It doesn’t look like a cake shop. Single examples of each dessert are enclosed in glass cases. Spherical glossy chocolate in rainbow colours come presented in a little book. Each sweet thing is treated with the reverence usually reserved for diamonds.
In fact, just peering at each creation has a Holly Golightly effect on me – admiring the colours and shapes, the seasonal themes can make any mean reds disappear, can remind me why I spend such long hours learning patisserie.
Hugo et Victor is famous for their individual tarts, beautiful thin slivers encased in pastry. Unadorned grapefruit slices glistened, tempting. The strawberry tart even has a red strawberry flavoured pate sablee. They also come in icecream versions, an elegant triangular wedge sandwiched with fine layers of chocolate and biscuit.
But we fell for the seasonal fetish. (Following Pierre Herme, avant gard pastry shops like to spotlight certain flavours or forms for a limited run, call it a “fetiche”.) They had rose, apricot and verveine (lemon verbena) the latter of which we had never tasted before apart from in a tisane. Being pastry nerds recently diplomaed, we spent a good ten minutes choosing. I plumped for the verveine religieuse, and she a very sleek verbena mousse with a lemon centre.
They were both very delicate, light and faintly herby. The religieuse was creamy and simple, just a sprinkle of sugar and dried verveine on a ganache-like icing. The mousse was much more classically beautiful, with a powdery green velvet coating (that I now know comes from an airbrush gun). Its lemon (or was it lemongrass?) heart was indeed juicy and delicious.
My only complaint: such high end patisseries often refuse to give out forks. One is supposed to return home and have the butler neatly plate and serve the desserts on the best silver. Luckily I always have a spoon in my handbag for emergency sugar situations!
Hugo et Victor – 40 boulevard Raspail 75007 – metro Sevres-Babylon