12 eclairs in a box–French-inspired but entirely homegrownBy Sandy Daza
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Everyone loves a surprise. When we were kids, the best day of the year for us was Christmas. Under the Christmas tree were our gifts, which we would pick up, shake or weigh to try and guess what’s in them.
At one birthday of a relative, we all planned a surprise birthday celebration. We invited all his friends to our sala. From the room, we called him to join the family dinner, while waiting in the room were about 20 of his closest friends, ready to scream “Surprise!” But in came the celebrator—in his underwear and shirt. This one was not pleasant surprise for both sides, but, at the very least, it created a lot of laughter.
So, not knowing what’s in store makes the experience almost always exciting. Even in the homes of friends who are known foodies, I love the excitement of discovering what kitchen surprises are in store for us guests.
This philosophy I have carried even to our restaurant called Wooden Spoon. I want diners to experience something they have never come across before—something new and delicious, from appetizer to dessert.
There is nothing more satisfying than to see a happy diner, and see him or her come back again and again. I want diners to look forward to coming back and being surprised again.
Food and culture
As a hungry young man once walking the streets of Paris, I was fascinated with all the new items I saw—the patisseries, boulangeries, fromageries, all the restaurants and other food-related stores around. From Ma Mon Luk, Hongning and the like in my native land, I was being exposed to a whole new array of food and culture. I was very excited.
My parents had always believed that when it came to food, we were at liberty to try anything, no matter the cost. So I got exposed to the finest restaurants of the city, the weekend markets that sold quiche on the streets, the sandwiches sold in cafés and the pastries available everywhere else.
Eventually, I discovered from experience who sold the best what all over the city. And because I was always curious to know how something was made, I ended up in a cooking school where I learned to cook and bake.
One of the pastry items I first learned to bake was Pate Coux. This is a round cream puff like pastry with a thick rich cream filling topped with toasted shaved almonds. Love it—especially the fact that when you bite into it, there is a creamy tasty surprise inside.
This I made well. At least that’s what my chef told me. Other similar pastries such as cream puffs and éclairs were also high on my favorite list.
I’m not sure if my exposure to good French pastries is an advantage, though, because my expectation have become so high that anything less is no longer as satisfying. But, when I come across one that reminds me of walking the streets of Paris, my interest radar immediately shoots up.
Riot of colors, fillings
I came across one such pastry—or rather a box of it—just last week. This you all have to try, unless you want your standards to stay where they are.
The box of various éclairs—elongated cream puffs with a variety of filling in each one—has a packaging alone that’s to die for. Inside are 12 colorful and very well-decorated pastries in a riot of colors and fillings.
There are three kinds of cake and nine kinds of éclairs: chocolate éclair, salted caramel éclair, raspberry dulce de leche éclair, lemon éclair, coffee éclair, Mont Blanc éclair, blueberry cheesecake éclair, apple foie gras éclair, praline éclair, Matcha Yuzu Opera, carrot cake and salted caramel chocolate cake.
Let’s not kid each other, these killers are the type that’ll say (in a tiny voice) while grabbing on to our love handles, “I’m gonna stay here, I’m gonna stay here!”
But trust me, these are so worth it. Each éclair is individually and beautifully hand-decorated, and the wonderful appearance matches the flavors.
You want a unique Christmas gift, this is it. One of the classiest and best pastries I have had in our shores. I am told the talented pastry chef is a graduate of one of the most popular culinary schools in Paris. Galing!
Life is, indeed, full of surprises. Happy eating!
Call Gourmandise Patisserie at 8042568 or 0917-7047118.