Friday, August 31, 2018

Stohrer, The Oldest Pâtisserie in Paris

We went on a Food Tour while we were in Paris. One of our stops: Stohrer, the oldest pastry shop in Paris. When I first saw Stohrer listed as a must-visit bakery, I thought, well, that doesn't sound very French. Here's the story: Nicolas Stohrer learned his trade as pastry chef in the kitchens of King Stanislas I of Poland, in exile in the East of France. When the King’s daughter, Marie Leszczynska, married King Louis XV of France, she brought her favorite pâtissier with her to Versailles. Five years later, in 1730,  the enterprising Stohrer opened his own shop on 51 rue Montorgueil, where it has remained to this day. That's 288 years! Can you imagine all the history this pastry shop has witnessed?!
Rue Montorgueil was not very far from our hotel, so we visited several times. Each time it seemed there was a different creation in the front window.
It's beautiful inside. I was looking around, trying to soak in all the treats and the walls and mirrors when our tour guide suggested we look up:
In a bakery! An intricately painted and gilded ceiling painted by Paul Baudry (who also decorated the Paris Garnier opera house).
We did not try the famous Baba au Rhum, a yeast pastry soaked in a lot of rum, brushed with apricot jam, and garnished with candied cherries and angelica. Our guide said it was probably a bit too early for one because it's quite a boozy treat! One story is that Chef Stohrer invented this pastry to use up some dry Polish brioche. Another is that when King Stanislas settled in his exile in Luneville in eastern France, he found the local kouglof cake to be too dry so his chef imbibed the cake in a syrup laced with a herbal liqueur. Whatever its true origin, Stohrer became a specialist of this treat, and when he set up his pastry shop in Paris he started using rum to soak it and it became a sensation.
I wanted one of everything.
Our tour guide made us practice saying kouign amann and he selected this as one of the treats for us to try. We ended up buying another on a visit a couple days later:
Flaky pastry with lots and lots of butter and sugar.
Eclair - our guide said the caramel was his favorite, so we tried that one.
Above and below, some larger delicious looking treats:
If you visit Paris, I strongly urge you to visit Stohrer. So much history, beautiful inside, delicious pastries, and when we went back without our French speaking guide, they were patient with our French. Mostly we pointed and tried to say it and held up our fingers for how many we wanted, but still. Really nice.

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