The other day, I wrote about how frustrating it can be when shops change their pastries out — either too often or not often enough. When it’s done too frequently, you show up one day to buy a favorite, only to discover it won’t be back for another 11 months, if ever. When it’s done too rarely, seeing the same lineup can quickly grow ennuyeuse. After all, most shops have but a few great pieces, and there are only so many times you can eat the same macarons or tartes before you stop visiting the pâtisserie entirely. Now, when it comes to Jacques Genin, it is true that the range of pastries changes very little from season to season, but he produces so much brilliance that he can sell the same ones over-and-over again without them ever getting boring. Ultra-perfection just doesn’t get tired . . . by definition.
Monsieur Genin’s work is so incredible that I’m seriously considering taking up residence in his café either every Saturday or Sunday. Maybe both. I could arrive around noon, claim my table and slowly binge my way through 6,000 calories, before scooting back out into the city around 4pm. It’s hard to imagine a more perfect way to spend an afternoon. And while the tarte citron and éclair au chocolat are sure to figure heavily into every one of those sessions, I’d be remiss not to occasionally include the subject of today’s review, the Saint-Honoré.
This little guy is a delicious and beautiful Frankenstein’ed mélange of the Master’s other classics: feuilletage from his millefeuille,crème patissiere from that same millefeuille, éclair au chocolat in mini-choux form, and chou vanille in miniature. Add in the herringbone of Chantilly, and there we have our Saint-Honoré. I once said it’s like getting two pastries in one, but as I read the breakdown I just gave, I realize it’s more like 3-in-1. The big upgrade is that volume and easy lightness of the Chantilly that does wonders for making that ultra-fragile/fresh feuilletage of this shine with a brilliance it never fully achieves in his millefeuille vanille. That same Chantilly, combined with the effect of the chocolate, also takes the edge off the full force of Madagascan vanilla that runs through much of the piece. So the net experience is simply . . . splendiferous.
Just soak in the above! I wish all cement were made of caramelized sugar, as you see there between the pâte and the feuilletage. In fact, I have to go in to my dentist next week and have a crown put on one of my molars; I’m going to request that he uses caramelized sugar to secure it in place. Oh, wait, that might not be wise . . . for a whole host of reasons. But I should clarify that I’m having the procedure done because the tooth is cracked for reasons UNRELATED to my Parisian pastry and candy adventures. I’d feel evil if I were pulling a Paula Deen on your guys, but rest assured I’m not.
Just look at how perfect that piping is…
The below is exactly the same as his éclair au chocolat. And the best part is that you get two chocolate puffs on this little guy. The vanilla one is great, but the chocolate . . . it’s a religious experience.
So, yes, grab one of Monsieur Genin’s Saint-Honorés. But first snag a lemon tarte, chocolate éclair, caramel éclair, slice of flan, a huge box of chocolates, a gigantic bag of caramels, tons of pâte de fruits and anything/everything else you can get your hands on. Then bring it all to me. I’ll eat the bulk of it, just to make sure it will live up to your standards, and then you can finish what’s left. It’s the least I can do to ensure you have the ultimate Parisian pastry experience.