An artisan pastry chef in Beirut

August 17, 2010  • 

 

Whenever I make a trip to Souk elTayeb in downtown Beirut, I know there is one stop I will make every time:  AnneMarie‘s.

I have had pastries  from the best: in Paris at Pierre Hermé or Ladurée or Fauchon. I still prefer Anne-Marie’s.


Eggplant pies, banana cream tartes, meat pies or  her tartes Tatin are just better.

Why?

Because they  taste homemade, fresh,  with the unmistakable flavor  of the finest butter, which permeates her tarts and cakes, sweet and savory.

Maybe it is also the fact that what I long for, deeply, is not some super-sophisticate and intricate pastry, but something that makes me feel like my grandmother is still around and making it just for me.

Anne-Marie is someone who  ditched  job security in pharmaceutical sales to pursue her passion. She enrolled in pastry school in Paris, France; she worked the grueling twenty-hour days atGèrard Mulot and Sanderens.

The exposure there was crucial:  she saw that these great chefs attached a fanatical importance to  the quality of raw products, always on the lookout for the absolute best of the best, an approach she has adopted in her craft (for our benefit!). I remember one time as I was looking at her pound cakes, she pointed at the lemon one and said: ” You know I just came back from a week on the Amalfi coast and the lemons there were  so huge and so tasty, I had to bring some back with me and make these cakes”

Her dedication to  her craft is evident when you see her toiling with only one helper;  she now has a faithful clientele and could  expand, but she maintains that she will always remain an artisan, concerned first and foremost about the quality of her product.

I have tried to analyze why her pastries are so special:  one of the reasons has to do with her unabashed reliance on first-grade butter: not margarine, not oil, not samneh (oriental butter). Plain butter. Her crusts are buttery, crunchy (never soggy), her puff pastry unbelievably crispy and heavenly paired with her pastry cream.

I dare you not to swoon after a bite of her silky eggplant pie. I have had to hide her orange pound cake from my son and his buddy in order to keep a few slices to myself.

e-mail: am.bassoul@yahoo.fr

phone: 00(961)3382436

Comments

37 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. s says:

    ALL the pics have got me swooning!!!!!!!!!

  2. Juliana says:

    Yummie, everything looks so tasty, if I could only have a “small” bite of them…

  3. Heavenly Housewife says:

    Okay, i really want to try that eggplant pie now 🙂

  4. Rosa says:

    Delicious looking!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  5. sweetlife says:

    silky eggplant pie, oh I can imagine how wonderful this must be,great post..everything l,ooks amazing
    sweetlife

  6. Rachana says:

    Wow! everything looks amazing!

  7. Suman Singh says:

    great varieties of pies..love that banana cream tart..looks so yummie..

  8. Nadia says:

    I hope I can make a trip to Beirut one day soon! These look fantastic, I hope I can stop thinking about the eggplant pie!

  9. elra says:

    Always good to have artisan bakery right in your neighborhood. They pastry always taste better then the one chain stores have.

  10. Sara says:

    Love all of the pastries!!! Pics look amazing! Souk el Tayeb looks like my kind of market!!

  11. Sarah Galvin (All Our Fingers in the Pie) says:

    I love butter. I am sure I would love her pastries, too.

  12. Angie's Recipes says:

    Love that eggplant pastry!

  13. deana says:

    good for her to make the change and follow her dream with passion and determination to use the best. wish I could visit!!!

  14. Susan says:

    What beautiful pastries! You can tell that she has found her true avocation.

  15. Faith says:

    These all look incredible, Joumana! Her wonderful passion for what she does is evident in everything. The Tarte Tatin is really calling my name. 😉

  16. Nadji says:

    Quelle chance d’avoir tout ça à disposition.
    Tu me fais rêver de plus en plus du Liban.
    A bientôt.

  17. anncoo says:

    Love that egg plant pastry, must be very yummy!
    Please visit my new site and join a little giveaway.

  18. Amanda says:

    Those photo’s all look very delicious.
    I agree with Anne-Marie – butter is simply the best!

  19. sophia says:

    oh wow…goodness me! Everything looks outrageously delicious…and I’m not even a pastry fan! I would love to try the eggplant pastry…it just sounds delightful!

  20. 5 Star Foodie says:

    Wow, this patisserie truly sounds amazing, I am very intrigued by the eggplant pies!

  21. Mimi says:

    Such beautiful pastries, the eggplant pie sound intriguing.
    Mimi

  22. ++MIRA++ says:

    so great to meet someone else with a passion for lebanese food. tsharafna 🙂

  23. Grapefruit says:

    Love the look of that eggplant pie. It has my name written all over it!

  24. Koek! says:

    Oh won’t you try and get a recipe from her for her eggplant pie? I would be so, so grateful!
    Robyn

    PS: The way you described this experience… made me feel i was right there in her shop.

  25. El says:

    I love hearing stories about people giving up the corporate world to pursue their passion. It looks like she made the right choice!

  26. Sushma Mallya says:

    looks so tasty..

  27. Evelyne@cheapethniceatz says:

    Everything looks delicious…especially the tarte tatin. I love a good tatin…with lots of real butter.

  28. Sue Stephens says:

    These look really delicious! I am so glad you approve of butter being used in pastry making as it is really out of fashion over here as people think it’s unhealthy. I do use butter as I love the taste and texture (spreads are just not the same). Thanks for the post Joumana!

  29. Adelina says:

    Your site is making me want to plan a trip to visit Beirut. Actually, my grandma and grandpa were raised in Beirut. My husband and his family are from Beirut as well. Our plan one day is visit both our homelands. His: Lebanon and Mine: Armenia. I sooo look forward to it more due to your postings.

  30. Magic of Spice says:

    Wow, such wonderful pastries…

  31. A Canadian Foodie says:

    And it looks so lovely and homemade. There is a rustic look to these desserts which I love. Not the perfect portions in Paris (which I also love) but there is a comfort in these. You are invited to EAT them – even with your bare hands. YUM!

  32. FOODESSA says:

    Joumana…did you ever invite yourself to have a few stolen moments alongside her at her pasrty store? Just a thought since you’re so enamoured with her creations.

    Everything looks incredibly appetizing 😉

    Ciao,
    Claudia

  33. TastyTrix says:

    Your friend sounds very cool, and good for her to stay true to the methods she believes in.

  34. Pastry fan says:

    Yummy!!
    Where is she in Beirut?
    thanks

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