A few months back, I reached out to Café Pouchkine to see if I could arrange a photo shoot of their boutique and, more awesomely, a special session with their chef pâtissier – his majesty Emmanuel Ryon. The Pouchkine team has long been keen on sharing my reviews of their work – both on their Facebook page and “the twitters” – so I was hopeful the fine folks there would be totally agreeable to setting up said sessions. They were quick to get back to me and say a boutique shoot would be a snap to arrange but . . . a session with Monsieur Ryon likely wouldn’t be possible. No, it wasn’t because I’d offended the master; it was simply that he was so busy managing the development of their newest pastries – and making sure all was in order in Moscow, Paris and with their latest New York efforts – that he wasn’t sure he would have enough time until later in the year. All that changed the week before last, when their awesome team got back to me and said Monsieur Ryon had an unexpected opening and would have enough time not only to prepare a few pastries for me but to sit down and talk. I wound up getting part of the afternoon with The Great One this past Thursday, which is why I was so rushed in putting together the Friday entry. I’m sure you’re wondering . . . was he as cool as I imagined? No. He was at least 11 times cooler, and you’re going to love the photos . . . when I finally decide to share them with you
For now, you’re going to have to content yourself with enjoying one of the tasty pastries from Café Pouchkine’s case. While Monsieur Ryon said he pretty much loves all his pastries equally, pressing him to name a few personal favorites got him to confess a soft spot for his Chouqette Botchka. And if he loves it, then maybe you will, too. So shall we dig in?
Unlike your average vanilla crème-engorged chou puff, this little one has a shiny sugar coat with a studly studding of sugar nibs – all dusted in yet more sugar! Yet this hat trick of sweetness is actually much more subtly sucrée than you’d imagine. And it serves as a perfect complement to one of the finer pâte a chou preparations I’ve come across in quite some time. I’m not sure if I got lucky and had one that got a little extra special cook time, or if it’s the standard preparation, but there was this awesomely warm and complex character than shone through. Yum. Then at the heart of our friend here was a decidedly light vanilla crème. I was expecting something much more dense, but was pleasantly surprised at how delicate it was. And while the density of the crème was restrained, the full force of the vanilla Gods was in effect. It took me but one bite to go, “Madagascar!” I quickly whipped out the Café Pouchkine menu I always keep on-hand to confirm my suspicions, and immediately saw that indeed it was a work of pure Bourbon (Madagascar) vanilla – an unmistakable taste sensation.
Looking at the shot below, you can just about taste it, can’t you?! Don’t lick the screen.
So, yes, particularly if you’re a Madagascan vanilla lover, this makes an excellent purchase. I’ll personally be buying it again, if only to taste the chou. I might also pick up some other goodies like their Pavlova Cassis, macaron coeur lait d’amande, and vanilla croissant – the three treats that happen to be my current favorites. Then I’ll find myself halfway back to my apartment wondering why I didn’t buy another dozen of their fine pastries. Why must Café Pouchkine have so many amazing pieces? The temptation of it all!