Boulangerie-Patisserie P.P. Colas
"Stop into Boulangerie-Patisserie P.P. Colas for its patisserie or pain du jour, seasonal specialties presented on the blackboard out front."
I remember P.P. Colas very well—it was one of the first bakeries that I went to in Paris (it was near my school) where I felt like the woman behind the counter found me about as desirable as a smelly hobo. (And just so you know, I wasn't particularly smelly that day, nor dressed as a hobo.) I picked a random sandwich for lunch and got the hell out of there. The sandwich was unremarkable, but that was probably because it was made with some kind of soft, skinny, fluffy roll, not a baguette. Their baguette de tradition was pretty awesome, like most baguettes de tradition tended to be. They also sold huge-ass macarons—not necessarily the best, but satisfying, and the chocolate one reminded me of a brownie.
On subsequent visits I was served by very nice people. The first time was just unfortunate.
"His impressive, true-to-life chocolate creations are well-known around Paris and he is regularly called upon for his special artistic skill."
I was drawn to Chaudun's store (also close to my school) for the cute molded chocolates in the window. ...Not that I was willing to shell out that much money for something I could eat in one bite. But I did try some non-bunny shaped chocolate pieces, which were tasty. Although I wasn't allowed to take a photo of the shop's interior (where some of his impressive chocolate sculptures are displayed), I was given the chance to take my photo with the chocolate master. He was really friendly and sweet! I think I even said something to him in French that may or may not have made any sense! Hoorah!
Cahill didn't mention the bread specifically, but I visited Rollet Pradier because it was on Jeffrey Steingarten's "Best Baguettes" list. And while it was good, it definitely wasn't one of my favorites. Then again, Steingarten wasn't a fan of Secco's baguette, which I loved. Maybe my baguette taste is different.
"The cheesecake (for the many expats and tourists in the neighborhood, Secco says) is made with 0% fat fromage blanc (fromage blanc comes in either 0%, 20%, or 40% fat), creating a delightfully light version of the traditionally rich Anglo-Saxon dessert. . . . The madeleines are among Paris' best. They have an unusual flavor, attributable to a "secret" recipe featuring sucre vergeoise, a sticky brown sugar, rather than the refined white variety. Secco also adds a tiny hint of lemon. The cakes' darker color and coarser texture is unique, but wonderful."
One afternoon in my French I class (which obviously didn't take me very far), one of my classmates had brought in a small box wrapped in white paper. Inside was a dainty cheesecake, indented in the center and decorated with a plump raspberry.
"This is the best cheesecake ever," she said in between bites.
So I had to get it. And she were right; Secco's cheesecake was great and now thanks to Cahill I know why. One of the reasons I don't usually like cheesecake is because I find it displeasingly sticky and heav, but this version was light, although still rich and creamy without being stomach deadening.
Also thanks to Cahill, I now know the "secret" to Secco's madeleines. The first time I had them, I became addicted to the point that I went to the bakery twice in one day to replenish my decreasing madeleine stock. Never before had I eaten such a delicious madeleine—the texture was heartier than most others and moist when I've found others to be dry, and the flavor more complex, a nice mix of nutty and buttery. Sadly though, when Umami came to visit and was nice enough to fulfill my request for a bucket of Secco's madeleines (really, she had a small bucket!), they didn't taste as good as before. They were...too buttery. I mean, they smelled nice, but then I'd take a bite and mostly taste butter. I don't know if an extra block of butter fell into that batch or if they reformulated the recipe to make everyone fatter, but it just wasn't right.
Most things I've had at Secco (or as I usually referred to it, Poujauran) were totally right, though. The baguette de tradition, the croissants (which, unlike the baguette, is Steingarten-approved), the rolls, the viennoiseries, the savory things...maybe not so much the macarons, but 99% of the stuff. It was my favorite bakery, partially because I passed it almost every morning, but mostly because it was reasonably priced, charmingly decorated, and offered a large selection of unique breads and pastries.
Related (LOADS OF EM)
September 11, 2006: I'm surrounded by bakeries
September 15, 2006: Chez Janou and Poujauran piggery
September 29, 2006: I'm really glad I'm not gluten intolerant
October 8, 2006: bread, flaky rolled up things, pho, and macarons
November 6, 2006: The girl who ate more than everything: pastries, more pastries (Part 2 of 3)
Deember 28, 2006: Last day in Paris
March 18, 2007: Spring Break in Paris: Day 1
April 2, 2007: Spring Break in Paris: Day 7 & 8
Lenôtre is all over Paris, although there is a main one...that I never went to. I bought a variety pack of macarons from one of their shops and while the macarons were good, they were far from mindblowing. I didn't feel compelled to try anything else from Lenôtre, although I figure their other desserts are great. It'd be awesome to have this store in New York, but in Paris I was draw more towards places like Secco. ...And Pierre Herme.
Fauchon is where you go to look at really expensive foodstuffs. Ha ha. Kinda. The store is beautiful, the cakes look like no others, and pastries (the fancy eclairs in particular) are on display like jewelry. They also sell high quality produce for crazy people (although a lot of that stuff is probably hard to find elsewhere). I tried some macarons, which, while better than average, were sweeter than what I preferred.
"Crunching slight at impact, then turning chewy and revealing intensely-flavored cream inside, Laduree's vivid-hued macarons hold their own. Laduree sets each almond flour cookie aside for two days after baking to achieve the perfect texture and consistency before it joins the colorful assortment for sale at the pastry counter.
Ladurée's macarons are my (somewhat distant, but worth checking out) second favorite after Pierre Hermé's. The shop isn't as inviting as PH's, but at Ladurée you can sit down and enjoy a cup of thick hot chocolate with a pastry...or three. The classic tarte tatin may sound like a boring option, but theirs is easily the best I've ever had. I can't imagine that anything there doesn't taste good, but if they have something that you can also get at PH, I'd rather get it at PH. However, Ladurée macarons are more suited for gifting as they have an array of sturdy, nicely decorated boxes that can survive a plane ride home.
La Petite Rose
I wouldn't have made it out to La Petite Rose after a tiring day of walking and eating if not for Alex—it was his favorite spot for hot chocolate near his homestay. The hot chocolate wasn't as sweet as I would've liked, but I'm not the best judge of hot chocolate seeing as my favorite kind of chocolate is "milk" (I've tried to get used to dark chocolate, but the bitterness always makes my taste buds cry), a fact that many chocolate lovers may feel like lynching me for. I had a great chocolate cake of some sort with layers of chocolate mousse and crunchy bits.
"Delmontel is best-known for his trademark Choco'Miss kid's treat, a raspberry cream and chocolate ganache-filled biscuit in the stylized form of a Japanese cartoon character.
Unfortunately I didn't try anything from Arnaud Delmontel; I just happened to pass it one Sunday afternoon and as I felt too full to eat anything (YES, THIS HAPPENS, it is very soul crushing), I only took photos of the delicious looking cakes in the window. If only I had their Choco'Miss cake! Aside from that, their window proclaimed to having the best croissants in the 9ème and the macarons don't look shabby either. ....D'oh.