CASUAL FRIDAY: MADELEINE PROUST
By Alice Levitt
Idon’t have an Tante Léonie. I’ve never had a sip of lime flower tea. What I’m saying is that, while I certainly have vivid, transporting food memories, I don’t share any with Marcel Proust. I’ve eaten madeleines, but have never experienced anything profound in those moments.
Until now. Maybe that’s overstating matters, but I will say that it’s worth making new memories with the madeleines, brilles, and cakes at Madeleine Proust. The new bakery comes from Jesse Woo and his pastry chef wife, Scarlet. It’s located in Vienna, mere doors away from Clarity, making it a must-try for serious food lovers. I envision dining at Clarity, then getting a treat for the next day at Madeleine Proust.
Most likely, that sweet selection will be a blueberry chiffon cake. Pictured above, it’s the perfect size for two people to have dessert for two days. Or if you can’t contain yourself, for one day. The chiffon cake is as light as its name implies. The airy layers are held together and buttressed by frothy blueberry cream that enhances the buoyant effect of the cake. Both on top and inside are fresh blueberries, just tart enough to bring the pastry down to earth.
My favorite of the madeleines I tried was an intensely vanilla cake filled with a fat ball of vanilla ganache. There’s a chocolate version, too, which I must try next time. Brilles are Scarlet’s own invention. “‘Brille’ is from [the] French word, ‘briller’ meaning ‘shine.’ [That’s what] we named the madeleines covered with flavored chocolate,” explains South Korea native Jesse. I tried the Earl Gray version, a clamshell-shaped cake covered in a patent-leather-like glaze subtly flavored with bergamot-scented tea.
Next time I bring home a treat from Madeleine Proust, the mental time capsule of my last visit is sure to come rushing back with Proustian drama.
448 Maple Ave. East, Vienna