On past trips to Paris, I have eaten myself sick. I literally spend my days going from pastry shop to pastry shop to research the newest desserts. It’s a tough job, but one I “suffer” so that I can bring to my audiences and readers recipes for the most delicious and contemporary pastries.
My trip to Paris this winter was a different experience. I traveled with my 19-year old daughter, Emily, an art history major at Barnard College. Her ambitious itinerary of museums and galleries saved my stomach. I did, however, manage to fit in visiting just enough general and kosher places to satisfy my personal cravings and bring me up to date on the latest pastry fashions.
The newest trends are éclairs in every flavor and color; Asian-flavored desserts made with green tea, sesame and jasmine; and desserts of every kind flavored with rose water and dried raspberries. Macarons are still sold everywhere, with the more modern chefs filling them with olive oil-flavored creams and even fois gras.
Paris has over 80 kosher pastry shops, and it is remarkable that the pareve pastries they offer look identical to the desserts you will find in the general pastry shops. The oldest shop is Korcarz in the heart of Le Marais, a historic district in the city.
Korcarz was opened after World War two by a couple who met in Auschwitz. It has a nice seating area and features traditional Ashkenazic and classic French baked goods, but also some Sephardic pastries. I sampled a tasty apple strudel this trip and have enjoyed their Israeli-style cheesecakes and light challahs in the past.
Owner Irene Korcarz was happy to see me as I turned her into a celebrity last year when I published a story about the shop in Hadassah Magazine. The story featured a photo of Irene and since then, people have been coming in to ask for her autograph. She was so pleased that I made her famous in the kosher world that I was treated to all the free pastries I could eat and carry out. I told you, it is a hard job.
Friday morning I went to Le XXV, a pastry shop not far from Trocadero, where you go to get the best photos of yourself with the Eifel Tower behind you. Le XXV has separate dairy and pareve sections so you can buy your perfect butter croissant when you pick up your challahs and pastries for Shabbat.
I tasted a raspberry éclair, a litchi (lychee) mousse tart and their galette des roi, a puff pastry filled with almond cream that is sold in every pastry shop in France for two weeks every January. The pastries were all delicious.
One night we ate at Darjeeling, a kosher meat Indian restaurant located in the 17th arrondisement, an area full of kosher restaurants. On previous trips I have eaten tasty kosher meals at le Jaguar in the same section of Paris.
Darjeeling is decorated with bright fabrics and colors. I had spicy beef samosas, lamb chaw chaw made with homemade noodles and chicken biryani. The naan was great too. They also offer Tandoori meats, curries, pakoras and have vegetarian options as well. Every dish had strong flavors, but was not too spicy. My only regret is not being to able to taste the entire menu.
In between pastry shops, make time for the Museum of Jewish Art and History, housed in a beautiful building. The permanent exhibit includes beautiful Judaica, arks from old shuls and even a small wooden Sukkah that has paintings inside of both ancient Jerusalem and the Austrian countryside. We were fortunate to see an exhibit by Holocaust survivor Maryan whose paintings show his deep scars from his experiences, using a cartoony yet beautiful manner.
The museum and gallery visits definitely nourished a different part of me, but I always knew that after each exhibit, Emily would allow me to guide her to the next patisserie.
Korcarz, 29 Rue des Rosiers, 75004 Paris
Le XXV, 25 avenue Paul Doumer 75016 Paris
Darjeeling, 1 Rue des Colonels Renard 75017 Paris
Le Jaguar 96 Rue de Lévis, 75017 Paris, France
For other kosher restaurants and pastry shops go to www.123cacher.com and
www.mangercacher.com . You will faced with more options than you can explore on one trip!