12 Weight Gain-Worthy Treats in Paris

I’ve eaten so many good things here it’s a little embarrassing. I’m sure people back home wonder: what else is Brown doing over there besides eating?  It’s a fair question; I’m doing a lot, actually, but as it relates to burning off the vat of butter and sugar I eat every day, I’m doing yoga, running, obsessively lunge-walking through the Tuileries (which, I’m sure, looks utterly ridiculous to the scads of EU tourists in their black socks and also makes my butt hurt for days), walking everywhere I can instead of Metro-ing, and hightailing it up my five flights of stairs. A lot.

I bought a scale about a month ago which was the single most terrifying thing I’ve done since deciding to uproot my life to the other side of the world and strangely, it says that I’m down 7 pounds since moving to Paris, which absolutely positively CANNOT be right. (Can it? I did the kilogram conversion five different times.) Check out some of the crazy-delicious things I’ve eaten below and you’ll see what I mean.

Here’s hoping I don’t come back in need of a Carnie Wilson-type, gastro-esque, weight-loss surgery. But if I do, I guess I’ll, as the song says, hold on for one more day and break free from the chains of my too-small pants.

But for now, I eat.

(Pics are still at tumblr, because I was too lazy to bring them over. Check ’em out if you’re so inclined.)

1. Rose-Jasmine Tarte, Pierre Hermé: This is my absolute favorite in the “I’ll try this but I’m sure I won’t like it that much” category, which I thought because I’m not really a floral kind of girl when it comes to my food. Or at least that’s what I thought before moving to Paris. But I’m loving all the rose/jasmine/lychee combos that my boy Pierre whips up (yes, I just called the alpha and omega of Paris pastries “my boy”) and this is truly one you have to try to believe. Neither overly rose nor jasmine, but just enough flavor from each so that you know it’s rose and jasmine if that makes sense. And light as a feather – I felt like I could eat three or four more of these after finishing it.  But at 6.80 euros (roughly $9) a pop, it didn’t seem prudent to have another. I’m aware that it’s sad and a little wrong that fiscal responsibility—as opposed to, say, my cardiac well being and overall life longevity—is the sole driver behind my willpower.  But there it is.

On a separate note, I’ve really tried not to like something that Pierre Hermé does, but, finding something to dislike about Pierre Hermé is sort of like trying to find something not to like about puppies or Christmas or white sandy beaches or french fries: it’s impossible. Just prepping you because there are more PH entries on the way below.

2. Ginger-Orange Caramel, Jean-Paul Hévin: I’m a sucker for caramels so I always try them when I see them, and here I tried fig, natural, and vanilla, but orange-ginger was the jackpot. Not overwhelming, but definitely had a nice zingy kick.

3. Crème Brûlée Macaron, Jean-Paul Hévin: This might be my favorite macaron yet, and that’s saying something given how many I’ve eaten.

4. Chouquette Botchka, Café Pouchkine: I love vanilla. Who knew? Paris knew, that’s who. I’ve shamelessly abandoned myself to every vanilla pastry and caramel I can get my mouth on in this city, and I loved this one. Just look at the vanilla flecks in this. It actually made me forget about chocolate. (For about three minutes, but there was a forgetting nonetheless, so document it.)

5. Vanilla Tarte, Pierre Hermé: I tried Café Pouchkine’s Botchka first, and based on a vanilla-to-vanilla comparison I like this PH tarte better.  I think the Botchka wins ever so slightly in actual vanilla flavor, but this tarte is creamier, lighter, and still bursting with fresh vanilla taste. Plus I love the shortbread-like business that’s happening on the bottom here; it’s an addictive texture contrast and makes it hard to stop eating it.

Plénitude and Carrément, Pierre Hermé: It’s maybe a little ridiculous to keep pimping out PH, but it’s all insanely good, every last bite, so what can I do? Lie? Omit him from the list altogether? It seems wrong to be penalized for greatness, doesn’t it? I’ll just share the pics and the copy from the website for these two and say this: if you like chocolate, you’re gonna want to try these.

6. Plénitude: Chocolate macaron, dark chocolate chips with fleur de sel, bittersweet chocolate mousse, bittersweet chocolate ganache, crunchy caramel. Plénitude offers the powerful sensations of both chocolate and crunchy, salty caramel, coated in rich bitter chocolate mousse and chocolate ganache.

7. Carrément: A layer of tender chocolate cake, rich chocolate cream, chocolate mousse and chocolate crisp, thin wafers of crisp chocolate. Dedicated to fans of intense bittersweet chocolate, Carrément Chocolat dessert marvels with its tender, creamy and

(I love you, Pierre. )

8. Mango Caramel, Jacques Genin: As my friend Vicki likes to say when something tastes really, really good, “Ohhhhhh, shiiiiiiit.” I know mango in a caramel sounds weird (at least it did to me) but trust me, this is good – “oh-shit” good. The taste is more mango with a side of subtle caramel, but the texture is exactly what you expect and want from a caramel: creamy, gooey, fresh, and soft. I ate the two I bought so quickly, I forgot to take a pic, but there are some good ones over here at Paris Patisseries.

9. Croissant, Blé Sucré Ah, the humble croissant, the treat that often gets lost in the shuffle of macarons, mango caramels, and Plénitude pastries. I’m working on an assignment about croissants so I’ve been “forcing” myself to try one almost every day lately. Believe it or not, there are bad croissants in Paris; the other day, I’m pretty sure I had a frozen one (blasphemy!), but the very next day, Paris redeemed itself by introducing me to the croissant at Blé Sucré. Flaky, buttery, perfectly browned (especially at the points), this is the best one I’ve tried so far. No pics uploaded yet, so check it out here.

10. Cheesy Burger, Blend: What, you think I eat caramels every meal? No, I actually do eat savory food too; I just get to try more sweet things because they’re more in line with my poor-person budget.

This is the second time I’ve been to Blend; the first time, I was a little underwhelmed. On my first visit, my burger had almost no pink it in it, which I now know was strange since the burgers at Blend are cooked rare unless you tell them otherwise. (And even if you did specify something else, this is Paris, so you’re probably gonna get a rare burger like it or not.) I also thought my burger on my first visit was a little dry, which probably had something to do with the lack of pink and red in my meat.

But last night I tried Blend again, and holy rare meat, it was absolutely delicious.  I had the Cheesy burger, which definitely came rare this time and dressed with cheddar cheese, bacon, onions, lettuce, and what I thought was barbecue sauce, but was actually spicy ketchup. MY GOD. Not at all dry and absolutely messy, which to me is one mark of a good burger, right behind good, cooked-to-my-request meat. Also, really delicious desserts, all of which I’d never think to order in Paris because they’re typically American and would probably only disappoint me, but not the case with these: creamy cheesecake made with rosewater (what?!), a mojito cupcake and a chocolate, rocky-road-type cupcake, both with super-light frosting, a peanut butter cookie, a walnut cookie, and some sort of apricot cookie.

11. Pizza Al Taglio: This place features Roman-style pizza according to the Interwebs, and because I don’t exactly know what that means, I decided I need a tour of Italy where I hope to nail the meaning down slice by slice, city by city.

Al Taglio ( “by the cut”) features four or five big sheets of pizza, and when you order, you specify how much you want and they cut off your piece with some shiny kitchen shears and pop it in the oven to heat it up. The crust is crunchy all the way through, not just on the edges, which is my preference. I’m not even sure what I ordered: one with lardon (the French version of bacon) and fresh tomatoes and the house specialty, with potatoes and (I think) gorgonzola.

12. Everything I ate from Frenchie’s Bar à Vins: If you live in Paris you know: Frenchie’s is THE place right now. The hullabaloo reminds me a little of the French Laundry in that you have to book months in advance to get a table. The difference is, they actually answer the phone and take your reservation at The French Laundry; not always the case at Frenchie’s. So most people have to “settle” for the wine bar across the street, though it’s not “settling” at all.

We had: a mortadella with white aspargus drizzled with truffle oil, followed by burrata cheese with edamame and olive oil, and a pulled pork sandwich with homemade bread and barbecue sauce that could’ve been whipped up somewhere in Georgia it was so good. The bread made it for me, which is saying something because this is not bread you should normally serve with barbecue (at least not in the South) but it worked. And dessert: a too-small serving of chocolate-caramel pot de crème that we devoured immediately and thus, I have no pictures to share. It was so good I came dangerously close to dipping my finger in the pot afterwards, but we’d made friends with two French gentlemen sitting at the same table as us, so finger dipping wasn’t happening.