Some of you may be aware that I am trying to achieve some decent baking skills before year end and to be able to bake a reasonably batch of macarons. I bought my first proper baking book ever. A very popular recommendation from twittverse. It shall be reviewed in the coming weeks. Please stay with me as I thread onto the world of flour, butter, sugar and eggs.
An invitation to a proper patisserie to taste and ….. this post is not about me but a very talented patisser, Neil Mckenzie (trained in Le Cordon Bleu) and the newly opened shop, Parisan Patisserie that is set up by him and his wife, Majella. This Parisan Patisserie Boulangerie is located in North Essendon and it’s just a 5 mins drive from home! Perfect!
We were greeted by the lovely aromas of baked goods. The Parisan was buzzing with people and activities front and back of the cafe. It had a certain warmth that filled the space. I like this place already and not pastries or coffee yet! Mister and I were egged on to get ourselves from pastries. We sheepishly ordered a pane au chocolat, almond croissant, custard donut, some macarons and 2 coffees.
A warning that this is going to be quite an epic post and of course, food porn. Brase yourself, tighten your seatbelt. You are in for a sweet ride Let’s start with the infamous almond croissant. No almond essence is used here. No say Neil. We go for quality and the right ingredients here at the Parisan. Almond meal is used instead and it isn’t the usually flaky croissant that we are familiar with. This is more bready. Every mouthful is buttery soft, almond-y and a little textural crunch from the almond flakes generous sprinkled on top. I will advise getting in early for the almond croissant. They fly out of the doors. We were told that they sell about 160 of these babies a day!
Mister loves his Beignets de crème or also known as custard donut. I think he went quite silent after the first bite. A brioche donut? We learnt that most of the goods here are brioche-based except for the croissants. No wonder they go through about 30kg of Warrnambool butter a week! Both the dough and custard were light. Lovely custard. I wish I had one all by myself. I was licking my fingers into of everyone. Hope it is taken as a compliment By the way, is it doughnut or donut?
Neil told us a beautiful story of how his little daughter is learning by sight. He told us how she was given a small piece of dough to bring home and she actually made rolled the dough out and crimped it into little tart tins. I can imagine how talented and what a great pastry chef she will be when she grows up! Better watch out Mr. Neil, your little baby will be the queen pastissier one day
I took a little sip of my Veneziano latte and continued our chat. Neil was curious about blogging and wondered what the difference is between a food journalist and a blogger. A journalist is usually a good writer or good with words and a blogger may not be. For instance, my grammar is shocking and I have a limited range of adjectives. Personally, blogging is more about the experience and the moment rather than a researched piece of article. It’s like a personal diary for me. Some bloggers expressed themselves through beautiful photography and some through words and some both. Ultimately, it is a space that encourages creativity and for some, a space to vent. I am sure many bloggers will have a different opinion and happy to hear about them. What do you think?
The macarons have nice feet.
Lovely IronChefShellie and her mum joined us. Yippee! More pastries to try. I really believe that some are born to be pastry chefs. Neil was a trained chef that worked in hot kitchens and it took him a few years to transition into a pastry chef. He always love baking cakes. Never knew why until one day adopted Neil came in contact with his paternal parents and found out his Grandma used to be bake and create beautiful wedding cake. The ones with lacing and all the frills! BANG…. that is my excuse to be a poor baker
Apricot brioche – Buttery goodness.
Both Michele & her mum are tea drinkers and they were so impressed with the $80 handmade infusion teapot and the bone china teacups. The tea is infused for 2 mins before serving and so the temperature is just right. And the other thing that was pointed out was how the metal nets are sitting to the side. This provides proper infusion. What makes The Parisian a stand out is its attention to details, the years of experience, the determination to get it right and of course, the undeniable passion.
Strawberry tart – The crust was very buttery, light and melt in the mouth. I am quite big on Victorian seasonal fruits so will be great to see this in late spring instead. But I have to say, this is pretty damn good. Finger licking good!
I also learnt that goute is a snack that French children have at 4pm. That is a great tradition. I think I shall have to impose it on myself! This little cafe is done up in black and white. Neil and his wife must have many fond memories in Paris. Lovely black and white photos collected in their time spent in Paris lined the back of the walls of this little cafe.
Neil bakes everything on site. They even do extensive made to order list of French cakes and desserts, including the notorious Croquembouche and luxurious chocolate truffle cake. All the lovely pastries is created and baked from this little kitchen where 4 pastry chefs danced around each other everyday. These chefs start at 5am and work through till 6pm. The hours are crazy. Hats off to all chefs.
I think I need to head back to try this savory brioche. My eyes, nose and whole body followed this tray of brioche…. Must return!
It was very generous of Neil to offer us takeaways. Mister and I decided to have the brioche pizza for later consumption. Please do not be deceived by this photo. It did survive the market trip before we headed home. It looks thick but so light when eaten. I felt less guilty!
We were also given 6 macarons to take home! From left to right – Pistachio, Cassis, Rose water, Coffee mocha, strawberry and lemon. Rose water is my favourite and followed closely by pistachio. Well balanced sweetness that did not overpower the hero flavour. These are some of the better ones around Melbourne. And they seem to shoot out of the door quite quickly as well!
A photo of Neil and myself.
And also I will like to thank Neil from taking time off to answer my little Q&A.
1. How do you describe your shop to people that have not been?
Parisian is just amazing, there is nothing like it in Melbourne, it’s just so French, so fantastic, it has to be seen to be believed.
2. What makes a great patissier?
Passion, it really must come from the heart, you really need to have a natural touch for it.
3. Who are your favourite customers?
All of the locals, they are just so welcoming and have a love and respect for us and our team, they have welcomed us back with open arms after our short hiatus away from Essendon.
4. Where else in the world is the best place for patisserie outside of Paris
Vienna in Austria, as that’s actually where pastries as we know them originated from. Marie Antoinette brought them to France with her when she married Louis the Sixteenth. Vienna also has a very defined pastry culture much like that of France.
5. If you could eat one pastry for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A croissant, just a beautiful buttery plain croissant, its so simple yet so perfect.
6. Any advice for young and aspiring patissiers?
Start out by getting some work experience in various pastry kitchens, you’ll know quickly enough if this is really for you or not. You need to prepared for really long hours on your feet and you need to remember that it’s a science, everything in pastry has to be exact there is no guessing, so don’t get into patissier unless you are prepared to perfect every little step
** By the way Neil. I decided to ditch my scone idea. Worked on another idea but turned out….. Back to the drawing board.
After so much pastries, was it wrong to crave for more? We had such a fun, delicious and sweet Saturday morning. And will like to thank Neil for his hospitality and generosity. Thanks for bringing a piece of Paris to Melbourne. Special thanks to Eugiena (Harvey Publicity) for the invite and giving up some of your weekend to take us through Parisan.
Please note – The Parisan is opened 7am – 6pm Monday to Friday and 7pm to 4pm on Saturday.
Is macaron the new cupcake?