Café Pouchkine :: Pavlova Cassis
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The work of Café Pouchkine’s chef pâtissier, Emmanuel Ryon, is too good. Looking into the Pouchkine pastry case is to realize most other shops are not trying ½ as hard as they could be to render beauty in cake and crème. Tasting the pieces is to understand too many other chefs lack true talent. Is that hyperbole? No. There’s a reason I’ve posted little since last May. The combined excellence of Jacques Genin and Emmanuel Ryon just left me disenchanted with much of what was happening in the rest of the Parisian pastry scene. There’s stellar work in other shops, for sure, but there wasn’t enough to sustain my enthusiasm.
Much of my computer’s hard drive is made up of Jacques Genin and Café Pouchkine pastries I plan to trot out for you, one day. There’s a certain compulsion to show you nothing but them, but magical works from Des Gateaux et du Pain, Un Dimanche à Paris, La Patisserie des Reves, and Pierre Hermé deserve to be peppered-in as well. Today had to be a Pouchkine day though, because it’s not just about sharing the pastry as much as it is a teaser for what I’m putting up next Wednesday, when we go inside the kitchen with World Champion, French Champion, and Meilleur Ouvrier de France – the legend himself, Emmanuel Ryon.
Before you even bite in – just staring at the pastry – your senses delight in waves and wafts of unadulterated excellence. You get your money’s worth just from the aesthetics alone; the fact that you can also eat it borders on being too good to be true. So you carefully pluck away one of the meringue lobes and breathe in its deliciously pronounced berry tones, just before jamming a knife down through the crème, gateau and layer of cassis, which you then slather about the meringue. Ready for the first bite? It is transcendent. The meringue cracks, as the intensely thick Tahitian vanilla crème insinuates itself across your palate. You sense a soft cakeyness, a fraction of a second before a sensorial crush of berry and cassis sweeps through your mind and soul. You are psychically one with the Divinity that is Emmanuel Ryon’s Pavlova. So much flavor. So much texture. It is the definition of magnificence.
The first few times I had the piece, I ate the meringue by iself and then dug into the crème, cake and cassis. But that was poor form on my part. It was in meeting Emmanuel Ryon that I learned the proper technique, described above. And it’s next week that I’ll be sharing photos from that pastry session with you, my friends. Excited?! You’d better be.
This is literally so tasty that it’s illegal in some countries . . .
So, yes, run to Café Pouchkine and grab at least two of these. If not – and you only purchase one – I can guarantee you’re going to be walking back to Pouchkine within minutes of licking the crème from your doigts. Make sure to also pick up a dozen macarons, a vanilla croissant, and a bunch of other pastries while you’re there, too. There’s no sense in not enjoying at least half of the entire Café Pouchkine pastry case.