I have a bit of a sweet tooth and as you may have noticed in my posts, it can be hard for me to pass up desserts even when I’m full from a meal. So it should come as no surprised that I was quite excited when I received an email from Julia of Paul Croteau Confections to attend a tasting event that featured some of Paul Croteau’s confectionary delights. Unfortunately, upon reading the email more carefully, I realized that I would be stuck at work during the time of the tasting so I had to send in my regrets. Luckily for me, Julia emailed me back to let me know that I was free to drop by and pick up a sample pack of the same items at the tasting. Obviously, I wasn’t one to say no to this generous offer.
After a bit of a mix-up on my part, I finally made it to Oakridge to meet Julia and learn a little more about Paul Croteau Confections. She told me that they had leased a kiosk at Oakridge for their launch and that they’d be there until September 12 before they launch their official storefront. I’m still waiting to find out where the permanent location will be but once I find out, I’ll add an update to this post! Update: I just found out that Paul Croteau Confections’ storefront will be located Campagnolo on Main Street (address at the bottom of this post)!
Paul is actually the dessert and pastry chef at Refuel and Campagnolo. Julia told me that after eating several of Paul’s creations at the restaurant, they finally convinced Paul to open a shop since there was a lack of high-end candy stores in Vancouver. Then, of course, there are the macarons as well, which I was told is the definite highlight in Paul’s repertoire. After taking a quick tour around the kiosk and chatting with Julia for a bit, I headed home to make dinner so I could eat the treats from the sample pack for dessert.
First up were the Pate de fruits, which are basically decadent and fancy versions of fruit roll-ups. I have to admit that I am not a huge fan of pate de fruits in general…there is something about the texture and even after eating them in France, they’re still not my cup of tea so it’s a bit biased for me to comment on them here. These pate de fruits were packed with a fruity flavour, melted in your mouth, and were on par with what I’ve eaten at other places, but I’m still not a huge fan.
I did really like the almond square, which you see in the bottom picture at the top though. There was a great almond flavour (of course!) and I liked the sugary caramel crust at the bottom. The almond squares are actually a traditional Italian biscuit, although I would call it more of a candy than a biscuit.
Julia told me that the grignotine (middle below) were one of her favourite items at PC Confections and I have to agree with her after sample all of my goodies. These were made of candied hazelnuts, dipped in Valrhona chocolate, and lightly dusted in cocoa powder. There was just enough of a candy coating on the nuts to give them an extra crunch and the hazelnuts themselves had a ton of flavour. One of my favourite candies to make is actually similar to this but made with almonds but I like this hazelnut version much more.
The nougat was actually pretty mild in flavour and I did not find it too sweet, which I liked. The version here was made with almonds, pistachios, and hazelnuts but I definitely tasted the pistachios the most. The nougat was still soft, which I like more than hard nougats.
The salted butter caramel was very sweet but it was slightly tempered by a salty finish. It was very buttery and rich and if you are a fan of caramel, you would likely enjoy this quite a bit. You probably can’t eat too many of these in one sitting but I did enjoy the half caramel I shared with Jenkins.
And finally, I was on to the macarons. I started off with chocolate version and that actually turned out to be my favourite. It was packed full of chocolate flavour and was not overly sweet. It was also larger than most of the macarons available in Vancouver and reminded me a little of the giant macarons I used to eat in Paris. I’m not sure if it’s because of the larger size, but the almond meringue “cookies” seemed a bit denser than what I had recently eaten at some other places.
Next, I tried the salted caramel macaron. I found the salted caramel filling to be too sweet for my taste and it was actually a bit difficult to taste any salty flavour in this at all.
I saved the pistachio for last because I thought it would have been my favourite. However, because the salted caramel macaron had been so sweet, it was actually quite difficult for me to taste any pistachio flavour in my last macaron. This is due to the order in which I ate the macarons rather than due to the macaron itself so it’s hard for me to judge.
At $4.50 for a pack of 3 macarons, I found this to be quite reasonable. PC Confections currently has other macaron flavours, including chocolate passion fruit, which I would have really liked to try. Julia told me that they are going to try and introduce seasonal flavours depending on what’s in season. That sounded like quite a good idea to me and I am looking forward to tryout out their other macaron flavours for sure.
I definitely had my favourites at Paul Croteau Confections and that’s to be expected. With the holiday season slowly and sneakily creeping up on us, I think many of Paul’s offerings will make pretty good presents.
Oakridge (in a kiosk between Zellers and Blenz) until Sept 12, 2010. At the end of September, a storefront will be opened above Campagnolo:
2nd floor, 1020 Main Street, Vancouver