There it sat in the case. A green pastry no bigger than a doughnut, sliced through the middle and piped full of green cream, a dusting of confectioner's sugar on top.
"It's very good, madame," the gracious woman behind the counter, pastry chef Nga Rogers, told me.
I would discover this later, back at the office, having driven back from Westchase, where I went to lunch and popped into this small but mighty strip center patisserie. I cut into my pastry and dug in before some squeamish coworkers arrived for a taste.
"Kind of looks like guacamole," said one.
"Interesting," said another.
They just didn't get it. But I, a person who cannot make it a day without dessert; a person who has savored the Dominique Ansel cronut in her lifetime; who worked at a cookie factory in grad school; who spent a decade in the land of Bananas Foster and beignets; who has on more than one occasion finished a dinner off by ordering not a dessert, but every dessert on the menu; who, when times got tough in childhood, honed her craft by simply cutting off pats of butter and dipping them into either white or brown sugar when Mother wasn't looking. I got it.
I'm not just a flavor-blind sugar junkie. I understand why the zombie frappuccino sucks. And why the pistachio Paris-Brest at Patisserie Paris je T'aime absolutely rules.
The pastry is outstanding because of one defining element — not the pistachio praline cream, which indeed is sweet and nutty, almost coconutty, and divine itself, but the surprising bursts of salt that come through in the pastry. Each bite balances that rich pistachio cream, creating the ultimate sweet and salty experience that dessert-obsessors yearn for.
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There is something very nostalgic about this pastry. It has the buttery quality of those shortbread cookies that arrive in large tins at Christmas time. It has the faintest crunch to it, likely aided by the pistachio on top, enough so you could refer to it as the kid sister of a cannoli if you wanted, baby fat and all.
On Facebook, Rogers tells followers that her version of the Paris-Brest is actually influenced by her idol, chef Cédric Grolet of world-famous Restaurant le Meurice Alain Ducasse in Paris. As the almighty Wikipedia notes, the Paris-Brest was created in 1910 by a pastry chef, Louis Durand, to commemorate a race called the Paris–Brest–Paris. The shape of the pastry is said to represent a bicycle wheel, and supposedly competitors used to down these things, which were traditionally pumped full of praline-flavored cream, to keep their energy levels up via major caloric intake. Which is all to say, can't we go back to the days that cycling coaches fed their athletes pastries instead of blood transfusions?
I may start a cycling regimen out to Westchase on the daily just to restart the craze.
Pâtisserie Paris Je T’aime, 11660 Westheimer, Suite 107A