Like a woman who’s just found out she’s dying of cancer and has inherited millions from a previously unknown aunt in a single text, I’ve booked a month-long stay in Paris. And so, by popular demand (and by popular I mean one person mentioned it in passing), I’m bringing back Patisseries Discoveries – a thinly veiled excuse to eat every pastry in sight. Long time fans and train wreck enthusiasts may recall the turd-like Paris-Brest from Reims or the smashed “eggs nest” Easter special.
To its credit, Paris did not disappoint. Not that I went out seeking more misshapen pastries. No, I went to the Mariage Frères, which is as classy as you can get. It’s on all the Paris guides, right next to Angelina and Monoprix.
There, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, we sipped on Paris-Kyoto tea, infused with yuzu and vanilla, from dainty porcelain teacups and mirrored teapots. Dappled sunlight danced across a row of serene white orchids at the window. Colonial caricatures hung on warm yellow walls next to immaculate rows of black tea containers. It was all very nice.
And then our chariot of cakes arrived. That is what it was called, and no, there were no horses involved. Yes, I know.
We decided on a matcha and framboise financier and and a madeleine glacée with yuzu and rose. Both were delicious, although the financier was a little gritty for my taste. Some dislike matcha for its earthiness, but the grittiness here came from the texture itself rather than any of the flavoring. A tart burst of raspberry at the center gave me something to remember it by. Overall, it was alright.
I may be biased, however, as my favorite financiers were the ones Victoria made in Montreal and even though she put in the usual flour, sugar, etc., pesky shit like friendship and laughter managed to get in and taint the batch. So the Mariage Frères never really had a chance.
But the madeleine. Oh, the madeleine.
The yuzu and rose complemented each other perfectly. The flavors were natural, subtle yet strong enough to be memorable. Such a shame it looked like a three-year-old pimple.
I thought I’d taken some nice photos. It was only when reviewing them that I realized the madeleine lurked in the back like a chewed up peach pit (also an apt description of me at social gatherings).
But there’s a reason people keep going back to Mariage Frères. As far as ambiance goes, quality, and interesting tea-based designs, they hit it out of the park. You don’t need me to tell you that. And madeleines and financiers are some of my favorite desserts. They’ve got a simple elegance that rarely disappoints.
Still, it seems no matter where I go, be it an expensive teahouse or a Carrefour, the least photogenic pastry will find its way into my hands. It’s the world’s greatest love story.