The small patisserie boutique of Carl Marletti at the foot of the street Mouffetard seems quite unassuming from the outside. You could almost pass it up as a regular neighbourhood pastry shop not realising it is the well-patronised shop of one of Paris' well known patissiers of the past decade.
Chef Carl Marletti opened his shop in 2007. He makes classics like the mille-feuille, lemon tart, Saint-Honoré etc but with a modern twist. For example the Saint-Honoré is remade with a delicate violet flavour and a stunning violet caramel decoration on top, named Lilly Valley, after his wife's florist shop. In one of his interviews the chef said that when he created his shop, Chanel was an inspiration. He wished to evoke a similar atmosphere of luxury, sophistication and considered precision.
After studying at l'ecole hotelier D'Etiolles, he found a job at the famous caterers Potel and Chabot. After 3 years there and nurtured by a mentor, he became chef de partie at Grand Hôtel Intercontinental, near the Opera House. At the age of just 24 he became sous-chef leading a team of 25 people. Under his leadership the Grand Hôtel mille feuille became a talking point in Paris. But in 2006 he was made redundant after the company decided to subcontract a large part of the service. It is at that time that he decided to open his own shop which became an instant hit just by word of mouth and minimum marketing.
What should you expect to find at this petite patisserie? A vast array of eclair, classics such as Religieuse, Paris Brest, Fraisier, tarts, different types of mille feuille and entremets. You will also find macarons, jams, teacakes, biscuits, chocolates and even a selection of champagne and other alcohol especially chosen to accompany the desserts.
For me the entremets were the most exciting as they are the most creative. In this visit I tried Le Paradis Latin, a rich but light vanilla-flavoured sabayon mousse with a red fruit jelly insert sitting on top of a spongy biscuit (I think it was a joconde) soaked in lemony syrup and covered with a thin layer of raspberry-rose compote sprinkled with a few pieces of chopped almonds. The whole thing was then "flocked" aka spray-coated with an emulsion of cocoa butter flavoured with raspberry and rose. It was sunny and bright, zesty, creamy and airy, aromatic and sensual. The thin red outer cocoa coating pleasantly cracks at the tip of your teaspoon to reveal the luscious cream. And then more red hits you as you reveal the red fruit jelly insert, whose zest delightfully cuts through the cream. And then more citrus oozes out of the soaked biscuit while the little almond pieces give you a very welcome crunch.
Chef Marletti made this dessert in honour of the cabaret Le Paradis Latin which is one of the most authentic cabaret in Paris featuring a stunning belle époque room. The theatre was designed by none other than Gustave Eiffel. Red roses often feature on stage and the dancers' can-can underskirts have a signature red ruffle. The gateau is floral, light and delicate so one could say reminiscent of the female dancers.
51 Rue Censier,
Photo credit: all photos are mine unless otherwise stated