February 04, 2013 Beirut Lebanon Middle East

An Address in Badaro that Didn't Change in Years: Patisserie Eclair
Sweet Tooth

Nested in the heart of Badaro, patisserie Eclair has been known for many years now. I hear my parents generation talking about the sweet corner that was the meeting destination of a generation that lived in Beirut more than 40 years ago. When Eclair used to produce cakes, no one else was even thinking of satisfying Beirut's crave for sweets.
Eclair, today is still the same. A small shop in the middle of Badaro's main street owned and managed by the same family, with no website or any means of sophistication implemented, a little production without the need of extension or grow bigger and a fridge that has few cakes for the accustomed.
Badaro is a residential neighborhood planned in the mid 1950's along the eastern border of Horsh Bayrut in Lebanon (Beirut's Pine Forest) that was planted by Emir Fakhreddine in the 17th century to stop the advancement of the southern sands into the city of Beirut situated North. The first inhabitants were Christians and Druze. The neighborhood demographics changed after the mid 1960's when numerous wealthy Christian families from Aleppo and Damascus in Syria fled their country due to the nationalization laws and settled in Badaro. The street carries the name of Habib Badaro, a wealthy and powerful businessman who had established his textile manufactures in the area.
This week end, for a small dinner at my aunt in Badaro, we passed by this little shop planning the night's dessert. All the big cakes were gone, or maybe they didn't even bake today. Asking about a Foret Noir, Mr. Eclair answered: "Mme.! We don't prepare in advance, all is fresh here. Come back in an hour, your cake will be ready". I found that funny in our speedy world. Bizarre for us, but very normal for him, as the habits of the last decades were as such.
We than opted for the mini pieces. Mini pieces having the same shape, sizes and taste as my grand-father used to describe them for me. The famous mouse, a chocolate cake everyone knows is on top of the list.
Mr.Eclair took the big white box with its huge branding on and filled it with individual mini cakes. Two of each kind:
  • The mouse
  • Alcazar tart with jam
  • Alcazar tart with almonds and sugar
  • The chocolate ball
  • Alcazar with chocolate
  • Eclair chocolate: the signature
  • Lemon tart with chocolate cover
Every piece has its unique taste being simple and non sophisticated. With the advances of technology and completion around the world and here in Lebanon as well, the famous pastry shops are doing everything possible to gain the biggest part of the market. The best ones -Pâte A Choux, Canelle, Noura and La Mie Dore - have creations that make you close your eyes and say Yummy with every bite. Others around town just offer what I call edible bath-sponges soaked in sugar and some people like them. The last category is where Eclair fits, offering decent pastries that are tasty, even great for the price proposed. Half of the premium pastry shops and with a taste that is correct, clean and natural.
The Alcazar choice of tarts is tasty. A homemade feel of this renowned piece few know how to master. The mouse is simple, yet delicious. As for the lemon tart it's one of the hardest to do since it has a high chance of smelling eggs if badly prepared. At Eclair such things cannot happen. Bizarrely, their Eclair is the least I liked.
If you want to re-experience the real taste of your childhood, Eclair is your address if you live in the Beirut area. I appreciated all the pieces tasted tonight and enjoyed hearing my family sharing all together stories of the pre-war.
Categories: Tasty Discoveries
Suitable For: Sweet Tooth





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