“I think I love you. So what am I so afraid of? I’m afraid that I’m not sure of a love there is no cure for… I think I love you.” For those of you with a sophisticated literary and musical background, you’ll recognize that as David Cassidy’s indomitable 1970 hit, “I Think I Love You”. But why am I getting all artsy on you, today, my dear readers? Because it’s the perfect tune to match the adorably named J’Adore la Fraise (I love strawberry!) from Des Gâteaux et du Pain.
Even though a couple folks on the staff last year at DGedP rubbed me the wrong way, my 2011 experiences have been nothing but polite – even warm. And the pastries? Gems – every one of them. Claire Damon is a wizard. And my adventures into their bread and viennoiserie selection haven’t hurt either. With the finest croissant I’ve yet had in Paris, it would be hard to resists coming back time-and-again for that alone. So, yes, David Cassidy, perhaps there will be no cure for this love. I’m getting hooked, and the object of today’s affection is of course this pink sensation . . .
Strawberry crème, strawberry compote, strawberry mouse, strawberry juice imbibed almond cake, and even actual strawberries unite into a singular force of brilliance here. And the outer layer of white chocolate? We’ll return to that in the next paragraph, because there’s a twist! So let’s dig through the layers nestled within. Strawberries: Yum – the height of ripeness. Strawberry crème: Calm, subdued, smooth and lightly perfumed. Strawberry compote: All the deliciousness of the strawberries atop the piece, now concentrated and with no sugar added [cause they are already perfect]. Strawberry juice imbibied almond cake: Buttery, delicate, substantial yet not dense, expresssive of warm & nutty tones. Overall: An extremely tasty romp through the strawberry patch, with a skip through the almond grove. But now the twist…
The first time I purchased this little lovely, it was wrapped in white chocolate (as you see in the top photo), but when I repurchased it to confirm my tasting notes, it was wrapped in a little blanket of the aforementioned almond cake. Did this make a substantial difference? Yes! First of all – because I don’t like chocolate on the sides of my pastries; it’s awkward to eat. Every chef in the world should stop doing it, cause it’s ******* stupid, and I can guarantee no one likes you when you do it. But, more importantly, the new shawl of gateaux took a very good pastry all the way up to the “A-game” level. The essential flavors did not change, but the proportions of the strawberry and almond shifted notably, along with the textural proportions. Taken “out of the closet”, no longer hidden just at the base of the piece, that almond gateaux is clearly a work of Divinity.
This is also the second piece from Claire Damon, after her literally perfect Pomme Tatin, for which I will bestow her with a Paris Patisseries Textural Excellence Award, for having displayed uncommon brilliance and mastery in textural endeavours. I literally can’t get the experience of the J’Adore la Fraise out of my mind.
So, yes, run over to Des Gateaux et du Pain now and purchase a J’Adore la Fraise. Actually, buy two of them. You get to keep one, and then the other you’ll need to bring over to my apartment, where we’ll share it. And by “share”, I mean I’ll eat, while you watch, before I ask you to run back to the store and fetch me a few more.