Today’s instalment comes from glorius Western Australia. The courageous and determined, Christine, from sunny Perth went to not one but three patisseries in search of éclairs. What an effort! Special thanks to her husband, Jason, and daughter’s, Isobel and Abigail for supporting their mum on her brave journey. Go team WA! Here is her story…
My Western Australian éclair hunt began on a promising note… The destination was aptly called “Patisserie and More”, and located at the Hillarys Marina, a mere stones throw from where I live. As it turns out the “more” in the shop name refers to the German sausages that they sell (and not very good ones at that according to Bratwurst-tasting husband). And they didn’t have éclairs. Nor do they ever, apparently!
Not to be discouraged, I piled my husband and two year old Isobel into the car and headed for the next on the list: Chopin Patisserie, one suburb over in Sorrento. Stepping inside was like stepping inside your average suburban bakery, circa 1989. But they had éclairs! Based on looks alone, I was dubious. And rightly so. The pastry was more “shoe” than “choux”. The filling contained a smear of something yellow. I suspect either custard powder or food colouring was involved in its creation. Definitely not crème pâtissière! There were also lashings of what appeared to be whipped cream, but… wasn’t. Even Isobel told me very firmly “no clair mummy”, and wisely chose a shortbread dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with sugar butterflies instead.
The next day I recruited a new helper in the form of six year old Abigail. My miniature lover of all things Parisian turned out to be a good companion for my drive south on a spectacular Perth winter’s day. Our destination: Choux Cafe in Swanbourne. Initial observations seemed very promising. A customer was speaking French, and was answered in fluent French by two of the three staff behind the counter. The tiny cafe was packed. And the display case was loaded with a selection of the most delectable looking treats I had seen in a long time. Including éclairs. This time they looked far more promising. Unfortunately the café éclairs had sold out, so I settled for the chocolat. Abigail chose a selection of macarons (her first love), and we also selected a peace offering for the husband and Isobel, who had been left behind. We took our take away package and stopped off at a park at City Beach on the way home. Oh my. The choux was very near to perfect. Light, springy, divine! And it was filled with silky smooth chocolate crème pâtissière. The top was glazed with chocolatey goodness that was just right. I reluctantly let Abigail taste, and then had a great deal of difficulty getting it back! Choux Cafe, thank you!
The idea of National Éclair Day has certainly taken off! It seems others agree that regardless of whether this is recognised in Australia or not, it should be celebrated. As a result, a nationwide search for éclairs started this week! I have been lucky enough to have people volunteering their time to search their locals area for éclairs (they did not seem to put out!). To date there are committed ‘hunters’ (we need a better name – suggestions welcome!) in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania (other than me!) and Western Australia. Once I have replies from the Northern Territory, South Australia and the ACT there will be national coverage!! Woo hoo! National Éclair Day 2014 Australian Edition here we come. Patisseries, brace yourselves.
There seems to be general agreement by the national éclair team, that judgments cannot be made my sampling just one éclair. I tend to agree. So they are mustering their strength to try as many éclairs as possible to provide a thorough assessment. Of course they could always do with extra support, so if you are interested in getting involved please let me know in the comments box below.
To kick off the national search, junior éclair guru, Isobel, made an early start by familiarising herself with a chocolate éclair. Judging by her grin this will be the first of many éclairs for her 🙂
Today I visited a good friend. A wise and all knowing friend and one I visit often. I was supposed to be studying, but procrastination took hold, so I thought I would check in and see what was new. This friend is called Google and my visits can sometimes be quite lengthy and always interesting. Today I wanted to find out a bit of history about éclairs (which really had nothing to do with management communications which should have been my focus). It’s funny how one Google search leads to another. Anyway, this turned out to be one of the better ideas I had all day. Google advised me that there is a National Éclair Day (not sure which country this is celebrated in – France most likely – but I am not about to let geography stop me). An actual day to celebrate éclairs. Genius. And it it is coming up – very soon. June 22 is National Éclair Day and I plan to make this the day I have my first solo attempt at making éclairs.
Aside from finding out about the most important date on the calendar after Christmas and my birthday, I also found out a bit of éclair history. The word ‘éclair’ means ‘flash of lightening’. I suppose this could be linked to it’s long shape. Apparently the glisten from the icing on éclairs is also supposed to represent lightening. The things you read. Interestingly, in some parts of America, éclairs are called ‘Long Johns’ (creativity plus), made with donut pastry and filled with vanilla pudding. Les Américains – extrêmement mauvais. And they are cheaper than French éclairs (hardly surprising). There will be no ‘Long Johns’ made in my kitchen on National Éclair Day.