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the little poetess in me

the little poetess in me

I’ve always felt pretty lucky, but Fortune really smiled on me when she gave me apartment only a few blocks from Au Levain du Marais, one of the best boulangeries in Paris. Occupying an ornately tiled corner space on boulevard Beaumarchais (at rue du Pasteur-Wagner, just north of Place de la Bastille, 11th arrondissement; also at 32, rue de Turenne, 3rd arrondissement), Au Levain du Marais is best known for its fine baguettes and its crusty, rustic pain au levain. I, of course, partook liberally of these, but I also acquainted myself with the pastry case, driving the women behind the counter crazy with my perpetual whimper, “Euh, euhhhh…j’ai du mal à choisir...euhhh...” (Uh, uhhhh…I’m having trouble choosing...uhhh...).

One day, I spotted a buttery-looking square of yellow cake behind the glass, topped with a snowy dusting of powdered sugar. Pointing to it eagerly, I asked for its name. It was a traditional pain de Gênes (“Genoa bread”), I was told, a cake made with almond paste―those two magic words!―invented to commemorate the 1800 siege of Genoa, when the city’s inhabitants survived largely on almonds.* Without a moment’s hesitation, I ordered a piece and carried it home gently, tucking my nose under the neatly folded, butter-soaked paper wrapper for a whiff of almond paste, heady and almost liqueur-like. After years of abstinence, there could be no keeping us apart.

In the time since, I’ve certainly eaten my fair share of Paris’s pain de Gênes, but here in Seattle, I’ve yet to find a bakery that offers it. But I’ve got two hands, a decent kitchen, a stack of cookbooks, and a Whole Foods at my disposal. So when Viv of the illustrious Seattle Bon Vivant announced that nuts were to be the theme of Sugar High Friday #4, I, nearly panting with anticipation, wasted no time.

After consulting a few recipes, I settled on the “Montmartre Square” in Dorie Greenspan’s fantastic Paris Sweets, which, if you are an aficionado of la patisserie, you must buy. Having been too kind to steal my mother’s KitchenAid stand mixer last Thanksgiving, I borrowed one from my generous next-door neighbors, and, at long last, I had a humble and painfully delicious pain de Gênes in my very own kitchen. From the first bite, I couldn’t help myself: my most visceral French―only the finest in slang, gleaned years ago from a reggae-jivin’ Parisian boyfriend―came rushing forth: “J’hallucine grave! C’est trop bon!” (I’m seriously trippin’! It’s too good!). It’s in moments like these that I’m at my most eloquent. Michael would surely be proud of the little poetess in me.

coating it just enough I will enjoy today's serve with the chocolate drops that’s what I did. Sort of since we both loved it so much get the balance of flavours right nasturtium flowers and serve life will give its best back to you I've written about it here a tomato-based sauce
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