As much as I've loved living on our side of the Septieme - it has many perks, including proximity to the Louvre and D'Orsay, not to mention the Latin Quarter and shops on the Rue du Bac - but for fooding, part of me is always envious of those who live on the Champs-Mars side. Dear daughter and I spent our morning, as has become tradition, with design guru-stylish Brit friend C and her daughter, who live on that lovely, neighborhoody, western side of the 7th. After two lovely hours trolling design websites, poring over catalogs, downing multiple lattes and dishing, we left to pick up C's son from preschool. C offered to take me to one of her favorite spots for today's pastry - Secco off Rue St. Dominique.
Once again, I am at once dazzled and heartbroken to be discovering a place like Secco just weeks before our departure from Paris. The tiny shop - divided into two smaller shops, actually - is jammed with quiches, sandwiches, a bubbling pot of potage, salads of every design, and - of course - desserts. I skim over the options - a glistening tarte au citron, a luscious-looking tarte au chocolat, macarons - finally settling on the cheesecake, which C has highly recommended. I can only describe it as adorable (don't you agree?). Perky, tucked into a perfect crust, gorgeous raspberry nestled in the center.
I spent the afternoon - also on Catherine's recommendation - at the Jeu de Paume, a terrific gallery opposite the Orangerie known for cutting-edge photography and multimedia expositions. This month's offerings include a retrospective of Lisette Model, a photographer born in Paris and best known for her observations of New York nightlife, Paris' streets and the Cote d'Azur. It's a relatively small but wonderful exhibit - my favorite part was a story she shot for Harper's Bazaar about the 1944 elections and the potential power of the women's vote; I make a mental note to go home and contribute to EMILY's List. Feeling inspired, I walk through the Tuileries and take some shots of the trees, benches, pools. All working up a terrific appetite for...
Cheesecake. One of my favorite desserts. One of the few desserts I can actually make fairly well. One of the few desserts I've really missed while living in Paris. Diving into this Secco confection I'm immediately thrilled with my choice (thanks, C!). The crust is absolutely delicious - one of the better basic vanilla crusts I've had throughout the project. The cheesecake itself is delightfully light and fluffy - due, I read in a pastry article, to the use of 0% fat fromage blanc in the filling - and infused with a very delicate lemon flavor. Despite the cheesecake's lightness, I feel satisfied after half of this rich-tasting, creamy dessert and offer the rest to dear husband.
I don't know if this is, as one website cited, "the best.cheesecake.ever" (I vainly hold my own peanut-butter cheesecake in pretty high regard) but it's the best I've had in Paris (sorry, Pierre Hermé ...yours melted). Now I'm not only bubbly, I'm officially pro-Secco.