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Posts tagged ‘French pastries’

No. 355: Being Covered with Croissant Crumbs


You know it is going to be a great day when you start it covered in croissant crumbs.

Why in the world can no country besides France make perfect croissants and pain au chocolat?


No. 279-284: six tartelettes que j’aime


I am starting to wonder if I will ever lose those last 10 lbs. while I am living in Paris. I only seem capable of “being good” for 4-5 days at a time, and then I have a complete breakdown and wander into a gorgeous pâtisserie and it is back to square one and late-night bike rides on my vélo d’appartement trying to burn the extra calories from the day.

Let’s just say, it will be a very late evening tonight as I mistakenly strolled into Eric Kayser for a healthy quinoa, salmon and roquette salad and came away with a bit more than I bargained for.

Damn, the French and their daily menus which include a boisson (drink) and dessert along with the salad for only an extra €2.30.

As I have missed several days of blogging this week (due to the deluge of American guests à l’hôtel Nancy—going on 24 days, but who’s counting…), I looked at the stunning display of desserts and thought, “I’ll do a post on tartelettes.” And that mes amis is where the diet went all to hell.

Argh! I almost always go for the fruity tartelettes, mais aujourd’hui, I put my healthy blinders on and went straight for the chocolate and caramel display. And then I saw it, those two magnificent flavors combined, and a mini-dessert I had somehow  managed not to discover over the course of nearly 3 years: la tartelette au caramel et chocolate. Donc, I had to buy one. After all, it was a better deal to get the menu instead of just a salad and drink.

Long story short, I split the first one with Button. It was divine, like heaven popped on a plate. And then for the sake of my readers, I bought a second one to bring home and photograph (and retaste) for my blog. Curses!


Below please see my six favorite tartelettes that I have eaten at one time or the other over the past years all for you and in the name of research: 


tartelette caramel chocolat


tartelette aux poires

tartelette mascarpone fruits rouges


tartelette aux pommes


tartelette au citron


tartelette  abricots et pistaches


mais aujourd’hui: but today

mes amis: my friends

vélo d’appartement: exercise bike




No. 277: mille-feuille


It seems like it has been awhile since I did a post on food, but I was reminded yesterday evening when I attended a dessert party (so much for the ole regime, encore), of the sometimes underrated mille-feuille, or thousand leaves pastry.

Also know as the Napoleon, it consists of two layers of crème pâtissière sandwiched between three layers of pâte feuilletée traditionally glazed with a white icing and chocolate stripes. The even more delicious versions are filled with whipped cream and/or jam and lightly dusted with confectioner’s sugar or cocoa, or both.

If you are lucky enough to live in France, comme moi, there is no need to ever attempt to make a mille-feuille chez vous, but for those of you who don’t live in France, here is a très instructive recipe video (complete with happy French café music and crackling puff pastry sounds), so you can taste this yummy French dessert at your house.



chez vous: at your house

comme moi: like me

crème pâtissière: pastry creme

pâte feuilletée: puff pastry


No. 255-257: French Mother’s Day: Repopulation, Advice from Vichy France and Cake

“L’avenir d’un enfant est l’oeuvre de sa mere.” (The future of a child is the work of his mother.)

                        -Napoleon Bonaparte


While Mother’s Day in America was first officially celebrated in 1914 after Anna Jarvas campaigned for six long years for a day to honor “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world,” Mother’s Day in France came to be celebrated with slightly more practical and economic intentions behind it: the necessity to repopulate a country distressed by its declining birth rate.


In fact, French Mother’s Day was first instituted with an award attached to it for producing a high number of children. In 1906, a medal of haut mérite maternel (high maternal merit) was awarded to mother’s who had more than nine children. By 1918, some cities in France had established les Journée Nationale des Mères de Familles Nombreuses (National Day for Mother’s of Large Families), and in 1920 it became an official national holiday celebrated on the last Sunday of May. From the 1920s through 1940 the French government continued to support the holiday to help officially promote and reward large family policy and honor those mothers’ with the ability and desire to pop out baby after baby.

During the reign of the Vichy government, in an attempt to win favor with all mothers, the occupational government (while still actively promoting large family policies), extended the holiday to honor all mothers, even those with smaller families. After the war ended, Mother’s Day gradually became less attached to politics and nationalism, and became more of a day to celebrate your fabulous do-it-all mom.

While I was researching the history of French Mother’s Day, I came across this poster from 1941 Vichy France offering advice on how French children should behave on Mother’s Day and throughout the year, according to the field marshal, no less…


Ta maman a tout fait pour toi, le Maréchal te demande de l’en remercier gentiment.

Invente la surprise la plus belle que tu pourras, celle qui lui fera le plus grand plaisir.

Offre-lui des fleurs que tu auras cueillies…

ou un cadeau que tu auras fabriqué exprès pour elle…

Fais-lui un dessin aussi beau que tu pourras…

Fais un effort en classe pour rapporter de bonnes notes…

Ne te dispute pas avec tes frères et sœurs…

Va faire les commissions sans qu’elle te le demande…

Aide au ménage en souriant…

Apprends une jolie récitation…



(Your mom has done everything for you, the field marshal asks you to thank her kindly.

Come up with the most beautiful surprise you can that will give her the greatest pleasure…

Offers her flowers that you picked …or a gift you have made especially for her …

Draw her the nicest picture you can …

Make an effort in class to make good grades …

Do not fight with your brothers and sisters …

Run errands without her asking …

Help with the household with a smile…

Learn a beautiful recitation …

(Remember) Work-Family-Homeland)


…and finally in France, fête your lovely mother with a gorgeous cake from your kitchen or pâtisserie that looks like a bouquet of flowers or something too delicious to be true.

source: Meeting the French

source: Meeting the French

 Bonne fête des mères!


No. 239-248: Ten Random Things I Love About Paris

  1. The Clean-up Crew (affectionately know to me as the Little Green Men) who show up every day without fail, plastic green brooms in hand, to clean up other people’s crap.

    source: villedeparis advertising campaign

    source: villedeparis advertising campaign

  2. Barbe à papa: papa’s beard, AKA cotton candy. How can that word not make you smile?



  3. Unusual and frank billboards. I love that the French aren’t (yet) stifled by the conservative Christian right and can post billboards like this in the metro without causing a media firestorm.buildboard_paris_metro.jpg
  4. Free museum entrance for children and young adults up to the age of 25. (Another example of the French’s commitment to cultivating a love of the arts.)alvaroo-museum-ticket-swap-musee-du-louvre-paris
  5. Thegendarmeries on their horses trotting about the city keeping the gypsies in line: c’est tellement chic.



  6. Round windows. Moi, j’adore.



  7. The postmen and women delivering mail on their bikes. (Being a cycling postwoman has always secretly been my dream job.)



  8. Pistachio éclairs.pistachio_eclair_paris.jpg
  9. Grown men in business suits on fold-up bikes: captains of industry join the circus.urban-folding-bike2
  10. Those hunky pompiers who work so hard to stay in shape each morning and add a little extra attraction to a city already oozing with beauty.calendrier-pompiers-france

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)


No. 152: Train Station Croissants

croissant au jambon et fromage et croissant aux amandes

croissant au jambon et fromage et croissant aux amandes

In a testament to how seriously the French take their pastries, I have found that even train station pâtisseries are delicious, and I’m not talking about the Paul chain of boulangeries. Even the less known and more mom-and-pop type stands sell high quality croissants and civilized, albeit, not spectacular, espressos.

My very last croissant au jambon before the real regime starts on March 1.

My very last croissant au jambon before the real regime starts on March 1.

After nearly 2 weeks of travelling on the East Coast, and too many train, plane and ferry terminals (where we grabbed far too many crappy and prepackaged meals), I’m happy to be back in the land of buttery flakiness and artisanal bakers.