She’s speaking of Chef’s Table France personality Adeline Grattard’s Michelin-starred restaurant in the 1st arrondissement, which she walked into with the intention of asking for a job. Grattard’s concoctions often mingle contradictory flavors, like an airy Chinese bun filled with Stilton and Amarena cherry, and Moko felt that the two of them spoke the same language. “She plays around with herbs and spices in her desserts, and our sweet levels were in sync,” Moko says. Grattard created a position for her, and while it didn’t last long (Moko became pregnant), much of Moko’s baking philosophy stems from her time there.
“I do not like sweet pastry crust, or pâte sucrée,” which is almost always present in Parisian pastry-shop tarts,” says Moko. “I like desserts to accentuate the sweetness of natural fruits, so I try to accomplish that by using honey or light fruit jam.”
While the rotating confections on display at Mokonuts can’t rival traditional patisseries when it comes to quantity—this is not where you come to grab a dozen cookies for a picnic at Place des Vosges or a whole tarte to take to a soirée at a friend’s apartment—the individual slices of moist halvah cake with bits of cinnamon-coated pecans, or a fresh fig tarte oozing with sugary juices and topped with light-as-air mascarpone cream might make you think twice about popping yet another macaron.
Wooden crates filled with just-received fresh produce—yellow heirloom tomatoes, shiny violet eggplants, leafy “chou” kale—are stacked on top of each other like Jenga pieces, making the passageway between the dining room and kitchen (not to mention the closet-size bathroom) a tad tight. What Omar isn’t using generally remains there in boxes, acting as decor. Bottles of natural wine are lined up along a plant-scattered shelf against the white, exposed brick wall. Edison bulbs hang over the wooden tables for two.
By the time Omar gets in, Guillaume the fish guy—a built, black-bearded man who looks more like he belongs on the cover of GQ than in gaiters—has already let himself in to drop off today’s supply.