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January 11, 2011
Now that we're used to a sommelier and a cheesemaster and even a tea-sommelier and a selmelier, as Mark Bitterman, the salt expert, refers to himself, there's a new master in some of Paris's chicest hotels and tea salons: the millefeuille maker. One day there may be a sexier name for this person whose job it is to make millefeuille -- or what we call Napoleons -- on demand, but for now the position is so new that no one's yet gotten around to being clever about it.
I had my first a la minute millefeuille last week -- in a restaurant, the expression a la minute is used for anything that's made at the last moment -- and while I hadn't been served one before, I had heard about them. More on this later. For now, I just want you to take a look at this one, made by Sebastien Serveau, the new pastry chef at The Ritz in Paris. It's an almost classic millefeuille: it has the requisite three layers of puff pastry (at The Ritz, a new batch of puff is baked every two hours) and two layers of vanilla cream. But the cream is lighter than usual. Instead of straight pastry cream, the chef uses a creme Chibouste.
Chibouste had a pastry shop on the rue Saint-Honore in Paris and, in 1846, he created an enduring classic, the Gateau Saint-Honore, a pastry in which a cream puff ring is 'glued' to a puff pastry base with caramel, and then topped with carmel-crowned cream puffs and filled with a standard pastry cream lighted with Italian meringue (egg whites beaten with hot sugar syrup), a recipe now known as Creme Chibouste.
But back to the millefeuille ...
The first I'd heard of millefeuille a la minute was when I went to the brand new, almost impossibly hip hotelRoyal Monceau, a luxurious hotel totally 'relooked' by Phillippe Starck. I'd gone for breakfast with Pierre Herme, the genie pastry chef who is responsible for everything sweet and baked in the hotel, so I didn't see the millefeuille maker in action -- the pastry chef constructs the dessert 'on demand' and right in front of you -- but I did see some remarkable Pierre creations:
Here's the bread basket that comes to your table when you sit down. Starting with the baguette and going clockwise, you've got: a pumpkin muffin a la Sarabeth; an Ispahan croissant (the croissant is filled with rose-flavored almond cream and raspberries); a mini kugelhopf, a kind of yeasted coffee cake; and finally, between the muffin and the kugelhopf, a kouing-amann, that butter-sugar-bread treat from Brittany that should be on everyone's list of things to taste in a lifetime. All of these sweets are also on the beautiful buffet, along with Pierre's fruit yogurts -- the mango was great -- jams from the queen of jams, Christine Ferber, butter that you want to eat straight from the tip of a knife, and this granola:
Amazing, but true, Pierre has managed to turn his beloved Ispahan -- a collection of pastries, jams, gelees and chocolates based on the flavors of rose, raspberry and often lychee -- into a breakfast cereal! You get the flavor of rose, there are raspberries in the mix and when you add milk it turns an optimistic shade of pink. The granola itself is a blend of nuts and seeds and oatmeal and it will soon be available at Pierre Herme's shops. Breakfast may never be the same.
Finally, I haven't had a chance to go yet, but Philippe Conticini, the dream maker behind Patisserie des Reves, is serving millefeuille a la minute at his new tea salon.
Millefeuille means 1000 leaves and I'm getting the sense that 2011 may just have that many new leaves to turn over ... and to taste. It should be a great year!
, Mark Bitterman
, Philippe Conticini
, Pierre Herme
, pumpkin muffin
, Royal Monceau
, Sebastien Serveau
, The Ritz
Chefs, Restaurants and Shops
Out and About in Paris
Patisseries, Boulangeries & Chocolate Shops
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| January 11, 2011 3:21 PM
I real enjoy reading your blog. My friend Marsha, a French antique dealer, gave me your beautiful new cookbook, around my french table, for Christmas. I absolutely love it.
The first recipe I'm trying is Pissaladiere....yummmmm.
Thank you for putting together such a user friendly cookbook. I'm going to purchase two more for my daughters-in-law.
| January 12, 2011 3:42 AM
I need to make a little pilgrimage to the Royal Monceau. Everything looks fabulous!
Kerrin @ MyKugelhopf
| January 12, 2011 12:41 PM
i think that may just be the most tempting, sweet and outrageous bread basket i've ever seen. looks like enough reason to get to the royal monceau for me, wow ! all my faves - kugelhopf, kouign amann, pumpkin... even granola too ! pierre herme certainly has the midas touch - and now, the ispahan touch ;) can't wait to see where his signature pink combination will show up next.
i love the idea of a millefeuille a la minute too. always such exciting sweet news in the capital. thanks for sharing !
| January 12, 2011 7:49 PM
Such a great post and wonderful to always find a la minute from you Dorie. You are always a plethora of information for the grand & interesting in paris!
| January 13, 2011 11:32 AM
Jacques Genin is well-known for doing an a la minute millefeuille as well. And recently, Pascal Guerreau of Tholoniat in the 10th has been doing them as well. It's definitely an idea whose time has come!
| January 13, 2011 7:49 PM
Do they pre-cut the puff into pieces and just pipe the creme chiboust on and send it out? The cream doesn't look as if it was cut....
| January 14, 2011 12:10 AM
That does sound like such a lovely array of goodies - I've been making granola by the gallon lately (literally) and that new variation sounds almost too pretty to eat. Almost. Actually, the idea of having a serving of such loveliness for breakfast sounds wonderful. Such fun! Thanks for sharing all your finds - almost as good as being there.
| January 14, 2011 9:02 AM
I've been eating millefeuille a la minute for years without knowing. The closes patisserie to my parent's home in Milan sells millefeuille filled by request, and then it's only a few minute's walk to being eaten. It makes customers wait a bit, but I love having excuses to spend a few minutes more in a butter scented paradise. It is such a treat that I am happy to hear it is spreading.
Cooking in Mexico
| January 14, 2011 9:17 AM
Oh boy, these photos give me something to dream about, as I think of your far-away life in Paris. Thank you for giving me a few moments of food fantasy.
In Mexico, we also have
| January 14, 2011 5:33 PM
I think I'm going to be dreaming of croissant filled with rose-flavored almond cream and raspberries till I can make it back to Paris. I had my first Eden macaron from Pierre Herme last year and I'm still not over it.
| January 15, 2011 6:31 AM
vous m'inspirez dorie!
| January 15, 2011 3:00 PM
This looks so delicious. I was just given your Paris Sweets cookbook for Christmas and love it, both the recipes (4 so far, all turned out delicious), and the stories. I just wanted to stop by and say thank you for the book!
| January 17, 2011 7:23 AM
love it !
| January 17, 2011 4:53 PM
My sister just received your amazing cookbook for Christmas. It is truly beautiful.
Mille feuille desserts...Yum! I've only had it once at a fancy french restaurant in Vancouver called Le Crocodile and it was so incredible. I've wanted to learn how to make it ever since but alas, I'm a little intimidated...Maybe I'll get the courage some day. Thank you for sharing.
| January 19, 2011 10:19 AM
I was checking out your book and I find it inspiring. My wife and I went on our honeymoon to Paris this past year and it brought back some good memories. Here is another blog readers may enjoy
| January 19, 2011 1:17 PM
For my 18-euro Royal Monceau creation, I went with pistachio cream and fresh raspberries - never the wrong combo!
| January 19, 2011 4:41 PM
I am surprised you don't mention Jacques Genin though! The mille-feuille a la minute is one of the hallmarks of his amazing patisserie and the different variations he offers are unbelievable!
I think it's simply the best mille-feuille anywhere.
| January 20, 2011 2:16 PM
Maybe we can call the millefeuille maker "The General" after Napoleon? Wonderful post!
| January 21, 2011 9:09 AM
The best thing about Paris is the amazing taste of foods... and it is really hard to choose so you don't have a choice not to try them all. It looks like pain to miss one. Great share maybe I can try those one time if I go back to Paris.
| January 27, 2011 11:38 PM
I was born and raised in Casablanca morocco, the millefeuille was in every pastry, all different flavors, and I missed it so much. I live now in washington d.c for the last 20 years. If you speak French, this is a link to the cream of the millefeuille
Gina Girardot Melton
| January 29, 2011 9:19 PM
Dorie, Millefeuille is my husband's absolute favorite. I haven't worked up the courage to attempt it yet. I'm hoping that I can master it for valentine's day- but a la minute millefeuille would really be impressive. Any resources you could point me to?
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