It really wasn’t that difficult for the Patissier Christophe Adam to arrive at a fitting name for his Parisian éclair shops. Translated into English, the name of the store, ‘L’Éclair de Génie’ means ‘a stroke of genius’ and after tasting two, he got it spot-on.
If you love éclairs as much as me, had a bash at making them at home, then you will appreciate the work that goes into making the perfect choux pastry. Here’s the blog I wrote on homemade éclairs and with the best will in the world, whilst they tasted great, after seeing the work of Christophe in November last year, I need a few lessons in ‘finish’.
I’ve never seen or tasted anything like the too-nice-to-eat-but-did-éclairs from Christophe Adam’s concept store in the Marais in Paris. There’s no seating in this brightly coloured shop, but the staff wearing black shirts and yellow aprons handle the out-the-door queue, and éclairs of every imaginable flavour packed up to prêt à manger.
His éclairs are works of art and although they’re priced a little on the steep side, each bite is worth every single Euro – if you can get seven bites out of it.
Forget macaroons if you live in the UK, most of the Paris greats have shops or concessions in most cities, and I promise you’ll be better off hunting down these beauties.
Adam’s taken the classic French cake and given it a twist – well something a little more than twist – Marie Antoinette would have loved his use of gold and mirrored finishes and a counter in the Palace of Versailles wouldn’t look out-of-place. Forget conventional cream or custard piped into a long pastry boat and smothered in chocolate or icing sugar his creations are small, light and taste like nothing on this earth. As you’ve gathered I’m a massive fan.
Expect gold leaf, lots of metallic finishes, cardinal reds and parrot greens, shiny chocolate tops, fresh fruit embellishments, each complete with a Christophe Adam chocolate disc, if you needed a reminder of the brains behind the brand.
Three sweet-toothed visitors chose three éclairs – mine was the big gold one – Chouchou Caramel (€7.00). This is one definitely not to eat in public because you cannot stop yourself from moaning with delight. I’m not sure whether it was the crunchy frosting, the rich caramel filling with a salty after-taste or the fact that as soon as you’ve finished the last bite you want another. So, from left to right the Pistache Orange (€5.00), (Iranian pistachios and orange are mixed to great effect, the pistachio almond paste is a winner) and the praline noisette (€5.50) which from what I can gather was filled with a hazelnut coffee cream and finished with a rich chocolate icing.
As I bit into my Chouchou creation I notice the crack of the pastry, then the chocolate and chocolate topping crack, the soft choux pastry and then the injection of flavoured cream, just about every sensation thrown into overdrive in a matter of seconds. I tried a bite of the green pistachio éclair but my so-called friend who apparently loves to share took his chocolate hazelnut creation, disappeared until finished, then returned to the group. His girlfriend won’t be upset if I likened him to a lion with giraffe leg, dragging his prize off into seclusion and scoffing it all without remorse.
I didn’t indulge in the truffles, chocolate slabs or caramel sauce on sale, making the fact I had little space in my bag an excuse.
Truth be told, I knew if I bought any items on sale, I would be addicted and I don’t think I’d be able to afford the postage or the Eurostar fare.
One bite of a gold encrusted creation and I was hooked, did I want to share? No reader I did not, but I did. I even got a swipe of gold lipstick for a short while – until I licked my lips, of course.
This is one man I’d hop on the Eurostar to spend a day with, learning how he makes these beauties, even knowing I’d return 12 pounds heavier.
Take a look what he’s conjured up for Valentine’s Day what’s not to love?
If you can’t make it to France, you can buy his book Éclair de Génie but bear in mind it’s written in French.
L’Eclair de Genie – Gallerie Commerciale du Passy Plaza, 53 Rue de Passy or L’Éclair de Génie – 14 Rue Pavée
From the look of his website, my rather poor Franglais, and with a lot of help from Google translate, Christophe has small cafe’s in Paris call Adam’s (obviously). If the food is anything like the éclairs it’s a must-visit. You can find them at 21 rue Danielle Casanova (Opera) and cour Saint Emilion, Paris 12ème (Bercy).