Monday, April 21, 2008

Tasty hiatus: Part 2

Besides eating my way through Pierre Hermé's showcase, I did venture to other eateries in Paris in search of novel eye-catching items such as Sadaharu Aoki's bon bons maquillages, a rainbow assortment of enrobed ganache sticks. Flavours included yuzu, matcha, wasabi, and black sesame in addition to more traditional fare. Having been obsessed with rainbows as a child, my first impulse was to buy every flavour so that I could arrange them in the correct prismatic order, but I controlled myself and instead, purchased several pre-packaged boxes.

The main reason for visiting Paris this year was to attend Europain 2008, a massive trade show featuring 644 exhibitors representing the baking, pastry, chocolate, confectionary, and ice cream making industries. La Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie and Le Mondial des Arts Sucrés competitions were also held concurrently at this event. As a relative neophyte in the world of artisan pâtisserie, the experience was overwhelming due to the sheer size (80,000 sq. metres of exhibition space) and scope of Europain.

Because I do not own my own pastry shop or bread factory and happen to be Canadian, not European, the majority of exhibits were irrelevant to me from a commercial standpoint; however, seeing the range of innovative products and technology available to the smallest artisanal pâtissier all the way to the largest industrial bread producer was fascinating. I will know where to come whenever I am in the market for a mixer large enough to fit six people with two whisk attachments that are each taller than me. Only some exhibitors were actually selling items direct to visitors, mainly half-price Easter chocolate molds, Flexipans sheets, and colourings.

To my amazement, my attention was drawn more towards breads and Viennoiserie because of how refined, beautiful, and diverse these yeasty products could be. Baguettes may have outnumbered humans at Europain but the other creations from the simple origins of flour, yeast, and water were most impressive, making my jaw drop on multiple occasions in wonder and awe.

My favourite two things at Europain were two dresses, one constructed from Flexipan bakeware and the other from bread. Complete with fedora, the little black silicon dress would be useful in any sticky social situation whereas the yeasty couture creation, France's bread showpiece for La Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie, is a feast for the eyes and stomach.

Speaking of fashion, Milan proved to be a formidable destination for the couture-challenged person that I am today. Every Milanese woman was dressed right off the runway, complete with the big trophy purse and 4 inch stilettos. I, on the other hand, dressed in comfort flats and the chicest travel clothes I possessed, was more appropriately suited for window shopping and frequenting a renowned gourmet store, Peck Deli, which was steps away from our hotel. The Peck community also includes a lunch bar and the very upscale Michelin two-star Cracco Peck restaurant.

I could have spent many euros at Peck Deli but not having my own kitchen in Milan nor sufficient gastrointestinal capacity limited me from indulging in the many tantalizing terrines, pastas, salads, meats etc. The singular item which I fancied the most was a union of two things which I hold dearest to my epicurean heart, the macaron and gelato. There were small and large gelato-filled macarons as well as piped gelato roses on nougatine bases. I chose the large chocolate macaron with chocolate gelato and was impressed with how it was packed on dry ice within its own styrofoam box. In my haste to consume my hybrid dessert, I did not let it thaw enough and consequently, the macaron was not as soft as desired. Regardless, just when I thought macarons could not get any better, they do!


Cannelle Et Vanille said...

I am so jealous you got to go.. seriously! That's like going to Disneyland for any little kid. I hope you share more photos!

Helene said...

I love trade shows like that...they leave me filed with energy!