a simple, clean display. The rainbow of macarons were like a beacon against the otherwise white background, and I was instantly drawn to them. The flavors sounded astronomically delicious, and it was very difficult to choose which ones to get! So, when in doubt, go with the prettiest colors, I always say.

stack of macs.

I wound up with (from top to bottom): chocolate, walnut, caramel, and pistachio. I was sitting outside at one of the little people watching tables, when I took this photo. It took about four tries, as every time I got them to stand and was about to snap the photo, they tipped over. The people next to me were not speaking english, but I could tell by their tone that they were giggling at my photography fails. Finally, I got a good stack shot, and was able to eat them. They were all better than any macaron I’ve had in the states, but the clear winner of the group in both the looks and taste category was the walnut,. Sometimes it’s what’s on the outside and the inside that counts.

walnut tops chocolate.

I liked the fact that Pain de Sucre was different – it retained its title of  “most unique” of all the shops I visited throughout the tour. It also was the only one with the sweet outside people-watching seats. And now I’m on a quest to recreate that walnut macaron.

To be continued in the next post: Stop #3: La Boulangerie Jean-Noël Julien. When one shop closes, another is still open nearby and should have been on the list to begin with.

Roll up, for the Paris Patisserie Tour! Stop #1: La Chocolaterie Jacques Genin.

Last week, I spent two days in Paris. No, I did not see the Eiffel Tower. No, I did not go into the Louvre (although I did happen to walk right passed it by mere chance). No, this trip was not meant for traditional site-seeing. The sole purpose of this trip was to eat pastries. And eat them, I did.

I came up with this grand idea a couple of months ago – I was going to visit Paris for two days during my trip to England to visit my brother. I wanted to eat some of the french pastries we learned how to make in school, made by true french masters of the craft. How would I know where to go? What shop had the best pastries? I started doing some research, however I could not come up with the best pastry shop in Paris, only lists of a few favorites. Then, it hit me – I’ll devise a walking pastry shop tour of Paris, hitting the shops that showed up most often on the lists, or that I had already heard of due to their famed pastry greatness. The original list included 11 shops, and I spent hours mapping them out, and planning my walking tour. I calculated minutes walked, time spent in each shop, and figured that in 2 days, I could hit all 11. Well, the tour was a tad ambitious – if i had been there for a full two days, it would have been entirely possible, however I was not, and it also didn’t take into consideration getting lost (often) and coming across so many other wonderful things worth stopping for and exploring.

one of the many, many diversions.

When all was said and done, I had managed to complete a walking tour of my top 6 pastry shops on the list. Not too shabby. I have to admit, I don’t think I’ve ever walked so much in my life. But thanks to all the walking, I was able to eat whatever pastries my heart desired, relatively guilt-free. My calves still hurt.

In an attempt to provide a most accurate description of my experience in each shop and paint the scene as vividly as possible, I’ve decided to dedicate one post to each of the 6 stops on the tour, in the order in which I visited them. So, without further ado, I bring you The Top 6 Pastry Shops in Paris: a Walking Tour. Bon appetit!

Stop #1: La Chocolaterie Jacques Genin.

I walked up to the door, and couldn’t figure out how to get in. It was a glass door – and I stood in front of it for a second, and nothing happened. I panicked – was this the kind of place that I had to call ahead and make an appointment?? I don’t know how this works! So, I figured I’d stand there off to the side for a little bit, pretending I was doing something else, until someone walked in. Thankfully, that happened rather quickly. Turns out, I just didn’t stand in front of the door long enough (duh). Anyway, the shop itself was gorgeous – stone walls, exposed wood beams…not too mention the chocolates and desserts! The staff was extremely friendly, and the second I looked at the counter, a gentleman appeared, offering to assist me with whatever I needed (and spoke english). I ordered a Paris-Brest, and he asked me if I wanted to eat it there, to which I replied with a resounding “yes!!” He did inform me that eating in was a little more expensive (I found that to be true pretty much everywhere), but I didn’t mind, so I sat at a table in the corner, and he brought over the Paris-Brest AND two complimentary chocolates!! This was getting better and better.

the best paris-brest in paris.

You may be wondering why the Paris-Brest is half eaten in the photo. Honestly, I felt a bit self-conscious photographing my food – maybe it was not an acceptable practice in Paris, unlike here in the USA, where restauranteurs are more offended these days if you don’t take a picture of your meal prior to diving in. So, I decided I would just start eating it, and forego the photo, sadly. Then I took my first bite….it was absolutely heavenly. The praline flavored cream was divine – so rich and smooth. The pâte à choux was baked to perfection. Just as I went in for bite number 2, a group of raucous american tourists invaded the previously serene shop. They bum-rushed the counter, and began snapping photos of everything in sight. It was at this moment I realized that me sitting quietly in the corner and taking a few shots of my desserts was completely acceptable and would go unnoticed – they had created the perfect diversion. I was even able to snap one of the chocolates!

complimentary chocolates make life worth living. especially when they’re from paris.

Now service in Europe in general is not the same as it is in the US. In the US, If the server does not appear within the first 5 minutes of being seated and is not there to take your order/present your meal/clear your table/give you the check exactly when you want it, than the service is bad and we will complain about it. In Europe, the service is slower – but not because they stink at waiting tables – because that is actually how it should be. They encourage you to enjoy the experience at hand – instead of rushing through it to get to the next experience. One of my biggest takeaways from this trip was that mentality – savoring each moment . I finished my pastry, soaked in the atmosphere, and then the same gentleman appeared, saw that I left a bit on my plate, and asked me if it was ok. I actually felt guilty for NOT eating the entire thing! I told him it was absolutely wonderful, paid my bill, and purchased a few more chocolates for the road.

sustenance for the long journey ahead.

All in all, I had a total Parisian experience at Jacques Genin, from the authentic Paris-Brest, to the cafe-like setting, to being called “mademoiselle” (my favorite part).

And those chocolates I bought…they were gone before I reached the next shop. 😉

To be continued in the next post: Stop #2: Pain de Sucre. A sweet and spacy experience