drpeter

Super Member
As was I. There are so many things that are like that - little things that happened in the history of a company that were there for a short period of time and, then, gone.

When I was a college kid in the '80s, the Au Bon Pain near the store I worked in came out with a Napoleon that was incredible. It was there for, maybe a year or so, and then gone.

When I asked what happened, they said it was complicated to make and store and not worth the limited demand they had for it. That was thirty five years ago. I'd bet almost no one but I - and a few other crazy fans of Au Bon Pain's brief flirtation with the Napoleon - even remember it once made one.
Napoleon or mille-feuille, or other versions of the dessert is time-consuming if you create the puff pastry sheets from scratch. And Au Bon Pain probably did that. If you buy the sheets, however, then it is simply a question of mixing the paste (almond-paste or other similar stuff) and spreading it between the layers of puff pastry before baking.

I've been promising myself that I will try my hand at making a tarte tatin from scratch (basically an apple pie with pastry layers) but it is time consuming, since one has to repeatedly fold and roll out the dough each day for something like fourteen days to create the layers! Oh well, maybe next year.
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
Napoleon or mille-feuille, or other versions of the dessert is time-consuming if you create the puff pastry sheets from scratch. And Au Bon Pain probably did that. If you buy the sheets, however, then it is simply a question of mixing the paste (almond-paste or other similar stuff) and spreading it between the layers of puff pastry before baking.

I've been promising myself that I will try my hand at making a tarte tatin from scratch (basically an apple pie with pastry layers) but it is time consuming, since one has to repeatedly fold and roll out the dough each day for something like fourteen days to create the layers! Oh well, maybe next year.
I only know what you explained because my girlfriend is an incredible baker. I've learned a lot from watching her and talking with her about it. I have no skills of my own - I can boil a mean pot of water and that's about it - but have a bunch of second-hand knowledge that makes me sound as if I know what I'm talking about (but I really don't).

I'd bet you are spot on re ABP as a Napoleon is labor intensive if done all in house. The other thing, and the guy I spoke to back then said it, was it didn't stay fresh for long. As you and I know, the cream by the next day has usually made the pastry soggy.

You tarte tatin sounds outstanding. I know my girlfriend has be "perfecting" her pie crust skills for years. And while they were always good, she's now at, IMHO anyway, professional-baker level. My guess, knowing your overall talents and thoughtful approach to things, you are probably a professional-level baker yourself.
 

drpeter

Super Member
I only know what you explained because my girlfriend is an incredible baker. I've learned a lot from watching her and talking with her about it. I have no skills of my own - I can boil a mean pot of water and that's about it - but have a bunch of second-hand knowledge that makes me sound as if I know what I'm talking about (but I really don't).

I'd bet you are spot on re ABP as a Napoleon is labor intensive if done all in house. The other thing, and the guy I spoke to back then said it, was it didn't stay fresh for long. As you and I know, the cream by the next day has usually made the pastry soggy.

You tarte tatin sounds outstanding. I know my girlfriend has be "perfecting" her pie crust skills for years. And while they were always good, she's now at, IMHO anyway, professional-baker level. My guess, knowing your overall talents and thoughtful approach to things, you are probably a professional-level baker yourself.
Thanks for your frank response to my thoughts about Napoleons. I learned how to cook out of necessity, when I found myself half-way around the world from home, and alone. In order to eat well, I had to learn, and I picked up the basic elements from some friends who were fine cooks themselves. I make food in both Indian and Western traditions, as well as some Middle Eastern and North African ones. In the last two decades, I have been making food that is often a synthesis or fusion of different culinary traditions (Cajun and Indian, for instance).

The best thing about cooking is that I can do most of it free-hand, without exact quantities of things as specified in recipes. You develop a feel for it, for texture and flavour. I have more than a hundred cookbooks, and I love reading them, but rarely cook from them!

Thank you for your kind words. As for baking, I must say, I am in no way a professional-level baker. I can make some desserts very well, my main ones being a New York style cheesecake and a classic carrot cake -- both favourites of mine. With baking, one has to be exact in terms of quantities, or else the cake will not work out, and the bread will not rise!

Some years ago, I cooked lovely meals for a young girlfriend, who was so enthused about my meals that she decided to become a cook -- now that's a nice compliment. She went to the San Francisco Culinary Academy (I visited her there and she bought me a wonderful Wusthof Trident chef's knife) and eventually specialized in pastry making. She was a pastry chef at the Four Seasons Hotel in Boston for a while, now does private catering in Louisville.
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
Thanks for your frank response to my thoughts about Napoleons. I learned how to cook out of necessity, when I found myself half-way around the world from home, and alone. In order to eat well, I had to learn, and I picked up the basic elements from some friends who were fine cooks themselves. I make food in both Indian and Western traditions, as well as some Middle Eastern and North African ones. In the last two decades, I have been making food that is often a synthesis or fusion of different culinary traditions (Cajun and Indian, for instance).

The best thing about cooking is that I can do most of it free-hand, without exact quantities of things as specified in recipes. You develop a feel for it, for texture and flavour. I have more than a hundred cookbooks, and I love reading them, but rarely cook from them!

Thank you for your kind words. As for baking, I must say, I am in no way a professional-level baker. I can make some desserts very well, my main ones being a New York style cheesecake and a classic carrot cake -- both favourites of mine. With baking, one has to be exact in terms of quantities, or else the cake will not work out, and the bread will not rise!

Some years ago, I cooked lovely meals for a young girlfriend, who was so enthused about my meals that she decided to become a cook -- now that's a nice compliment. She went to the San Francisco Culinary Academy (I visited her there and she bought me a wonderful Wusthof Trident chef's knife) and eventually specialized in pastry making. She was a pastry chef at the Four Seasons Hotel in Boston for a while, now does private catering in Louisville.
Quite a journey you've had and what a fun story about your friend. I lived in Boston for eight years and am familiar with its Four Seasons (although, truth be told, my favorite hotel in Boston is the Ritz ⇨ the Raj ⇨ Newbury Boston). She must be very talented as that is not an easy position to obtain.
 

drpeter

Super Member
Yes, she is a very talented pastry chef. She came to my flat on a visit when she was in SF and made me an Italian dessert -- panna cotta, very rich and delicious. She also made a huge mess in my kitchen, but that's OK, I cleaned up, LOL.
 
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eagle2250

Connoisseur/Curmudgeon Emeritus - Moderator
While I cannot claim any prior familiarity with the brand, the trousers pictured above are rather nicely designed, but more importantly the picture incited memories of my teenage years during which I designed and built myself a gas engine powered model airplane. I flew, crashed and repaired that aerospace world of wonders machine more times than I ever bothered to count, but eventually it was beyond any additional repairs and I was forced to retire it to my very own aircraft graveyard, in our basement! That experience would advise any reasonably intelligent young man against pursuing a career in the USAF, but alas, I am a slow learner and it took me an entire career to figure that out for myself. Even then it took the powers that be sending me a letter advising that mine was(apologies to Cormac McCarthy) "no career for old men,"...bye, bye sunshine! LOL. ;)
 
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drpeter

Super Member
Bravo, Eagle! Never thought I would see Cormac McCarthy and the USAF invoked in the same breath, so to speak.

McCarthy has actually reinvented the English language, some of it a created language of his own. There is a description of the past, the old Comanche road, in the first few pages of All the Pretty Horses (part of the wonderful Border Trilogy) where McCarthy writes about the past of a particular region, and of the native Americans who came before the white man, that is absolutely spell-binding and evocative, and in a language and style that is novel and extraordinary.

Of course, "no country for old men" is itself a borrowing from the first line of WB Yeats' famous poem Sailing to Byzantium, which has generated at least two titles for novels and been more often quoted than many poems in the English language. Along with that other great poem of Yeats', The Second Coming, of course.

I wonder if Yeats was ever a fashionable poet among the Trads. I would certainly consider him worthy of being included in any canon of English literature.
 
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Oldsarge

Moderator and Bon Vivant
I have a CIA trained niece (newly pregnant) who is a pastry chef in the Boston area. She's married to a sous chef and they just bought a house. I consider that quite an accomplishment given the current economy. As to baking, I make all my own bread, biscuits, pancakes and waffles and that's about it. Everyone in my family can make a wonderfully flaky piecrust except me. It's a blot on my existence, I tell you. I so love fruit pies and I grow berries in absurd quantaties but can't make a decent pie to save my neck. Thank heaven for rolled up pie crusts in the refrigerator compartment!
 

eagle2250

Connoisseur/Curmudgeon Emeritus - Moderator
Not an illustration, but still feels consistent with our overall theme here.
View attachment 51518
I'll take that "wool and nylon Shirt Jac design...very similar to Pendleton's "Topster" design. I've got a similar jacket hidden away somewhere in the hoard (Though it is a darker hued plaid). Should I be able to lay hands on the beast, I will post a picture of Pendleton's more recent work. ;)
 
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