Last year, I was so late in “discovering” Des Gateaux et du Pain that I only got to enjoy a handful of their pastries. To most people that might mean 2 or 3, but of course to me that denotes like 10. However, what I wanted was to partake of everything in the pastry case, and with my triumphant return to Paris, I’m finally getting to pick up at DGedP where I left off.
So last weekend, I decided to do the long walk from my apartment on Rue Férou all the way to Des Gateaux on the Boulevard Pasteur. I figured it would be good exercise, since I intended to buy a “quanity” of their work. When I arrived, it was quite hopping for a Sunday morning. So I queued-up with the others, and waited to deliver my demande for a croissant (perhaps the finest I’ve yet had this year, btw), a kugelhopf, and a box of patisseries. The gentleman who waited on me was very polite, and with my order boxed-up, ushered me over to the register, where the chef patissiere, Clarie Damon, liberated me of my euros and gave me a genuine thank you for my oddly large purchase. Among the treats in the box was this Pomme Tatin au Sirop d’Érable.
When I took my first bite of the Pomme Tatin, the sun dimmed. It was that brilliant. And I’m not overstating how delicious it was, as I am wont to do. No, I mean the source of all life on Earth, the sun, halted at least 50% of its thermonuclear activity, merely to pay homage to the magnificence at hand in this Pomme Tatin; a vision-quest commenced (described below). When I finally do my Best Pastries list for 2011, this will unquestionably be a Top 10 entry. It is genius.
Nibble on the toasted pecans that top the piece and experience their earthy, smoky charms – accentuated just perfectly with a lightly pralinated sweetness. Indulge in the short dome of maple crème. It’s smooth, delicious and so exquisitely flavored that you’re transported to Vermont. You’re sitting outside a sugar shack. Snow has lightly dusted the ground. The sky is electric blue. You feel the nip of a cold breeze on your cheeks, just as you take a bite of the apples. They seem to melt in your mouth – sweetened only to the extent nature intended, yet bursting with three times the flavor envisioned by Gaia. You wonder how any pastry could be so phenomenal. You take another bite, and this time you’re privy to the crumb’uttery pâte sucrée aux éclats de noix and the caramel-imbibed biscuit cuillere. You’re not just hallucinating; this is a religious experience.
It then dawns on you that the textures of the Pomme Tatin combine in such a way that to describe them as an act of God would be an understatement. The pate sucree, the maple crème, the pecans, the apples, the biscuit, the caramel – so peerless is their combined effect that there truely is no word for it; I will simply leave a blank space here for the adjective: ___________. If you’re ever lucky enough to have a Pomme Tatin, the textural harmony will simply haunt you, as it does me.
This is the kind of pastry that makes me want to ask the chef, “When you were working on this recipe, did you actually know that it would turn out better than perfect?” The follow-up question would of course be, “What does God sound like when he’s Divinely inspiring you to create something like this?”
To better inform you about the wonders of the Pomme Tatin, I’ve actually create the first ever degustation video here on Paris Patisseries (below). Please, take a minute to savor the Pomme Tatin with me. Hopefully I can occasionally add other videos like this – for the most over-the-top amazing pastries . . .
So, yes, you have no option here. You must purchase a Pomme Tatin au Sirop d’Erable. Claire Damon has created the most beautiful work of textures I’ve ever experienced and a symphony of flavors that I plan to revisit with obsessive frequency in the months ahead. Brilliance!