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Paris pastry shops


olivier
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I am surprised there is no general topic about Parisian "pâtisseries" yet... if I'm mistaken, do not hesitate to delete/move my post!

Anyway, I am a regular customers of pastry shops like Aoki and Herme because they are on my way back home from work, but if I like their simpler pastries, the original ones don't necessarily "do it" for me.

All in all, I am really getting tired of the more or less conceptual pastry you see in a lot of shops in Paris.

That's why I like Secco so much: there is not much choice, but he keeps it simple and excellent.

Recently, I was craving for a simple "tarte aux fruits". I thought Gerard Mulot had some good ones, so I went to his shop, but alas, it is closed for holidays, the "boulanger-pâtissier" right under my appartment is only so-so and overall too pricey for the quality, and I didn't feel like trying a new shop and be disappointed. Of course, I could still bake mine, and that's just what I am going to do, but that's not always an option (even when you have much free time, like me).

So, two questions: what are you favorite Parisian pastry shops in general, and what are those that offer very good traditional and simple pastry?

(my answer: Secco, Constant when I need my chocolate fix, Aoki for his mille-feuilles)

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Two links to keep you busy for a while.

First, a Compendum of previous topics in the France Forum.

Second, a LIST of all favorite pastry shops around the world in the Pastry & Baking Index.

and as a bonus, read Fanny the Fairy's BLOG which just yesterday listed her favorites (she staged/interned at Herme's).

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Two links to keep you busy for a while.

First, a Compendum of previous topics in the France Forum.

Second, a LIST of all favorite pastry shops around the world in the Pastry & Baking Index.

and as a bonus, read Fanny the Fairy's BLOG which just yesterday listed her favorites (she staged/interned at Herme's).

Thank you for these links.

I already checked the compendium, but did not have the idea to look in the "Pastry&Baking" forum... I tend to only visit the "Restaurants..." forums, I guess it's time for me to discover some other sides of eGullet!

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I think that Pierre Herme is the best shop in Paris, if not the world. But I quite understand that sometimes one wants something less elaborate. My recommendation for classic pastry is Stohrer, 51 rue Montorgueil Mon-Sun 7:30-20:30, specialty baba au rhum, but their fruit tartes are pretty good. It has been in business since the 18th century, arriving from Vienna with Marie Antoinette. It was probably their cakes that she recommend the poor eat.

On the whole I prefer their pastries to Aoki, but chacun a son gout.

As for Secco, it has been on my list, but I have yet to try it. Another well-known pastry shop in that same area is Millet on rue St. Dominique near the intersection with rue Malar. I have been there a few times, but have not been overwhelmed. On the other hand if that is your quartier, it is definitely worth trying.

I like Pain de Sucre on Rambuteau, but that again is in the dernier mode department. On that same street, on the same side of the street, closer to Beaubourg is another pastry shop, tending toward the classic varieties. I can't remember the name or number, but it is an even number within a block or so of rue Beaubourg. They do have good fruit tartes. I particularly like their mirabelle.

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I think that Pierre Herme is the best shop in Paris, if not the world.  But I quite understand that sometimes one wants something less elaborate.  My recommendation for classic pastry is Stohrer,  51 rue Montorgueil Mon-Sun 7:30-20:30, specialty baba au rhum, but their fruit tartes are pretty good.  It has been in business since the 18th century, arriving from Vienna with Marie Antoinette.  It was probably their cakes that she recommend the poor eat.

I like their baba very much, however, I was a little bit underwhelmed by some other cakes... only tried it once, though.

Another well-known pastry shop in that same area is Millet on rue St. Dominique near the intersection with rue Malar.  I have been there a few times, but have not been overwhelmed.  On the other hand if that is your quartier, it is definitely worth trying. 

Tried it once, too, and I think I prefer Secco. Couldn't really say why exactly, as I don't remember anything else than the mille-feuilles (which is my benchmark for pastry shops).

I like Pain de Sucre on Rambuteau, but that again is in the dernier mode department.

When there yesterday. There were almost only "verrines" (how does one say that in English?), it was close to 7.30PM, though. Result: didn't bother entering the shop and went home somewhat frustrated.

On that same street, on the same side of the street, closer to Beaubourg is another pastry shop, tending toward the classic varieties.  I can't remember the name or number, but it is an even number within a block or so of rue Beaubourg.  They do have good fruit tartes.  I particularly like their mirabelle.

Not really my area, but should I be in this part of town, I'll try to go there.

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John DePaula
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

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Pierre Hermé sucks. I think it is bad, heavy, with too much sugar and artificial crap (I hope Pti will come and second me or I might feel that I am a minority). I also think that his creations are pretentious, vulgar, appealing to the worst in us. Constant is my hero, but his prices too are beyond crazy.

I like much more frank and "natural", so-to-say, flavours. If I want a great fruit tart, I head to the nearest Kayser, simply. If I want it with very little sugar and very "nouvelle cuisine tastes", I go down my place in the rue Bobillot, 101.

In the simple pastry areas, some adresses: Pichard, rue Cambronne, le Grenier à Pain rue Paul Barruel, la Fleur d'Oranger rue Lebon, Avril in Le Vésinet, le Boulanger de Monge.

BE is great too for very restaurant-like pastries (love the passion fruit tart there beyond reason).

Hédiard, Lenôtre have very good pastry too. I am infinitely sad that Conticini's patisseries are not available anymore (they used to be available rue de Sèvres at the late Peltier) to the general public. He opened a shop on the place du Marché Saint-Catherine but there are candies only, not pastry.

For macarons, my all-time fav is by far Renard, rue Saint Dominique (see here for more detail).

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Wow, awesome post julot-les-pinceaux, that was exactly the kind of advice I was expecting!

I understand your criticism of Herme. Still, I guess there are things I'll always like at his place.

The advice about Kayser is particularly valuable, as a new shop of his opened recently near where I work. Never bothered buying anything else than sandwiches there!

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Pierre Hermé sucks. I think it is bad, heavy, with too much sugar and artificial crap (I hope Pti will come and second me or I might feel that I am a minority). I also think that his creations are pretentious, vulgar, appealing to the worst in us. Constant is my hero, but his prices too are beyond crazy.

No worry, I completely agree. And you are by no means in a minority.

There is an important detail that is often overlooked, or plainly ignored, concerning contemporary restaurant pastry versus "designer" store-bought pastry. It explains why the former is generally better and more wholesome than the latter. Fashionable store-bought designer pastry is based on architecture and visual effects. The stress is put on their look. The pastries are elaborately structured conceptions that have to stand up for several hours in the shop without collapsing. Hence the importance of texture-enhancing ingredients like gelatines, etc., and the generally excessive use of fats and sugars of all sorts, emulsifiers, stabilizers, and everything that is crucial to structure but not essential to taste. The taste disappears within the texture and is absorbed by the mass. Restaurant pâtissiers, who do not have that problem of having to keep the things up for eight hours in the store and still standing up when they reach the customer's home, have a better way of proportioning their ingredients and their pastry is often better and fresher-tasting.

This also explains why the tastiest things at Hermé's are the viennoiserie, the butter cookies and the pâtes de fruits.

But the trend of "textural" designer pastry has gone so far that even some restaurant pâtissiers stick to it. Lately I tasted some pastries Christophe Michalak conceived and made for a press breakfast. Since the preliminary speeches were dragging on, and the atmosphere was a bit warm, he was worried about his creations collapsing before people could grab them, not about their taste. But most of them were lacking in taste, while being too soft, gooey and sweet.

Edited by Ptipois (log)
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Pierre Hermé sucks. I think it is bad, heavy, with too much sugar and artificial crap (I hope Pti will come and second me or I might feel that I am a minority). I also think that his creations are pretentious, vulgar, appealing to the worst in us. Constant is my hero, but his prices too are beyond crazy.

What do you mean when you say full of artificial crap? I worked there and all I saw were out-standingly sourced ingredients.

I do always say openly how fond I am of Pierre's work, and although I understand I can't everyone to have the same point of view, I just don't understand yours.

But then, I also happen to hate some of the famous places like Ladurée, while it seems to be on the top-ten list of many people.

Anyway, I'd love to hear more about why you're being so harsh towards Pierre's pastries.

fanny loves foodbeam

pâtisserie & sweetness

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The stress is put on their look. The pastries are elaborately structured conceptions that have to stand up for several hours in the shop without collapsing. Hence the importance of texture-enhancing ingredients like gelatines, etc., and the generally excessive use of fats and sugars of all sorts, emulsifiers, stabilizers, and everything that is crucial to structure but not essential to taste. The taste disappears within the texture and is absorbed by the mass.

This also explains why the tastiest things at Hermé's are the viennoiserie, the butter cookies and the pâtes de fruits.

Stabilisers? Hmm no way.

And to be honest, I don't think pastries at Pierre Hermé are lacking taste. But this is just my two cents.

Michalak? I'll agree on that one.

fanny loves foodbeam

pâtisserie & sweetness

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Here's a link which might be useful. FWIW - you can put Gridskipper RSS feeds on your desktop for various cities. There are usually lots of interesting little articles about everything from food to museums to shopping to festivals. Robyn
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Anyway, I'd love to hear more about why you're being so harsh towards Pierre's pastries.

I always profess that positive opinions are more important than negative ones, because enjoying something is always better than not. And yet, I can't help criticising places like Ducasse or Hermé. So any answer I can give is not intended at criticising those who like it (good for them) but to make those who, like me, dislike it, feel more comfortable.

By artifical crap I mostly meant gelatine. But that's not what really bothers me. The tastes are artificial, not in terms of their sourcing. His pastries are ridiculously rich and sweet, which artifically intensifies the experience without resorting to natural tastes. It is a pastry oriented towards sensational, not good. Some stuff there I like, of course. There's no question that Hermé has some talent. But I think most of his pastry is based on showoff and easy effect and I never tasted anything from him that was better than, say, a tarte fine aux pommes from his almost neighbour Pichard.

To me he is representative of a trend in taste that we don't care about what's good anymore, all we want is something different. Those who are tired of excellent food should eat less, not turn to Hermé or Gagnaire.

Edited by julot-les-pinceaux (log)
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Stabilisers? Hmm no way.

I was referring to a general style, not to Hermé's in terms of stabilizers.

In his case there are no horrible artificial stabilizers as far as I could notice. Still, as Julot pointed out as well, there is an excessive use of textural agents like sugars and gelatine that are there to help the stability of an otherwise fragile edifice but would not be needed if withstanding a certain amount of shelf time was not crucial. This also explains why restaurant pastry is often more clear-tasting than modern shop pastry. Although you have worked at Hermé's, you may probably not be aware of the structural differences between "traditional" pastry and trendy, designer pastry, which does have its own texture issues owing to the fact that it is generally more based on look than on taste, openly publicized as "fashion collections", and those differences are undeniable. This phenomenon is not restricted to Hermé but is a common feature of today's trendy pastry, and I am not excluding Ladurée from the category.

It is significant that the Pierre Hermé pastries that do have an assertive, clear taste are the ones that rely less on architecture, for instance the Tango (a quite interesting composition of sesame sablé crust, a thick raspberry-red bell pepper coulis, a dome of Reggiano Parmigiano jelly, and fresh raspberries around it). One of the best store-bought pastries I've ever had, but its simplicity of form and lack of architectural constraints probably gave the overall taste a better chance to come through.

Edited by Ptipois (log)
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From the dessert I have tasted, Constant's chocolate tart is really good. Personally, I truely dislike the green tea pastries of Aoki, too sweet for me, though good to look at. For Hermé, I like his coffee tart, his canelé is fine too, though it is different from the bordeaux version. I am not that fond of his famous macarons (maybe except Isphan), too sweet too. I have tried Stohrer a few times, it never impressed me, but didn't try their Baba au Rhum. I have some fade memory that Chez Denise's Baba was quite good. L'Ami Jean's Riz au lait is quite famous. (Yeah I know, they aren't pastry shops)

Tried it once, too, and I think I prefer Secco. Couldn't really say why exactly, as I don't remember anything else than the mille-feuilles (which is my benchmark for pastry shops).

Olivier, maybe it's interesting to share your best mille-feuilles places. (I remembered once eating a very good one in a café with a small counter inside selling pastries, not far from Tour Éffiel, but forgot exactly where...)

If anybody knows some good choux pastries like éclair, this will be appreciated too.

I heard that Véronique Mauclerc (rue de Crimée) is good for éclairs (but haven't try them out yet)

thanks!

Edited by naf (log)
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To me he is representative of a trend in taste that we don't care about what's good anymore, all we want is something different. Those who are tired of excellent food should eat less, not turn to Hermé or Gagnaire.

I really agree with this sentiment (although I am not familiar in particular with Herme or Gagnaire - I've experienced similar). Note that this is not only a trend in food - it's a trend in other areas - some that might not come to mind instantly - like gardening - the quest for new exotic things - whether or not they make sense.

BTW - if chocolate counts as "pastry" - what do you like/dislike? Here in Jacksonville FL - my special treat is when my husband internet orders from Maison du Chocolate in New York for special occasions. It was great stuff in Tokyo too. Is it good in Paris - and what other places would you recommend for chocolate? When I am in cities with great chocolate - I like to buy a little - and eat a piece or two at night before I go to bed. Robyn

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If anybody knows some good choux pastries like éclair, this will be appreciated too.

I heard that Véronique Mauclerc (rue de Crimée) is good for éclairs (but haven't try them out yet)

thanks!

Hi naf :smile:

I know one good place for chocolate éclairs. Much better than La Maison du Chocolat where I bought some very mediocre éclairs last week (I don't know what's the matter with LMDC, they do great stuff normally).

Go to an outlet of "Cacao et Chocolat", there is one on the île Saint-Louis and another one on rue de Buci — best chocolate éclairs that I know of. The choux pastry is firm, the cream is chocolatey without being heavy, the icing is slightly crispy.

I really dislike Aoki's green tea pastries, too. Much too sweet and with that same greasy-cloying predominance that I hate in hyped pastry. Green tea pastries should have a good balance of taste and the green tea should be made to come through. I have heard that Aoki's pastries sold in Japan are much less sweet and gooey than the ones you buy in Paris, which may mean that the "modern" taste in French pastry is probably computer-designed by an army of marketing gurus who think in terms of trends, not in terms of taste.

A really delicious macha green tea pound cake is made by the Japanese pâtisserie Colomba (not quite sure of the exact name), at the Marché Saint-Germain. Japanese-style French pastry at its best: light, not too sweet, very tasty, with a good texture balance.

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My top names for chocolate are Christian Constant, Grégory Renard, Gérard Mulot, Laurent Duchêne. I'm sure there's more. Btw, la Maison du Chocolat is where the former pastry chef of Le Bristol is now "directeur des créations" (or sth), so look for new cakes there.

I was expecting a lot from the arrival of Gilles Marchal at LMDC, but from my few visits to some of the shops since then I haven't seen much in way of new cakes (I haven't been there often, though). As I wrote above, the chocolate éclairs I bought last week from the François-Ier shop were extremely disappointing. Maybe he is taking care of the chocolate bars and bonbons before he rolls up his sleeves and reshapes the pâtisserie department.

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What is Reggiano Parmigiano (sic) jelly?

It is a jellied custard made from Parmigiano cheese from the vicinity of Reggio (Emilia, Italy). Do you need any more information?

Pasta, risotto and now this concoction using one of the world's great cheeses in a jellied custard. As many of us said in a long series on the Italian forum, the French are the world's greatest cooks with regard to most things, but they haven't a clue how to make pasta and risotto, and it is now quite apparent that some of them don't have the foggiest idea of what Parmigiano Reggiano is all about. At least use Gran Padana so that parmigiano can be used for what it was intended for.

Today, we'll be going up to to a little trattoria in Zibello, near Parma, and we won't think fondly of Pierre Herme's dessert with jellied custard partially made from Parmigiano, as it's being sprinkled over tagiatelle with sugo di coniglio.

Man, I hope Herme doesn't start using culatello on his concoctions.

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Pasta, risotto and now this concoction using one of the world's great cheeses in a jellied custard. As many of us said in a long series on the Italian forum, the French are the world's greatest cooks with regard to most things, but they haven't a clue how to make pasta and risotto, and it is now quite apparent that some of them don't have the foggiest idea of what Parmigiano Reggiano is all about. At least use Gran Padana so that parmigiano can be used for what it was intended for.

Today, we'll be going up to to a little trattoria in Zibello, near Parma, and we won't think fondly of Pierre Herme's dessert with jellied custard partially made from Parmigiano, as it's being sprinkled over tagiatelle with sugo di coniglio.

Man, I hope Herme doesn't start using culatello on his concoctions.

I am going to defend Hermé this time. I think you should at least have tasted that pastry I wrote about before you make any definitive judgements. Hermé has access to incredible sourcing and the success of that pastry depends a lot on the excellent quality of the Parmesan he finds for that dessert. I think even you would be happily surprised by the results. To me this pastry is one of Hermé's strokes of genius, much more than the Ispahan or any other of his trendy creations.

Besides your judgements on the French using Parmigiano and your little trattoria are a trifle off-topic in a thread about pastry shops, if I may allow myself to say so.

(Following your off-topic remarks, though, I cannot say you're absolutely wrong about the French's poor talent for risotto and pasta, but I should also point out that a sizeable part of the Southeastern part of France is of Italian culture or has had plenty of culinary contact with Italy throughout the centuries, and they're not so dumb with pasta and risotto as you would believe. And don't forget the Corsicans are French, by the way.)

Edited by Ptipois (log)
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Someone has recommend Jean Paul Hevin to me.  Any opinions about it?  Robyn

Are you asking about his chocolates, specifically, or any of his stuff? I had the basic chocolat chaud, and it was rich without being cloying (but it wasn't the best I've ever had). The two macarons I had (coffee and caramel) were dry and lacking in flavour), and the florentine was, I thought, a bit overbaked.

On the other hand, my friend liked the macarons she tried (chocolate and raspberry), but she didn't care for the caramels as much.

But I've been told the chocolates are pretty good.

If you like caramels or salted-caramel flavoured sweets, try to find a source for Henri Le Roux. He's not based in Paris, but I think I may have read some Paris sources on David Lebovitz's site. His SBC tart is fabulous!

Caveat: I've only tried Tokyo versions of all of the above, and although I heard everything from both shops is flown in from France, I have not verified that.

Edited by prasantrin (log)
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