Paris with an American twist - "Sweet Paris" by Frank Adrian Barron
Dear readers, Easter is just around the corner, seemingly it reminds me of something that I suppose to work on apart from writing these blogs, and that is my fragrance’s Easter visual campaign. After finished the launch of my new fragrance in my Budapest stockist’s boutique, I decided that it’s time for me to start working on the concept of the new visual campaign for Easter, in order to seek some new ideas, as usual, I went to multiple bookstores to check out some new interior design and festive entertaining books and magazines, hoping that my mind can get refreshed as well as some new ideas and inspiration from there, in the midst of doing so, and unexpectedly, I found this incredibly elegant book which literally caught my eyes, not just the sophisticated and delicious cover that appeals me at the first place, it is also the author of the book himself and his work that fascinates me the most! And that’s how I know about this tasteful cake-maker gentleman, Mr. Frank Adrian Barron, and his book titled “Sweet Paris”.
This book in fact was published back in last year, and how ironically that I only found it in my city a couple of weeks ago! The book seemed like a simple pastry making cook book, but when reading it deeply, it’s literally an adventurous story of how the author himself, about how he finds his way to live life after relocated to Paris with his now-husband from San Francisco, and how his cake-making work become such a phenomenon when it started off as just a remembrance of his homeland. The author moved to Paris in 2012 from California, like every expat moved to a new city, not only he started to explore Paris and pick up some local knowledge in order to get by, but also encountered some cultural difference and even language barrier, at the beginning of the book, the author opens with his experience about how getting ‘strawberries’ become a problem to explain the life differences from his home back in California, and how he struggled to learn the seasonality of fruit and French culture later on.
Making cake has become a remembrance of Frank about his home when living in Paris, gradually it became his passion and a way of discovering different ingredients and their seasonality, all he started was baking an American buttercream Bundt cake which he learnt the recipe from his mother, then with his experiment to try out different recipes as well as the adjustment of the pastry style, his cake work starts to catch some attention, and getting popular at some cafes operated by local expats, as the demand of his cake grows, he even earned a titled 'Cake Boy', and gained some opportunities to host cake parties and even cake making classes in his own home! The cake made by Frank is inspired by American ingredients and American desserts with a touch of French flair, with his experimentation and exploration of different ingredients, he started to create his own recipes, and this book has gathered almost 60 of them (my favorite is the 'blood orange mini bundt cakes' and 'ivoire parisienne' based on the recipe and photos) which breaks down into four seasons, enables readers to experience his expertise about which works best for certain season and festivities. Besides, this book also offers some of the great tips about where to shop and visit in Paris (or even France) which recommended by Frank after he explored in Paris all these years.
One of the thing that I like about this book, besides the beautifully taken photo of the cake work and the sophistication of the context, it's the story of a passionate young stylish gentleman that moves me, he who created something delicious and beautiful in a foreign city, starting from zero and friendless, after a period of time with his dedication, constant pursue of beauty and effort, his work blossoms and takes him to a much better place, it's something that is heart-warming and touching, not simply the taste from the cake he made but it's the kind of humanity and love that one can feel it from the pictures and his own words; for some reason, it makes me think of the movie 'The Cakemaker" (2017) and instantly, I started to play the music "Instantané" (by French Composer Mr. Dominique Charpentier) from the soundtrack while appreciating this book to see if it evokes me the similar kind of love and passion from the young baker character in the movie as well.
If you are interested to discover more about Frank’s work, you can also check out his website called ‘Cake Boy Paris’, which featured not just his lovely cake work, but also something about his adventure, travel and art of living in Paris.
Although I will not make a cake for my fragrance’s Easter visual campaign for sure, but I did have a wish after reading this book, and that is, if I visit Paris again next time, I’d love to attend Frank’s cake making workshop one day, so that I can experience Paris from the eyes of this tasteful gentleman, with my own hands, his artistry and some delicious sweet treat.
“Sweet Paris’ is published by Harper Collins with photograph by Ms. Joann Pai.