Comme à Lisbonne, Paris

Paris has been blessed recently with the most glorious weather, making a perfect Springtime. This week the clouds and rains have perhaps joined us briefly but the clear blue skies have brought out more Parisians to cafés, wine bars and bistros. In my case, I used the sun as an excuse to drop everything and pop into more pâtisseries.

Rue du Roi de Sicile in Paris

In Rue du Roi de Sicile, we’re not transported to Sicily but to Lisbon. As the Pâtisserie’s name suggests at Number 37, the Pastel de Nata is the genuine article here: Portuguese custard tarts, or Pastéis de Nata, are deliciously simple and have quite a reputation.

As luck would have it, nobody was around. As I started to chat with this delightful lady and she was telling me the custard tart’s fascinating history, a regular popped in and already announced her order.  “Go ahead”, I gestured politely. Little did I know what a big mistake this is to make in such a popular pastry shop. Before I knew it, she’d nearly cleaned out the stock and there were just 5 left.  As another regular approached, I quickly ordered the last 5 custard tarts as I was given some nose-twitching looks when they were told that they’d have to wait for another batch to come out of the oven.

Comme à Lisbonne in Paris

According to Comme à Lisbonne, the Pastel de Nata (or Pastel de Belém) is to Lisbon what the macaron is to Paris. They were created before the 18th century by monks at the Jeronimos Monastery in the Belém district in Lisbon. As large quantities of egg whites were used for starching clothes in the monasteries and convents, they discovered this delicious way of using up the egg yolks.

They’re also particularly popular in Lusosphere countries and regions – including Brazil, Cape Verde, Goa, Macau … and recently we tried the very same tarts, Chinese Style, with Ann Mah at the legendary Jing Fong’s Dim Sum restaurant in New York.  They are global creamy custard pastry superstars!

Yellow pastry bag and scooter in Paris

As we liberally dusted our 5 Pasteis de Nata with powdered cinnamon, and bit into the addictively crunchy, flaky pastries with creamy custard, we realised we had a problem: we wanted more. So, for a touch of Lisbon in Paris, you know where to go – just don’t be too polite in the queue!

Pasteis de nata Comme à Lisbonne in Paris

Comme à Lisbonne
37 Rue du Roi de Sicile
75004 Paris

Open Tuesday-Sunday 11am-7pm

Métro: St Paul or Hôtel de Ville

If you can’t make it to Paris or try them from Portugal, then here’s an easy Pastéis de nata recipe to make them yourself at home – ideal for the egg yolk recipe collection.

Matcha Do About Green Tea at Sadaharu Aoki Paris

You’ve already heard me rave about them, haven’t you? These Matcha green tea macarons are by award-winning pastry chef, Sadaharu Aoki. For nearly 20 years, he has been amazing the Parisians with his Japanese influences to French pâtisserie. His yuzu citrus macarons pack a delicious punch, as do the black sesame. But for me, his tea-infused macarons are extra special such as Earl Grey, Hojicha grilled Japanese tea, and genmaïcha, which is a green tea combined with roasted brown rice.

Sadaharu Aoki paris macarons

Green tea, however, is the chef’s favourite addition to his pastries. Do you remember the Tokyo Macaron Yaki at the latest Salon du Chocolat in Paris, where Mr. Aoki came up with the idea of sandwiching and baking a chocolate macaron with a green tea waffle? It’s most unusual – and highly original – like an oozing chocolate waffle cake with the delicate taste of green tea.

Sadaharu Aoki Tokyo macaron yaki for the Salon du Chocolat Paris

This week was my birthday. So what? At 47, it’s nothing special but the day started out with a delivery from Waverley Books of a box of my book, “Teatime in Paris” (that sounded funny).  Of course, I had to share it with you on Instagram and Facebook, just as the neighbours probably heard the excited squeals down our street. Smells of new books are now also drifting around the house and they keep turning up next to pastry tastings.


Let me introduce you to Ginza: a raspberry, strawberry and hibiscus pastry which, like his other pastries are wonderfully light and not too sweet. I chose this primarily for the colour and to make a change from the Matcha-inspired pastries, but his green tea combinations are particularly stunning.

As such a creative artist, it’s no surprise to see this macaron wall art at Aoki’s boutique in Rue de Vaugirard.  I seriously would consider hanging this up at home. So, Monsieur Aoki, if you ever become  fed up with this on your wall, you can donate it to a happy and mad-about-macarons home. Just saying.

Macaron Wall Art by Sadaharu Aoki Paris

Meet Sadaharu Aoki’s Bamboo. It’s his more recent Japanese take on the classic Opera, which has had Parisians singing its praises for the past 60 years. Like the Opera cake, each fancy layer is made up of joconde biscuit, buttercream, chocolate ganache, syrup and glaçage – but in place of the traditional coffee syrup to accompany the chocolate, chef Aoki exchanges it with Matcha green tea and adds a splash of Kirsch liqueur, which helps add that special tonality or timbre to the opera singing!

Bambou patisserie from Sadaharu Aoki Paris

As I’ve been writing this at teatime, the squirrel corner in the kitchen above the kettle reminded me of Aoki’s green tea white chocolate wafer thin bar with lightly toasted black and white sesame seeds.  I nibbled on it with some Earl Grey tea which was a great combination but I’m sure any professional tea connoisseur would have me grilled for that.

matcha green tea chocolate by Aoki

I’ll take you to Aoki’s tea salon another time. It’s on Boulevard de Port-Royal and I have a feeling that his Matcha Green Tea Millefeuille or Matcha éclairs are needing just another taste with a cup of tea.

Sadaharu Aoki
35 Rue de Vaugirard
75006 Paris

Metro: Rennes or Saint Sulpice
The boutique is closed on Mondays but Aoki is also at Galéries Lafayette Gourmet store on Boulevard Haussmann.


Profiterole Chérie Tea Salon in the Marais

Ever since Profiterole Chérie opened in Paris’s upper Marais in December, I’ve been itching to go. The two times I’d managed to get there from our banlieue outskirts on a cold, wintry evening on the way to one of my favourite restaurants in the area, I’d see the boutique closed with its beckoning pink and black decor and neon lighting.  That takes some going, I have to say, as the boutique doesn’t close until 8pm. Luckily I was given a push when Lindsey of LostinCheeseland proposed we went for a tasting.

Profiterole Chérie, Rue Debelleyme Paris

Profiterole Cherie, Rue Debelleyme, Paris

The boutique is the latest brilliant concept of celebrity pastry chef, Philippe Urraca, who won the accolade of Meilleur Ouvrier de France (MOF) in pâtisserie in 1993 and since 2003, has been Président of the Meilleurs Ouvriers de France Pâtissiers. He is not only seen frequently on French TV  but he was a most kind and approachable personality at the annual Salon du Chocolat in Paris – but I shall not embarrass him here with my goofy smiles with our look-at-me-simple-mum-with-top-pastry-chef pic taken together.

Profiterole Cherie tea salon Marais in Paris

Notice the shop across the street? Jean Colonna is a haute couture designer – we perhaps share the same surname and dentist but one day I’ll pluck up the courage to step into his fashion boutique. In the meantime I’ll just munch on choux puff profiteroles and gaze across the road in ecstasy.

Freshly prepared in front of you at the pâtisserie bar, all profiteroles are based on a small choux bun with craquelin (crumble topping) and once you’ve chosen from the tempting choice of current 11 “Ma Chérie” flavours, the welcoming staff delicately mount the sweet piece of art in front of you.

Preparing cream puffs at Profiterole Cherie Paris

Either sit at the bar and admire the assemblage (requiring an extreme test of will-power as you watch each concoction pass by) or choose a relaxing – albeit squeaky – light grey leather chair from one of the spaced out tables, as you admire the dusky pink and shiny black interior reflected by giant mirrors.

I chose Ma Chérie Caramel, filled with caramel ice cream and served with a little plastic pot of caramel sauce.  I also couldn’t resist this Ma Chérie Citron meringué, with a lemon cream, candied lemon, meringue sticks and frilly meringue collar, finished off with lime zest, gold leaf and its little accompanying pot of tart lemon sauce.  I was so in awe of gazing at Lindsey’s Mont-Blanc that I completely forgot about the sauces.  The Earl Grey tea I chose was spot on, although next time I do hope they’ll serve their teas in teapots; somehow, paper cups just don’t give the beautiful pastries justice.

Lemon meringue choux puff by MOF pastry chef Philippe Urraca

There are plenty more exquisite iced (glacées) or cream profiteroles (pâtissières) like this one to choose from. Chef Philippe Urraca has also written a book in French entirely dedicated to his choux pastry art, and it’s no surprise at his title: Profiteroles.

Well I managed to restrict myself to only two flavours with good old French-style willpower so that just means I’ll have to return to try the others!  You’ll love it.

Profiterole Chérie

UPDATE: Sadly, this boutique has now closed.

17 rue Debelleyme
75003 Paris (North Marais)

Metro: Fille du Calvaire (line 8)
Vélib’ stations 3003, 11045


Disclaimer: I was not in any way sponsored or invited as a guest by Profiterole Chérie and all opinions are entirely my own.

Falling for La Pâtisserie des Rêves, Paris

I don’t exactly have dainty feet like macarons.  Changing shoes to adapt to the seasons can have precarious consequences when you’re tall: just add up long and pointy toes with bouncing up the stairs in excitement with oversized shopping bags and it equals trouble.

Why the excitement? Let’s say that the anticipation of tasting the latest pastries from La Pâtisserie des Rêves had me flat out on the staircase at our local shopping centre, Parly 2, just outside Paris.

La Patisserie des Reves Parly 2 Paris

Are you all right? Gosh, that looked a nasty fall…” I gazed up at this concerned, gentille French lady as she offered her hand to help me up. I had only one thing on my mind: how did the pastry bag land? Was it on its side? Still upright? What had I done to a couple of the latest best pastries in Paris?

As I lay there like a misplaced gym student trying to do press-ups on the staircase, I found myself apologising to a line-up of disgruntled shoppers. I was blocking their way. “Don’t worry about me,” I stuttered, trying to find the most elegant way to pick up the bags as well as my legs. “I’m more worried about MES PÂTISSERIES!” Was that a weird reaction? They all looked at me strangely, like some sort of mad person.

pineapple mango tart patisserie des reves Paris

Needless to say I was anxious at opening the pastry box on return home for teatime.

Thankfully, the lovely staff know how to take care of chef Philippe Conticini’s masterpieces: they had propped little logos in plastic to ensure the pastries would be kept intact in transit. Phew. Suddenly that knee started to throb.

pineapple tartlet from la patisserie des Rêves Paris

La Pâtisserie des Rêves‘ latest seasonal treat is this pineapple and mango tart. I love roasted pineapple. It takes a while to prepare but it’s so worth it. Soft, roasted and thinly sliced exotic fruit nestle on top of a warming vanilla pastry cream and a crispy puff underneath makes it a pastry of textural dreams. Darjeeling was a great accompaniment for teatime, but if this was for dessert a chilled late harvest Gewürtzraminer wine would go down perfectly.

La Patisserie des Rêves Paris - latest from Chef Conticini red fruit charlotte with green tea

Yet another new pastry on the box is this vanilla and red fruit charlotte. It’s the lightest lime sponge encircled with Matcha green tea encasing a surprise base of crunchy biscuit for added texture, a vanilla pastry cream that balances the acidity of a raspberry mousse and red fruit compôte. These sophisticated layers are topped with a raspberry glaze and a mere whisper of golden lustre dust.  Complex pastries like this are the kind I buy rather than make at home: after all, that’s what lazy gourmets do, right?

pastries from la Patisserie des Reves, Paris

What would you drink to go with them? Black tea, green tea, white tea, red tea, fruit or herbal infusions? Coffee? Cold drinks? Hot chocolate? Oh, choices.

Speaking of teatime, I recommend what kind of tea or other drinks to serve with your afternoon French pâtisseries in my forthcoming new book, Teatime in Paris. In the meantime, I’m off to make some more choux pastries for dessert tonight. These pastries have inspired me again. It’s not for nothing that chef Conticini named his boutique, the Pâtisserie of Dreams

 Disclaimer: I was not sponsored or asked to write this post in any way. All views are my own.

A Pompidou Walk to La Pâtisserie des Rêves in Paris

Paris and St Valentine are a couple that go hand in hand, don’t they?

This past couple of weeks, in between steely, dreary days and an unrestful flurry of snow, the sun has popped out to say bonjour.  Passing the Hôtel de Ville, I found myself reaching for giant floating hearts. Bubbles were in the air.

Hotel de Ville Paris with ice rink

For the romantic ice-skaters amongst you, the ice rink or patinoire at the Hôtel de Ville will remain open until 1 March 2015.

Instead I was walking to the Centre Pompidou to meet up with a visiting friend from Provence with the most contagious, lilting sing-song accent.  Did you know that the Centre Pompidou has been open to the public since 1977 and owns the biggest collection of modern and contemporary art in Europe?  Its contemporary tubing exterior is also arty symbolic: red for circulation, blue for air and green for water.

Centre Pompidou Beaubourg Paris

There’s been a lot of hype around the Jeff Koons exhibition there, “The Retrospective”. It’s at the top floor of the Pompidou Centre and is running until 27 April 2015. Personally, I found this a highly different cup of tea to swallow. Industrial hoovers, adverts, basketballs floating in glass cases, a porcelain statue of Michael Jackson sitting with a monkey? I just didn’t get it. Balloon Dog and Hanging Heart look as light as balloons but they each weigh about a ton in stainless steel.

Jeff Koons exhibition Centre Pompidou in Paris

A heavy heart indeed!

Being on the 6th floor, you’ll love looking out over the surrounding rooftops of Paris. It’s a great place to come to see breathtaking views. I had one thing on my mind: where we could venture out nearby. After all, it was time for tea! There’s restaurant Georges on the top floor if you wish to splash out (stunning red roses were on every table) but for a teatime goûter, there are so many pâtisseries to choose from around here, especially along rue Rambuteau (more on that another time – especially as I have many more suggestions in my forthcoming book, “Teatime in Paris“). Since it was rather cold and the end of the sales in Paris, I had a sweet idea.

Rooftop view of Paris from the Centre Pompidou

Walking down Rue du Renard (fox street) towards the Hôtel de Ville, we turned left into rue de la Verrerie and headed less than a couple of short blocks to the BHV store (Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville), a Parisian institution.

Heading for the 3rd floor, it was time for tea and pastries at the Pâtisserie of dreams, La Pâtisserie des Rêves.  Pastry chef, Philippe Conticini, dreamed up his first concept pastry boutique in rue du Bac in 2009. He now has six boutiques in the Paris area – and has also opened in London and Japan. The Parisian tea salon in BHV is the latest to have opened in July 2014 – and admittedly I checked it out last summer with Mardi Michels (blogging friend of Eat.Live.Travel.Write fame). Each summer I meet up with Mardi, it’s Champagne flutes rather than teapots, dahlinks. When in Paris, I love it when Mardi goes for the pink bubbles – and in this case, it perfectly matched the Pâtisserie des Rêves décor!

Patisserie des reves BHV store Paris

Check out these teapots. It was like drinking from an oversized doll’s tea-set. That’s Philippe Conticini’s concept: to evoke memories of sweet childhood. Now that’s more like creating memories; imagine this coffee éclair, wrapped in caramelised chocolate?

La Patisserie des reves Paris tea room with tea-set

Even the simple jug of water is classy. I don’t normally drink much water but the touch of lime zest made it actually taste pleasurable!  This is the first time I’ve tasted his éclairs.  Don’t judge: I normally go for the ongoing fabulous classics: the Saint Honoré, Paris-Brest and oh, his tarte au citron meringuée

La Patisserie des Reves in Paris tea salon

There are many more to choose from. Through my tastings over the years, many of his pastries are slightly sweeter than most. Funnily enough, Conticini is one of the rare pastry chefs that doesn’t do macarons. I’m certainly not complaining; there are plenty more exquisite pastries to choose from including limited editions, according to his creative whim and delicious seasonal fancy.

La Patisserie des Reves in Paris

On Wednesday, children are the focus of dreams here. As there are no French school classes in the afternoon to enjoy extra-curricular activities, this is the favourite form of workshop.  When we were there, there was a crêpe party for them with plenty of the well known rose-pink balloons.

My tea may have been an ephemeral moment in Paris but my sweet tastings from La Pâtisserie des Rêves happily continue at the boutique in Parly 2, our shopping centre near Versailles for us who live out of Paris. I’d better hurry up and order his special Valentine’s cake for two with raspberry and lemon mousse, although please don’t tell Antoine I tried it, haha. Proof is the girls and I tasted even more pastries this week. I’ll have to write another post!

Patisserie des Reves Parly 2 shopping centre near Paris

I’ll leave you with a quick shot of this giant bubble before it soared above the Hôtel de Ville.

Blowing giant bubbles above the hotel de ville Paris

Have a lovely Valentine’s weekend. Fill it with fun, sweet dreams of Paris and lots of bubbles!

La Pâtisserie des Rêves (Philippe Conticini)
BHV Store, 3rd floor
36, rue de la Verrerie
75004 Paris

Disclaimer: Like all my blog posts, I am not sponsored by anyone and have in no way been asked to write this post. All views are entirely my own.

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All Eyes on Chocolate Easter Windows in Paris

Somehow each year, Easter still takes me by surprise.  We’re not talking chocolate eggs in the Paris shop windows, we’re eyeing all the chocolate fish and friture that float around the vitrines in time for the 1st April. ‘Poisson d’avril!’ my youngest cries, as I feel a delicate pat on the back shoulder.  If you’re any decent April Fool in France, you’ll probably be sporting a school of colourful paper fish taped to your back.  Two years ago was my record: I was modelling a mobile primary school wall.

chocolate fish poissons d'avril easter windows Paris

These days, boulangeries find other inventive ways to display chocolate fish: what about in the shape of a brioche?

brioche fish tails dipped in chocolate

Fritures have always fascinated me.  They’re miniature sculpted fish and seafood in chocolate.  Why all this fish at this time of year?  Well, apparently it goes back to the 16th Century under Charles IX reign, who changed the New Year to the 1st January.  Until then in France, the New Year started around 1st April and was celebrated by fresh fish to bring in the Spring (following the zodiac sign of Pisces, perhaps).  As not everyone was au courant with this new calendar, jokes gradually poked their April fools and started the custom of pinning fish on their backs.

french friture chocolate fish and seafood

What a clever cookie, coming up with a chocolate cat?  He gets the fish, does he?

chocolate cat sculpture for Easter Paris

The cat has got the cream (egg?)

Meanwhile, each chocolate boutique of Patrick Roger displays his creative genius throughout Paris. Everything you see in the window is sculpted in Venezuelan chocolate – even the snails, but my favourite element are they eyes. Roger’s famous glistening bright green chocolate eye-resembling balls are what earned him MoF (Meilleur Ouvrier de France) status.

Patrick Roger Easter Chocolate Sculpture 2014 Paris

All eyes on the French frogs

As most chocolatiers piece two half egg shells together, Roger uses them instead as ears.

Patrick Roger's Easter Sculptures in Chocolate 2014

Spot the eyes?

True, the traditional eggs are still everywhere.  Many chocolatiers offer personalised versions; is it to avoid fighting over whoever it belongs to?  Personally, I’d just go for a giant nest egg.  This one has my name on it.

giant chocolate easter egg as hen's nest

Served with a hen teapot, of course. Ideal, as I feel a right maman poule these days, looking after my teenagers!

easter egg window with hen teapot

There are not many Easter bunnies in the shop windows.  We normally have the Easter bunnies but in France, it’s the bells from the Vatican that distribute the chocolate.  I’ve never quite got my little head around that one. Neither have my kids. If anyone can explain, I’m all ears.

easter bunny shop windows

The choice is huge.  Where would you start?

Eric Kayser baker shop boulangerie in Paris

Hens, turtles, ducks, bunnies, fish, bells, bears, chicks, cats and sheep.  Whatever next?

collage of different easter egg chocolate sculptures

More easter egg ears and googley eyes at Pascal le Gac in St Germain-en-Laye.

easter chocolate eggs and figurines in French windows

Rather not count your chocolate chicks before they hatch, though?

chocolate hen in paris window

While I’m waiting for Easter next week, I’ll just chew on a few macarons with some chocolate pioupious.

Macaron tower for Easter by Eric Kayser

Here’s sone chocolate macarons I made earlier for those who haven’t seen it (posts get lost on Facebook these days!) with mendiant Easter bonnets.

Our Easter bunny is well trained this year.  All because the lady loves…. chocolate macarons.

easter bunny with chocolate eggs and macarons in the garden

What tickles your fancy this Easter?


Happy Easter!  Joyeuses Paques!