For those of you who read my blog I'm sure some of you may have noticed that I never revealed the name of the patisserie I was working at. This was for obvious reasons. I didn't exactly want to rip my bosses a new one and have them now that I am doing it. Of course this assumes that anyone reads or can find my blog (I have yet to locate it via Google Search). All the same, it seemed in my best interest not to piss off my bosses who were already are such cheery and understanding people. But now I am free and so can unmask the mystery since I'm sure a few of you are on the edge of your seat with anticipation. So here it goes, drumroll please...
Pain de Sucre. Pain de Sucre literally translates to bread of sugar but what it actually means is sugar cube. A cute and innocent name for a patisserie. For any of you who know anything about Parisian patisseries, Pain de Sucre is one of the top ten, perhaps even top five, pastry shops. And let me just say that even after the weeks of horrific experiences, the blows to my self confidence, the screaming, the counter slapping, the rudeness and complete lack of respect for me as a human being, I would still recommend Pain de Sucre to anyone visiting Paris. Just don't step foot into the kitchen.
Pain de Sucre may have two complete jackasses for owners and if you see either of them you would most likely know it. Both Madame and Monsieur work at the counter in the shop and neither of them smile. Madame even bitched out a customer the other day because she tried to pay with a check. But aside from their complete lack of personal skills, or personality for that matter, they do create incredible things that are unique and special, beautiful and delicious. The savory side is not nearly as popular as the sweet but if you are interested in a quality meat pie this would be one of the best places to go. They aren't cheap but they have incredible crusts and top notch ingredients. The soups are fabulous as well and contain interesting and delightful flavor combinations (the carrot soup is one of my favorites and has carrots, melissa, ginger, and coconut milk).
Then there's the pastry shop. Now I may have only been allowed to put sliced figs on top of tarts or put sable into boxes, but I do know that what the other people made was pretty incredible. They use high end ingredients and practically everything is made fresh that morning. They have a plethora of marshmallows that are so fluffy and light it's almost unbelievable. They are perhaps most famous for their tarts and I must admit that their tart crust borders on perfection. The entremet (which are like fancy layered cakes) are also delicious and elegant. And the chocolate heart cake is perhaps one of the most heavenly things I've ever eaten.
The one thing that I would not recommend, however, are there macarons. Many people, especially tourists, aren't exactly sure what a real macaron should taste like. They are so popular now that you can find them almost anywhere but very few places make a perfect macaron. I'm not judging because it isn't something that is easy to do. I know that I can't do it. But just because I can't make the perfect macaron doesn't mean I can't eat the perfect macaron. For those of you who want to try the best go to Laduree or Pierre Herme. There's a reason they are famous for their macarons. It isn't just nonsense or hype. They really do have that market cornered. And while I'm sure that there are other places that do a stellar job on this little sandwich cookie, Pain de Sucre is not one of them.
The Pain de Sucre macaron is actually quite a tragedy. The flavors they do are incredible and the fillings are devine. But a macaron is made or broken based almost solely on the macaron shell. It should be crispy on the outside and soft/melty on the inside. To achieve this a macaron shell should be fairly hard and dry when removed from the oven since it will naturally absorb some moisture from the filling. In fact I had even learned that the way one tells if a macaron is done is if it can be easily lifted off the baking sheet. Pain de Sucre did not hold to this test. The macarons were, in my opinion, raw when they were taken out of the oven. This meant that they never achieved the perfect texture that a macaron should have. So while their pistachio ganache or caramel fillings may be heavenly, they're wasted sitting between two pieces of soggy failure.
If you do research you'll find many wonderful things written about Pain de Sucre and that's because these people really do know what they are doing when it comes to sweets. Everyday there's a line out the door of people who want to get a taste. Sure I may think they have organizational and efficiency issues, and sure they may treat their employees like crap in the process but who really cares about that if all you want is a tasty tart. And the fact is that I am the last person in the world that would want to boost their self-esteem or support their business. But facts are facts and while one of those facts may be that these people are horrible human beings, another is that they make wonderful food and have a pastry shop in a charming Parisian neighborhood. So if you're planning to visit don't avoid Pain de Sucre. I plan on going back after a few months and haircut. And hell, maybe pastry is like the blues and in order to be top notch you have to sell your soul to the devil.