Marshmallows and Macarons
It is true that on my way to Paris, I was still thinking about macarons I had tasted in New York City. But I will also admit that it did not take too long for me to shift gears and focus on the Parisian gâteaux here once I arrived. And so, as is usually the case, I went right to one of my favorite pastry shops in the city – which is hands down one of the capital’s most attractive too. Pain de Sucre is an absolute eye-catcher on rue Rambuteau – a popular street in Paris that either leads you to the funky, unmissable Centre Pompidou and bustling area of Les Halles in one direction, or going the other way, transforms into the Marais’ high end, fashionable rue des Francs-Bourgeois. You may just stay put though – you’ll be immediately drawn in by the beautiful, tall glass jars in the window, filled with big, square, fluffy marshmallows.
The first thing I do is check out the day’s flavors, which always include a colorful range of fruits and spices – you can see to the left dark chocolate coated in coconut, saffron/Piment d’Espelette and Campari. On other visits of mine, there have been such flavors as Matcha green tea, rose water, quince and chicory, the latter being a favorite of mine. Light and satisfying, they’re almost sponge-like in texture. That’s a good thing.
Their exquisite square tarts are also a good thing; the fruits lined up in impeccable rows and glistening on display. But they are not just pretty to look at; they are incredibly delicious as well.
But back to those macarons…
Pistachio/morello cherry, passion fruit, black currant, raspberry, fresh mint/chocolate, elderflower/chestnut honey… you really can’t go wrong. You can buy a pre-packaged box of ten macarons with one of each flavor, or make your own assortment if you prefer. Mine always includes two of the chocolat et feuilleté praliné (above right) and two of the salted butter caramel (above left, in front) – sublime! And I love that they have a bookmark with all of the flavors on it, so you know once you get home, in case you have forgotten. Or should I say, in case you didn?t finish them all on your way home.
The past few times I went, I had to keep telling myself to go back on my next trip to Paris to get some close-up shots of their macarons, of which I am obviously a very big fan. So big a fan that I usually end up eating them without even taking my camera out of its case. A true rarity.
Just as rare as this photo below, Pain de Sucre without a line out the door.