Friday, 14 August 2015

The Chocolate Eclair

It turns out that the chapter I'm at in the book I'm reading is titled "L'eclair au Chocolat" and I am not sure if it was entirely coincidental that I walked into a deli and coffee shop who are proud to promote themselves as being elected "the best chocolate eclair in Paris 2015."

In his book, titled "Eloge Politique du Chocolat" (Political Praise of Chocolate) Serge Guerin says that the chocolate eclair is the nomads best friend, it comforts he who eats on the go and after a quick insignificant sandwich it re-donne de la vie "re-gives life."  

I must admit, when I was a child, the pastry that I craved the most on trips to Paris was the eclair, and it stays true as being one of those classic French patisseries that you can't find so easily abroad.  It is in fact, France's most popular patisserie. Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that it is not too messy to eat but hits the chocolate spot, is not too rich but rich enough...

Continuing on the chocolate eclair chapter, Guerin says that there is "the chocolate eclair and the chocolate eclair," meaning that you can either get a good one, or a bad one.  Unfortunately, a couple of weeks ago, I had a bad eclair and I actually had to throw it away.  I can't stand throwing food away, especially pastry that is (supposedly) hand made, however this was, as the French would say sans interet - with no interest.  The pastry cream was hard and the taste of coffee was insignificant.  The only true taste was the sugar from the fondant, which created a sticky sweet layer which stuck to the roof of my mouth and left me reaching for the bottle of water in my bag. 



The chocolate eclair must be creamy yet chocolatey, the choux pastry must be well cooked and the icing must be perfectly executed.  Serge Guerin writes about how real patisserie is incarnated in the artisan, in authenticity, in passion and in love.  French pastry is known for being one of the best and French techniques are used worldwide.  Those who devote themselves to pastry and chocolate do it only because they are passionate about creating great tasting desserts.  Life is about existing for others and not just for yourself.  Le patissier, the pastry chef considers his customers real human beings who deserve the very best, who understand what tastes great and should be taken care of.  Patisserie and chocolate is not like other food- it is entirely for pleasure.  We eat to survive, but we do not eat pastries as actual food but as a sinful delicacy- and that is why the importance of the sensation you get from indulging must be at the very top.

When a chocolate eclair is delicious, there is a little oasis of serenity dans ce monde de bruits fureurs in this world of brutal fury (a very common French saying!) 



Luckily, today I discovered the best chocolate eclair in Paris at Maison Pradier.  The choux pastry was cooked to perfection and not being a pastry cream (creme patissiere) but cremeux chocolat (a chocolate cream with 70% cocoa solids) it was moussey and light.  It made sense. 



The sensation that you get from eating a patisserie that is truly good is the feeling of your taste buds coming alive, your hairs on end and a smile on your face.  That sensation is what what we're searching for.

Maison Pradier
6 rue de Bourgogne
75007 Paris


Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Olia Hercules at Carousel, London

Last year, my parents phoned me telling me that neighbours of ours were opening up a supper club. My dad (being the crazy old neighbour he is) even knocked on neighbour Ollie's door to put him on the phone to me so I could talk to him about their supper club.  Our neighbour told me that they were always keen to grow their foodie network and I should pop in (get the pun) to a pop up when I was back popping. 

I typed "carousel" into Google and have been following their updates on social media for a little while, so I decided to finally pop along. The event I booked was hosted by Olia Hercules, a Ukrainian born chef and food writer. 

Funnily enough, on my way to London from Paris, I opened up the Eurostar magazine to the foodie page and found an interview with Olia Hercules in "My life in Food."  Sometimes coincidences are just too weird. 

 On attending Carousel, we were welcomed very openly by the staff and invited to get a drink and sit in the beer garden which was filled with a group of fellow food explorers. 

Olia gave a welcoming speech just before the dinner started about the menu, which was called "The Wild East," she had created and the inspirations she had from her Ukranian heritage. 


The dinner started with a shot of vodka, designed to accompany the plate of toasted rye bread served with Ukranian Salo, and fermented tomato. The idea was to take a bite of the rye bread with Salo, a sip of vodka followed by the fermented tomato. It was an explosion of flavours, a great way to start the dinner. 


The course that followed was Ukranian Green Borsch, Pulled duck with sorrel, spring onions, quail's egg and dill, served with homemade crusty sourdough bread. 





We then had Steamed pork belly manty. Absolutely delicious.


The main course was Georgian Poussin Tabaka with an assortment of different fresh salads: vegetable caviar, picked carrots, Ukranian grilled aubergines, onion, herb and pomegranate salad and tamarind, beetroot, walnut and prune salad. 



The last but obviously not least (and if anyone knows me I eat dinner just to have dessert) was "Verguny and two sauces." The pastry was served with chocolate and caramel sauce. 


A huge thanks to Olia Hercules and the Carousel team for such a brilliant supper club! 




Friday, 24 July 2015

Poem: One Art


One Art by Abigail Scheuer

 



The art of dining is not hard to master,
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be dined that their sugar may not be caster.

Eat something every day.  Accept the fluster 
of eaten cornflakes, that hour badly spent.
The art of dining is not hard to master.

Then practice eating farther, eating faster:
creams, and chocolate, and what it was you meant
 to taste.  None of this will bring disaster. 

I ate my mothers cake! And look, my last, or
next-to-last of three loved truffles went.
The art of dining is not hard to master.

I ate two cookies, delicious ones.  And vaster,
some brownies I devoured, some tarts, a whole pie.
I ate them, but it wasn't a disaster.

Even eating everything (the crumbly pastry, a taste I love
I shan't have lied.  It's evident 
the art of dining is not too hard to master,
though it may look like (Write it!) like caster.

     


One Art

BY ELIZABETH BISHOP
The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster


Saturday, 18 July 2015

Choux da-ba-da-ba Choux da, Choux ooh ooh





I have this obsession (amongst many obsessions) but this one bugs others more than it bugs me. 

Basically, I find people eating the most beautiful thing in the world. Honestly, I do. So whenever I make anything or walk anywhere with friends and we eat I ask them if it's okay if I take a picture of them eating. 

It usually is fine. 






This one is of my hungry father, after his morning shot of whiskey his hunger was starting to bug him. 

So I gave him one of the chocolate cream filled choux buns I had made. He said that sorted him out for a long time. Who knew a strong coffee, whiskey and a not too sugary but intensely chocolatey pastry can do wonders for breakfast. (If you are retired.) 

More pictures of people eating up soon. 


Sunday, 16 November 2014

New Blog

Hey lovely blog readers!

My blog has MOVED.  

You will now find me at

www.abigailsdinnerparty.com 

Love,

Abi 
x




Monday, 10 November 2014

Salon du Chocolat Inter- Blogger Demo















The opening night of the Salon du Chocolat, I said to my cousin:  “if we went back to our childhood and looked at ourselves tonight we would think, ‘hey, these girls know what’s going on’.”  

As soon as I received the invitations in the post for the Chocolate Show, I realized that not only did I want to go, but I was required to. 

To celebrate it’s 20th birthday celebration, the Salon du Chocolat Paris organised it’s first e-cup inter- blogger competition.  Since my Lime and Coconut Floating Island on Blond Chocolate Cream with a Ginger Crumble got more than 130 “likes” on facebook, I was invited along with a few other candidates to participate in this demonstration.

I went along feeling (pretending to feel) extremely calm and collected.  But it was the first time I have ever made desserts in front of a watching audience. 

Funnily enough, last year I had all these ideas that I wanted to do “theatrical patisserie” (I would be absolutely thrilled if you would let me know what you think of this idea) where I make French patisserie whilst reciting classical theatre pieces in different languages.  A bit of Shakespeare, Dante, and Moliere never hurt anyone… 

Ok now I just sound like a prat. 

 
But lets just say this demonstration proved to me that I needed a few more years of practice. 

Unfortunately, I won’t be juggling with sugar and chocolate anytime soon.

The demo all in all did go reasonably well.  Certain things I would have changed, but now I know what I would have done differently. 

Little note to others doing any kind of presentations: know what you’re doing inside out.  Know what you’re doing so well that it rings in your mind and bores you to the end.  Because there is nothing worse than something going even mildly wrong in front of other people. 

Luckily enough, nothing really went “wrong”.  I just didn’t WIN.  And that’s what was “wrong” about it.  My dessert wasn’t punchy enough. It needed rhythm.    It lacked swagger. But now I know these things and I’m understanding the kind of patisserie I want to invent.