The curtain veils ripple like a ghostly appearance in front of the window, rays of dying sunlight piercing through them and scattering throughout our hotel room, like white dust hanging mid-air. We are foreigners on this west coast, where time and space seem to expand with simultaneous gentleness and violence; jetlag casts its shadow on our dark-rimmed eyes. Our thoughts awake us just as we think we are sleeping; melancholy overwhelms us. Illuminated by the backlight streaming in from the veiled window, a silhouette advances slowly upon us, beautiful and mysterious, awakening in us emotions which had long been slumbering. Is the city of angels also the city of love? To find out, it is this Saint Amour which we invoke – or rather purchase – at Bottega Louie, the renowned pastry shop in L.A.’s financial district.
This cake resembles the Saint-Honoré well-known to us in Paris. On top of a layer of flaky pastry, we find three choux filled with raspberry jam, and separated from each other by a raspberry coulis. The choux are topped with a thick raspberry flavored cream, crowned with a single red rose petal.
The Raspberry Saint-Amour by Bottega Louie has a base diameter of 74 mm and a height of 75 mm – rose petal excluded. The specimen we purchased weights 140 grams and costs $13.44.
The cake emits a pleasant raspberry aroma. We start by tasting the abundant cream which partially covers the dessert. Very thick and rather rigid, its high fat content is perceptible on the palate. While it does indeed taste of raspberry, this flavor is timid and discreet, smooth and devoid of acidity. The presence of a few fresh raspberries brings the fruit back to center stage.
Underneath the cream, the little choux live up to our expectations by their firmness – a mark of freshness. The raspberry jam hidden inside each of them is very sweet, and has a prickly tanginess which compensates for the mildness of the cream.
Between the choux hides a raspberry coulis, nestled in a little pool enclosed by the edges of the flaky pastry base. This flaky pastry does not appear to be sweetened, and clearly sticks to the classic recipe – rather than being an inverted flaky pastry, which would have given an added touch of chic and flavor to the creation. Despite being rather hard, it is baked homogenously throughout and retains a light color. Its layers can clearly be seen as we slice the cake.
From an aesthetic point of view, the Raspberry Saint-Amour fulfills its contract. The flavors, the colors, and even the name, work in harmony to transport us into an enticing fantasy – even though a demanding clientele could find the name lacking in originality. A deliberate effort is made to balance the acidity of both the jam found in the choux and the raspberry coulis, against the mildness of the cream. The choux dough and puff pastry are well cooked throughout, and seem to have been freshly made. However, in addition to wishing for a significantly lighter cream, we believe this composition lacks a touch of extravagance, a little folly which goes so well with the spirit of amour. An unexpected little flavor, a surprise, something more intriguing than these conventional flavors and textures, would be most welcome. As it stands, this dessert remains very tame, and tempers our excitement instead of inflaming it.
700 South Grand Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90017, USA
Open from Monday to Thursday from 6.30 am to 11 pm, on Saturday from 8 am to midnight, and on Sunday from 8 am to 11 pm.
Tel : +1 213 802 1470