It's pretty obvious that I love to eat. After all, this blog is about eating and lots of it. One thing you might've noticed is the very small amount that I allocate to sweets. Hey, don't get me wrong, I like sweets, I just don't love them. That would be reserved for people like Mijune. So, when I was invited to the Paul Croteau Confections tasting, it didn't elicit an immediate response. I mulled around the idea for a time. In the end, I was curious enough to accept the invitation. The venue for this tasting was Refuel. Why this location? Paul Croteau happens to be the dessert chef at Refuel and Campagnolo. His resume is impressive, having worked at Lumiere, Boneta and currently with Refuel. It happened to be a rainy Thursday morning in Vancouver. What better to have sweets for breakfast?
Traffic was light and I arrived much too early for the tasting, so I drove around doing re-shoots of restaurant fronts. Yes, I'm pretty OCD about that. Walking through the doors into Refuel, Paul was carefully plating his sweet creations. They sure looked good! After a short wait, we were escorted to a long table with little bites waiting to be tasted. Starting from left to right, we started with the Passionfruit Jelly. There was an intense flavour with strong essence. It was very sweet, slightly tart and tasted exactly like passionfruit. The Raspberry Jelly had a deep flavour with several layers of taste finishing off with nice aromatics. Both jellies were soft. Next was the Nougatine with hazelnut, pistachios, almonds and cocoa nibs. At first bite, there was a definitive pistachio hit with a hazelnut finish. It was not too sweet and had a nice crunchy contrast to the chewy nougat. Lots of roasted nut flavour with crunchy bits.
Moving along, we made it to the Almond Square. Consisting of roasted almond slices, candied grapefruit with honey caramel, this was very buttery and sweet. This was partially balanced by the candied grapefruit. Waiting to be unwrapped, the Salted Caramel was very buttery. Naturally, it was also very sweet which was further intensified by the salt. It was very smooth and had a nice aftertaste. The last item on the plate was a pile of Hazelnut Grignotine. This was hands-down the best item in my opinion. These consisted of roasted
hazelnuts coated in dark chocolate and cocoa. From the first bite, my taste buds were greeted with intense roasted hazelnut and dark chocolate. Nutty, crunchy and only semi-sweet, these are addictive.
If that wasn't enough, we moved onto the Macarons. We had 3 to try, starting from the left, was the Pistachio filled with a white chocolate and pistachio paste. There was a sugary, understated nutty, pistachio flavour. In the middle lay the Salted Caramel consisting of a butter caramel with sea salt. It was very buttery with an intense caramel taste. A little too sweet for me; but then again, that's just me. Last up was the best of the Macarons - Valrhona Chocolate Ganache. Consisting of chocolate liquor on the outside and 100% chocolate on the inside, there was a rich, bittersweet chocolate hit. I liked how this was least sweet of the 3. Thanks to Vandelay, I've had Pierre Hermes Macarons before and of course it would be unfair to compare them with Paul Croteau (since Pierre Hermes is in Paris). But my point is that although Paul Croteau is nowhere near Pierre Hermes, the Macarons are still good (especially for Vancouver).
Pretty good. That's the bottom line here. Despite not being a dessert lover, I do know what I like and do not like. In this case, I generally liked all of it and not because it was free either. Paul Croteau is passionate about his work which in turn is translated into his products. Although he is just opening up shop with his new location above Campagnolo, Paul Croteau has already established himself as a someone to keep an eye on.
- No lack of flavour
- Fairly reasonable pricing
- Paul Croteau is passionate and it shows in his creations
- Some items maybe a bit too sweet
- Macarons should be packaged in a box, so they won't be crushed