The Eaton Centre mall is a mess. Crammed with tired shoppers buzzing around boutiques, scrambling into stores, and retreating with hoards of oversized bags. My feet drag through this jungle of holiday havoc.
All around me, people race like frantic squirrels: bouncing from tree to tree in hopes of finding suitable provisions to survive the holiday season. But forget about presents, right now I was a squirrel in search of sweets. Something with sugar to boost my blood and get my tired body home.
The hunt for dessert carried me across the bridge joining Eatons and the Hudson’s Bay. Two escalator rides later and I was in the lower level of the Bay, wandering through a makeshift Christmas Market of decorated evergreens, trumpeting angels and buckets of ornaments. The ceiling was dressed with a canopy of lights, and the floor was akin to the yellow brick road – only this time, it was a peel & stick cobblestone street.
Around the corner from this picture book scene, stands a coast of tasty islands; the Saks Food Hall by Pusateri’s. Flatbreads, cheeses, croissants, and more. There are enough flavours to satisfy any stomach here. From savoury to sweet, plant-based to pork, they have options for all.
Rich aromas of simmering soups and salty seafood hypnotize my senses. But today I bypass the savoury selections. Pizza will simply have to wait, my lips long for sweeter tastes.
A bright counter with a rainbow of pastries catches my eye. Behind a glass case on a bed of marble lies a beautiful array of candy coloured éclairs. A white sign with golden letters and paint splatters of red, green, yellow and black tells me the name: Nügateau.
There are almost too many to choose from. A pearly pink Rosabelle, with raspberry cream, candied almonds and a decorative rose petal. A sweet Snowbelle with apricot opalys ganache and white snowflakes on top. The Rouge D’Amour, with cranberry compote and golden chocolate rocks. A dozen flavours to enjoy. Each an exquisite piece of art.
After a lengthy internal debate, I finally decide upon three. The Romeo, made with azélia & hazelnut praline ganache, painted gold and topped with a star. The Mont Blanc, with whipped vanilla cream and pear rum compote. And the Belle Violette, with a striking violet glaze, violet opalys ganache and a crowning fresh blackberry sprinkled with gold.
I can scarcely wait to taste them!
I take a seat at a quiet table in the PATH and open my box of sweets. The first I reach for is the Mont Blanc. Swirls of rich chocolate and gold candy stars shine atop the pastry. For a moment I close my eyes, and take a bite.
It is as fresh and light as you would hope. The cream is airy, with a hint of chestnut. It has a subtle flavour that strokes your taste buds. I take another bite, and savour this delicate dessert.
The glamour of the Belle Violette beckons my hand. I reach inside the box and claim it as the second to taste. Clearly the most attractive of the three, this éclair is the belle of the ball. A vibrant violet glaze, topped with tiny drops of gold, strung along lines of shimmering icing. A deep dark berry sits on top, waiting to be devoured. I sink my teeth into the pastry, and shock my tongue with a tart taste. The cassis cremeux is fresh and tangy, but perhaps a tad too overwhelming. The flavour of the filling is as vibrant as the purple glaze. It overpowers the pastry and hits your mouth with zest. An interesting taste to be sure.
Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou my sweet? The colour of this romantic éclair, draped in lavish cocoa and dusted with gold, almost appears copper. The taste is divine. The hazelnut ganache is like buttery silk, rich and full of flavour. Smooth and sweet. Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight, for I ne’er saw true beauty till this bite! The star on this éclair is rightfully placed; it takes my prize for the best of the three, and will bring me back to Nügateau’s counter for more.
Soft, light, sweet pastries just a short walk from the Eaton Centre. Nügateau’s desserts are ever changing, and the holidays have brought a new collection of pretty éclairs. Which one will steal your heart?