|the counter at la bague du kenza|
do you like middle eastern or north african pâtisserie like buttery, honeyed and nutty baklava, makrout diamonds of syrup soaked semolina with a layer of dates and marzipan? if this is the case and you are in paris i would urge you to dispatch yourself to la bague du kenza. these sticky, sweet and fragrant delights are known as ‘pâtisserie orientale’ in french parlance but in fact bague du kenza is associated with algerian style patisserie. i walked the length of rue saint honore for a box of these delicacies (and some bread from julien).
the broad counter is home to pyramids of bite sized pastries seated on paper wrappers. the colours range from bright and fruity to the neutral tones of blanched almonds and icing sugar white. bague du kenza is heaven for those who love almond paste. here the marzipan assumes the shape of fruits. there are figs, bananas, oranges and watermelons painted in life likeness. a third of the space is occupied by baklava whose intricate layers glisten with butter and syrup glaze. the air is warm and scented with butter and floral essences like gentle orange blossom and a much sharper and sweet scented rose.
marzipan has been an abiding love since my childhood. my parents would get me the fruit shaped ones from broadway bakery in shallow styrofoam trays with a taut wrap of clear plastic. the apricots and peaches had tiny leaves fashioned of sugar craft and the banana’s were painted with lengths of vivid green food colouring. as i grew i acquired a taste for marzipan with a higher ratio of almond to sugar. baba still prefers the sweeter kind.
unlike at broadway bakery, the choice at bague du kenza paralyses me. since i am already weighed down by a kilo of figs, bread and viennoiserie i narrow myself to a pick of four – marzipan encased by a hard shell of lemon sugar, a makrout centred with dates, a marzipan fig and a sandy textured crescentine that melts in the mouth leaving a taste of rose water in its wake.
the box never made it as far as london as we ate it on board the eurostar.