Embroiled as I am in international bank intrigue (it’s not nearly as exciting as it sounds), attempts at American-style baking, and household chores, I’m going to keep this short and sweet, and let the pictures do most of the talking. (A picture is worth a thousand words, is it not?)
On my aforementioned pâtisserie-scouting mission, I was checking out Arnaud Lahrer’s shop. I was thwarted last week when I tried to go, as the shop was closed for the week. This time, however, it was open, complete with the requisite Japanese tourists. When you walk in, there is a display of the quality ingredients he uses, including Valrhona chocolate, whole cacao beans, hazelnuts, and so on. The pastries in Lahrer’s case are absolutely beautiful. Behold:
I like how he has eschewed the common problem of glazing the éclairs by simply topping his with elegant strips of chocolate.
I love the squiggle of tempered chocolate on that cake in the back.
I resisted the temptation of the house-made glaces, and chose two individual desserts. The Toulouse-Lautrec,
a soft chocolate cake topped with chocolate crème brûlée, surrounded by chocolate mousse, and glazed in more chocolate. (It looks like Brillance Noire, but tastes more like actual chocolate.) This was pure chocolate goodness. The cake was dense and fudgy, almost like a brownie. The crème brûlée center was creamy and rich, and the chocolate mousse was a near-perfect consistency.
And the Chambord.
I have no idea why it’s called that, as there wasn’t a hint of raspberry in the dessert. Instead, it was a tasty pear-and-caramel dessert. The bottom was a crispy, crumbly almond cookie. It was topped with a mild bavarian into which roasted pears were nestled. Next came a layer of génoise cake and then caramel mousse. The top was glazed with a shimmery gold gelatin. The contrasts in texture in this dessert were well done, and enhanced an otherwise sub-expectation level of flavor complexity.
I’m going to have to go back for some of that ice cream when the weather gets warmer.