If I could criticize Café Pouchkine for one thing, it would be that they make it way too easy to feel disappointed in the other shops. There’s no way to visually take in something like the Tutti Frutti here and not feel like everyone else is cutting corners. Scratch that. It’s in seeing this that you know the others are taking shortcuts. Emmanuel Ryon and his team simply push the aesthetic boundaries of pastries with such relentless aplomb that, if he didn’t already hold the triad of World Champion, MOF and French Champion titles, he should be given honorary versions of each.
I’m so dazzled by Café Pouchkine and the amazing chef Ryon that I’ve been trying to coordinate an in-kitchen session with the master, to add to my past séances photo with Jacques Genin, Hugues Pouget, Philippe Rigollot and other gods/goddesses of pastry. Sadly, he’s working at the newly-opened Brasserie Pouchkine in New York and likely won’t be back in Paris until the fall. I’m hoping our schedules might align come October so that I can unload a 32GB camera card catching him in action . . . and force him to do a pistachio crème blood transfusion on me. Until then, I’m going to merely eat his finest wares from the Paris boutique, including the subject of today’s review – the Tutti Frutti.
Even though there are technically hundreds of “commonly” used fruits in the world, this little guy’s studding of kiwi, mango, strawberry, pear, melon, blueberry, blackberry, and dragon fruit goes pretty far in living up to its name (Tutti Frutti = Italian for ‘all fruits’). The variety is fantastic, and their exquisite ripeness is the veritable cherry on top . . . despite the ironic absence of an actual cherry.
The gelée mound beneath the fruit seems to be a hybrid of pear and orange, though to be honest, the cornucopia of fruit flavors riding atop it makes it a bit challenging to tease out the exact notes. One thing is clear – that gelée is blissfully tender and contains within it a succulently sweet strawberry coulis. Even with a mouthful of all the bits and pieces, strawberry is the deliciously overriding note. Last but not least is the obscenely tasty almond Genoise that forms the base of this fruit fantasia. Very pound-cakey and rich – but not too much so – it makes for a splendid contrast to the gooier elements resting above. The net effect of it all? Unadulterated yum.
I’m sure you’re wondering, “Hey, how do they make all those pieces of fruit stay in place? Shouldn’t they just roll right off?” Good question. But there’s a simple answer. Before any fruit piece is applied, the chef dips just a square millimeter of it in the strawberry coulis, then leans in and whispers, “You can have the rest, if you chew through the gelée.” Placing it against the gelée, the fruit instantly grabs on in hopes of making it through for another taste of the coulis heart of the pastry. But, minus teeth, it never makes any progress, though stays perfectly affixed through force of will. It’s a genius technique only Monsieur Ryon could have dreamt up. Either that, or there’s a denser/purer layer of gelatin over the main dome that actually cements the fruit in place, but I mean, really, how could that possibly work?
And wait until you see the Pouchkine pastry I whip out for you next Friday! Beautiful as the Tutti Frutti here is, the Feijoa might be the loveliest of all Pouchkine’s work.
So, yes, absolutely get yourself a Tutti Frutti. Not only is it amazing, but it’s one of the few pastries in Paris to use 100% pure chunks of real dragon in the dragon fruit. Andalusian – it’s the best. Also make sure to pick up any/all of the following: almond croissant, macaron fraise coeur-pistache, macaron pur morse, Napoléon, Or Noir, Moskito. Then feast!
SUPER SPECIAL: Monday is my ‘Farewell to America’/’Bonjour, Paris!’ entry, as I’m headed back to The City of
Light Pastries on Tuesday. So ready yourself for a 20 photo extravaganza of some of my favorite Parisian shots. I cannot wait to be back in the country where I should have been born.