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Tastemaker: Meg Ray of Miette Patisserie

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Meg Ray at Miette

I have been a huge fan of Miette and since it opened in San Francisco over ten years ago and now there are four locations in the Bay Area including Hayes Valley, San Francisco Ferry Building, Marin County Mart and Jack London Square in Oakland. I love the way founder Meg Ray gets the balance of taste and style just right. Miette means little crumb in French and her mini interpretations of iconic french pastries and midcentury American dessert classics are made from the best local ingredients and reimagined in fabulous color combinations. We caught up with Meg to pick her brain about her inspirations and what she’s craving on Valentine’s Day.

Caramel Bonbons at Miette

What is your earliest pastry memory and what is the first sweet you fell in love with?

My first love was with the eclair, and the romance is still going strong. For Christmas dinner, my family had a cream puff tree, an Americanized version of Croquembouche. Our version was cream puffs filled with whipped cream and held together with ganache. From there I discovered the eclair and it has been my favorite ever since. When I lived in Paris, I’d venture into new parts of the city while sampling the neighborhood’s eclairs.(Miette‘s are the best!)

What inspired you to start Miette?

I was inspired by iconic images of cakes, like those seen in children’s books or vintage cook books. I wanted to make small, everyday versions of the cakes using simple, organic ingredients. I just love cakes and pastry, and I feel incredibly lucky to be able to do what I love. Cake has always made me happy — I think it’s that simple.

Valentine's candy at Miette in the Marin Country Mart

Rose geranium meringues

What’s the ingredient or tool you can’t live without?

An offset spatula. Indispensable.

Easiest show stopping dessert?

Lemon pudding cake paired with whipped cream and fresh fruit in season and a dollop of jam in the winter. Pudding cake is like a magic trick!

What do you cook when you want to make a special meal at home?

Daube (pot roast). I love braising and the flavors that only be achieved through time. My favorite meals are those that take all day to prepare. I like to put a daube in the oven first thing in the morning and then do other things around the house while warmth and aroma of the slow cooking of the roast keeps me company. My favorite way to serve dinner is with everything on a huge white platter in the center of the table: braised beef, boiled potatoes, baked carrots in a swirl of steam and gravy on the side.

What is the one cake or pastry everyone should perfect/have their arsenal?

A simple layer cake with frosting because nothing is more wonderful than a homemade birthday cake and the possibilities are endless.

What color combos are you obsessed with right now?

Chartreusey-green & sky blue. Or cream & black.

What pastry can you not stop yourself from eating – no matter what?

Grapefruit macarons.

What candy can you not get enough of right now?

Mi-cho-ko Noir! The most addictive little caramels from France with a dark chocolate coating.

What are your go-to sources for vintage tabletop, cake plates and kitchen accessories? What are you coveting right now?

I love the restaurant supply store, the Alameda flea market for vintage kitchenalia and my latest favorite: Rakuten Global Market. They have an endless and inspiring selection of brooms, enameled metal, and Japanese kitchen equipment.

Cookies at Miette including lemon, walnut and lavender shortbread and chocolate sables

Jessica Romm is the Lifestyle Editor at Martha Stewart Living. She loves discovering new shops and reading vintage cookbooks. Follow her on Instagram @jcromm.

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