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Wednesday, May 07, 2003

That which we call a Financier

Last night Matt and I had dinner after work at the bistro. (Others know it as Bistro Elan in Palo Alto.) The food was great as usual. Patrick gave us a rose as our aperitif, and we had a lovely dinner as usual.

For dessert, we ordered Financier with berry sauce and meyer lemon and butter ice cream. And therein lay a problem. What arrived at the table was this little round tubular cake, with a bit of the berry sauce all around and a scoop of ice cream on top. It was tasty enough, especially the meyer lemon ice cream, but where oh where was my Financier?

This is really one of my pet peeves. I *hate* it when people take liberty with classic recipes. I mean, if I ordered a Financier, I expect a Financier, not some round cake that called itself a financier. A proper Financier is baked in a rectangular mold, to resemble a gold bar. Hence the name Financier, get it? One acceptable exception, because Pierre Hermé has done it and he is God, is to bake it in a boat-shape mold. That's it, it's either like a gold bar or a small little boat. The Financier has a nice crisp crust, with sublimely soft and melting interior. This texture contrast is also key to a classic Financier. What we had at the bistro was a nice little cake, but definitely not a Financier.

It is not that I am opposed experimentation, just that if you order something with a classic name, you have a certain expectation that can easily transform into annoyance when it is not met.

Taking liberty on classic recipes also happens a lot with Thai dishes. Most Thai restaurants around here cater to Americans, who have no idea what the food is supposed to be like. When I order from a menu, expecting something with certain characteristics and ingredients based on the name, more often than not I would be served something that is, though tasty enough, completely unrecognizable. Something mascarading in a classic name, but nothing like what it was supposed to be.

irks me to no end.......


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