Éclair craze grips world as French celebrate two-week long festival in its honour

The éclair, a classic French pastry, is finding more modern expressions abroad.— AFP pic
The éclair, a classic French pastry, is finding more modern expressions abroad.— AFP pic

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PARIS, March 21 — Through March 22, pastry shops all over France are celebrating “La Quinzaine de l’éclair,” a fortnight in honour of the elongated custard-filled dessert. Participating chefs will serve three special éclairs in their shops: hazelnut praline, chocolate cherry and caramel apple. But France isn’t the only place where the éclair is in the limelight recently.

Thought to have been invented by the great French pastry chef Antonin Carême, the éclair is currently experiencing a heyday abroad, from the US to Australia.

In Washington DC, restaurateur James Jang is preparing to launch his latest venture, an éclair joint dubbed G’eclair. Since Valentine’s Day, Jang has been building buzz by handing out free samples of yuzu raspberry and matcha white chocolate éclairs and posting mouthwatering photos to Twitter.

While these innovative recipes are a hit with foodies, the classic chocolate éclair remains the definitive version in the hearts and minds of most American dessert fans, who celebrate National Chocolate Éclair Day each June 22.

Jang’s inspiration for G’eclair came from a trip to South Korea, one of the hotspots of the recent éclair craze. In Seoul, pastry chef Yun Eun-Young grabbed headlines with a hybrid between the éclair and another globally trending French pastry: the macaron. At Eclair by Garuharu, the pastry shop she opened in June 2014, Yun Eun-Young serves two elongated macaron shells filled with whipped cream, fresh fruit or chocolate. 

Fauchon: the original

On the other side of the Sea of Japan, the Parisian gourmet food company Fauchon has been elevating the éclair to the status of objet d’art for decades. At around 30 sales points opened over the past 40 years, Japanese pastry fans can savor the innovative and trendy éclairs Fauchon has become famous for, including versions topped with edible reproductions of the Mona Lisa and other famous works of art. In spring 2013, Fauchon garnered buzz with a special éclair commemorating the reopening of the Kabukiza Theater in Tokyo, complete with icing in the colours of the theater’s curtain.

Japan is also home to two locations owned by Christophe Adam, who may well be the world’s leading éclair expert. The former head pastry chef at Fauchon introduced his L’Eclair de Génie concept in Paris before opening locations in Tokyo and Yokohama.

French chefs still doing their part

In New York, authentic French éclairs are served up by cronut inventor Dominique Ansel at his namesake bakery and by Daniel Bould at his Épicerie Boulud.

The latter chef even earned a spot in Food & Wine’s list of the world’s best éclairs. Also mentioned in the ranking are the Sydney-based French duo Laurence and Frédéric Caillon, who opened their Maison de l’Éclair in the Bondi neighbourhood in late 2013. In addition to their famous Croquembouche éclair, which has earned multiple awards and is well known to Sydneysiders, the French pastry chefs also serve up savoury éclairs made with smoked duck, goat cheese or smoked salmon.  — AFP-Relaxnews

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