Almost everything I learned was pleasant, some things more pleasant that others. It was 2003, our Secretary of Defense had managed to disrespect almost all of Europe with a few choice comments, the “Old Europe” being one of them. Some folks worried that international relations might be a little rocky. All of those ‘old Europeans’ along the route of PBP welcomed me, a bike rider from half a world away as if I were a long lost son come home to their waiting welcome. That was a great discovery; that international relations are best left to people and not politicos.
Another great discovery was that bread, and chocolate were good together. If you had suggested to me before I arrived in France that I would like bread and chocolate together I would have either sneered or politely dissented, depending upon how well we knew each other.
Neither Wonder Bread nor Hershey bars are high on my gastronomic list, and they only sink lower when considered together.
But riding through the rural French countryside I was seduced by a wondrous French concoction known as pain au chocolat. As you transit from village to village, sooner or later you catch the heavy scent of fresh baked goods, and if you are lucky it is a patisserie, and one of the staples will be pain au chocolat.
When I went back and rode again in 2007 I was reacquainted with this fantastic French delight. I must have made an impression on my sister, though I admit I don’t even remember telling the story. Recently she sent me a recipe. She too is a hobby baker, and asked “Is this that pastry you were so wild about when you were in France?”
And there on my dope scope was a simplified recipe for Pain au Chocolat.
Oh yeah, that's runny gooey, bitter sweet chocolate dripping out of the middle of the puff pastry.
These turned out pretty good. To be sure, I have nothing on Madame Chloe, but another try or two and I think I can get it pretty danged close.
Some friends are coming down (and UP even- riders from Portland!) for a ride this Saturday. This has got to be one of the easiest rides that counts for RUSA credit. It's designed to be a 'social ride', doesn't mean you can't rush through it, but I'm hoping we get some socializing in. There will be noshing after and I may try to have a pan of these ready for some riders hungry for a bite and a good chat.