April 18, 2014
When I quit my corporate job and moved to Paris to pursue my dream of becoming a pastry chef, I wasn’t sure how far down this path I could manage.
Sure, I loved eating pastries and I loved the idea of making them, but I had also heard enough Hell’s Kitchen stories that had kept me worried.
So what is it really like to work in a pastry kitchen in Paris? As a part of my professional pastry program at école Ferrandi, I completed a 5-month internship at Un Dimanche à Paris, a chic boutique known for its beautiful exhibition kitchen and delicious pastries. Here are some behind-the-scene snapshots to give you an idea of what the life of a French patissier is like. Continue Reading »
Posted in Food, Parisian Living | 15 Comments »
February 16, 2012
Here at HiP, we’re always up for a good expat adventure tale, particularly one in which desserts play a starring role. In her new book, Paris, My Sweet, food writer (and regular HiP Paris contributor!) Amy Thomas regales us with stories from her two-year stint in Paris, where she wrote advertising copy for Louis Vuitton by day and scoured the city for sweets in her spare time.
All in all, it sounds like a pretty ideal existence, but like all expats in Paris, Amy faced a typical series of ups and downs. It’s no surprise that she fell hard for the city upon arrival; and it’s also no surprise that, once the initial Parisian shine wore off, Amy ultimately came to see the city’s not-quite-so-sweet side. It’s at this point that the story really starts to ring true for those of us who have been expats in Paris: you’re simultaneously charmed and alienated, comforted and challenged, energized and exhausted.
As Amy weathered the highs and lows of expat life, she also covered serious ground in the dessert department, hitting all of Paris’ confectionary hotspots and sampling the city’s most decadent delights. This book is not only an account of her time in Paris, but also a goldmine of bonnes addresses (in both Paris and New York) for dessert lovers. This woman knows her way around a pâtisserie, and serious sugar-high seekers would do well to heed Amy’s recommendations.
Paris, My Sweet is a guidebook of sorts, but it’s also just a fun and decadent read—I devoured it in less than 48 hours, pausing only to scrounge up some chocolate now and again. In addition to making me hungry, Amy’s writing transported me back to Paris, a trip I am ever-eager to make, if only vicariously.
Below, I caught up with the author to talk Paris, pastries, and ultimately picking her favorite city. Continue Reading »
Posted in Events, Food, Parisian Living, Travel | 14 Comments »
March 7, 2011
Adam Wayda is an American gourmand with “a bit” of a sweet tooth. Spending half of each year in Paris, he chronicles Parisian pastry and the great chefs behind it on his site, which poses the very real risk of making your computer’s monitor ooze with crème pâtissiere.
A trip to Paris without visiting a pastry shop – or 10 of them – is woefully incomplete. It’s not just the pastries that make the experience, it’s the shops themselves. From the romantic 19th century charms of Ladurée to the 23rd century design sensibilities of La Pâtisserie des Rêves , there’s never been a more varied and deliciously sucré landscape in the history of Paris. Although, if time is tight or if you’re attempting to not completely overindulge, arguably the shop not to skip is Hugo & Victor.
H&V for me, however, was the one major pâtisserie I almost missed on my last great pastry adventure. Months earlier, I’d landed at CDG with a detailed list of 20+ shops to which I’d make my rounds, bingeing daily on 3…4…5 (or more) of their goodies. As my extended vacation wound down and my pant size burgeoned 3 inches, a friend emailed me saying, “Have you checked out Hugo & Victor yet?”
Thinking I knew every pâtisserie of any significance, I barely took the time to Google them. The shocker was the photos that turned up, plus an address no more than 4 blocks from my apartment. It seems they had opened just shortly before my arrival in Paris. While I could be excused for nearly missing them, a visit was long overdue.
Walking through the sliding glass door of H&V, I felt like I’d stepped into a jewelry boutique. After all, half the pastries were individually top-lit and locked behind glass. I quickly struck up a conversation with the salesgirl and got the rundown on what makes H&V so special: Continue Reading »
Posted in Food, Shopping | 4 Comments »
May 26, 2010
As a New Yorker, I find it equal parts utter insanity and totally logical that as soon as I moved to Paris last year—with visions of millefeuilles, pains au chocolat, artisan chocolates and good old Nutella street crepes dancing through my head—I wound up Velib’ing through the back streets of the eleventh arrondissement seeking the city’s then cupcakes-only bakery. It took a few wrong turns down some side streets, but I found Cupcakes & Co, with sunlight happily spilling across the sole café table—an auspicious signpost pointing to the delicious display case of American delights.
Rebecca and Maggie Bellity, the two sisters who opened Cupcakes & Co in 2008, pride themselves on using natural and organic baking ingredients for their petits gateaux. And even though the concept arose from their travels to the states, their recipes are all French. They’ve dreamed up combinations like jasmine and vanilla, lemon and coconut, coffee and hazelnut and over a dozen others that set my heart racing and ensured many weeks of repeat business.
That was well over a year ago. And as my American obsession has waned (grace à new obsessions with macarons, violet éclairs and salted caramels), the Parisians’ has exploded. Continue Reading »
Posted in Food | 23 Comments »
May 4, 2010
Paris may be the best place in the world to visit if you’ve got a sweet tooth. Blocks lined with patisseries, crèpe stands on street corners, butter-filled pastries for breakfast… Amy Thomas knows some great spots for off-the-radar sweet fixes, and she shares her favorite picks with us here. Happy eating!
Just as there are many must-know-slash-in-the-know restaurants that pepper the 11th and 12th arrondissements—Bistrot Paul Bert, Le Square Trousseau, La Gazetta, to name a few—there are also some killer sweet spots in this fringy neighborhood straddling le Faubourg Saint Antoine that are too good to be left unmentioned.
Perhaps the most notable is Blé Sucré, which was founded by ex-Bristol patissier Fabrice Le Bourdat. I’ve always wanted to treat myself to one of his sweets, but had previously only had the opportunity to ogle them through the window. But as I primed myself for this sweet tour, I did proper blogosphere research and arrived at the petite patisserie with a shortlist: the pain au chocolat, madeleine and financier. Still, it was a tortuous decision and the staff graciously humored me as I bounced between the rows of chocolate éclairs, raspberry bressons and chaussons aux pommes. Finally, I settled on the madeleine. Sold in packages of four, they’re moist and light; dense with some crispness along the ridge; and, coated with a thin layer of sugar glaçage, super satisfying.
Then it was on to La Ruche à Miel, a North African patisserie/salon de thé on rue d’Aligre. Continue Reading »
Posted in Food | 4 Comments »