Today I was the recipient of a rather sad email. My dear friend Deb, exhausted from searching Launceston for an éclair, finally tracked one down only to have what I would call a truly Australian éclair experience! Possessing an exceptionally kind nature (unlike my name and shame approach), Deb was hesitant to divulge the name of the establishment. So I am going to make an exception and not name this outlet (just this once). I think my advice would be to steer clear (or be very cautious) of any Launceston cafes that sell éclairs…or pastry posing as an éclair! And I am honestly not trying to fuel the Hobart/Launceston war – promise! Read Deb’s tale of horror below…
Launceston rightly has a reputation for gourmet food. For fine dining, allow me to gratuitously mention Stillwater, Mud Restaurant and Bar and The Black Cow. For a wonderful range of quality local produce, I cite the Saturday morning Harvest Market.
So with great confidence I offered to enter Launceston in the Great Éclair Hunt.
To my surprise, I traipsed through town visiting numerous likely cafes and bakeries with no luck. Finally, I found a café that boasted about its French pastries. It was sans-éclairs on the first day I went there and I was told that their pastry chef free-styled his daily order and that some days there were éclairs and some days none. Not a bad thing – sometimes you have to indulge chefs in their inspirational whims in order to get the best from them.
On my next opportunity, I rang the café to see if they indeed did have an éclair before I went to town on yet another éclair-less search. Yes, they had an éclair. It being only 9am I thought I’d better ask them to reserve it for me and I quickly dashed to town, full of anticipation. I would purchase a beautiful, fresh éclair, come home and indulge myself with a great mid-morning cup of coffee – brewed by myself, just the way I like it – and an éclair.
Discovering that the parking meter was out of order enhanced my anticipation and I started to think this was my lucky day! Entering the cosy little café from the cold and misty Launceston morning, the smell of coffee filled my nostrils and my mouth danced with excitement.
I resisted the temptation to look inside the little white paper bag as I wanted to maximise the impact when I arrived home and had the coffee brewed. I would serve my éclair on my favourite silver rimmed, oval shaped plate.
Oh dear. Will I never learn not to set myself up like this? As a discerning éclair consumer, I immediately saw that the pastry had been cut in half, lengthwise (aka a baguette!) and overfilled with rippled mock cream (*emphasis added by Hayley in complete disgust – mock?!!). The disappointment was fundamental and immediate. As we know, a great éclair is dependent up the finesse provided by pumping the choux pastry with crème patissière. I could continue the review by critiquing the pastry and the chocolate glaze, but why bother. It was all-wrong. I cut an end off the (so-called) éclair, removed some of the rippled cream to help make it more palatable, sampled the boring item and decided not to inflict any more unnecessary calories on my body. My coffee was great.
Follow Deb’s blog at debchurchblog.wordpress.com