… 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.]
24-26 place de la Madeleine