Thursday, January 5, 2012

Off the Map: Over the River and Through the Woods to Not-Harvard We Go

Azuki Cream Croissant -- Japonaise Bakery and Cafe, Cambridge, MA
Japonaise Bakery and Cafe

In the past, Vodka has come to Boston primarily for one of the following two reasons: Nancy Kerrigan and Harvard.  While the previous reason may be the one to come with the more absurd stories, the Harvard connection is significant only due to the fact that Vodka had believed up until this point that Harvard is the ONLY thing in Cambridge, MA.  (Well, she knew MIT is there, too, but did not care).

This misbelief is the reason that Vodka asks her friend no less than a dozen times during our two-mile trek from Oleana to Japonaise Bakery and Cafe, "But where's Harvard?!"
And Also, "Why Do People With Such High IQs Not Know How to Light a Christmas Tree?!"
It seems Cambridge is actually quite large and contains areas that do not directly border Harvard Square.  Vodka continues to find this point unfathomable as we make our way towards our first taste of the Azuki cream croissant, which was chosen by Ming Tsai on the FRENCH FAVORITES episode of Best Thing I Ever Ate.
So Apparently, This Was NOT Made in the Harvard Dining Hall
Adding insult to Vodka's Cambridge confusion injury, it begins pouring rain in the middle of our journey, and by the time we arrive at our destination, we are soaked and vaguely hostile, and Vodka has still not been given a clear idea as to where Harvard is in relation to this place.

Wandering around the equivalent of the world's tiniest shopping mall, we eventually stumble upon the Cambridge outpost of Japonaise Bakery and Cafe and order one Azuki cream croissant.  Taking up residence on the closest wooden bench, we open our paper bag and prepare to dive in.
Classy Dining Arrangement
And at first glance, the "cream" in this cream croissant appears to be completely missing.
Hello 911?  Our Croissant's Cream Has Been Kidnapped
A thin pastry shell envelops the center in which we imagine the cream once stood proudly.  Now, it is little more than a withered teardrop within a mound of dough, a haphazard sprinkling of sugar having soaked into almost every part of this dessert.
Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are
Taking the first bite, my friend remarks that, despite the cream's withering nature, it is impossible to eat this creation without getting some on one's nose.  We also discover that at the bottom of the croissant, there is a dark, chocolate-looking filling that, unfortunately, tastes very little like chocolate.

"I think it's bean.  Red bean.  It tastes like bean," my friend determines.  "Can I say 'bean' one more time?"

And despite how many times her friend says it, Vodka cannot figure out why bean has any place in a cream croissant dessert in the first place.
Croissant By Way of France, By Way of Japan, By Way of... Mexico?
Overall, the whole thing is on the bland side.  The cream has dissolved to such a degree that it barely leaves an impression, and considering it looks like it's supposed to be the dessert's focal point, this is far from ideal.  The pastry is not particularly crumbly like a typical croissant, and it is more chewy than melt-in-your-mouth.  We decide that if the additional filling had been actual chocolate rather than this bean substance, the whole situation could have been much improved.  As it stands (or not, in the case of the cream), we are not overly impressed, as Vodka is certain that she has had more authentically French desserts at the France pavilion at Epcot.
But Let's Be Real - What's Better Than Epcot?
Whipping out our increasingly disintegrating itinerary, which is now more than a little damp, we begin to prepare for our next stop when my friend remarks what a great bench this is for people-watching.  As if one cue, the sound of carolers can be heard entering through the the front door of the "mall," revealing a family of three breaking out into a full belt of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."  Along with our continued amusement at a pizza delivery guy who, for the entire time we have been sitting on this bench, has been unable to locate his pizza recipient, we decide that all is not lost in Cambridge.

Except, that is, Harvard.

Japonaise Bakery and Cafe's Azuki Cream Croissant: 3 stars

1 comment:

  1. Azuki are . . . wait for it . . . beans.