My love affair with French desserts began back in the 1980s. I was studying at Ecole Parsons a Paris for a semester. French pastries were everywhere, elegantly displayed in storefront windows—my designer’s eye couldn’t resist. Now when I want to indulge my appreciation for crepe or macaroons, I don’t book a flight on AirFrance—I head to Greenwich Avenue.
Photographs: Garvin Burke
- The Holy One. The Saint Honoré at Versailles is, well, heavenly. I’ve been getting them here for the last twenty years, and counting, and they are always perfect. This single-serving dessert is an assemblage of a buttery and flaky circle of puff pastry, three cream puffs, dark chocolate custard and fresh whipped cream topped with caramel drops. Saint Honoré was named after the French patron saint of bakers and pastry chefs. We don’t wonder why. 339 Greenwich Avenue, 203-661-6634; versaillesgreenwich.com
- A Macaroon Must. There are a lot of macaroons out there—and, no, they are not created equal. Aux Délices excels with its well-crafted confectionary. With a lovely pastel color, the meringue dome-shaped cookies are light, airy and crunchy with a not-overly-sweet filling. I bring these desserts to parties—and, without fail, they go fast. The coconut is a must, but you’ll also enjoy strawberry, lemon, pistachio, chocolate, coffee, raspberry and pumpkin. Pick them up a la carte ($1.50 each) or all eight flavors in a gift box (great hostess gift for under $15; just call two days in advance). 3 West Elm Street, 203-622-6644; auxdelicesfoods.com
- Island Paradise. When I ordered the floating island (îles flottantes) at Le Penguin, I expected a dollop of merinque in a creme Anglaise. What arrived at the table, though, was a sunny yellow plate with a surprisingly shaped square of pure white meringue drizzled with caramel sauce and garnished with slivered nuts and one perfect mint leaf. What a welcome twist on a classic! The Anglaise was creamy and subtly sweet with an irresistible velvet texture. Fair warning: The portion is large, almost family size; in fact, I now refer to it as “floating iceberg.” Wait, penguins like icebergs, right? Me, too! Le Penguin, 61 Lewis Street, 203-717-1200; lepenguinbistro.com
- Chocolate Obsession. I have not ordered a chocolate crêpe since I left Paris in 1986. That is, until a recent visit to Meli-Melo. My Nu Nutella crêpe arrived, presented simply on a white plate…no chocolate to be seen. The first bite transported me across time and space to the 1980s in front of the Eiffel Tower. On my next visit, I’ll be sure to try to waiter’s recommendation, “The Train” ($11.50)—a crêpe with apple tatin, vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce and whipped cream. Sounds like another way to get to my happy place. Meli-Melo Creperie, Juice Bar and Catering, 362 Greenwich Avenue, 203-629-6153; melimelogreenwich.com