Inspired by Paris

Updated: Dec 22, 2019, 08:36 IST | Ela Das | Mumbai

A new patisserie at Marine Lines is offering the perfect Christmas culinary gifts for the Francophile foodie, including the humble canele with an almost-burnt, crunchy caramelised crust

Pecan Tart
Pecan Tart

There are two things that grab your attention when you walk into Gât'Oh, the new French patisserie in the city. The wide selection of pastries laid out in a glass display refrigerator; and, the affable Shanaya Dastur. Of her two-month-old bakery, Dastur says she has been planning it over four years. "I'm from Rajkot in Gujarat. I studied mathematics and actuarial sciences, and went on to work at my family-run hospital.

However, over time, my love for food led me to start cooking; and the more I did, the more confident I got," says Dastur, who graduated from Le Cordon Bleu London, where she studied cuisine and pastry—savoury and sweet. On returning to India, she turned her focus to pastries because it is her first love. "At École Grégoire-Ferrandi, in Paris, I realised I was meant to become a pastry chef."

Strawberry Tart
Strawberry Tart

As part of the course, Dastur did internships where she learnt about the country's culture and cuisine, and their stringent food laws—something she hopes to adopt here. "Food is taken very, very seriously in France. If you're making croissants with butter, the butter has to be shaped a certain way," she explains, making triangular shapes with her hands, adding, "If you use margarine, then by law, it's shaped another way while baking. They respect their food, and I love that."

Dastur plans her menu around ingredients that are fresh, available and in season. She, then, works around the Indian palate. "Chocolate is a huge seller—you'll always find a few chocolate treats here. There are also pastries with seasonal elements, like strawberry and lemon tarts." One bite of the tart and you know Dastur isn't joking about the quality of raw ingredients. The strawberries have a freshly picked crunch to them, perfectly complemented by the creamy custard and biscuity crust.

Shanaya Dastur of Gat'Oh says the French follow stringent food laws, respect their food, and she hopes to replicate that here. Pics/Ashish Raje
Shanaya Dastur of Gat'Oh says the French follow stringent food laws, respect their food, and she hopes to replicate that here. Pics/Ashish Raje

Our favourites are the orange almond cake—with a sudden, but not overpowering, citrusy burst at first bite mixed with the cake's unique texture, and the French cheesecake—a welcome change from the baked treat we're used to eating, being more creamy with a gelatinous strawberry and sponge cake surprise in the centre. But the pièce de résistance is the humble canelé she keeps in a cloche on top of the counter. With a hint of an almost-burnt, thin crunchy caramelised crust and baked custard centre, the bite-sized treat is the perfect festive treat we think.

The kitchen at the back of the shop has a cold and hot section, with a range of industry-grade ovens, blast freezers, sheet rollers, and stuff of every chef's dream. Dastur hopes to one day move to a bigger kitchen, have a few more outlets and, eventually open a quaint, Parisian café. "I want to give people a good place to sit down and enjoy their coffee like they do in France. There, it's frowned upon to walk and drink your coffee—if you do that, you'll probably hear a few French words; don't expect them to be polite. The French don't take anything to go; food is religion and it's meant to be savoured."

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