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FOOD HOLIDAY: National Chocolate Eclair Day

June 22nd is National Chocolate Éclair Day. Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts has gone beyond mere classic chocolate, announcing the launch of a global éclair program helmed by the great Johnny Iuzzini, James Beard Award winner for Outstanding Pastry Chef. Le Méridien guests worldwide can indulge in a variety of modern twists on the Parisian pastry.

Chef Johnny will create eight seasonal éclair recipes, inspired by his travels through various Le Méridien destinations (tough job!). Each hotel will offer modern takes on three signature éclair flavors—chocolate, coffee and vanilla—as well as one locally inspired flavor.

You’ll find Maple Bacon Éclair and Texas Honey Pecan Éclair at Le Méridien Dallas, and Dulce de Leche Éclair, infused with coconut, at Le Méridien Panama. In Germany, Le Méridien Munich will offer a savory éclair with goat cheese, cranberry and pumpernickel crumbs, while Le Méridien Bangkok will feature a citrus-inspired treat with mango, lime and ginger.

How do we get onto the global Le Méridien éclair tour?
ÉCLAIR HISTORY

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Chef Johnny Iuzzini gets groovy with éclairs. Photo courtesy Le Meridien Hotels.
 
An elongated, finger-shaped pastry made of pâte à choux (puff pastry), filled with whipped cream or custard and topped with ganache or a glacé icing (glaze), the éclair is known to have originated in France around the turn of the 19th century.

The Oxford English Dictionary traces the word “éclair” in the English language to 1861. The first known recipe for éclairs appears in the 1884 edition of the Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, edited by Mrs. D.A. Lincoln (and later by Fanny Farmer). “Éclair” is the French word for lightning. It is suggested that the pastry received its name because it glistens when coated with confectioner’s glaze. We would suggest that it is because they are so popular that they disappear as quickly as lightning.

Many food historians speculate that éclairs were first made by Marie-Antoine Carême (1874-1833). This brilliant man, cast out by his impoverished family at the age of 10, made his way in the world to become the first “celebrity chef.” He is considered to be the founder and architect of French haute cuisine; an enormously popular cookbook author and chef to Talleyrand, the future George IV of England, Emperor Alexander I of Russia and Baron James de Rothschild. The elite clamored for invitations to dinners cooked by Carême.

We can only dream…and live vicariously by reading his biography.
  




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