sweets in paris: this is last call!

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As I write this, I’m sitting in an airport in Paris waiting for my plane to New York. I’m always amazed by the tremendous amount of clarity time away brings. Woolf waxed poetic about this in A Room of One’s Own — if women had the luxury of a room in which to think, to write, to simply produce, all would be well with the world. Granted, Woolf was a woman of privilege, and time for oneself is a luxury many of us can’t afford. So if you have this time, seize it. Seize it now and use it wisely. I’ve had much to contemplate this week — a lot of introspection, a lot of looking in sort of thing — and I came out on the other side of it focused on what needs to be done in the coming months and years.

For now let’s talk about Paris. I’ve traveled extensively through the years (Asia, Southeast Asia, Russia, most of Europe), and I’ve never left a city aching to stay. I’ve always been ready for the return. Yet today I felt sorrow. Paris is perhaps the only city I’ve visited that felt very much like New York in its pace, rhythms, sentiment and commitment to good food. While my waistline is thankful I’ve left the patisseries and boulangeries (I’ve been wearing yoga pants for the past two days in violent denial), I’m sadly not.

Yesterday, on the recommendation of a Twitter follower, I checked out the very posh Carette in the Place des Vosges. A bastion of sin, Carette is a luxe cafe that offers light lunch, tea, ice cream and confections. You’ll find a psychedelic spray of candy-colored macarons (macarons are a bit too precious for my taste, but I appreciated the presentation and the sumptuous color), artful tarts (the tarte aux citron and tarte aux pistache caught my eye) and one of the finest collections of croissants. While I fancy myself an amateur croissant connoisseur, I have to say, without apology, that the almond croissant is EXTRAORDINARY. This is the sort of pastry that you need to sit down and consume, slowly, preferably with a hot cup of coffee in a drawn bath. Me being the shameless chow hound that I am, I scarfed it down in my hotel room getting ready for the airport.

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I’m a bit embarrassed that my crêpe game was pretty pitiful (IN MY DEFENSE I WAS DISTRACTED BY THE CROISSANTS!), I instantly followed David Lebovitz’s lead and raced to Breizh Cáfe (images above), straightaway. Known for their galettes de blé noir (buckwheat crêpes), minimalist execution (you won’t find a mess of plate decor, but rather perfectly made Breton-style crêpes fixed with the finest ingredients), the proprietor sources butter, jams and ingredients regionally (Brittany, for example). This is all a very fancy way of saying that my crepes were damn good. Cooked evenly (an art form, my friends), the crêpe was light, buttery, nutty, and married with blueberry preserves — utter perfection. I had menu envy when I spied the scrambled eggs, gruyere and ribbons of ham, but I had work to do. Onward!

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I am miffed that I didn’t get a chance to try the famed West Country Girl and Josselin — simply for the fact that the French practice a strict siesta, which makes traveling, sampling and shooting these gems a challenge come nightfall. However, while on Rue Montparnasse (translation: crêpe road), I did pop into La Crêperie Bretonne (images above). Although this spot has gotten A LOT of mixed reviews, I found it pretty good. NOT PHENOMENAL, but pretty good for the value. I ordered the chocolate and toasted almond crêpes and they were delightful. A little dry at the ends, but the center was pretty LUXE.

Ending this post is so hard because there’s so much more I want to explore, so much more time I want to spend, but alas — there is always next time.

3 thoughts on “sweets in paris: this is last call!

  1. Ahhhhhhh that almond croissant does look to die for!! I remember biting into my first apple tart from Poilane and just being blown.away. I’m probably an equally shameless “chow hound,” as you say, because I went back the day I was leaving and stowed two pastries in tupperware to bring back to the States. Mildly embarrassing, but it helped take the edge off of the sad return to suburban California!

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