Monday, 31 March 2014

"Le Coussin de Lyon"

In 1643, an epidemic was wreaking havoc in the city of Lyon. The aldermen, walking in procession up the hill Fourvière, made an offering to the Virgin Mary, a wax candle that weighed 7 pounds and a gold sovereign coin on its own silk cushion. It must have worked, because every year since then, the magistrates of Lyon go the Fourvière to renew the aldermen's vows while three cannon shots are fired in the city.

The silk cushion inspired chocolate makers to come up with a treat that is available in a presentation box which resembles a silk cushion. This cushion, or "coussin", is reputed to be the most well-known specialty of the Rhone-Alpes region. (It's hard not to get side-tracked on this - what if they'd been inspired by the 7-pound candle??)

I bought one of these treats and a couple of their descendants when I was in Lyon, and Marcel and I have tested them for you.

 That's the "coussin" at 12:00 - yes, it is green!  It is a type of almond paste that is filled with a chocolate ganache, and there is a subtle orange flavor of curaçao. This confection gets points for two things: it is actually pretty light in the mouth - not what I expected with almond paste - and it is not too sweet. Anyone who loves good dark chocolate will probably be disappointed (me), whereas anyone who loves Christmas sugarplums, like dates stuffed with almond paste, will probably find these quite good (Marcel).

I actually preferred the more recent versions: the pink and the very dark blue ones are almond paste with fruit paste inside, and the yellow and orange ones are almond paste with a firm citrus cream inside. The little white roll on the bottom is a "quenelle", in honor of something you find on every menu in Lyon. Of course this one is not a fish quenelle (I had one of those while I was there - it had a lobster sauce, and it was quite tasty), it is white chocolate filled with a coffee praline chocolate ganache.

I bought these at Voisin - check it out.

1 comment:

  1. Well, don't they sound good? I'll take a quenelle please!