For the first two or three months of this visit, I basically refused to take the metro. Even when I’d go to shops far from my apartment – Café Pouchkine, Jacques Genin, and Des Gâteaux et du Pain – I would just walk. It seemed the sensible thing to do, given that the guy who eats 5,000 calories a day could probably use the exercise. But, now, fattened and lazy, I look for any excuse not to hoof it. “Oh, I don’t think the pastries are going to do well getting bumped around while I walk. I should probably take the metro,” I say to myself. This is particularly questionable reasoning where Des Gâteaux is concerned, as the jaunt, while a bit far, is basically a straight and very flat line down the ample sidewalks of Rue de Vaugirard. Oh, well.
With my new metro habit has also come a decision to curtail my pastry intake. I’ve abandoned my policy of a daily “eat until it hurts” gorge and opted for a “sate your every desire – just not until the point of pain” approach. I figure, in doing so, I’ve shaved off at least 500 calories of intake. Visiting Des Gateaux makes that tricky to maintain, since it is home to the Pomme Tatin and J’Adore La Fraise. I guess it’s a good thing those are currently “in retirement” – helping make buying a box-of-8 a little less tempting. Another gem that’s out of rotation is this Saint-Honoré Cassis . . .
Much like the Pistache-Griotte version I reviewed last year, with its silky pistachio crème, there’s much to love here about the lightly violet-perfumed tendrils of Chantilly draping the piece. But the real stars of the show are the tender orbs of choux, jammed with more cassis goodness than you can imagine. Acidic and pungent . . . it’s everything cassis is meant to be. Best of all, combined with the crème Chantilly, delicate puffs, and crispy/buttery sablé base, Claire Damon leverages that cassis interior to full effect in yet another work of textural excellence. The whole symphony of flavors and sensations just romps around your mouth, feeling ever so “exciting and inviting”, if I may steal a line from John Lennon.
I really do need to keep eating more from Des Gateaux, but my problem is that I usually go there too early, and it throws off my rhythm. Were I to buy all my “eating supplies” for the day at 8am, what am I to do with the rest of my waking hours . . . lock myself in my apartment and binge on breads, viennoiseries, and pastries? I mean, sure, that sounds awesome – and it might be how you envision my life – but I also like to mix in ambling around town, seeing friends, and breathing in more than the dank, sugar and crème-tinged air of my apartment. Maybe I’ll find some gross rainy day where I can just dispense with reason and get out of control with some Des Gateaux purchases. We’ll see.
So, yes, the Saint-Honoré Cassis is a fine one to snag. It’s also one of the trademark pieces of Madame Damon – among the not-to-be-missed. And with fall right around the corner, I’m sure the Saint-Honoré is about to take another turn of flavors. Pumpkin with a spice Chantilly would be extremely awesome to see. Just sayin’.