Choux pastry is simple to make. You heat water and butter together, add flour to turn it into a roux, allow it to cool slightly then beat egg into it. The shiny dough is then piped or spooned onto a baking sheet. Into a hot oven and pouf – it will expand to 3 times its size and hollow out, cavernous and asking for a filling.
Traditionally sweet choux pastry came in 4 flavours, vanilla, chocolate, coffee & caramel. The Parisians gave it the haute couture treatment some time ago – notably shops like L’éclair de Genie, L’atelier de L’Éclair or for those who favour rotund to oblong: Odette. But then, the French have always excelled at sprinkling transformational fancy fairy dust on things to extraordinary effect.
In Barcelona we’ve got churros. Savoury chewy dough, deep-fried and served in a paper cone with grease stains coming through instantly. Leo & Thomas, the young owners at Patachou seem set to remedy that. They have a delightful collection of profiteroles (cream puffs) and eclairs to choose from. Familiar ones and less typical types like yogurt pineapple and matcha or cheesecake.
“And we are experimenting with savoury eclairs. I will be tasting them next week.”
Leo is young, energetic and enthusiastic. The energy rolling off him is palpable.
“What is your background?” I ask.
“I was a student, then I went to work for a big corporation. I came to Barcelona, I met a Catalan girl and I stayed. I didn’t want to work for someone again. Thomas (his business partner) was at Deloitte & Touche before.”
The business schooling, the former corporate life, it’s visible all over the shop. Even the welcome matt sport the Patachou logo, they have aprons for sale and even “design your own profiterole” cards on some of the tables.
Leo hands me a gold wrapped macaron d’Amiens. “Try them, we just got them in. They are made by Jean Trogneaux, same family as Brigitte Trogneaux (now Brigitte Macron)”.
“She was my French teacher in highschool.” he adds.
“Who was? Macron’s wife! Get out!”
I consider his energy. “So you could have been the president of France?” I smile.
“Maybe I still can – in the future.”
If I could syphon off some of that energy. I contend myself with eclairs. Chocolate of course. Lemon meringue profiterole and a cheesecake one. It’s clear they are made fresh daily. I am a sucker for a good eclair and Patachou are making a good one.
114, Roger de lluria