Club-Cake by Fauchon

Club-Cake by Fauchon

… or how to botch a perfectly brilliant idea.

This is the story of a disappointment. I hesitate to call it a cruel disappointment, because I was more disappointed the day I learned that Milli Vanilli was all a lie, but it was a sore one nonetheless.

I had business to do around the Place de la Madeleine the other day, and as I was walking past the Fauchon pastry shop, I stepped inside to take a look — you know, nothing out of the ordinary, just research. It had been a while since my last visit, but I was in fact familiar with most of their shiny new creations, as they tend to be very well covered in the magazines I read. Most specifically women’s magazines, where the picture of that lavishly indulgent pastry is often right on the opposite page from a worryingly slender girl, who has been made to look like said pastry might cheer her up.

I studied the pastries lined up behind the glass case, a tempting array created by pastry chef Christophe Adam, and decided that I urgently needed to invest 5 euros in the club-cake, a tricolor confection made to look — how clever! how titillating! — like a club-sandwich. (I might note here that it is a bit of a pain to purchase things at Fauchon: you get in line to select your stuff, receive a ticket, cross the entire shop to get to the register and pay, and then come back to the original counter with a different ticket that proves you are not a thief, and are thus allowed to collect your goods and get the hell out of here.)

I went home, and later in the afternoon, decided with much anticipation to give the club-cake a try. I took the pink Fauchon box out of the black Fauchon bag, and the silver club-cake box out of the pink Fauchon box. The packaging turned out to be Problem Number One: the sandwiches had sort of smudged themselves onto the little window opening (not very elegant), but more importantly the box was all sticky, although you could tell that someone had tried to wipe it down in an effort to clean it. I could certainly have overlooked the aesthetic issue, but trying to open the back of the box was a bit of a fight: it is made of a rigid and sharp-edged plastic that isn’t very pleasant to handle, and keeps snapping back semi-closed as you pull the sandwiches out.

What stands for the bread in the sandwiches is in fact thin slices of buttery almond cake, like a crustless financier. The green sandwich is made of a pistachio financier, filled with lemon cream and a slightly crispy pistachio praline. The pink sandwich is raspberry-flavored, with a creamy raspberry jam inside. As for the brown sandwich, it is — three guesses? — chocolate-flavored, with a ganache filling.

This all sounds fine and dandy and the flavors are indeed very nice, but what we have here is a definite lack of texture: the whole thing is very soft to the tooth (marginally less so in the pistachio case), and leaves you yearning for a bit of crisp, a bit of crust, something to tickle and entertain — but there is none to be found.

The moistness of the sandwiches also makes them a little limp, and definitely messy to eat with your fingers — I resorted to the use of a plate and fork, and I am normally not a finicky person. I wouldn’t have a problem with that if it were any other kind of pastry, but the whole appeal of a sandwich is that it can be eaten on the go, and I so liked the idea of this club-cake that you could buy and nibble on as you walked around. Ah well. As it turns out, a chocolate éclair — or one of Fauchon’s many variations, sometimes eerily-colored — is a much more practical option.

[And for those of you who are tickled by the idea of sweet sandwiches, let me point you to the ones I came up with for a project last year.]

Fauchon
24-26 place de la Madeleine
75008 Paris

  • Pesql

    … looks like a not-so-good-idea, eh ?

  • http://www.paristriptips.com paristriptips

    First I have to say I love Fauchon’s products. Like a gourmet food museum!
    But I HAVE to agree with you that the process of purchasing something is so confusing, I swear it’s a way to scare away the hordes of confused tourists!! I have sent so many people there, and they love the food but hate the process.

    Now, when I looked at this beautiful concoction of a “sandwich”, I thought it would have the crisp and soft nature of a macaron. Wouldn’t that be good?

    And finally, their eclairs are eerily colored! Particularly the orange ones in the fall. Yeesh!

  • Sandy

    I took the photo tour and i am starving now! Awesome photos!! Your blog stirs a great desire to return Paris and eat my way from one end to the other! Last time I was more on a pilgrimage and food wasn’t top priority, next time I will take a little longer to visit these places. Oh, i have this great book of French bakeries and there is one in there called “Gerard Mulot”. Are you familiar with his place?

  • http://www.oswegotea.com Michele

    Clotilde, I could feel by whole body tense when you mentioned the strange system of paying at Fauchon, as the same method is employed at the Mulot bakery on rue de Seine. I ordered, I wandered across the store to pay, wandered back and retrieved my goods only to discover after I’d left that I was given the wrong parcel. All that walking back and forth and I didn’t even get what I had paid for! Needless to say I grumbled. Alot. Its a system that will keep me from going to a shop altogether.

  • http://www.messycucina.blogspot.com darla

    That’s too bad. . . I like a little something crispy on the outer edges of my cakes as well. Even a layer of sliced almonds would have worked.

    I’ve got to ask– any sightings of Brand and Angelina *wink*

  • http://mercotte.canalblog.com mercotte

    it’s funny we have made nearly the same, but with just one colour at Valrhona class 2 weeks ago ! it was a dacquoise with cherries gely and chocolate whipping cream …very good !

  • http://glutenfreegirl.com shauna

    My dear, this may have been a disappointment to you, but this post is certainly not a disappointment to me! I love your description of the photograph in the glossy magazine next to the sad and skinny girl. Priceless.

  • http://threelayercake.com Three Layer Cake

    That paying thing in Italy is sometimes taken to the extreme. Even when there is no one else in the shop and you present absolutely NO flight risk whatsoever (maybe you’re burdened with bags), they just fan you to the register anyway…as if…

    So do you think the cake idea was a winning idea– faux sandwich effect, or was it just the ‘workmanship’ that disappointed? Sounds like it may have just not been at its peak serving period. Some cakes are best immediately out of the oven (or a day old) or whatever…

    k

  • julie

    I love the photos. I love your site!!! Thanks!!!

  • http://willows95988.typepad.com/ Tongue in Cheek

    Those black and white bags at Fauchon are the real deal, after that it is all downhill, unless you think you are standing on to^p. That place reeks snobbism. The line thing is the real mcCoy! Thnks for putting it in its place!

  • http://parisrestaurants.hautetfort.com gerard

    Une belle tranche de vie à déguster lentement en ce jour de pluie. Rendons grâces.

  • Matt

    They have that pay system in many places here in Chile. After my initial annoyance, I’ve grown to appreciate it. Why?
    a) It prevents the same people that handle your food from handling your money.
    b) It’s an easy way for an employer to track the change of money – easier to watch one person than many.
    c) You don’t have to train many people to operate a till, in fact, you only have to have one till.

    BTW: The title of your blog first caught my eye. My mom makes a divine Chocolate Zucchini (corgette) cake. It always catches people off guard when I tell them what it is (after they eat it, of course).

  • http://www.gillyoung.blogspot.com gillian

    Maybe it’s best to keep it classic at Fauchon. My brother and I agreed that their lemon tarts were the best we’ve ever had…and we’re very big on our lemon tarts. They;re called something like “tarte au citron frais”, and-true to their name- are always sensationally fresh.

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Sandy – Yes, Gérard Mulot has some excellent stuff! If you haven’t yet seen it, there is a website: http://www.gerard-mulot.com/

    Three Layer Cake – I really loved the idea, but I was really disappointed with how they chose to interpret it. A savory club-sandwich has crunch and texture variety, and I wish they hadn’t skipped that when they made their sweet version… But it didn’t seem like it wasn’t fresh — in fact, perhaps it was *too* fresh, hence the moisture problem?

    Matt – You make an excellent point, I hadn’t thought about the money handling thing, that makes sense. But I wish the register wasn’t so far out into the store (probably a trick to get me to look at other stuff and be tempted!) — not that I’m lazy, but it is very crowded in there and it’s a hassle to make your way across.

    Gillian – That lemon tart sounds good, I’ll have to try it! Did it have meringue on top (tarte au citron meringuée), or just plain lemon cream?

  • jane

    i have a question: i’ve read on a couple different “expats in paris” blogs that “eating on the go,” as you said, is a big no-no. they report being given scornful looks and feeling ashamed but hungry enought to commit the crime. is this not so? is it all in their heads? or by “on the go” do you mean you tuck it away untill you get somewhere safe and stationary and THEN tuck in?

  • http://gillyoung.blogspot.com gillian

    Just plain lemon cream, with a small sugared lemon candy, which even tasted fresh itself!

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Jane – I’ve read those comments too, but I have to say I have no problem eating things while I walk. I seldom do it, simply because most of the time I feel I can better enjoy food if I sit down to eat, but I’ve never felt embarrassed or received sour looks for eating something — a sandwich, a pastry — on the go. I may get curious looks (as in “that looks good, I wonder where it comes from?”), but not scornful ones. Perhaps it has to do with being more comfortable doing what you please when you’re on your own turf? I’m not sure.

    Gillian – Thanks for the reply — up it goes on my “to-try” list! I’ll admit I generally look right past lemon tarts, not because I don’t like them, but because I tend to be irresistibly attracted to the shiny and the new! But this club-cake just goes to show that nothing beats a good classic…

  • The Food Genie

    That sounds like a lot of trouble for something that is supposed to be so good.

  • http://www.carolgillot.com carolg

    I remember being caught eating an ice cream in the street & a passerby remarking,”Bon appetite!” with an edge to it..That taught me :)

  • piccola

    Hmmm… Now I’m all excited by the challenge of creating a true club-cake. I would love to make a thin, dense cake crust (preferably honey-sweetened) sandwiched with peanut butter cake and banana bread…

  • pimpille1969

    Eating on the go in France was a no go until the arrival of Mac Donald’s, Quick, Kebab…Once I was eating an ice cream on a bench when my aunt spotted me. She was offended. That was so impolite from me. We should never snack and have meal at home or in a restaurant. That makes a difference between human beings and animals I was taught. I don’t eat on the go because it interferes with my shopping and my socializing ! It’s quite difficult to eat and speak with a friend or choose a dress !

  • http://www.saltshaker.net Dan

    What Matt said about Chile is the same here in Argentina. Took me a little to get used to it, but now I just figure out what I’m going to buy, head to the register and pay for it, and go back and collect – at most places that means that by the time I’ve paid, whatever I’m buying is already nicely wrapped up and ready to be taken. Gives me something to do while they’re wrapping…

  • http://blindtasting.twoday.net Alex

    Hello Clothilde,
    I bought this club cake last week when i was in Paris, I even took it back home to frankfurt, germany where I live, and when I tried it it tasted really good to me. Ok it was a bit moist but what counts is the taste; and I’m also a friend of creative ideas(so are you I guess)
    un bonjour de francfort,
    alex

  • DesignGaL

    BOY, DOES THAT LOOKS YUMMY!

  • http://www.skinnychef.com SkinnyChef

    Adorable idea! Hate the packaging though. I was hoping for some bright pink parchement paper – like the way they used to wrap the sandwished in the 1950′s.

  • Gwen

    This ordering/paying system is a remnant from the old days I think. It is still used in many old fashioned (dare i say dusty ?) shops all over France. At least at Fauchon, the shop is wide enough that customers won’t collide into one another while moving from one line to the next :)

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