Thursday, November 24, 2016

Treats from Stohrer, Paris

Stohrer: the oldest pastry shop in Paris.  Seriously old, they've been in operation since 1730.  I obviously had to check it out, even though I was skeptical.  It sounded potentially like a tourist attraction, more than a good place to get pastries.  Paris is filled with great pâtisseries, I didn't want to waste any of my precious stomach space on mediocre pastry!

I thought Stohrer stood a chance though, since it is located on rue Montorgueil in the 2nd arrondissement, a cute cobblestone street, with plenty of local Parisians strolling through with baguettes under their arms.  The rest of the street is boulangeries, cheese shops, and produce stands, so it certainly looked fairly legit.  It was open on Sunday, a rarity in Paris, which potentially meant it was less likely to be good, but also meant it was on option on a day when our pickings were slim.

So on Sunday afternoon, Ojan and I finally paid Stohrer a visit.  (In full disclosure, I visited a few days prior, just to scope it out.  It was evening then, so the selection was reduced, but it gave me a good opportunity to take photos when the shop was not as busy.  So the photos of the space below are from the evening, with not completely full pastry cases - sorry!)

The staff were nice, but everyone else in the store spoke pretty much exclusively French, even though I'm sure they get many English speaking visitors.  Anyway, as impressive as it looked, it wasn't very good.  Neither treat we had was remotely good enough to warrant a return visit, even though the place had so much potential ... at a glance.

The Space

The awning out front was slightly worn, but the bright yellow color was inviting.

An ice cream and sorbet stand is placed out front during the day.   I never saw anyone going for that, which makes sense, as there are good places for sweet icey treats elsewhere on the street, and Stohrer isn't known for their ice cream.
Savory Creations.
The front window had a display case with savory treats, that all actually look like they should be sweets, until you look closer.  In this photo, the dome on the right is actually wrapped in smoked salmon.  Next to that is cheesy scallops.  On the far left is a foie gras brioche!

The place clearly speaks my language.  Turning savories into pastry-looking items?  Um, yes?

Strangely, none of these were refrigerated in any way.  That scared me a bit.
Quiches, Pate en Croute, Meals.
Moving inside, the savories continue, with a slew of puff pastry wrapped pates, quiches with an amazing flaky looking crust, and prepared meals.  These items really did all look good, and, since it is a pâtisserie, I imagined that the puff pastry and crusts used would be awesome.

I added it to my list of places to return for an easy savory bite, but on this visit, we were going for sweets only.
Salads, Gratins.
More and more savories continued, with assorted composed salads, and all sorts of little trays of cheesy gratins and main dishes.
Quiches, Gratins.
More and more quiches and gratins.  This seems like a great place to pick up some savory items to heat up at home.  Seeing all this really re-assured me a bit, because tourists wouldn't be getting these things, right?
The savories weren't done though.  Next was ham sliced to order, mini tomato and cheese tarts, fried shrimps, and more.
More Savories.
And more, smoked salmon, shrimp salad, chicken wings, all sorts of wrapped means, including mini versions.

You could easily get a great selection for a picnic, or even cater a appetizer party here (in fact, they also run a catering business).

I don't have photos, but in the afternoon, they also have a large assortment of sandwiches.
Moving on to sweets, there were too many to enumerate here.  A large variety of desserts, including all the classics - mille-feuille (in 3 different flavors), paris brest, tarts, cakes, rhum baba, and even a cream filled rhum baba.  And trays of minis, if you really just can't make up your mind.

This photo only shows one of many sections filled with sweets.
Chocolates, Eclairs.
The eclair selection took up a fair amount of space as well, and there were several cases with chocolates as well.
Cookies and Fruits.
On one side was bags of packaged cookies and marzipan fruits ...
Candy, Chocolates.
Oh, and did I mention, they kinda double as a candy store?  Bags and bags of candies and more chocolates too.
Even though it was late in the day, there was still a selection of viennoiseries, including croissants, chocolate croissants, almond croissants, raisin swirls, sugar brioche, praline rolls, canelles, and more.  And brownies, a bit random.
Kougin Amann!
Even though I was there to scope it out the first time, I almost broke down an ordered a kouign amann.  I love these things, but, I vowed to return and get one at a more appropriate time.


Plastic Bag, Paper Wrappers.
I'm including a review of the wrapping, since I was really amused by how differently places package the treats in Paris.

Here it was simple and old school.  Generic thin plastic bag, paper wrappers around the treats, sealed with tape.  The bag and papers had the Stohrer logo on it, but this was hands down the most rustic packaging I saw.  No bag with fancy handles, no cute boxes that don't stay together.

It turns out, there is a reason places use cute boxes, since they help protect the goods.  But more on that in a minute.

The shop has no seating, so Ojan and I took our treats to a nearby bench to consume our treats.  We didn't walk far, no more than 2 minutes, but, our pastries didn't remain in tact.  -1 for packaging.

 The Treats

And finally, what you are waiting for, the review of what we actually ate.  We selected two items to share as an afternoon snack.
Chocolate Eclair. 4.20€.
One of Ojan's favorite treats is a chocolate eclair.  I don't like eclairs much (since I don't like choux pastry), but Ojan loves them, so I did research eclairs in Paris.  People like the eclairs from Stohrer, the chocolates ones in particular, so I agreed to get one, for his sake.

This is where the packaging failed.  If you wrap a chocolate iced treat in paper, well, the icing will come off ...

I was also surprised by the price,  4.20€ is higher than many other places.
Chocolate Eclair: Inside!
The eclair was ... fine?

As expected though, I didn't like the choux pastry, as it was really eggy tasting to me.  It also just didn't seem like anything special.

There was plentiful filling, a chocolate cream.  The cream was actually pretty good, a thick, pudding-like, milk chocolate.  It had a good chocolate flavor, and I think really would make for a nice bowl of pudding.

The chocolate icing on top was a deeper chocolate, again, pretty good.

But still, this was an eclair.  The filling and topping were good enough, but it really wasn't the treat for me.  Sadly, Ojan didn't care for it either.  He said "It is ok", ate half, and threw out the rest.  I salvaged the filling and icing.  We clearly wouldn't get another.
Kouign Amann. 2.90€.
I couldn't resist the kouign amann.   Particularly when the day before I saw the kouign amann at Blé Sucré and really wanted one then.  Sure, it was mid-day, I didn't have a coffee to go alongside it, but, how do you not get a kouign amann, particularly when the staff member smiles and tells you how good it is?  Plus, Ojan was yet to ever have one fresh, and I want him to understand the wonder that a kouign amann can be.

This didn't show him.

The exterior was flaky.  The inside was moist.  But it really lacked the sweetness that a good kouign amann has.  It was rich with butter, the other essential component, but that just made it feel heavy and greasy.  The real problem was the lack of caramelization.

It just wasn't very good.  Ojan liked it more than the eclair though.  We'd never get it again.

Update: 2016.
Ha, ok, lols.  On our second visit to Paris in 2016, nearly a year later, Ojan wound up at Stohrer, unaccompanied.  And you know what he bought himself?  Another kouign amann (and a chocolate covered caramel bar).  He brought back part for me, and, I mocked him pretty badly.  How did he not remember how unremarkable it was?  I almost didn't bother trying it, but, I mean, really, how am I not going to eat a pastry sitting in front of me?

It was ... better than I remembered.  It was sweet, it was caramelized.  It was buttery.  So, actually, it was fine, but, still, not the levels of amazingness that a really fantastic koiugn amann can be.
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