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Oregon Family Magazine

In Search of the Perfect Éclair

02/01/2024 ● By Rikki Asher
Paris, France, with more than one hundred baking styles, and patisseries on nearly every corner, is a pastry lover's dream. Eclairs are my favorite, and while vacationing in fabulous Paris last summer, I was excited at the prospect of finding a delicious éclair, and thought it would be an easy challenge in Paris. It was not. I fancied a Parisian éclair with vanilla creme inside a light pastry, covered in dark chocolate icing; but to my surprise not one patisserie (that I could find) sold eclairs with these ingredients.

Upon returning to the US, I visited friends Nancy and Joe, in Eugene, Oregon. Eugene is very different from Paris, but one can find eclairs in both cities. Paris is the home of café culture, where locals meet at cozy outdoor tables to enjoy a morning coffee, cigarettes, croissants, and chatter endlessly. Eugene also has its share of coffee shops, where folks seem a bit more reserved, enjoying coffee and croissants, with a book or mobile phone in hand.

When I told my friends about the eclair disappointment, Nancy mentioned a bakery in downtown Eugene, called Sweet Life Patisserie (located at 755 Monroe Street). She phoned and was told they had plenty of freshly made eclairs that day. I was skeptical, and hopeful, but agreed to go. When we arrived, I saw it was more than just a bakery, but rather a combination of café and boulangerie. I was impressed by its boulangerie-style glass case displaying beautiful French pastries. There were rows of dainty pink, green, and yellow macaroon sandwich cookies, ​​made with almond flour and meringue and lined with jam, buttercream, or ganache, scrumptious Napoleons, with layers of pastry filled with vanilla cream, topped with chocolate and vanilla icing swirls, and lo and behold, a tray of vanilla eclairs!  We ordered three. As I took a bite, the cream, chocolate icing, and pastry dissolved in my mouth. I smiled and knew I had found the perfect éclair in Eugene, at Sweet Life Patisserie.