IT'S not just a bad pun (what can I say? Comes with the territory). I have had the closest thing to a religious experience I'm probably ever likely to experience and it was all down to - of all things - the French.
See, I went to France a little while ago and one of the highlights of a too-short trip was a visit to Laduree, a Parisian patissierie that's been in business since 1862.
When I visited, on a Sunday, the salon de the was packed with very excited-looking women munching their way through vast arrays of delicacies, while the queue for the cake store a emporter - or takeaway - was out the door. Since that gave everyone time to survey the magical range of goodness behind the glass counter, I've never seen people happier to stand in a queue.
Much frantic deliberating later, I walked out the proud possessor of a religieuse chocolat (on the right in the above picture) and a Saint-Honore pistache fraise; or, as the Laduree website describes them, cream puff pastry [with] chocolate confectioner’s custard and puff pastry, cream puff pastry, light pistachio confectioner’s custard, strawberry stew, strawberries [and] pistachio Chantilly cream.
I only know they were the best things I've ever eaten.
The pastry was crisp and flaky, giving way in the profiterole to a gush of smooth, chocolatey custard with the added bonus of a mini-profiterole filled with vanilla creme patissiere on top.
The Saint-Honore's layers of pistachio cream and custard were saved from being sickly-sweet by the fresh strawberries and a secret heart of strawberry coulis, buried under the mounds of green-tinged cream.
The only problem was, they weren't big enough.