Thursday was the start of the French fair at Takashimaya Osaka, which I read about in a magazine. (About this time last year, I was checking out their Spain fair.)
The fair was featuring Fauchon eclairs for the first time in Kansai, macaron and chocolates by Michel Belin and a father-son MOF (which is the highest distinction in France)--bakers of Art de pain, as well as other condiments like Maille mustards, wines from France and knick knacks like postcards and accessories.
I got to Takashimaya at 10 to 10 a.m and noticed there was a line for a direct elevator to the 7th floor (the event floor), so without thinking, I jumped in line.
Looking around at the people in line though, I noticed that they were mostly elderly women. I turned and asked the lady next to me what she was standing in line for, she said that she was part of a fan club and was waiting to buy tickets to a Kabuki production.
She asked me what I was standing in line for, I said, "eclairs". Her face turned puzzled and then I told her that Takashimaya was having a French fair. She said, "oh". I asked the man lining people up what the line was for, he said, "tickets for the Kabuki production".
The lady looked at me again after hearing what the man said and told me in a whisper to just stay in line and ride the elevator up.
When we got to the 7th floor, everyone on the elevator was shuttled to the ticket counter, I on the other hand, walked in the opposite direction.
Have you ever entered a Japanese department store when it first opens? Everyone and I mean, EVERYONE, bows and says Ohayoo gozaimasu (good morning) or Irrashaimase (welcome) to you, like you are royalty or famous. Anyway, since I was the first one on the floor (because I took the direct elevator), there was this odd silence and as I passed the different areas of the fair, everyone bowed and said "good morning" to me (very embarrassing, actually!)
It was a L-O-N-G walk through the greetings and bowing, but I finally made it to the food area and found Fauchon. (Did you know they make, fill and decorate each one by hand? I saw a mini documentary of the factory in Japan which makes these eclairs.)
They had regular sized eclairs running 473 yen to 578 yen a piece (about US$4.73-5.78) and a mini set for 1260 yen (about US$12.60). I decided to buy the mini set because it was the best way to taste several.
In the mini set there were 5 mini eclairs:
bleu blanc rouge (blue white red) specially made for the fair--vanilla custard with bits of fresh strawberries
au chocolat--rich chocolate ganache (no photo as it found its way to mouth before I could take a photo of it)
au the a la pomme (red with yellow dots)--filled with Fauchon apple tea flavored cream
leopard cafe--filled with chantilly & coffee cream topped with white chocolate and a thin leopard print chocolate
eclair kokushifururu (didn't know how to translate this)--the regular sized one has 3 different creams inside (orange, violet & rose), but the mini only had one cream--orange.
Isn't the chocolate ladybug on top, cute??
My favorite would be the kokushifururu because the cream tasted like earl grey more than orange and the cream of the bleu blanc rouge because the fresh strawberries was a nice addition.
Next to the eclairs were macaron! I decided to get the box of 5 also 1260 yen (about US$12.60)--(they didn't have a handout list of what these were, and I didn't have time to write them down, so I am listing them as what I thought they were)
hazelnut (beige)--hazelnut cream
choclat (dark brown)--ganache
framboise/amande (red/white)--raspberry gel filling
citron (yello)--lemon cream
pistache (green)--pistachio/coconut cream
A couple of counters away from Fauchon was Michel Belin. He is a chocolatier in Southern France and has 3 shops (2 in Albi & 1 in Toulouse). He was mostly selling chocolates but he also had macaron. I got 3 at 241 yen a piece (about US$2.41 each).
violette--this one was filled with griotte (morello cherry) and pear puree made into a gel
rose--loved this one the rose flavor from the cream filled my mouth as soon as I bit into it. It was fragrant like bulgarian rose, but not overpowering or perfumy.
salted caramel--this one surprised me because there was actually gooey salted caramel as the filling!
As I made my way out of the fair, I stopped at the Art de Pain counter. This father & son team of bakers have a shop in Strasbourg, Alsace and both were named MOF. Their breads are the hard type. I picked up a sesame loaf, 525 yen (about US$5.25). This loaf was huge! (I couldn't pick it up with the flimsy plastic thongs they had and needed assistance from a worker at the counter) The thing I like about it is that there are 3 corners which means you get 3 "ends".
We had part of this for breakfast today, the bread was thick, chewy and filled with sesame seeds. With a smudge of cream cheese and some fig jam...it was delicious way to start the day.
Even with the delicious start, the weather is dreary today--rainy with some thunder and lightning...think I'll curl up with a book.
Have a great weekend.