I still have my time in Bruges, Antwerp, and Amsterdam to blog about, but I absolutely cannot write anything without first saying that I am in love with Paris. Thank you, Paris, for being everything I wanted you to be and more. Thank you for beautiful sunny days and for warmth on the back of my neck, thank you for delicious food (which I promise to post about), thank you for your buildings and music and history and friends and gorgeous dogs and for giving me the feeling of delirious happiness and contentment that I haven’t felt since I was in the U.S. Paris, will you be my European paramour?
I was going to write a really witty post about how I spent my time In Bruges chasing down criminals and getting married to Colin Farrell and sewing together pants made entirely of waffles, but then I remembered that I haven’t actually watched the movie and therefore have no idea whether Colin Farrell would be attracted to a young lady with pastry adorning her lower half.
I spent three days in Bruges which, to be entirely honest, was probably a little too long. Most people in my hostel stayed only one night, and even then complained about not having anything to do. I managed to pass the time rather enjoyably, but I bought a Bruges museum pass and explored even the small and out-of-the-way museums, chanced upon some free musical events, attended Mass at the Heilige Bloed Basiliek* (Basilica of the Holy Blood) and, most importantly…
… had my first really real deliciously delicious amazing creation from a European patisserie.
Now, as you know, I did enjoy two cakes in Berlin, when my sense of taste was just returning. Those cakes were, however, rather workman-like, from rather workman-like cafes, and I knew that when buying them.
This, on the other hand, came from Servaas Van Mullem, a salon/patisserie just up the road from this (and therefore quite atmospheric, don’t’cha know):
If it weren’t for the fact that I’m already ridiculously behind in my posts, I’d stretch this out into a game where I’d make you guess what I chose. I think some of you might be able to pick it correctly (I’m looking at you, Camille).
So, what did I pick? Um, a winner.
The woman at the counter described this as “pistachio cream, chocolate cream, almond biscuit”. Oh lady. Oh lady, no. This was so much more than that. I mean, yes, when I first tentatively pressed my spoon against the green mousse, atop which a clear layer of jelly cradled chopped pistachios, and carried it to my lips, I tasted subtle, nutty pistachio in not-too-sweet cream.
I took a bit with the almond sponge, and my head kapowed. This almond “biscuit” was a thin layer of cake that tasted so overwhelmingly of caramelised almonds and butter that I almost couldn’t bear it. It was heavenly, and I don’t know how they made such a soft cake taste of such crispy deliciousness. Maybe almond extract was somewhere in there?
Then there was just the chocolate mousse, right? WRONG. Look at this:
Yep. You’re looking at incredibly light and fluffy subtle pistachio mousse, then a layer of denser chopped pistachio mix, then a nicely cocoa-rich chocolate mousse, then more pistachio mousse, all of which was surrounded in its coat of almond-toffee-cake.
And that was it, surely? I mean, that’s enough deliciousness for one cake, right?
When I hit the bottom of this Napoli, the notes I was taking on my receipt became illegible. That dark bit at the base? Crunchy dense chocolate hazelnut praline richness. Oh. My.
The incredible complexity of this confection, the way the flavours held their integrity but also blended together seamlessly, the contrasting textures and sweetnesses… chancing upon this treat felt like a continuation of the wonderful feeling of the night before, when the seven people in my hostel room had all stayed up chatting after we’d turned the lights out (it felt like a high school camp), and one of my comments had surprised everyone into a seemingly-endless fit of giggling.
That had felt lovely. And so did treating myself to this cake.
* Where I lost a glove, which I’m fairly certain was God punishing me for going to church when I’m not religious and therefore incapable of believing that it was real holy blood up there.