Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Adzuki Beans on Brioche: My Favorite French Breakfast

There is something about Japanese pastries that I truly adore - the earthy savor of matcha, the gritty sweetness of adzuki paste wrapped inside smooth glutinous mochi, even the salty sour tang of ume. And it is here in Paris, not just in a visit to Tokyo or LA, that I had all of these tastes in one trip to the patisserie.

I'm not sure where I first read about Aoki pastries, and I can't add much that hasn't already been said here. but I do want to gush for all of those wondering what it's like to see such gorgeous patisseries every day in the shapes of tartes and profiteroles that it is also incredibly delicious to have the French classic mille feuille with matcha, with a cup of toasty hoji-cha (yamamotoyama gen-mai-cha for 1.49/box at Berkeley Bowl, how I miss thee) in a patisserie so modern that it's difficult to tell if you can get in and out the door until you walk close enough to almost smell the intrigue of black sesame eclair. (It was also the perfect place to celebrate good news - Liam has signed a contract for a job!)

Not long after Liam and I crammed the mille feuille, matcha eclair, and two macarons (ume and black sesame) down our parched throats, I walked the perimeter of the tiny shop several times to find something to take home. I considered the box of 16 macaron, but was a bit afraid I'd eat them all in one sitting. Then I found a small shelf with confitures and compotes. I have to say, when you see gorgeous confitures everywhere, it's difficult to tell what's good and what's great, and as amazing as the pastries were, who's to say this guy makes a mean jam? Then I laid eyes on a dream I never knew existed: adzuki bean and milk compote. In broken French and lots of ego (where I pretend I understand more than I do), I asked the woman what she thought of it - I wanted to know something like 'all Japanese crave this and buy it out each week' or something like that. No luck there, but I brought it home and have been consuming it each day on my toast. Ingredients: beans, milk, sugar, vanilla.

Whether it's on day-old baguette from boulangerie around the corner or brioche from our new favorite a few blocks away, this magic mixture turns my breakfast into a bit of Japanese earth on a Parisian balcony, or rather, combines the adzuki grit with the traditional French tradition, nope, really, just on top of warm toast spread first with sea-salt-flaked-butter, it's just the best breakfast I've had thus far. Arigatoo-gozaimasu Aoki-san!

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