Honoring French Pastry

April 3, 2024
Eiffel Tower


“ Merci, I am forever in your debt “ 

 The other day, while descending the spiral staircase that leads to the cookie department, I became deliriously happy as I glanced at the cookie racks. They were covered from the bottom to the top with trays of hand decorated cookies inspired by the city of Paris. There were pink poodles, Eiffel towers and pale blue Parisian postcards with pink roses around the border. Their artistic whimsy reminded me of the first time I had ever been to Paris. I remember it well. That trip was intended to help me to not miss my only son Evan, who had just left for his first year of college. My husband and I had dropped him off at Ohio State on Saturday and we left for Paris the following Wednesday. We had prepared for our first European adventure with a copy of Rick Steves Paris and advice from a dear friend, who thirty years prior, had attended college there. She shared her little black book of notes which was full of hand drawn maps and her favorite landmarks marked with stars. We decided to stay our entire trip in Paris, immersing ourselves in its reputed grandeur.



Paris exceeded our expectations. It was much more beautiful than I had imagined. I was stunned every single day. But as a pastry lover and bakery owner whose name was taken to honor the brilliance of French pastry, I was rendered speechless as we wandered street after street discovering a patisserie or boulangerie on almost every corner, each with a line of customers out the door. Before we left Cincinnati, I had made a list of pastry shops I had read about, including Lenôtre’s, whose cookbook had inspired me as a fledgling pastry chef. Making his recipes had expanded everything I thought I knew about pastry, and I will be forever in his debt. But actually, entering his pastry shop in Paris and eating one of his creations was as exciting as meeting my favorite movie star.


All across Paris, I ended up purchasing box after box of astounding looking and tasting pastries whenever I spotted one. There were no bad pastries in the entire city.  There was only one caveat to our indulging in my daily shopping, I wouldn’t allow myself or my husband to eat any pastry, cookie, or bread until I had photographed each one.  I have more photos of pastries than of either of us from that trip.


One afternoon, I discovered a shop I hadn’t read about called Gerard Mulot. I looked into the window, and I was literally too awestruck to enter. Everything in the window was perfect. All the fruit on the tarts was sparkling with just the right amount of glaze. The chocolate icings glistened and fell precisely down the sides of each gateau. I asked Karl to go in and purchase something. I didn’t care what it was, so I could prepare myself for the experience. I ate. I swooned.  Eventually, I pulled myself together enough to go in to buy one of everything that would fit into two bakery boxes. I could have bought a fancy Parisian sweater for all the money I spent that afternoon. From there, we walked over to the Luxembourg Garden so that each confection would be consumed in a suitable atmosphere. Like tiny gifts, I unwrapped each exquisitely wrapped pastry and proceeded to photograph them one by one. That afternoon, I knew I would never feel the same about my BonBonerie again and as long as I owned it, I would honor the  French philosophy to seek perfection in all that I baked and every last thing we made would aspire to be both “Beautiful and Delicious”.


Sharon Butler