They called it Nutella butter. It was more like Nutella bologna. But when Ben and I ordered the Stuffed French Toast at the Four Seasons, we were quite sure it was going to be delicious, no matter what the menu read.
At $24 a plate, it's decadent in more ways than one. Some might say, not worth it. But the texture of that Nutella butter-bologna has been haunting me ever since...
Say the word "praluline" (pray-looo-lean) to someone, and they'll think you're doing tongue exercises. Say it to any one of the hundreds of people who buy the beautiful brioche every day, and they will swoon. Much like I have ever since this specialty made by the chocolatier Pralus became the object of my obsession a couple years ago.
It was over 50 years ago that the first soft, buttery pastries chockfull of house-made, rose sugar-coated Valencia almonds and Piedmont hazelnuts were created. It is squishy and crunchy, savory and sweet, a beautiful little bomb of flavors and textures that is irresistible and unique. Each time I visit Paris, I look forward to devouring one. This is a problem as "one" could easily feed four. So I was going to let it slide this past visit, having sampled plenty of breakfast pastries and Parisian cakes. But wouldn't you know: Pralus opened a second boutique in the city, on rue Cler. Just a lovely stroll from the apartment where I was staying.
Needless to say, I needed no further excuse or prompting. I bought myself a six-euro, soul-satisfying treat on my last day. Took home the carefully wrapped present.
Sliced into it.
And sighed at the utter perfection of eating a praluline in Paris.
It is said that Philippe Conticini makes the best Paris-Brest in Paris. Indeed, a visit to La Patisserie des Reves reveals a master has been at work.
But what about Jacques Genin? His Brests are nothing to sneeze at.
It was essential to plunge into this delicious debate. A Paris-Brest is a rare treat. I've had only a handful in my life. Having two in one week was pure hedonism. Conticini's creation is six petite pieces of choux pastry strong together like an exquisite necklace of pearls. Except inside each puff is a thick and rich, decadent crème pralinèe. In other words: heaven.
Jacques Genin takes a little more liberty with his crème pralinèe (for some, bigger is better, n'est-ce pas?) His pastry is a more traditional ring, dusted with hazelnuts.
Everyone has their own preferences and predilections. I would go for either man's brest. Conticini's is compact, refined, densely powerful. Genin's is light and airy, over the top wonderful. Both are wonderful specimens.