No. 221: Pâtisserie Algérienne
Another one of the things I love about France is the very different and interesting culture that the Algerian immigrants and citizens bring to this country. The North Africans bring so much color, flavor, and vibrancy to the forever black and often mild palette of Paris.
I was recently reminded of this wonderful Algerian influence when I was exploring the 11éme arrondissement and came across yet another La Bague de Kenza Pâtisserie. The name, “The Ring of Kenza”, as all good names do, has a story attached to it. It has to do with one of the owners losing (and then finding) one of his daughter’s precious rings. I’m not sure why the father had her ring to begin with, but I like to imagine him panicked in the street of Paris, asking every one he came across if they had seen “Kenza’s ring”.
It is fitting that bague means ring, because La Bague de Kenza is filled to bursting with sparkling, pastry jewels, the pâtisseries orientales. Everything behind the glass counter is yummy, but as I am nutty for pistachios, I always go straight for the pochette pistache, chopped pistachio and honey paste tucked into a light pouch of heavenly dough. The marzipan shaped fruit aren’t just delightfully whimsical, they are also every bit as delicious as German marzipan.
As you can imagine these pastry chefs bake with many different incarnations of almonds and dates, and pine nuts make a star appearance in several of my favorites, as do walnuts and coconut. La Bague’s pastries are a nice change of pace from French pastries and perfect as a delicate, and different dessert at your next dinner party. Mildly sweet and exquisitely crafted, it is worth stopping by just for the photo opportunity. And if sweets aren’t your thing, they do a mean tangine and fruity couscous, and don’t forget your mint-leaf tea.
106 rue Saint-Maur, Paris 75011 (Belleville)