Brioche; it's French for Crack!*
*Brioche is not French for crack, it is actually a French bread that contains a high egg and butter content, to give it a rich and tender crumb. But once you try the brioche at Parisian, you'll swear it's made from crack. (Iron Chef Shellie has not tried crack, nor does she endorse taking drugs). For more information on brioche, head over to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brioche
Neil and his wife Majella McKenzie, are responsible for bringing Melbourne it's very own slice of Paris. A trip to Parisian Patisserie Boulangerie, will have you wanting more. If I had my way, I would have taken home one of everything available, for research purposes... of course!
Parisian has only been open for about 12 weeks, but sell 160 almond croissants and sells out of his many other moreish pastries by 3pm daily. Going through 30kgs of the finest Warrnambool butter, and 1620 free range eggs a week; you know it's bound to be good!
Neil started out as an apprentice chef at the age of 15. After many years as a restaurant chef, he started baking cakes and decorating them for friends and family, as well as learning all the great traditional country cakes from his mother-in-law. He then started making wedding cakes and cakes to supply to local cafes.
Neil was adopted, and in 2001 met his birth parents, and grandparents. It turns out his grandmother used to make intricate wedding cakes, so being in the cake business was in Neil's blood.
After selling their previous patisseries; St Germaine in Essendon and French Quarter in North Melbourne, Neil and Majella moved to Paris in 2001. Neil enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu culinary school to start the art of pastries and cakes.
They completely immersed themselves in the French culture, planning their own pastries and drawing inspiration from Neils' culinary hero, Pierre Hermé and their local Parisian community. Neil tells us they went to every French patisserie and tried the cakes. After hearing that, you'd expect him to be the size of a house, but not with the portion sizes in Paris! Neil said they asked a waiter for more cake, as the serving sizes were so small (2 bites and it's finished), and the waiter replied "You Australian's! You eat too much!" I'd be happy to go and research every French patisserie too, if anyone out there wants to fund such a trip for me.... and the liposuction at the end of the trip!
Neil also collected a massive amount of cookbooks. It took six years to perfect the brioche recipe that Parisian uses. If you ask me, it was six years well spent, as it is so good, words alone cannot describe.
Parisian has a custom made Synchro expresso machine for all you coffee lovers out there. But what really impressed me was the tiny $80 teapots the organic tea comes in. Majella an avid tea connoisseur made things perfect for tea drinkers at Parisian, from sourcing these amazing teapots, to the fine blend of organic tea leaves.
The fine china cups to drink from, then tea pots themselves that are handmade in China. The tea is steeped for 2 minutes before bringing it out to the customer, which makes it the perfect time for the customer to pour straight away. And the organic tea is amazing, and doesn't get bitter towards the end like normal tea leaves do. As a tea nut, I would like to thank Majella for going to such efforts, it does make all the difference.
Chai is also on offer, so next time it looks like I'll be having me a chai!
Neil bakes everything on site and also has an extensive made to order list of French cakes and desserts, including the notorious Croquembouche and luxurious chocolate truffle cake.
Baked daily at Parisian Patisserie Boulangerie
• Croissants d'amande
• Mille Feuille
• Tartes de Frangipane de baie (Berry Frangipane Tarts)
• Tartes de fraise
• Tartes aux citrone
• Tartes aux macadamia
• Brioches mélangées de baie (Mixed Berry Brioches)
• Brioches d'abricot et d'amande (Apricot and almond brioches)
• Baked cheesecakes
• Beignets de chocolat
• Beignets de crème
• Pane au chocolats
• Egg and prosciutto brioches
• Roasted vegetable and pesto brioches
• Torsions de fromage (Cheese twists)
• Petite fours
• Escargots de choclate
• Traditional French lemon tea cakes
• Chocolate truffle cakes
• Brioche loaves
• Charlotte au Fraise (Strawberry Charlotte)
I took my mum down for the drive, and luckily Penny and her boy were down at Parisian too, so this helped us try the maximum amount of pastries possible. Here is what we ate:
The famous almond croissant! Yes, it was amazing. There is a damn good reason Neil sells out of these everyday. Infact he has trouble keeping up with demand even! Filled and topped with almond meal, the sweetness is just perfect. No almond essence is used. The croissant itself is not too flaky, it's just perfection.
Neil had told us of a batch that didn't make the cut the morning we were there. As a result, it doesn't go out to the customer, as they will know it's not right. The duds get sent home with staff.... not a bad perk!
The apricot brioche was highly recommended by Eugiena from Harvey Publicity, a frequent visitor at Parisian. It wasn't hard to see why, it was so light and full of gorgeous apricot flavour. Flaked almonds over the top just made it perfect.
I was expecting the cream filled doughnut to be heavy, but it was surprising and incredibly light, thanks to the brioche recipe! The cream was so light and silky smooth... next time I must try the chocolate one.
So light again thanks to the brioche recipe. The pain au chocolat uses couverture chocolate so that it doesn't melt, but retains it's shape whilst cooking. Like most things baked at Parisian, it is sprinkled with snow sugar not icing sugar. As icing sugar tends to melt away and disappear, snow sugar stays visible.
Mum ordered something from the fridge, and boy am I glad she did. This strawberry tart was amazing. The freshest, sweetest strawberries topped a beautiful creamy center and perfect crust.
With gorgeous French decor and a cosy setting, we lost track of time and headed into the kitchen.
Four chefs squeeze into the little kitchen at Parisian. The small kitchen means more dining space for customers. It's like they have carefully co-ordinated their movements and dance around each other. We seem to be getting in the way, so don't stay in there for too long.
I got to take home 2 of these almond croissants, fresh from the oven! Can't get fresher than that!
Apart from the huge range of sweets available, there are some of the most amazing looking sandwiches and baguettes to choose from too. Alas, next time I shall try that fantastic looking chicken ribbon sandwich.
I got some pastries to take home, the brioche savoury pizza, the roast vegetable and pesto brioche, and almond crossiants. Can i just say, savoury flavours with brioche dough..... FAN_FREAKING_TASTIC!! I only got a couple of bites, as I was a good girl and shared, but wow, I was so wanting more. I woke up wanting more... I must HAVE MORE!!
Parisian only uses gruyere and swiss cheese.
How could I not go home without macarons?!
Macarons were perfect, just like everything else; nice and chewy with crunchy shell.
Green: pistachio - best pistachio macaron i've had! Lovely almond tasting filling.
Purple: cassis - nice balance between sour and sweet as well. Flavours just pop in your mouth.Light Pink: rose - better than lindt, flowery notes do not over power.
Brown: coffee - i don't usually like coffee but the flavours are lovely. Reminds me of a really like coffee flavoured milk I once had.
Pink: strawberry- wow, fantastic strawberry flavour, taste like a very good strawberry jam and definitely uses real strawberries.
Yellow: lemon - nice tart flavour but the creamy filling mellows it out for a nice balance of sweet and sour.
All waitstaff at very helpful, and with the lovely atmosphere, it's no wonder the locals are flocking here. If only it was closer to home, I'd be going their every week myself. I'd probably become enourmous in size too... everything in moderation!
I can't wait to go back, if anyone needs a lift to the airport, a trip to Parisian is on the way!
Parisian is open from Monday to Friday from 7am to 6pm and Saturday from 7am to 4pm
Iron Chef Shellie was a guest of Parisian Patisserie Boulangerie thanks to Harvey Publicity.
Thanks to Eugiena and Neil for their gracious hospitality.