It was held at the newly opened Peninsula Hotel on 19, Avenue Kléber 75008
There were lots of traditional logs (büche) looking almost trompe l'eoil(fool the eye). A log by Spanish chef Miguel Moreno composed of praline mousseline, vanilla and coulis of apricot.
Do not put these very lifelike intensely chocolatey cakes in your fireplace svp! This luscious log is by Parisian Laurent Duchene.
'Burying the hatchet' as we know it is not a French custom. Quite the opposite. The French adore their hatchets at Xmas time, preferably in gold leaf and edible. This stunner is by Laurent Le Daniel - Rennes. The faux wood rings is a winner no? Inside milk chocolate and creme de pamplemousse!? Plus crunchy noisettes(hazelnuts).
I loved the Autumnal look of this büche by Marc Ducobu of Waterloo. A büche is classically a roulade or rolled genoise cake with flavored fillings. This one has forest fruits with a touch of violette and creme de marron confit.
A very lush and elaborate affair by chef Lionel Raux of Bayonne. Speculoos crust, vanilla cream, hazelnuts and a heart of caramel sauce. We decided we must taste this one.
How it works. The cakes on display are left untouched. You tell the waiter your choices and he goes into the kitchen for cut tastes. Some clever chefs made individual versions of their cakes like Raux did here.
Unfortunately I forgot my special Kyocera pastry knife. What was I thinking? A girl should never leave home without her pastry knife! Enfin a mess cutaway view. Yes that is a cream puff or choux sitting on top filled with more hazelnut cream. I brought Lindsey Tramuta of Lost in Cheeseland to the tasting. She picked this one out.
Here's the witty giant size version of the little bear made of ice cream on the plate. Created by Relais Desserts President Frederic Cassel of Fontainebleau. Inside: vanilla ice cream, hazelnut crumble, caramelized pecans and salted caramel. YUM
Back in the kitchen Cassel's top pastry chef Norbert takes me into the Aladdin's cave where the cakes are chilling. I would have happily stayed there to study the cakes further...
Now that I've studied the guide booklet they gave us I could use a second visit to sample some cakes I overlooked.
The inside cutaways look very different from the outside büche de Noël. They are constructed like architecture, layer by layer. Flavor on top of flavor. Contrasting texture upon texture.
Parisian Chocolatier Jean-Paul Hévin created a Christmas ball-shaped dessert not the traditional log. You lift off the dark chocolate dome to find a giant macaron filled with dark chocolate ganache flavored with red wine. There's a slice on the plate above.
I fell for this Yuzu and apple combination by Joël Baud of Besançon - very light and delicate. I'm partial to fruity desserts admittedly.
Another beauty. Love the color and playfulness of the design. By Lyonnaise chef Sebastian Bouillet. Inside pain d'epice, dark chocolate and apricots Bergeron. I'm drooling as I type...
Granny Smith apple, plus vanilla and almond by Alban Guilmet of Caen. I've only shown you 9 of the 26 buches. And to think I only tasted 6 or 7. This is tragic. I need a second go-round surely no?
Here's Lindsey chatting with Pierre Hermé who won an award for his gorgeous Fetish Ispahan book this year.
Do download the Free Relais Desserts app. There could be a member pastry chef around the corner you didn't know about. This will give you the scoop.
The Relais publishes a handsome quarterly journal in French, English and Spanish and it's free in members pastry shops. This issue was focused on what else? On the delights of French regional candies. That's why you should get the latest Paris Sketch Letter sent to you to keep on top of all things French.
The annual tasting ends with an awards ceremony. Pastry chef of Restaurant Lassere Claire Heiztler won as best chef this year. Take a look at last year's buche de Noel event here. Only in Paris do you get to eat Christmas cake TWO times a year. Isn't La Rentrée a wonderful thing! A triumphant day all around.
Bravo French pastry chefs!