A failsafe triumversate from French patissiere Comptoir Gourmand
“This morning, I had 30. Now, I have just 11 left.” We check the time. Half past 10. That’s 19 tarts in an hour and a half. That’s almost a tart sold every five minutes—and as if on cue, another customer appears by our side.
“One chocolate and salted caramel tart please,” she says eagerly, gazing lovingly at the still pool of Belgian chocolate, the signature Comptoir Gourmand white chocolate piping and the just crumbling pastry layer. Then there were 10. At this rate, Friday feeling risks being bereft of one of Comptoir Gourmand’s best sellers of all time.
We push ourselves forward. Needs must—and we needed this marriage of chocolate and caramel, wrapped in its sybaritic embrace of handmade shortcrust so urgently, it was starting to hurt. “I can’t remember a time when I haven’t sold out,” Abu continues.
Comfort and joy
Personally, it isn’t his favourite of the stall’s offering, but he can see why it’s so popular: French patisserie is a failsafe, chocolate a universal sign of comfort and joy, and salted caramel very much in vogue.
We start with a cuppa—coffee and tea work equally well—and tuck in immediately, neck craned forward, spare hand shielding our shirts. The fastidious may wish to use cutlery; such gooey abandon is only for the brave. The chocolate cracks, pleasingly, releasing its golden treasure which oozes softly over our fingers. Miraculously, in view of the viscosity of its filling, the shortcrust has stayed crusty. We’re not sure there is even a word for ‘soggy bottom’ in French cuisine.