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Report on Fauchon and other sweets (long)

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Report on Fauchon and other sweets (long)

Adam Stephanides | Jul 15, 2001 09:29 PM

When I visited New York City in May, the first place on my must-visit list was Fauchon (442 Park Ave. at 56th). I had adored the pastries I'd had at Fauchon in Paris--nothing in New York could match them, including Payard's and Bouley Bakery--and I'd moved out of New York, back to the midwest, just a few weeks before the New York Fauchon opened. So the first chance I got, I rushed to Fauchon.

When I got there, I discovered that, unlike the Paris Fauchon, they did not sell pastries to take away, although they did sell chocolates and various packaged foods. They did, however, serve afternoon tea, so I went for that. The menu had close to a hundred varieties of tea, if not more, plus various coffees, tea cakes, sandwiches and so on, but I was only interested in pastries. The selection of these was more limited: only five, all chocolate-based. I ordered the poivre de java (yup, flavored with pepper). It was excellent. The pepper wasn't hot or overpowering; it just added an intriguing spiciness. It didn't quite live up to my memory of the Paris Fauchon, but it was better than anything I've had at Payard's and nearly anything I've had at Bouley Bakery.

Now for the bad part. It cost twelve dollars, not including tax and tip. I hasten to add that I'm not saying this price is unjustified; for all I know, they fly their pastries in from Paris daily. And I freely admit it's irrational to be more bothered by paying twelve dollars for a piece of pastry than paying $145 for a full dinner. Yet I was. In part, it was because of the requirement than one sit down and be waited on, which surely adds a couple dollars, at least, to the price.

I mention the price not to warn people off, but to warn them of sticker shock. In fact I thought my pastry was well worth twelve dollars, so much so that I returned for a second visit. This time, I discovered that of the five pastries on the menu, only two were actually available: the poivre de java, and the "griottes" (chocolate and cherries). Having already had the former, I ordered the latter; and while it was good, it didn't compare to the poivre de java. I tried to find out from my waitress if the other pastries on the menu were ever available, but I couldn't seem to make my question clear to her; I did gather that the poivre de java was the most popular, and the most often available.

As for the other things available there, I don't remember them very well. I do recall various types of honey and preserves. They also sell chocolates, as I said. These were good, but not my favorites: you can do better at the "usual suspects," in my opinion (and my favorite chocolates, as I've said before, are Laderach chocolates, which are available in Manhattan only in Macy's basement, as far as I know).

Other noteworthy sweets: at the misleadingly named Petrossian Cafe (there was only one table, which wasn't in use) I bought a chocolate mousse tart with fleur de sel and a blueberry and blackberry tart; both were very good (911 7th Ave.). At Cookies and Couscous, in the Village, I had watermelon absinthe sorbet and green tea and fresh mint ice cream, which was in texture more like a sorbet. Both were good, though I'm not really into sorbets. The banana batida at Casa Adela (in Jim's book) was very good: like a milkshake, but not thick. It was refreshing and creamy, and not too sweet. I wasn't that impressed with my one trip to Goupil & DeCarlo, but I liked El Eden, the chocolate truffle store in the East Village, a lot (except for the one with white chocolate I had, which was cloyingly sweet).

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