About Secrets of Paris

American-born travel journalist and guidebook author Heather Stimmler-Hall created the Secrets of Paris in 1999 to share the hidden side of the City of Light. Discover what you've been missing:

* Custom Travel Content 
* Free Paris Resource Guide
* Calendar of interesting Paris events
* Private Tours
* Monthly Secrets of Paris newsletter
* Secrets of Paris Videos

Read more about the Secrets of Paris here


Calendar of Paris Events

October 8-12
The theme for the 81st annual Fête des Vendanges, the grape harvest festival, is Montmartre Fête les Poètes. Events include a parade, grape stomping, the food & wine tasting village, cooking demos, live music, and tons of other fun stuff. Check out the entire program, the online boutique (get your commemorative bottles of wine!) and other info about the festival here.

October 12 
Stock up on fall reading material for a handful of euros and support the English-language SOS Helpline at their Autumn Book Sale today from noon-4pm at Orrick Law Offices (31 ave Pierre Ière de Serbie, 16th, M° Alma-Marceau). Paperbacks €1, hardcovers €2, all categories for adults and kids, as well as bake sale items. Those who want to donate books can drop them off during the sale.

October 16-17
Blending culture with social, Sinfonietta Paris brings you an evening of Mendelssohn and Brahms exquisitely performed by a brilliant ensemble of young professional musicians. At the Institut FInlandais (Latin Quarter, 60 rue des Ecoles, 5th) from 8-11pm. Tickets €25 (wine and hors d'oeuvres included). The address will be mailed once confirmed; the performance on the 4th December is in the 17th; on the 5th December it's in the 1st. Register on the website; places limited. 

Secrets of Paris gives 10% of all tour fees
to the French food bank, Les Restos du Coeur

« Chocoholics of the World Unite | Main | Newsletter #121: October 24, 2012 »
Wednesday
Oct312012

Liberté, Egalité, Cupcakes

Article and photos by Paris Pastry correspondent Tara Oakes.

Had you followed the damp queue through the mysterious door on the Quai de Jemmapes last Saturday, you would have been rewarded with a glorious sight. On every surface were perched bright, colourful, scrumptious treats - cupcakes everywhere, as far as the eye can see. This can only mean one thing: the third edition of Cupcake Camp Paris was in full swing at the trendy Comptoir Général. Amateur and professional bakers whipped up their most adventurous and delicious recipes to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and win over a decidedly keen public in the process – who doesn’t love a good deed that comes with a few extra sprinkles on top?

In fact, if you think sprinkles are about as exciting as cupcakes can get, think again. In response to prize categories including “Most Horrifying, Halloween-Inspired Cupcake” and “Cupcake with the Most Exotic/Unusual Ingredient”, entrants offered up everything from white chocolate brains to tempt Hannibal Lecter to guacamole delights topped with icing cacti. The sheer range of cakes piled up throughout the hall proves the point: these treats, often assumed to be determinedly cute and girly, can fill not only your stomachs but also any design brief you care to think of.

The bakers themselves agree that the possibility for individuality is what makes cupcakes stand out from other traditional French patisseries. Caroline from Carolive’s Cupcakes highlighted the accessibility of cupcakes, saying: “We look for beautiful things and cupcakes are so varied. You can adapt any sort of recipe”. Rahima Mohammad of Fairy Cooker, who went on to win the prize for most exotic ingredient with her guacamole creations, agreed: “All the cupcakes here, they’ve been made like little babies and you put your heart into them”. Not everyone participating today owns their own boutique, but all have been drawn into the world of cupcakes by the opportunity to create something that is not only delicious but also highly personalised.

This seems to deliberately fly in the face of the rigid perfection often associated with traditional French patisseries. In fact, Nelly from La Dinette de Nelly claims that the very fact that they are not originally a French creation adds another dimension to their current popularity in Paris, likening their success to that of other international foods like burgers and pizza. Cat from Sugar Daze, organiser of Cupcake Camp Paris, explains: “Every time people talk to me about cupcakes they bring up Sex and the City...the French people really like New York, so I think it’s all kind of linked somehow”. Despite the oft-cited stereotype that the French are entirely obsessed with their own culinary traditions, the large crowds on the day seem to prove that these American-inspired treats with the scope for a bit of eccentricity are a hit – especially with the added sweetener of raising money for Make-A-Wish. Cupcake Camp 2013? Expect something deliciously unexpected...

 

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