I’m quite sure if someone had placed a muffin at the breakfast table, when I was growing up, my parents would have nixed the idea of cake first thing in the morning.
Later, someone introduced me to bran muffins. Then I learned to bake blueberry muffins in what now seem like extremely small muffin tins.
I can’t remember when I last ate a blueberry or bran muffin. Over the years, the range of ingredients along with the size of the muffins in my life have dramatically expanded.
Neo Coffee Bar makes one of my favorite muffins. Their Blackberry and Blueberry Muffin plays with textures with the surprise of a crunchy, cookie crown that blends cinnamon and oatmeal with the cake bottom. This is a big muffin. Sometimes I eat the crunchy cookie part and save the cake base for a snack.
At Neo, the precision of French pastry-making is presented alongside gluten-free options and traditional Japanese ingredients. For instance, visitors can enjoy a matcha and aduki roll cake made with Kyoto matcha and organic red beans. Also on offer, matcha teas and coffees, espressos and drip coffees.
Each month, Neo offers a dessert special. One month, I enjoyed the lightness of a delicate strawberry cream shortcake. I delighted in the elegant construction and flavors in a Pistachio Paris-Brest with strawberries.
The pistachio and white chocolate cream were surprisingly, not overly sweet. The strawberries and pistachio filling were complemented by graham cracker crumbs and choux (French for cabbage) rings or wheel-shaped pastry made from flour, water and eggs. Apparently, the pastry’s name and wheel-shape has a history.
With a little research, I learned that journalist, Pierre Giffard commissioned pastry chef, Louis Durand to commission the Paris-Brest to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the world’s longest bicycle road race. The 1,200 km. race stretched from Paris to Brest and back to Paris.
The wheel-shaped buttermilk choux pastry filled with praline cream was designed to sustain cyclists during the race. Established in September 1891, the first winner completed the race in 71 hours and 22 minutes. The Paris-Brest-Paris is the oldest cycling event in the world. Held every four years, the last Paris-Brest-Paris took place in August 2019. The event is the precursor to the world-famous Tour de France.
While I don’t have plans to enter a bicycle endurance race any time soon, I’m more than happy to indulge in another Pistachio Paris-Brest pastry.
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