Food & Beverage
May 1, 2015
How delicious can it be?
Paris, Saint-German-des-Prés. The couture shops are a sight for sore eyes, and the centennial churches make the perfect contrast for an afternoon walk. But the not-so-hidden treasure lies in the Patisseries. The displays present collections of beautifully designed pastries, macarons, bonbons, chocolates, and so many other sweet tasting delicacies.
They are presenting La Haute Pâtisserie, the French High Pastry. Many chefs mention that pastry appeals to the childhood. It is accessible to all, easy to achieve, and everyone is a bit of a gourmand. But what makes haute pâtisserie? What are the characteristics that differentiate it from the regular pâtisserie?
Pierre Hermé is said to be the inventor of haute patisserie, after he elevated the confection of pastry to a certain level. He came up with the term, to do justice to the dedication behind the specialized patisserie. Design, pre-conception, thought and reinterpretation are some of the so many aspects that make this the new emerging trend.
Hermé was one of the first to open an establishment at Saint-Germain-des-Prés, rue Bonaparte. Followed by other renowned pastry chefs like Chef Philippe Conticini and his associate Thierry Teyssier, who opened their Pâtisserie at rue du Bac in 2009.
When looking at a patisserie display, we know that that frosty, chocolate filled, crusty cake is a little piece of pleasure. It could be from Paradise, but most likely was created by the pastry-chef behind the immaculate walls and counters of the shop. But here, one sees the final product, and one is more than willing to pay the literal price to experience this marvel. Because that's what's being offered, more than just a taste, an experience.
The wonderful displays, combined with an exquisite packaging, and careful garçons make each one of these establishments a delight for the senses. The smells, the colors, textures, all of these things take us on a journey through the magic world of gourmandize. Today, we taste not only with our mouths, but with all the senses.
After entering the doors, begins the selection of each piece individually. Observing the packaging, and the package for that matter, will furthermore extend you expectations, and the garçon's uniform gives it a classy touch. After the purchase, comes the savoring. Unwrap the box, open the lid, and just look at those little perfect pieces of heaven, with their sugar and their almond filling, it's almost a shame to dismantle such a pretty ensemble, except it's not a shame at all. It is meant to be tasted. Now, the tart du citron is to be appreciated. Does it taste like lemon? The acidity is good, is it more sweet than bitter? The pastry base, is it crunchy or smooth, velvety? In the end it will at last fill us with happiness.
The thing about Haute Pâtisserie, is not only the chef, the quality of ingredients, or the recipe, it's everything, from the moment of conception, to the moment of appreciation. Most of these high pastry items are reinterpretations of classic recipes, like the éclair, or the macaron, with new sensations and combinations, even though there is always room for innovation and signature pieces.
Here, we seek to find the ultimate gourmet experience, by absorbing every detail from the moment we choose the patisserie, and admiring the whole process. All of this appeals to the child in us, and brings us a whole new universe of sensations, ready to be discovered. It's hard not to respond to the child in us, but more than that, it's hard to resist the feeling of finesse when we enter these perfect little worlds.