Sunday, 11 March 2012

Cake, Pig, Prawn flailing

I have realised that Paris is the equivalent of Leeds in my adolescence (sorry, Paris): the place you have to dress up for, the place you view with a slightly starstruck respect and belief you're not quite worthy. This weekend I once again proved I am indeed not worthy by:

- Fusing the household electrics with my hair-straighteners in pre-Paris sartorial crisis, which meant I had to get dressed in the dark, thus discovering on the train to Paris that my cream jumper had a vast grey stain on the front. There was a lot of not strictly necessary coat wearing, which was a shame, since that jumper was my secret style weapon and about the only thing I own that didn't seem to be coated in a persistent layer of miscellaneous grime.

- Falling over on the Place de la Madeleine. through sheer incompetence at the basic business of putting one foot in front of the other.

- Throwing half a tempura prawn across a packed Japanese restaurant in the Rue Ste Anne onto a woman's coat in an unfortunate outbreak of Solo Lunch Flailing (I have lots of inglorious form with food and beverage flailing, include a particularly terrible Red Wine Important Client's Missoni Coat Flail at a conference which so broke me I had to run away and hide for the remainder of the day).

Even so, despite sartorial failings and dyspraxia and prawn chucking, I feel much more confident about being in Paris now than when I lived there, presumably because I am older and harder to frighten and have nicer shoes. I welcome these developments. Failing memory, a hunchback and skin like an albino haggis are at least partially compensated by the ability not to melt into a puddle of mortification when a Parisian service provider gets .. Parisian on me.

Other than that it was lovely, stupidly beautiful and spring-like, happy. I didn't cry with remembered angst in Lafayette Gourmet like I did last time, I bought a heap of cake, saw lots of people I like and went to an excellent charcuterie party with a group of lovely people who revere pig products none of whom I had ever met, but who were entirely lovely. Peter, whose charcuterie prize winning party it was, was not gifted with a live pig during the evening, but other than that it was a truly excellent party. You can read a proper food blogger talking about it here.

You want to see cakes? Of course you do. If you don't, god only knows what you're doing here. You must really like miserable dogs.


There was a distinct rillettes theme to my shopping, in unconscious homage to the pig people. The 'no added fat' novelty Bordeau Chesnel were a sad disappointment, but at least now I know what the point of added fat is. In addition to this high octane animal fat glamour, I did also buy some nail polish and children's pants. All bases covered.


The Aoki chocolate salted caramel tart. FILTHY. Tastes like it shouldn't be legal; wouldn't be if Dr Dukan won the French presidential elections. That pastry is near miraculously short and thin. The salted caramel tastes of well-earned quadruple bypasses.

Ladurée St Honoré Rose Framboise. In my mind this is my favourite cake in the world, but somehow it just didn't do it for me yesterday, the rose chantilly cream was all a bit cloying and shaving foamy and it was just SO FUCKING LARGE. I'm sure that was nothing to do with the previous evening's rabbit terrine and scallops and polenta and mash and rice and crème brûlée AND rice pudding and gallons of wine.

The Aoki Bamboo, which is revered among Serious Cake Fanciers as a sort of cake Sistine Chapel ceiling. This was as delicious as it usually is, but actually I liked the Cassis-Chocolat, of which I only have the most atrocious photograph, better (you can see it here). I don't know, my palate was broken yesterday, I should have been banned from cake. As it is, I now need my jaw wired.

I'm now back in actually also quite springlike and balmy Brussels, for a sparkling week of fillings and legal proof-reading and not sure how useful any of that was for 'research' purposes. I got a bit distracted in my various missions and (i) did not get over to the 17th arrondissement (ii) did not manage to find the bakery in the Marais that sells mouse shaped sablé biscuits (iii) did not even walk up the vast chilly Boulevard Malesherbes towards the Parc Monceau* as I planned. Pfff, never mind. I'm going back at Easter anyway and it will all still be there. HURRAH.

(*My sister reminded me this weekend that when we lived there, Lashes was convinced a crocodile lived in the pond in the Parc Monceau. On reflection, I like to believe he's right. A Bonpoint tweed addicted, duck-mangling, baguette-despising, Sophie the fucking rubber giraffe gnawing crocodile. One day it will rise up and eat every last loden coat wearing, teckel walking, disapproving park patron).


Margaret said...

Mother of God, I would leave my husband just for the chance to press my nose against a plate-glass window behind which that chocolate salted caramel tart lay.

vivien y said...

Used to go ten pin bowling and greyhound racing in Leeds in the 70s - Metropolis .......

Peter said...

I'm sorry we didn't get to have lunch together, because I would have so enjoyed watching you fling the prawn across the room into that poor woman.

Having said that, though, it was lovely to meet you. Who knew you'd be the second most famous blogger in the room? You might want to squeeze that onto your business card as well.

Johnners said...

I have only ever been to Paris as a rather truculent 12 year-old, trailing my parents, so I don't really know what you were talking about, but it sounded lovely. I could share similar tales of cake derring-do about Vienna, if you like though.
PS What Margaret said.

Sonya said...

I was in Paris for about 24 hours late last week (stopped for a layover on a frighteningly long business flight). It was just so lovely - sunny and warm and the daffodils.

I am coeliac and can't eat all the wonderful cakes, but I heard about a gluten-free patisserie, Helmut Newcake, that is apparently so amazing most of the customers don't even realise it is GF. I was devastated to learn it opened at noon, when I had to leave for CDG at 11:15. I would have bought the shop out. I was obliged to buy 2 bottles of compensatory pricey bordeaux.

Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes said...

My husband once launched half a crab through Dock's Café in Antwerp. That was 5 years ago, we are going again this Saturday but he is not allowed near a crab...

Nimble said...

I take comfort in the fact that Paris disapproves equally of all the inhabitants of earth who do not live within her boundaries.

I wish I was on the Rue des Rosiers right now with a dripping, spicy packet of felafel. Sigh.

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