Tuesday, 7 April 2009

All things sweet and wonderful

Fortunately, no restaurant service for us last week which meant a little bit more free time after school. This provided me with the perfect excuse to go and visit/re-visit some of Paris' finest patisseries. 

First up was Des Gâteaux & du Pain, a patisserie within walking distance from the Montparnasse Tower in the 15th. I had not heard particularly great things from my fellow students who had visited previously, there was also a student from ESCF who was on the anglo-pastry course last year who quit her stage at the same establishment within a month because she spent all her days peeling fruits and not much else. Despite all this, I quite liked the place - the head pastry chef here is ex-Pierre Hermé and I definitely felt her channelling the decor from his rue Bonaparte store for Des Gâteaux & du Pain, chic and dim....its OK but not really my cup of cha. My one other gripe is that I wish they had the pastry case in the main part of the shop rather than tucked away in the corner - at first, I thought that the pastry case was off limits to customers and only for staff! After much cogitation, I finally plumped for a raspberry and passion fruit eclair (complete with "modern" crumbly topping), a lemon and grapefruit chausson and a baguette. I agree with my fellow classmates that the service is a sniffy plus they didn't allow me to take any pictures either, a shame cos there was a very pretty Easter egg shaped like the inside of an avocado. Despite this, I managed to nab a pic of the pastry case - serves them right for tucking it away in a little corner where its difficult for staff to keep an eye on pesky bloggers! :) My eclair tasted good but the filling was a little on the tart side, the puff pastry for the chausson was delicious but again the filling was too tart plus there was no trace of grapefruit anywhere. Out of the trio of purchases, the baguette was probably the best.

I have been to Pierre Hermé's shops on numerous occasions but have never actually tasted one of his cakes (always macarons). I finally took the plunge last week and and was not disappointed - my original plan was to buy the "tarte Ispahan" but there were none so settled for the "St-Honoré Ispahan" instead. This was a small base of puff pastry with 3 small choux buns on top which were glazed and decorated with a big dollop of piped rose marscapone cream. In terms of level of satisfaction, this cake scores 90%+ and I now understand why there is all the fuss over PH, even my raspberry garnish was simply the sweetest raspberry I have tasted in a long while. Such close attention to detail surely deserves much credit! My only minor critcism is that I wish PH would use fresh lychee in his Ispahan cakes rather than the rather artificial tasting lychee puree cubes that I found in the middle of my cake. I suggest that PH head to China around June/July and arm himself with some "nor mai chee" lychees for his Ispahan, yummy ;)

Final stop of the week was a re-visit to Jean-Paul Hévin to pick up a tablette for JD and some florentines for moi. With Easter coming up at the end of the week, all the pastry and chocolate shops in Paris have been filling their shop displays with all things chocolatey and Eastery. My favourite Easter chocolate piece to date has be JPH's Easter Island mask (apologies for blurry pic), a bit on the pricey side for 78 yoyos but so simple, clever and humorous! 

No comments: