It just occurred to me that when I’m in Paris and eating nothing but pastry, pastry is actually what keeps me alive. As my singular food-stuff, nothing else sustains me. Nothing else powers my thoughts. Nothing else allows me to walk to the next pastry shop, buy the next pastry, photograph it, savor it, and write about it. In effect, pastry is like some alien life form that invades my soul and drives a celebration of itself on the blog. And, no, I am not stoned as I write this; I’m just finally becoming aware of pastry’s cunning power and influence over me.
In the coming year, Sadaharu Aoki’s pastisseries, in particular, are likely to be the dominant force in using me as a host organism. Why? Because Monsieur Aoki’s shop will be the closest to my new apartment in Paris. His profiteroles, sesame eclairs, and caramel tarts are already beckoning me; I will be helpless to resist. But, as I’ve said so many times before here, there are also a lot of his pieces that I’m going to want to steer clear of. I have such a complicated relationship with Aoki’s work, and the Saint-Marc Mâcha here is no exception.
Now, I have to say that I feel incredibly self-conscious in reviewing the master’s efforts these days. Ever since he Facebook friended me, it’s hard to be completely unvarnished. It’s the food critic equivalent of one of your parents friending you. Would you self-censor and diligently de-tag yourself from every embarrassing drunk shot that your friends have posted? Or would you just roll with it? My choice is to go with the flow. Because odds are better than not mom or dad isn’t actually checking things out that often . . . and, even if they are, there’s nothing to be truly ashamed of. My glowing praise of his cheesecake and Bamboo are 100% honest, and when I say the Saint-Marc Mâcha is one of the worst things I’ve ever eaten, I’m being totally straight there, too.
The milk chocolate layer was bland. Not subtle . . . bland. Even though dark chocolate is my preference, a fine Cluizel, Amedei, or Domori milk is something I can and do appreciate. Even some ****** Amano or something would be more palatable than whatever was barely used here. Indeed, Dove or Hershey’s would have been a step up. Then there was the macha crème, which was totally overmacha’ed. Love it in the Bamboo, but it was not working here. And the biscuit joconde layer was . . . uh . . . there was something very wrong there. It had a decidedly off sour protein “zip” to it. It was three terrible flavors that just clung to the back of my throat and lingered there. Individually, they had odd tones, but together they formed this superbeast that was more akin to burning plastic than anything edible. No exaggeration – that was the flavor. It was, in a word, horrific.
This piece may have actually been worse than Aoki’s Zen, which I found appalling. Though, and let me be clear here . . . they were still better than Arnaud Larher’s Récif, the worst thing I may have ever eaten in my life. I just don’t get why stuff like this is created. So confusing. And were my real-life profession not one that exposes me to constant and uncensored criticism, I might feel bad for saying all this . . . but, as I started off by saying, it’s all true.
So would I recommend the Saint-Marc Mâcha? Guess. Uh-uh. The only reason you should buy it is so there’s one less for someone else to potentially soil their palate with. Aoki has SO many other phenomenal pieces in his case though – some of the absolute greatest work in all of Paris. Just stick with his strokes of genius, and you’re sure to love him.
Feel entitled to enjoy pastries like this (but better) all the time? Then follow Paris Patisseries on Facebook. That’s where you can keep up with my latest pastry adventures and see extra goodies deemed too awesome for the blog.