Monday, 17 February 2014

Having A Sweet Tooth


Saint Honore Cake

Yes, I have a sweet tooth.To be fair, British desserts can be pretty nice. But here is the real test to check if you are really British: when it is cold and damp, and you want to have a heart-warming dessert, what will you have?

Come on. Don't cheat. Think about it and then read the answer:

 You can have scones, apple pie, eccles cakes or even plum pudding (or whatever you like, really), but you need to have it with ice cream. The love affair of the British with ice cream knows no limits. Even when everybody is shivering outside, the British eat ice cream. It is an essential part of the British diet, and there is simply no avoiding it. If you are serious about becoming British, you will have to learn to love ice cream even when it is freezing.

However hard I try, I am not there yet. I am not a huge fan of ice cream, especially during the cold and damp British winters. Furthermore, I think that it kills the taste of a dessert. You see, I miss the taste of the French specialties of my childhood. I miss the fresh madeleines, the Tarte Tatin, the Paris Brest, the fresh croissants, the Saint Honore cake, the eclairs...


Lovely Cakes

My silent prayers have been answered: there is a new French patisserie in London. It is called La Patisserie des Reves. Somehow they found me and they sent me an email to tell me that they had just opened a shop in London. I couldn't resist it. I had to go. I wasn't disappointed. 

First of all, this is not your average French patisserie. This is art. The cakes are so well-presented that I initially thought it would be a shame to eat them. They are carefully kept in a glass bell and look, well, perfect. I have tried to bake Tarte Tatin and brioche, but I have never ever managed to get such beautiful cakes. I was explained that the chef had to try 96 recipes for one of the cakes. Yes, 96. No wonder I am not there yet.

I ordered some fresh cakes. Actually, I ordered lots of fresh cakes. That's how it works: your cakes are always fresh. You need to order them, and they make the final preparations in the shop (it just takes a few minutes). My cakes were neatly packaged in pink boxes.

The real surprise happened when I reached home. I sat down and tried the Saint Honore. And suddenly I wasn't in London any more. I was six or seven again, with my late grandmother, going back home after the Sunday mass (she was quite religious). We used to stop by the local patisserie in my small village to buy some cakes for lunch. It was heaven.

She had a sweet tooth too and we always shared something on our way back home. I wasn't supposed to tell anyone that we had eaten a cake beforehand. It was our little secret. I loved this ritual.

I was traveling back in time.  It was wonderful. 

Mind you, when the whole family came back home, they ate all the cakes and enjoyed it very much. Of course, my children took some ice cream with their Tarte Tatin. They are British now. Life is all about compromise, right?




NB: This is not a sponsored post.

26 comments:

  1. I'm glad to see it is not a sponsored post - being sponsored by a patisserie would be just too .......jammy! Patisserie is a wonderful craft and it is not for nothing that Paul Hollywood reminds viewers of the Great British Bake Off hat he is not a Chef, a Baker was ranked above a Chef! It is wonderful the food culture on the continent and an integral part of that appears to be the local bakery which fresh every morning produces an amazing array of breads, cakes and patisserie. I just love the difference when you travel from the Rye and Black breads of Germany & Poland, the Sacher Torte in Vienna, the Brik in the Maghreb, the lemon & fruit filled confections of Italy and indeed or own humble Irish Soda Bread. We will have to meet up in your patisserie to try my personal favourite une religieuse which is probably the nearest I get to religion. It is so sinful I only try it every two years - I have checked the calendar and the two years are up!

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    1. Well, name the day and you will not be disappointed...It was, well, delicious. And I wish I was sponsored by a patisserie. It would be heaven!

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  2. Art - yes! I think you nailed it. Beyond the deliciousness of a dessert itself is the amazing beauty some can perform! Of course looking too good to eat has never been a problem for me!

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    1. They really had it all: the taste, and the beauty. It was heaven.

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  3. Mmmmm, just reading this made me hungry. I do like ice cream, frozen yogurt actually, but only when the temperatures outdoors are warm spring or summer.

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    1. Same here. And I usually have ice cream on its own, not with something else. Maybe, after all, I am a purist.

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  4. I guess in UK where it isn't hot all that much (I am in North Texas where it isn't cold that much) eating ice cream would be a treat worth a queen's ransom if it were only available when it is hot. You are right about ice cream changing the flavor of the treat beneath or next to it. Can you ask for it in a separate plate and mix as you wish? Thanks, Muriel, for sending me scuttling to my kitchen (like a critter) and getting a sweet treat right this second.

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    1. You are welcome, Annie. What would we do without sweets? I really wonder...

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  5. Oh Muriel, you have made me hungry! There must be some British in my family because they want ice cream year round as well. I too have a MAJOR sweet tooth and that patisserie looks and sounds incredible. I'm so glad you are able to be transported to your happy memories from this. It's amazing how tastes and smells can do this.

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    1. It is amazing, isn't it? That said, I am not sure that it is doing any good to my waist...

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  6. I miss having wonderful bakeries. They seem to have disappeared in the states. Oh, they sell doughnuts (mass produced), prepackaged cakes, or grocery store cakes- but they don't cut it for me. (I may be an outstanding cook- yes, I am modest- but I don't do desserts, as a general rule.)
    When I had my kosher food provider company, we imported the world's greatest cakes from Paris; they had not a drop of dairy in them, so they could be used for all meals. And, my mouth is watering just recalling them...

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    1. Well, that's exactly how I feel in London. There are very few good patisseries...which is why I am so pleased...

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  7. Americans are huge on ice cream too! I myself have a salty tooth and like to gorge on french fries.

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    1. Consider yourself lucky: I couldn't survive without chocolate...

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  8. Ah ha...this is why you knew I fancied a little ice cream with my apple pie the other week...! The new patisserie sounds wonderful, I may have to pop round and pay them a visit. Sounds delicious!

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    1. It is really worth it, Flora! A (delicious) dream come true...

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  9. I have a sweet tooth as well and I jus can't help it. I live in a very warm city in Colombia so I have no problems when it comes to eat ice cream: anytime it's just perfect, day time, night time, january, december, whatever you want.

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    1. Are you sure that you are not British? Over here, they have ice cream all the time!

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  10. It's quite difficult finding decent patisserie in France now, so you're lucky to have a specialist so close to you. I'm not really a patisserie type, and looking at the sad things on offer locally isn't tempting.

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    1. Come to London (I think that they have a shop in Paris too). Really, it is worth getting fat for...

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  11. Those pastries / cakes look divine. I feel the same about the power of food. They really not only nourish our bodies but also our souls when they take us back to wonderful experiences from the past. Yumm indeed!

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    1. It was divine! The problem is that I want to go back now, but I am not sure that it would be reasonable...

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  12. I want to eat a Paris-Brest, a Religieuse and an Eclair au Chocolat right now... Thanks, I've put on 2 pounds just by reading your post now :-)

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    1. The Paris Brest was divine, with a little bit of melted praline inside. Divine...

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  13. A mouthwatering post but also permeated with emotion and memory. Lovely.
    As for ice cream I think it should be eaten on its own, not with cakes or puddings.
    And in the winter what's wrong with lovely hot custard?

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    1. I totally agree. We have what we call 'creme anglaise'. It is our version of custard. I am starting to feel hungry...

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