Sweet Side: French pastries and macarons bring Paris pleasures to Davis Street

Canadian born chocolatier and Master Pastry Chef Ghyslain Maurais will be at the Frenchman’s Corner Saturday from 12-2 p.m. Stop by and try one of his delectable macarons or pastries. Courtesy photo
Canadian born chocolatier and Master Pastry Chef Ghyslain Maurais will be at the Frenchman’s Corner Saturday from 12-2 p.m. Stop by and try one of his delectable macarons or pastries.
Courtesy photo

Meg Ast

Being married to my French born husband for the past three decades, we have made multiple trips to Paris and explored many of the finest patisseries (pastry shops) that Paris has to offer. I thought I would share with you some of my favorites.

While many artisanal pastry shops find a new way to create items for the ever evolving palates such as Macha Tea Cake, I prefer the original French classics such as, the Religieuse and, of course the éclair, a long puffed pastry filled with chocolate or coffee cream, both a particular favorite of my husband. My new best friend when I visit Paris is the pastry Baba au Rhum. Whether it’s a chocolate or a pastry, if it is combined with a liqueur, it is usually on my “best friend” list.

Back in 1725, when the future Queen of France Marie Antoinette of Austria married Louis XVI she was allowed to bring her pastry chef Stohrer to the French court. One of his most famous cakes is the Baba au Rhum which is still made as it was in 1730. It is a small yeast cake liberally soaked with rum and always served in a hard plastic container so as to not waste the sweet taste of the rum. The shop, Stohrer, still utilizes the same recipe as was used almost 300 years before.

Another favorite is the very high-end Daloyau Gavilon located in the swanky 8th district, a stone’s throw from the French President’s residence. A store rich in history as the family business can trace its roots to the French Court back to 1682. They have multiple locations in Paris, however, this one is the oldest and most charming, and we enjoy the upstairs café where you can have dessert while watching the passersby on the street. Along with our next Parisian patisserie, Daloyau Gavilon makes some of the best macarons along with many of the French classic pastries, all delicious.

My last but not least is Laduree, a temple for the French macaron and one the world’s most famous makers of this small delightful double decker soft meringue like cake filled with buttercream or jam. They sell an astonishing 15,000 macarons each day. It is virtually impossible to eat just one of these delectables, most purchase a set of six because one is never enough. Another reason to like Laduree so much, I do not need to be in Paris to enjoy their pastries or macarons, they can be now be found at two locations in New York City.

We worked hard to find ways to bring some of these marvels to our customers in Culpeper, and it has been no easy task due to the amount of logistics behind it. This year we can say we made it with the help of Master Pastry Chef Ghyslain Maurais. Born in Quebec, the French speaking artist was trained in Lyon, France, and started his career at the Canadian Mission to the United Nations. He settled in Indiana, where his American born wife is from, and opened his operation over 20 years ago.

While we do not have every combination of pastries, we carry 20 different French pastries and Macarons made with the same uncompromising quality you will find in Paris. Chef Maurais will honor us with this presence on Saturday April 23, 2016 from 12-2 at our Culpeper store and we hope you can take a small stroll down Davis Street and experience some of life’s finest pleasures.

Marc and Meg Oremiatzki-Ast are the owners of The Frenchman’s Corner on Davis Street. You may reach the Frenchman at 540-825-8025.