Forget macarons and truffles for a moment, forget the millefeuilles and éclairs. La Bague de Kenza is a Parisian pastry shop of a different kind.
Sticky honey, rich nuts, the crunch of semolina, the perfume of orange and roses, chewy dates, rose: These are the themes upon which the the variations of Algerian sweets are built. And are they ever sweet. The honey in some of them is dizzying, toothache-inducing. I mean that in a good way.
A friend who used to live in the Oberkampf neighborhood introduced me to La Bague de Kenza when I was in Paris last month. We talked over lunch, a sort of savory crèpe called m’hadjeb that was filled with tomatoes and onions. But the small lunch was really just a formality, a sensible precursor to the sweet main event. We shared date-filled maqrout, baqlawa pistache (that’s baklava to you and me), and qualb elouz, a semolina and almond cake drenched with honey.
We took our sugar high next door to choose some treats to go. I pointed to one of the footed platters to ask what was what and the young woman behind the counter proceeded to tell me what was on each and every tray. She had clearly done this before.
Decision making is not my strong suit, but I managed to walk away with a cornet pistache, a roulade citron, and a sort of walnut tartlet called d’ziriates noix. I plan to work my way across the entire display when I get back next month.
La Bague de Kenza 106 Rue St. Maur, Paris 75011, +33 (0)1 43 14 93 15, and other Paris locations.