Fontainebleau’s best pâtisserie… and more macaroons
April 21, 2010 § Leave a comment
Fontainebleau, 35 miles south east of Paris, is dominated by the vast palace where the kings of France took their rest and relaxation. It is also home to Patricia Highsmith’s anti-hero, the charming but dangerous Tom Ripley. In the town’s centre, you will find a vast marketplace, the imposing Baroque St Louis church and a range of chic shops clustered in the cobbled streets of the old town.
But no visit to Fontainebleau would be complete without a visit to Frédéric Cassel’s exquisite boulangerie-pâtisserie on the Rue Grande. Cassel is no ordinary provincial cake-maker: he trained at Fauchon and Pierre Hermé in Paris before setting up shop in Fontainebleau. His marketing literature discreetly informs you that he was “pâtissier of the year” in both 1999 and 2007 – quite something in France.
The queues which form outside the shop at weekends are the first hint that this is something a little out of the ordinary:
There are five distinct areas in the shop: the first displays petit fours, individual cakes and, of course, the obligatory macaroons.
Cassel does all the standard macaroon flavours plus some more unusual ones as well. Pictured below are the Punch Creole and Pina Colada macaroons alongside the more usual chocolate and raspberry:
I picked up a selection which included the aforementioned Punch Creole (rum an pineapple?) and Pina Colada (looks like coconut?) varieties alongside chestnut and chocolate to savour at leisure over a cup of coffee:
And to serve after dinner later that evening, a box of pâtisserie to share between 9 of us so it’s not as greedy as it looks:
You come next to the counter displaying savoury canapés, beautifully arranged, miniature works of art. Planning a picnic in the forest we weren’t in the market for dainty cocktail snacks but the most beautiful “oeufs surprise” served in their own eggshells, trimmed and cleaned so neatly, caught my eye. The pastel blue Cotswold Legbar eggs we find at home in the UK would look stunning given this treatment.
Cassel also makes a range of breads, croissants and other viennoiserie. There are clearly some lucky folk who call in regularly for their breakfast pastries and daily baguette.
The final area of the shop is devoted to whole large pâtisserie items – stunning fruit tarts and layered gateaux, and also to Cassel’s range of hand-made chocolates.
Here are the Easter items on display on the right hand side of the shop:
You walk out of the shop with pride clutching your precious purchases displayed in Cassel’s chic orange and brown packaging – the French couture experience all for a few Euros.
And the verdict on the cakes we brought home? Stunning, pure flavours, crisp pastry, light as air fillings. Truthfully I think the whole macaroon search for new flavours has got a little out of hand – eyes closed I would have recognised the chocolate flavour from our selectionbut the other three (chestnut, Pina colada and Punch Creole) were pretty much indistinguishable. Maybe the tried and tested flavours are the best and there’s no need for variety for its own sake.
71-73, rue Grande
Tel +33(0)1 64 22 29 59