I can not, for the life of me, understand why I think anyone would want to read about my non-adventures in finding a Sweet 16 birthday cake for Em. But I had fun, and there are few good addresses buried in here, so I’m sharing.
I’m still working at The Agency. Yesterday the family was coming for dinner to celebrate Em’s birthday and I had not figured out the logistics. More importantly, I did not have a solution for the birthday cake. When I work from home, ordering a cake is something I think of while eating my lunch alone at the table. From the office, it had not even occurred to me. Of course, finding a cake in Paris doesn’t sound like it would be an issue, but French pastries are not particularly exciting to a kid who grew up passing them on her way to school every morning.
This would not stop a Parisienne mom, but Em and I have always had a special thing about her birthday cake. There was the year she asked me to spread out a tub of chocolate ice cream and cover it with M&Ms, or the year that she wanted a strawberry cake, as in strawberries formed into the shape of a cake with flowers instead of frosting. This year I was left to my own resources, but it was clear, the girl had expectations!
Em loves meringues, but random bakery meringues can range from horrible, to divine and it is hard to tell which it will be without testing them first, so I called our preferred meringue supplier to put in an order. Yes, it is true, living in Paris, one tends to develop a rather peculiar list of go-to-addresses and I happen to have a meringue supplier (or two, she added, whistling softly, her hands behind her back and her eyes looking for a place to hide as her cheeks flushed red). Our first choice is always Gerard Mulot. His meringues are delightfully chewy on the inside, and even better, he splits them filling the void with decadently rich whipped cream. Yum!
Readers, take note! Those meringues are only available on weekends. Who new? I hadn’t had a clue. So I called meringue supplier number 2, Maeder Benoît. His meringues are the perfect balance of crispy crunchy and ooey chewy, and without Mulot’s whipped cream, they’re totally
guilt fat free. BUT : Maeder is closed Tuesday AND Wednesday. At this point, I no longer cared if the meringues were good. Its the thought that counts, n’est-ce pas? So I headed out the door and hit every bakery in a 3 block radius. As the French say, « jamais deux sans trois» There were no meringues.
Six months ago I had lunch with La Fashionista at swanky bar/bakery/café. As we left, I stopped at the pastry counter where perfectly frosted, pristine white cupcakes with sparkling silver beads had caught my eye. LF quickly set me straight, they were not cupcakes, they were meringues. They were so gorgeous I took a photo.
And that is the photo that came up on my random screensaver as I sat at my desk trying to come up with a Plan D. I got very excited! I called. Not only did Josephine Bakery have meringues midweek, but yes, Madame, they would be thrilled to put 6 of them aside for me and although the bakery closes at 19h, the bar is open until 21h. I would have plenty of time to leave the office at the official 19h, take the metro into the city, transfer trains, and pick up the meringues before heading across the Seine to the pizzeria where 6 take-out boxes would be waiting for me to pick-up before I could hail a taxi home. I was saved!
A meringue disguised as a cupcake is a special treat, but it does not exactly shout “Happy Birthday”, and its pretty far from our quirky tradition. Fortunately the 7 year old Em’s strawberry cake had given me an idea for the 16 year old and I filled the cake plate with a kilo of gariguettes, before giving them a generous dose of artisanal whipped cream. The resulting “cake” couldn’t have sung out Joyeux Anniversaire any louder.
Gerard Mulot – 76 Rue de Seine – 01 43 26 85 77
Maeder Benoît – 18 rue de Lourmel – 01 45 78 89 31
Boulangerie Josephine – 69 ave Marceau – 01 47 20 49 62