Forget macaroons and truffles for a moment, forget the millefeuilles and éclairs. La Bague de Kenza is a Parisian pastry shop of a different kind. It’s Algerian.
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 they are 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.
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