Last week, I wrote about some new savory discoveries from my last Paris trip. “But Miss Cheesemonger, what about dessert?” I can hear some folks asking. I have a very short list of places I go for sweets. There are many, many pâtisseries in the city, but currently, it boils down to two favorites. I did, however, make a happy discovery in Sacha Finkelstein, a Jewish bakery located in the heart of Paris’s Jewish quarter, le Marais.
Pierre Hermé: What other pastry shop has its name etched in stone at the entrance? Stepping into a Pierre Hermé store is like stepping into the Louis Vuitton store of pastry. Slick salespeople dote on customers in this equally slick store, where single macarons cost somewhere around $2.50 (depending on the exchange rate). A 6-8 person pastry cake will set you back about 60 euro (about $82.00). Not that I’m complaining about the price. Everything from Pierre Hermé is worth every single centime. The macarons here are divine. Nothing I have tasted anywhere else even comes close to the fresh, melting goodness of Pierre Hermé. Nothing. Comes. Close. Flavor-wise, everything is exquisite. I particularly loved discovering the “Mogador,” composed of milk chocolate and passion fruit, and the “Miléna,” which flawlessly combines fresh mint and red berries. The 2000 feuilles praliné I bought for myself last year will linger in my mind for years to come. It was that lovely. If it’s your first time, and are on the fence, just go for it! There will be no regrets!
Berthillon Ice Cream: My other Parisian sweet staple is Berthillon ice cream, an artisanal brand that has been around for at least 60 years. You can find their ice creams all around Paris and on the outskirts, but I tend to get mine on l’Île St. Louis, the small island behind Notre Dame Cathedral. My favorites include frambroise à la rose (raspberry rose sorbet), fraises des bois (wild strawberry), yuzu yaourt (yuzu yogurt), noisette (hazelnut) and praline. M. Cheesemonger leans toward chocolates himself, like the dense chocolat mendiant. What sets Berthillon apart from other ice creams? It’s this company’s ability to so exactly embody the ingredients they feature. Nothing is overly sweet or overly processed. The fraises des bois ice cream tastes just like you’re eating wild strawberries, complete with frozen chunks of strawberry. If you feel inclined to have ice cream in the winter, their other seasonal ice cream, marrons glacés (candied chestnuts), is sure to please! Oh boy, typing this makes me want a scoop.
Sacha Finkelstein: In the Marais, Paris’s historical Jewish quarter, the bakery Sacha Finkelstein caught my eye with its bright yellow paint and windows full of braided, puffy challah bread, begel, and other pastries. Inside, I learned that service is a little different from a typical shop. Here, you make your choice with the saleswomen standing by the pastry up front. When you’ve decided, they write you a ticket, which you take to the register at the back of the shop. After your ticket is paid, you walk back to the front of the store, where one of the women will hand you your pastry. There is also a prepared food counter, but I was here to try the vatruchka, like Russian cheesecake with a layer of golden raisins on the bottom, and a cabbage-stuffed piroshki, or Russian stuffed bun. The vatruchka was delicate, not too sweet, and wonderfully comforting to eat. As for the piroshki, I should have gotten more! This would be a great place to visit if you’re looking for something a bit off the beaten path, or are in the neighborhood because you’ve just spent the afternoon shopping in the Marais’s quirky little boutiques. Visiting this bakery really made me want to learn more about Jewish cuisine!
Keep on eating, and keep on dreaming, dear readers! See you soon!
Pierre Hermé Pâtisserie: Multiple locations, including at the Galeries Lafayette. I tend to go to the one at 185 rue de Vaugirard, 75015, Paris.
Glaces Berthillon: Multiple locations. I tend to go to l’île St. Louis to get mine. There are multiple sellers there. Just look for the name “Berthillon.”
Sacha Finkelstein: 27 rue des Rosiers, 75004, Paris.