Sugared & Spiced

pâtissière in paris, now shanghai

[Taipei] 1789 Café, by Cyrille Courant

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1789 Café, by Cyrille Courant

Add: 97-1, Section 2 Renai Road, Taipei / 台北市中正區仁愛路二段97-1號
Tel:
(02) 3322 2089
Hours:
[Tue-Sun] 11am-8pm (closed on Mon)
Price:
120-150 NTD/éclair
Website: 
www.1789.com.tw
Visited: Feb 2015

Chef Cyrille Courant has been roaming around the world for a while. He started his cuisine training in France, and subsequently worked in Germany, England, China, and eventually Taiwan where he decided to settle and open a pastry boutique (more details on his professional career here). I first met Cyrille and his wife Sabine back in 2013 at a little cafe in Paris, where we shared our pastry stories (his being infinitely richer than mine) over a few of glasses of wine and some saucissons. He was still in the planning stage of his boutique at the time, and – without having tasted any of his pastries – I could already tell that he is someone passionate for and dedicated to his profession. Cyrille opened his boutique in early 2014, and during my current trip to Taipei, I finally had the chance to try his creations.

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Cyrille’s boutique, named 1789 Café, is dainty and efficient. It starts with a bright pastry display, a few tables just behind to the left, a chocolate display corner, and an exhibition kitchen with counter seats for those who want to gawk at the pastry chefs at work. The boutique opens at 11am, but I went in earlier to see the kitchen during their morning prep time. Here are some action shots…

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When I arrived at 9:30am, Cyrille and his two pâtissiers were in the middle of finishing the éclairs – piping the cream, glazing the top, decorating with chocolates and fresh fruits, etc. Seeing them at work reminded me of my days at Fauchon, where I garnished and glazed endless éclairs day after day…I really wanted to roll up my sleeves and join in on the action!

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To give you an idea of how a typical éclair is done, let’s look at the salted caramel éclair. The empty cream puff shell, pre-baked and let cooled at room temperature, is first garnished with caramel cream, glazed, then decorated with a white chocolate logo and a cube of Isigny butter, and lastly finished with a pinch of sea salt.

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The Paris-Brest, for another, is first sliced in half horizontally, garnished with praliné, hazelnut cream, covered back up, and dusted with icing sugar.

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Baked apple caramel toffee éclair being glazed.

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I’ve always loved the open kitchen design. The window allows those on the outside to have a glimpse of how the alluring pastries are made, and likewise enables the pastry chefs to see their hard work being savored by customers. This immediate (and hopefully positive) feedback does wonders in motivating those in the kitchen – this is me speaking from experience, having worked in both open and enclosed kitchens. Cyrille knows this all too well, and hence the current kitchen design. “We have nothing to hide here,” he added, “everything is done properly and cleanly.”

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As it will soon be St. Valentines day, Cyrille’s team is also busy making special decorations for this limited edition éclairs. Check their Facebook Page for flavor updates.

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Around 10:30am, all the éclairs are done and sent to the boutique for display.

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How very charming!

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Other than éclairs, 1789 Café also does a few variety of pond cakes, such as this pretty one with almond, vanilla, and raspberry.

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Chocolates, all done in house.

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There’s a guava chocolate bar (second one from the left) that I’d be very interested in tasting…

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Time for a little dégustation. On this first visit, I tried the following: salted caramel, lemon, mont blanc, berriolette, and Paris-Brest (120-150 NTD/each).

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The products at 1789 Café are very thoughtfully put together. Take the berriolette as an example, an éclair composed of vanilla cream and the puree of raspberry, blueberry, and violet flower. Instead of using fondant or almond paste, two ingredients typically used to decorate éclairs, Cyrille has chosen to use raspberry jelly instead, which adds flavor instead of unnecessary sweetness to the pastry. It’s a small detail that makes a big difference.

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The lemon is yet another showcase. Instead of using one single type of lemon to make the cream, Cyrille chooses a mix of French lemons (more acidic) and Taiwanese lemons (more bitter) to achieve a soothing balance that’s more agreeable to the Taiwanese palate. On a related note, the pastries at 1789 are full of flavor but not too rich or heavy – one can easily polish off three or four éclairs in a sitting without feeling laden.

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With a cup of coffee, these would make the perfect afternoon.

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Unlike Shanghai or Hong Kong, Taipei is not exactly a city that attracts foreigners to linger and set up their own shops, which makes Cyrille and Sabine’s boutique all the more precious. With Cyrille himself in the kitchen everyday, I have no doubt that the quality will be consistently high. This is truly a place where one can taste dedication, a must visit for pastry lovers in the city.

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Written by sugarednspiced

February 5th, 2015 at 8:02 pm