Five years ago I ventured to Paris in search of the best macaroon I could find. It was the beginning of a true love affair with these sugary treats, and it led to many enjoyable moments. My hotel room was strewn with packets of these jewel-like delights in flavours such as salted caramel, raspberry and rose, green tea, banana and granadilla.
The shops, where you’ll see so many macaroons perfectly lined up in pastel-hued rows, were an inspiration in themselves. Then came the macaroon cult, and it seems we’re still riding that wave in South Africa. Over the last few years we’ve seen them in every colour and flavour imaginable, including smoked trout, foie gras and porcini. Although I still love the idea of them, I must admit to being a bit bored. I’m longing for something new to revel in.
It would be magical to be transported back to those Parisian pastry shops, to be inspired anew by all those delicious pastries, so perfectly made. One of the other treats to be had there is, of course, the éclair. I’m not talking about those huge, clumsy and oversized shells you see sometimes, filled with pastry cream and covered in chocolate. No, I’m talking about rows of delicately piped choux pastry, filled with creams flavoured with exotic fruit, chocolate, and coconut, and artfully embellished with shiny, colourful glazes and finished with bits of caramelised nuts, gold flakes and rose petals.
And seeing as the name éclair translates to ‘flash of lightning’, I really hope we’ll quickly see a new pastry trend arising. (I’m imagining a row of tiny éclairs in petit four style…)
In the meantime, if you’re in the mood for a good éclair and happen to be in or around Knysna, be sure to pop into Île de Païn to sample their caramel version!