At the mention of Paris, most people think about the sparkling Eiffel Tower, stylish Champs Elysee and lovers kissing on street corners. My Paris is not about those iconic places and images. Instead, Paris to me is built on flour, sugar and vats of chocolate,
A pair of croissants

A pair of croissants

on the buttery scent of fresh croissants, the white-gloved service at high-end chocolate shops,

Salivating over Laduree's window display

Salivating over Laduree's window display

the splendid sugary window displays at patisseries.

It is about the cakes, brightly hued, sophisticatedly designed and wonderfully tasting. P and I chanced upon Sadaharu Aoki’s stall at the sprawling food hall within Galaries Lafayette and just watched slack-jawed at the gorgeous cakes and  brilliantly lacquered chocolates, succumbing to a light lemony cake with a hazelnute cream in a zen-like dome design, a perfect pick-me-up after an unsuccessful attempting at shopping. The sweets in Paris are less sweet than those sickeningly saccharine cupcakes with sky-high frosting found in New York, and makes eating them less guilty.

Confection from Sadaharu Aoki

Confection from Sadaharu Aoki

 It is also about the tasting and comparing, for the sweet treats are so easy to come by.

Pierre Herme macarons

Pierre Herme macarons

Wiwi supplied us with a big box of Pierre Herme macarons while I made multiple trips to Laduree for the quintessential macaron face-off. I was not too impressed by the PH’s famous Ispahan flavor (too similar to Bandung), but found the flavor combinations of other macarons innovative, pleasing and not too sweet. The pamplemousse (grapefruit) and wasabi flavor was my favorite, lightly citrusy with a mildly bracing finish. In contrast, Laduree’s flavors were more traditional and sweeter but the texture of the macaron, stiffer and crispier than PH’s was better.  My find of the trip came from Laduree, a humble looking pastry called the Kouign Amann, a Breton cake resembling a badly smooshed up croissant, with alternating layers of brioche and the most flavorful butter. The most sinful pleasure was to break it up with my bare hands, put the hand-torn bits into my mouth, and feel the sensation of melting butter against my tongue. Simply lovely. And Paris just got so much nicer, despite the grey skies, the occasionally blase Parisians, and unsatisfactory shopping, all because of Kouign Amann.

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