If a mother’s job is to feed her child, my mom did a mighty good job during her visit.
We didn’t eat fancy French food, but we did eat really, really well: yummy sandwiches, homemade chicken soup, tartines smeared with honey, pristine strawberries, ripe cheese... And then there were the pastries.
The first night was surprisingly one of the best. We brought home cakes from one of my neighborhood boulangeries, Eric Kayser. A pear-grapefruit cake was nice but overshadowed by its awesome pistachio-raspberry counterpart. Both were based on a thick, moist shortbread crust, but the pistachio-raspberry slice also had a beautiful almondy center. That and the irresistible pistachio-raspberry combo did it. The third cake from Eric Kayser was a dreamy chocolate creation that included layers of praline, mousse and ganache. Yum.
We sampled cakes and cocoa at Angelina. Verdict: go for the cocoa, not the cakes.
I introduced Mom and Bob to Pierre Hermé’s macarons, which was a blast. We sampled six flavors—cassis, chocolate, vanilla and olive oil, pistachio and apricot, passionfruit-chocolate and caramel and fleur de sel—all of which were sublime. It’s amazing how he can pack so much flavor into these little pastries, each bite erupting on the tongue and dancing all over your taste buds. And where does he come up with those flavors??
On other nights, we sampled an array of cakes and treats: crème brulee, flan, a chocolate éclair, and a chocolate tart. Yes, we were piggies, but everything was divided by three, so it wasn’t that obscene. Really.
And the grand finale was Laduree. We went to this famed salon de thé for lunch, which was wonderful: the vibe is ladies-who-lunch meets Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette. It's renowned for its macarons, but we had to try the cakes for dessert. Each one was a beautiful puff of heaven. Mom got the cherry Religieuse: choux pastry filled with custard, cream and cherries. Bob got Le Savarin: a cake saturated through and through with dark rum and topped with whipped cream. And I had the newly added raspberry-pistachio Saint Honoré. There was no use resisting that raspberry-pistachio combination again, and I was so happy with my selection. A creation similar to Mom’s it had pistachio-flavored custard, light-as-a-feather cream, choux pastry and fresh berries.