If you haven’t heard of Jacques Genin yet, don’t worry, you are not alone as he spent years and years as a reclusive chocolatier making little gems of deliciousness for the bigwigs of French cuisine. More comfortable out of the limelight in this celebrity-chef driven world, Jacques Genin probably aspires to perfection on his own terms, and this philosophy comes through in his chocolates and desserts. So, at great risk to personal health and financial well-being, I visited his new shop in Paris and tried some of his desserts. As you can read, its hard to be snarky and sarcastic when the experience was good!
Mille Feuille (French) or Milhoja (Spanish) basically just means 1000 Leaves in English, a reference to the layers of flakey puff pastry that make up this iconic pastry. Mille Feuille, sadly, is oftentimes assembled waaaay too ahead of time and ends up with flaccid pastry layers.
I shall hereby make a statement bordering on ignorance and extreme bias based on very limited experience in eating Mille Feuille in Europe. It seems that Mille Feuille in France uses a lighter, flakier pastry than in Spain, where it is more crunchy and ‘tight’.
Having tried a few MF’s in France and Japan, my favourite version is still the Spanish one. However, I have to say Jacques Genin’s MF is the best I’ve had so far, but can only be made a la minute, or it will lose its amazing lightness and texture. This version here is the one we did at Pasteleria Totel in Spain, using an inverted puff pastry base. Here is the recipe:
Memories came back when I boarded the Toyoko line train at Shibuya. It seemed that the 5 years past was just yesterday as I got off at Toritsu Daigaku station. The last time I came to this station in 2004, it was in a different life, not the life of a kitchen cockroach like the present. I was living at a friend’s place about 5 mins walk from the station, and it sure brings back memories.
About 10 mins from Toritsu Daigaku is Tadashi Yanagi’s shop (Exit station, turn left and walk to the main road, turn left and continue walking, the shop is on the opposite side of the road). Walking past his shop, you can take a small peek into the kitchen through a small window and a strong yearning in my heart began. One day, I will work in this city.