In 2009, I met my mom, aunt, grandmother and cousins in Djerba, Tunisia for a relaxing Mediterranean family vacation (you can read more about that trip here). I had to leave before everyone else because well, I’m the only one who lives in a country that doesn’t have 6-weeks of paid vacation days a year (grrr USA!) but did meet up with my dad in Paris for a quick 24 hours before flying back to D.C. My dad and I both have a mad sweet tooth and truly appreciate fine desserts, so these 24 hours turned into quite the pâtisseries marathon. And it was good timing: Éclair Week was in full swing at Fauchon, leading me to rediscover a forgotten childhood favourite.
Fast forward to today. Saying that éclairs are the new macarons is about as over-said as saying that macarons are the new cupcakes. And yet, that’s pretty much exactly what I just said 😉 Éclairs are quite trendy right now, and they’ve never looked or tasted better! Some éclairs truly look like tiny pieces of art (see the stunning éclair Joconde below.)
One of the chef pâtissier to credit for the éclair’s relaunch from simple pastry a high-end dessert is Christophe Adam, who spent 15 years at Fauchon. Adam, who now has his own shop(s) called l’Éclair de Génie, and Guillaume Simonnet, of L’Atelier de l’Éclair, have Parisians lined up outside their stores to try their latest creations and flavours… They’re looking to spread the éclair gospel to the United States, with Adam slated to open a shop in SoHo
this summer this year. There’s already quite a few spot to get decent éclairs in New York: Kayser‘s are really good as are the ones at Michel Richard’s Pomme Palais, Daniel Boulud’s Épicerie Boulud, Dominique Ansel Bakery and La Maison du Chocolat. Pastry chef Jennifer Yee also offers a selection of éclairs at Lafayette Grand Café and Bakery (try it for brunch! Their bread comes straight from Poilâne!!). In Washington, well, it’s a bit more difficult to find good éclairs right now. Like a lot more difficult. So I have high hopes for G’Eclair (pronounced Gee-Clair not JAY-Clair), an éclair boutique that popped up on valentine’s day and will open soon inside frozen yogurt shop Spoon in Adams Morgan. The team behind G’Eclair is also behind Donburi, a Japanese restaurant focused on rice-bowls. Its owner James Jang and his business partner Grace Owens-Stively are getting into the éclair business and eventually plan to open their own small brick-and-mortar éclair shop.
Over the weekend, Grace and James handed out free éclair samples. I braved the snow Saturday to try them out and wasn’t disappointed by the green-tea white chocolate mini-éclair and the miso-caramel one. There’s still a little bit of work to be done on the presentation I think. The pastries need to be finer and longer to look more refined, and the designs have room for more artistry too. But the flavours were spot on so I’m definitely hopeful and think I might have more reasons to visit Adam Morgan in the near future…