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Sunday
Jul132008

French Toast: A Salute to Our Favorite Parisian Things for Bastille Day

Paris, je t'aime
For serious Francophiles, July 14 is the most wonderful time of year: Bastille Day. Well, Bastille Day itself may be a celebration of the anniversary of a très bloody uprising, but we're choosing to celebrate the day in a far less visceral and much sweeter way: by celebrating all of our favorite things Parisian and pastry related! And so, here's a little parade of ten of our favorite Frenchie things, from pastries to places and experiences:

(Cakespy Note: OK, so our list of loves is pretty central to Paris, probably because that's the only place in France we've ever been.)
Part 1: Five French Pastries We Adore

 
1. Religieuse Experience: The first ever pastry we tried in Paris was the Religieuse. An iconic-looking pastry, the Religieuse is apparently named for its resemblance to a nun's habit, although we're not sure if there is any further religious association with its invention. What we do know is that the fancy eclairs, which can be filled with various fillings, are exceedingly delicious and beautiful. Also, for lovers of the religieuse and cupcakes, run, don't walk, for this fantastic wallpaper which we discovered through Chocolate & Zucchini. (Religieuse, pictured left, from Laduree's site). 

2. Debutante Divorcé: The second pastry we tried in France was the Divorcé. Though its name would infer separations, we think it's probably more of a heavenly marriage of flavors: though some variations existed, our favorite was an eclair-ish pastry topped with half-chocolate, half-coffee icing, and then inside the pastry, beneath the chocolate iced section there is coffee cream, and beneath the coffee icing there is chocolate cream. Mon dieu! (Photo left, from a flickr pool).



Luxem-bourgers meet a real BurgerMacarons, Le Panier, Pike Place Market
 
3. Mac Daddy: Naturally, the macaron plays a big role in our French dreams. What could be Frenchier than those sweet little burger-cookies? (For more on the dear treats, check out this previous posting).
Napoleon, Zabar's, NYCNapoleons at La Bergamote
4. Grosses Bises for the Mille-feuille: This pastry is also known as the "Napoleon"--but although it's a mighty little bite, it's said by some that it's not actually named for Monsieur Bonaparte, but instead is named after Naples the city, where it is said to have been invented. What in the world is a mille-feuille though? According to Wikipedia,
The Mille-feuille (French 'thousand sheets'), Napoleon (U.S.), vanilla slice, cream slice or custard slice (Commonwealth countries) is a pastry made of several layers of puff pastry alternating with a sweet filling, typically pastry cream, but sometimes whipped cream, or jam. It is usually glazed with icing or fondant in alternating white and brown (chocolate) strips, and combed. The name is also written as "millefeuille" and "mille feuille".

The St. Honore Pastry
5. Chiboust, a Coup de Coeur: ah, the Gâteau Saint-Honoré. It's a cake "named for the French patron saint of bakers and pastry chefs, Saint Honoré or Honoratus (d. 600 AD), bishop of Amiens"-- but really what gets us excited is the creme filling, named after the pastry chef who invented it circa 1846: "Crème Chiboust, also called Crème Saint-Honoré, is a crème pâtissière (pastry cream) lightened with whipped cream or stiffly beaten egg whites"...this pastry cream is the stuff of dreams, light and rich all at once, not too-sweet; and when contrasted by the perfect pastry crust, not a taste easily forgotten. (Picture shown: individual Saint Honore pastry).

 

 

Part 2: Five Frenchie Things and Places We Adore:
1. Boulangeries et Pâtisseries: As a general cultural note, any country that is advanced enough to have two genres of bakeries is really just fine by us. So what is the difference between the two types of French bakery? A Boulangerie is where you'd got to get your baguette; a Pâtisserie is where you'd go for an eclair or tarte au citron. There can be crossover of course, but in our minds, it's the Boulangerie for carbtastic treats; the Pâtisserie for creamy and chocolatey treats.
Pastries hanging out at Laduree in Paris
2. Lovely Laduree: A simple visit to the Laduree website is like a mini-escape from real life--but a visit in person to one of the venerable Paris teahouses is like going into an Alice in Wonderland world. No, they're certainly not cheap, but can you really put a price on true magic? Multiple locations; online at laduree.fr.
3. Bagels and Brownies: Yes, this is an actual place in Paris. When we came across it, we were...intrigued. Tucked in a side street near the Alliance Française, there was a line out the door every day for this purveyor of American-style treats, including jumbo cookies, blondies, doughnuts and, bien sur, their namesake items. So how was the Parisian take on American baked goods?Heartbreakingly delicious, and most certainly not low-fat. Parfait. Bagels and Brownies, 12, Rue N D des Champs, 75006 Paris, France; +33 1 42 22 44 15‎.

L'Opera
4. Pastries on the Rue de L'U: One of our more memorable experiences was a trip to the Rue de L'Universite, which to any hardcore foodie is not merely a street, but The Street Where Julia Child Lived. As a tribute to the dearly departed Julia, we picked up an Opera cake and ate it (daintily, with a fork) while strolling down the Rue De "Loo" as she called it--we think Julia would have liked the idea of Cake Gumshoes making a pilgrimage to her old 'hood, especially with chocolate and gold leaf smeared on our faces.
5. Markets, Markets, Markets: From the ginormous Le Bon Marche to the enchanting street markets (check out a list here), markets are part of the romance of Paris, and in our opinion they live up to the reputation and then some. Who wouldn't love to be walking down the street with a fresh baguette, tearing off the top for the first bite, like a native? Le sigh.

 

 

 

 

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Reader Comments (25)

How can I still be full from dinner and drooling at the same time?? Those napoleons look amazing. And love the title of this post--you're so punny! ;)

July 13 | Unregistered CommenterRicki

You know just about every item in every photo in every post is a religious experience.

July 13 | Unregistered CommenterJeanna

Not fair! Why did I look at these photos - I am now sooooo hungry!

I'm glad the markets lived up to your expectations! I would love to peruse them one day.

+ J'ai faim maintenant, aussi.

July 14 | Unregistered CommenterGirl

oh yes! Great tribute to the French... I want a religieuse right now!

July 14 | Unregistered CommenterAran

C'est une manière très délicieuse de célébrer le jour de bastille!! :0)

July 14 | Unregistered CommenterVeggieGirl

all righty then, so how much is a plane ticket to paris going for these days? :)

July 14 | Unregistered CommenterGrace

Ah...there is NOTHING like luscious shots of French pastries! I feel a choux craving coming on!

You make me want to go back there this weekend. If only I had the vacation days left to do so!

July 14 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

Ohh and La and LA!!! Big time. :)

Love this celebration. Drooling now, no fair!!!

Hope all is going very well, MS Cakespy. I love what you are doing.

All best as always,
Jan

All you foodie bloggers are making me want to visit Paris! I especially like the macaron picture, how the three are lined up and a few letters on the paper are showing. Lovely!

July 14 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

your adorable creations just kill me!

July 14 | Unregistered CommenterLina

You're making me crave french pastries! I've only been to Paris once but I still remember my time in the cafes with a hot coffee and a plate of divine treats. We'd sit there for a couple of hours talking and watching the world go by. Ah, Paris.

Love your art work.

July 14 | Unregistered CommenterDragon

Le Quatorze Juillet Toute La Monde!

i love this post! and i love this blog.

i am in the beginning stages of planning a grand journey (still deciding where i really, really want to go) and each time my mind wanders from paris, it is drawn back...this is one of those incidences.

July 14 | Unregistered Commentercindy*

What a delicious post! Thank goodness for French pastry!

July 15 | Unregistered CommenterAnali

I just have to add to the list of favorite Frenchies - the financier, a buttery little almond cake sometimes baked in a pan shaped like a gold ingot, and of course the madeleine. I suppose that technically they are not pastries since the French really think of them as snacks, and you'd never find them on a restaurant dessert menu, but where would we be without them? Ooh, la la!

July 15 | Unregistered Commenterannacecile

Ricki: Yes! That is a great compliment! It means you need dessert!

Jeanna: Ah, so it is!!

Caked Crusader: No way! What is really not fair is that you're so much closer to Paris!!

Girl: Ohhh I hope you do! It's wonderful.

Aran: I'll bet you make good ones...

Veggiegirl: Merci beaucoup!!

Grace: A LOT! Unfortunately.

Wandering Coyote: Much ado about choux...I am feeling it now too.

Jan: Oh yea!!! Plenty of stuff for you to paint, no?
Love your painterly items lately!

Je ne sais quoi: Merci!

Cindy: You're too sweet! Thanks! Hope you get there.

Anali: You're welcome, and amen!

Annacecile: ohhhh the financier!!! Gosh, we were fools to list just five huh? We've already been talking about like 30 others. :-)

July 15 | Unregistered CommenterCakespy

Ohh la la (that's about as much french as I know;) those pastries look fab! Love the title to your post!!

July 15 | Unregistered CommenterHalf Baked

Religieuse recipe ASAP!!!!

July 15 | Unregistered CommenterEB

You just don't know how much I am grinning right now...do you? Well, a lot!! Thank you!

July 16 | Unregistered CommenterTartelette

I absolutely adore the drawing you did with the little macarons and the burger.

Belated Happy Bastille Day! These pastries really cover the most important dimensions of life, (love, passion, Napoleonic Wars, etc.) and isn't that what a stroll through Paris is all about?

Viva La Napoleon! I love them. One of my friends gets Giant Napoleon cakes for every special occasion, and I could eat the whole sheet myself! Macarons always taste a little sad to me, like they were left in the dye too long.

July 18 | Unregistered Commenterfeathermar

Surprisingly, I haven't tried many of these delicious treats. Looks like I have a mission in front of me.

July 18 | Unregistered CommenterSarah
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