There is a little corner of Paris in Greenside, where you can sip your coffee and sink your teeth into an authentic French pastry and let life roll by, writes Andrew Brouard
Patisserie de Paris
9 Mackay Avenue
Call 011 3260913
Shelley’s idea of hell was
“A populous and a smoky city;
There are all sorts of people undone,
And there is little or no fun done;
Small justice shown, and still less pity.”
Out-of-towners might agree this description suits Joburg, but I love my adopted home town. Even in winter.
Yes, the vegetation dies back and the city is all buff in brown, but here are still places of natural beauty as you will see in the accompanying photo, taken on a walk through Delta Park.
I’m old Joburg. I’m not keen on the newer suburbs like D(r)ainfern and Fourways, with their alienation of pedestrians and fortified Afro-Tuscan villages. I prefer suburbs like Greenside, Parkview and Parktown with their parks, sidewalk cafés and 80-year old houses, where residents still walk their streets.
From Greenside I’ve established a network of locals. It’s five minutes to Franco’s trattoria, 10 minutes to the Corner Cafe or the Fat Zebra. If I cross the boerewors curtain it’s east to the Fisherman’s Plate in Cyrildene or south to Parreirinha in Rosettenville.
Fisherman’s Plate has a Taiwanese chef who makes a taste bud-popping range of hot, peppery and gingery dishes, the most memorable of which is the Thai-style crayfish. And the time to visit Perreirinha is in the dark brittle nights of July when they have their month-long special (prices from 30 years ago).
Now I have a new local; it’s just 10 minutes from my home to La Patisserie de Paris in Blairgowrie.
I declare my ignorance. I know as much about baking as the average Tretchikoff buyer knows about art. But I know what I don’t like: the rolls and baguettes that you get at most restaurants. All that chewing and hewing your way through the crust, your molars grinding through slops of meat, cheese and various pickled vegetables. Either there is no taste or one taste, a smothering astringency.
Not so at the P de P. It’s a boulangerie (bakery) and patisserie (pastry shop) specializing in, according to its website, ‘artisanal sourdough breads, continental pastries, award-winning baguettes and cakes by the slice or whole cakes made to order’. It was founded by Paul Zwick who trained in some of the top French kitchens.
Previously I’ve sampled their pastries and loved them, including a meltingly sweet and tangy apricot Danish and a pain au raisin, a croissant with pastry creme and raisins.
Today I had a cappuccino and a gypsy ham half-baguette with caramelized onion, ham, Dijon mustard etc. Perfectly balanced flavours and just the right amount of chewiness. No doubt there is a special wild yeast in the air here and coating the hands of the bakers – I’m canceling my trip to France. Even the French are coming here as on my last two visits there were tables of French speakers.
It can be tough living in big cities. The pace of life, the madness on the roads, the frantic obsession with filling diaries and taking calls, but the flip side is places like the Patisserie where you can parenthesise your life. Sip your coffee, nibble away at a high quality baguette, crumbs falling on your crossword, and let life roll on by outside. It’s warm in here and the air is filled with the smell of baking and the gentle clatter of cups. – August4, 2015