Once a bake shop staple, a fabulous chocolate-covered eclair is increasingly difficult to find in Kansas City. True, they're labor-intensive and fattening, and there's competition from those big-box stores that sell big bags of frozen mini-eclairs very cheaply. (I know - I buy them!) But there's nothing quite like a perfect eclair: a cylinder of crispy choux pastry filled (to bursting, preferably) with a sweet cream custard and blanketed with a thick robe of dark-chocolate fondant icing.
For years I've been hearing that eclairs were poised to become the "new cupcakes," at least as far as culinary trends go - the London Evening Standard was playing that old tune as recently as two weeks ago. But the rage for eclairs hasn't eclipsed the American cupcake obsession yet, unfortunately. Yes, I'm sick of cupcakes - an excuse for eating 3 inches of sugary frosting - and proud to say so. Give me an eclair any day of the week.Chelsea Williams offers the French pastry (it was called pan a la duchesse in Paris for the first half of the 19th century) at the Opera House Food & Coffee Emporium only on Thursdays but is gearing up to be well-stocked on Saturday (it's the busiest day of the week for the combination restaurant and coffeehouse on the southern edge of the City Market) in case word gets out about the national holiday.
And if you can't get that excited about eclairs, there's another popular delicacy being honored on Saturday: it's also National Onion Rings Day.