From within the glass-fronted shop of Vancouver’s L’Éclair de Génie, rows of brightly decorated éclairs beckon to passersby. This Robson Street location marks the beloved Paris-based pâtisserie’s first foray into North America, and to celebrate, owner and chef Christophe Adam is inside, offering nibble-sized samples of the dessert.
Canada may boast quite the dessert menu of its own, but it is only just beginning to experience the rise of the éclair. Meanwhile, Adam attests that “in France, when you are a baby, you eat éclairs.” It seems fair to call him an expert in the field; since opening the first L’Éclair de Génie boutique in Paris five years ago, there are now locations in Hong Kong, Japan, Russia, and Italy, and Adam has accumulated a repertoire of 260 flavours. Ten are featured daily in the shops around the world, rotating out one or two each month.
Over the years, Adam has divulged his recipes in cookbooks—his third was released this spring—but he insists that the key to a good éclair, with a creamy interior neither too runny nor too hard, is simple: use quality ingredients and serve fresh.
In Vancouver, this means locally sourced ingredients and the magic touch of Paris-trained pastry chef Melanie Patricio, who commands the bakery tucked into the back of the shop, doling out flaky petit pains in addition to the éclairs. These fresh pastries—perhaps best enjoyed sitting in the café with tea, an espresso-based drink, or the Hot Chocolate de Génie—are offered alongside L’Éclair de Génie products flown in from Paris, including a display case full of chocolate bonbons (in a variety of flavours of their own) and shelves with offerings such as jars of caramelized peanuts, tubes of fleur de sel caramel, and tablets of chocolate.
Of course, the main attraction is the namesake éclairs. Among today’s flavours: a decadent matcha topped with white chocolate, a pistachio/raspberry combination, and—“my favourite” says Adam—salted caramel. “We adapt the concept and the flavours around every country,” says Adam. For Canada, this translates to a delicate maple cream-filled pastry topped with a declaration of “I Love Vancouver”, and it must be said—mouth full of éclair—the feeling is mutual.
L’Éclair de Génie, 1210 Robson St, Vancouver, B.C., V6E 3Y4, (604) 428-3318
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