although this happened a few days ago, i'm just finding out about it now because i've been rather out of touch with reality (been working a lot and my dog is extremely ill, which is distressing and causing intense lack of sleep). but i just read that french pastry chef Gaston Lenotre passed away a few days ago, and even though he lived a good long life i can't help but feel sad. let me wax a little nostalgia on you.
my mom has most, if not all, of Lenotre's fantastic baking and entertaining books. she has always been a big entertainer, always having dinner parties or going to them. when i was a kid and she was busy getting ready for a dinner party, she would inevitably pull out one of his books for inspiration, and i would always help. i would flip through pages of what seemed like supremely decadent desserts with exotic names, things like Charlotte aux Poires and Pithiviers... well, they seemed exotic-sounding to me way back in the late 70s and early 80s. it was his recipe that i used for last Christmas' buche de noel.
there used to be a Lenotre store right around the corner from the Printemps department store in Paris (who knows if it's still there, you never know these days), and it was there one hot summer day while shopping with my french grandmother that i tried a cassis sorbet for the first time. since then, whenever i taste a kir royale made with creme de cassis i am instantly transported back to that very moment.
i almost feel like i should be giving Lenotre credit for being the major baking inspiration in my life. so the news of his death makes me sad, but also makes me want to go down to the kitchen and whip up some elaborate fancypants dessert complete with 5 foot tall caramel cage and two doves flying out of the top once revealed. but instead, i might just pour myself a glass of champagne and raise it to the heavens to show my appreciation to him. thank you Mr. Lenotre for all of my sweet memories.