Of all the pastry shops in Paris, La Pâtisserie des Rêves (the pastry of my dreams) is definitely one of my favorites! Some women dream about shoes, purses or the perfect home. Me? I dream about chocolate éclairs (and champagne) in Paris. I am an éclair connoisseur of sorts. Heck, what I really am is a bona fide, certified, raging éclairoholic. I have been off the wagon several times but thought I had finally kicked the habit for good until I took the Baguette to Bistro tour with Context Travel and relapsed big time.
The devil (I mean docent) Alisa Morov led us straight into the den of iniquity – des Rêves.I wasn’t fooled by the fun window displays or the adorable pink bubble gum boxes they pack their sinful goodness in. They wanted me to think this place was innocent, child-like, but I knew different. Just look at the glass bells they surround the goodies in, attached by metal spring bungee cords that lift the enclosures off. It’s like something out of a Frankenstein movie. I am just sure that these pastries are pure madness.
Feeling that familiar rush, I made a bee line for where the éclair sign was but almost missed them because I was looking for an ordinary éclair. I should have realized that pastry chef Philippe Conticini would never display a naked éclair. That would be too conventional. Instead he clothes them in a thinly veiled wrapper of delicate chocolate that melts in your mouth. The ultra flaky pastry surrounding the light and tasty, yet less sugary chocolate cream filling is to die for! I was in the devil’s lair and didn’t care.
Petit treats called Bouchee’s (small bite sized) come in a little box of six. I felt like pretending the little kid next to me was mine so I could justify buying a couple little boxes for myself. Too embarrassed I had sunk that low, I purchased only the éclair for myself. Éclair in hand, I settled down and tried to focus on the rest of the tour of the shop as Alisa explained to us what each pastry was. I only half listened as I really wanted her to hurry up so we could get to that little picnic she promised where it would be acceptable for me to devour the éclair with reckless abandon. Share? Perish the thought; it’s every woman for themselves.
Fruit and Chocolate?
Forget chocolate covered strawberries folks, Philippe plays God by tempting me to eat this apple when I know it’s sinfully good and calorie prohibitive! He brings covering fruit in chocolate to a whole new level. The day we were there, an apple covered in dark chocolate sat beside a lemon drenched in a milk chocolate with a powdery crunchy looking topping. And, a fruit of the month meringue looking igloo atop of an oatmeal cookie type deal made me fall in love with this genius pastry chef for his creativity and willingness to stretch the limits of conventional confectionary.
Some people are naturally more “bread” people when it comes to sweets. Those that are will also fall under Philippe’s spell as he has quite a gorgeous line of pastries such as chausson aux pommes (apple turnovers) une folie (brioches piped with vanilla pastry cream and rum raisin) , brioche feuilletee avec sucre (brioche with sugar) kouign aman (carmelized brioche) and the oh so popular pain au chocolat (chocolate bread). All are displayed on his bread bar – unique and pleasing to the eye.
Philippe Conticini is the Claude Monet of pastry chefs. Like Monet who turned the art world upside down with his impressions of the water lilies in Giverny, Philippe has taken traditional French pastries and interpreted them for today’s appetites. Although he creates his delicacies with less sugar, there is still an intensity to his pastries that leaves one completely delighted and hoping to not wake up from this beautiful dream! Thank you Philippe, I do not regret my relapse in the slightest. I will see you again in January…until then sweet dreams!
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93, rue du Bac 75007 PARIS
+33 (0)1 42 84 00 82