Tuesday, April 8, 2008
A quietly delicious Paris pâtisserie
My love affair with French food began with pâtisserie and I still take pride in knowing where to find the best, from Pierre Hermé's passion fruit and milk chocolate macaron to Sadaharu Aoki's green tea millefeuille. That's why I was surprised to come across an interview with Pierre Hermé in which he spoke of a pastry shop that had somehow escaped my notice.
Though I thought I could sniff out sugar from miles away, La Petite Rose is in a residential part of the 8th arrondissement not far from where I live when I'm in Paris. You can imagine that I wasted no time in dashing over there to see what I had been missing since it opened a couple of years ago.
In an age where pâtisseries and chocolateries are looking ever more intimidating, with stark facades that barely suggest there might be cakes inside, it was refreshing to find this cheerful shop with pastries in the window and a few tables scattered outside and inside. The walls are painted pale pink and chocolate brown, a combination that seems to me typically Japanese. Pastry chef Miyuki Watanabe is indeed from Japan, and she let me take a few photos while she shyly told me about training in Tokyo and working at Gérard Mulot before opening her own shop.
I resisted the small but exquisite selection of pastries as I was on my way to a three-course lunch, but chose a few chocolates, which I proceeded to gobble, lunch or no lunch. Most original was the soft nougat wrapped in dark chocolate, though my favorite was probably the subtly zingy ginger-spiked ganache. At €4.70 for about ten chocolates, her prices are well below those of the ultra-chic chocolatiers of St-Germain, and I couldn't detect a difference in quality.
Next time I'll be sure to try her Valentin, the chocolate mousse and crème brûlée cake that Hermé recommended, as well as her chocolate and raspberry macaron. (I won't be afraid to go back to this shop, since I didn't destroy any cakes.)
On the way out, I looked to my right and admired this view of Sacré Coeur as I crossed the street: proof yet again that Paris always holds new surprises.
La Petite Rose, 11, boulevard de Courcelles, 8th, 01 45 22 07 27.