“People can either be over-the-top romantic about Paris, or they think life is ridiculous here,” says David Lebovitz. “I try to strike a middle ground.” Lebovitz, an American, worked for 13 years in the pastry department at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, then moved to Paris to launch a second career as a writer, blogger, and occasional culinary tour guide. The author of six self-referential cookbooks, Lebovitz most recently published The Sweet Life in Paris, a collection of recipes and stories about life in his adopted city.
During a day off from my tour of duty with Arnaud Delmontel (read “Time to Rise“), I wandered through Paris with Lebovitz to pick up some foodie tips. We met at Du Pain et des Idées (34 Rue Yves Toudic, 10th arrondissement, 33/(0) 1-42- 40-44-52), an artisan boulangerie founded by Christophe Vasseur, a fashion executive turned baker.
For bread, Lebovitz’s other favorite boulangeries include Eric Kayser (85 Boulevard Malesherbes, 8th arrondissement, 33/(0) 1-45-22-70-30; plus other locations around Paris) and La Boulangerie par Véronique Mauclerc (83 Rue de Crimée, 19th arrondissement, 33/(0) 1-42-40-64-55).
As we walked and talked, Lebovitz insisted we stop for an afternoon snack of chouquettes, palm-size cream puffs covered with sugar and baked until brown. We picked up 10 of them, studded with chocolate chips, at the pâtisserie Aux Péchés Normands (9 Rue du Faubourg du Temple, 10th arrondissement, 33/(0) 1-42-08-47-73).
When I asked Lebovitz about the most pleasing pastry he’s had lately, he mentioned Alsatian kugelhopf, a semisweet confection somewhere between a cake and a bread, spiked with rum and almonds. It’s available at Vandermeersch (278 Avenue Daumesnil, 12th arrondissement, 33/(0) 1-43-47-21-66). “The only problem is that they just make them on weekends, so I have to wait all week to get one,” he said. And his favorite morning pastry? The bostock, a disk of light almond cake topped with crackly almonds, which Lebovitz picks up at Ladurée (75 Avenue des Champs-Elysées, 8th arrondissement, 33/(0) 1-40-75-08-75).
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