One of the hardest thing I had to do during my visit to Paris- was to decide on which tantalising creation to purchase from Pâtisserie Sadaharu Aoki.
I know. First world problems eh.
Pâtissier Sadaharu Aoki was trained in Japan and France and is famed for beautifully infusing traditional French pastries with Japanese accents like yuzu, matcha and black sesame. I thought that this marriage of cultures is perfect, especially in desserts. Aoki applies the Japanese sense of intricacy and perfectionist attitude to the rich history of French pastry-making, producing strikingly beautiful works of art using unparalleled ingredients.
The Guardian has rated Sadaharu Aoki as one of the top pâtisseries in Paris, alongside big names like Pierre Hermé, Jean-Paul Hévin and La Pâtisserie des Rêves. Seems like his eclectic take on French pastries have won the hearts of Parisians, who raved about the matcha, wasabi and joyfully tastebud-assaulting violet macarons.
|The sleek little boutique at rue de Vaugirard|
Facing the neat rows of aesthetically pleasing gateauxs and entrements with colours jumping out at my face. All that's whirring in my mind was: What to choose?
I wanted to try so many things.
Shall I opt for the unadultered French classics? Sampling Aoki's interpretation of classic French pâtisserie like the fraisier (strawberry cake) or the traditional mille-feuille à la vanille, both of which are apparently perfection incarnate?
Oh who am I kidding, being a matcha addict, of course I zeroed in on his array of fabulous matcha infused creations.
Mind you, it was still no easy task despite having narrowed down my choices.
The Matcha azuki praliné bar
A layered pastry of matcha and azuki, a classic Japanese sweets combination. There is a layer of praliné at the bottom and nestled on top is an adorable mini matcha macaron.
Matcha dacquoise and cognac infused sesame cream sandwiched between layers of beautiful off-white chocolate cream.
Aoki's acclaimed matcha rendition of the classic opéra. A neat stack of alternating layers of green tea sponge, chocolate ganache and matcha buttercream. Love love love the cute bamboo motif!
The famous Matcha and Black sesame eclairs, Mille feuilles and Tarte au Citrons.
Matcha croissants (left). Matcha almond croissants (right) - the latter looked so lovely dusted in icing sugar, matcha powder and toasted almonds!
Colourful Chocorons!-Chocolate covered macarons. I really liked the chic polka-dots on top of the brightly coloured chocolate coating.
Every single pastry was incredibly gorgeous and looked delicious. Naturally, I would have liked to buy everything.
Curse you meagre PhD stipend! (indignant fist in the air..)
After a long and difficult deliberation, I chosed the Matcha mille-feuille.
David Lebovitz and Clotilde have lauded Sadaharu Aoki as a Parisian master of buttery, crackly puff pastry. So, a fusion specialty of delicate green Matcha pastry cream and golden mille feuille, one of the most traditional pastry of French origins that Aoki happen to be particularly talented in? I think I made a good choice, no?
Talk about killing two birds with €4.60!
I watched as the friendly and immaculately dressed Japanese salesperson deftly packed my lovely mille feuille into a sleek white box with gloved hands. As she rang up my purchase, I finally succumbed to temptation and added a matcha croissant. Those spiral babies were really calling out to me!
It was a lovely day, and I decided to take the metro to place de la Concorde for a leisurely stroll through the Tuileries garden (Jardin des Tuileries). This beautiful park is the largest in Paris, at 25.5 hectares and was created as the garden of the Tuileries Palace in 1564 by Catherine de Medicis. With some 20 species of very fine trees that includes mulberry, oak, elm, maple...just to name a few; as well as up to seventy thousand plants and bulbs, this garden must be spectacle to behold in Spring.
I enjoyed my wintry walk no less. There is certainly something whimsical about the intertwined bare branches against the Parisian backdrop.
Also, it does help to have an amazing matcha croissant to nom on along the way!
Ambling along, I was suddenly caught by a strong gust of wind that swung my Sadaharu Aoki bag a full 360 degrees.
Stifling a yelp, I quickly settled on a nearby bench to inspect the damage. My beautiful mille feuille was overturned and the matcha powder was strewn all over. I cried a little on the inside at the sight of the messed up topography of matcha powder on the top as I carefully flipped it back upright.
My mille feuille was oustanding. Truly befitting what it means in French- "thousand leaves". I quivered with excitement at the sound of the light crackle of pastry as I sliced it with my fork. The delicate layers of puff pastry were perfectly thin, flaky and wonderfully buttery. The vivid matcha "crème pâtissière" was light and smooth with just the right touch of sweetness and the thin nougatine topping was delectably crunchy. The best part was the irresistible perfume of good quality matcha, lending its unmistakably exquisite hint of bitterness to the pastry.
Alas, I was down to my last bite. This will no doubt haunt my dreams for awhile.
For sure, I will return to Sadaharu Aoki the next time I am in Paris. Or perhaps visit his flagship boutiques in Tokyo and Taipei. Those lucky gits...
25 rue Pérignon