I’ve been back on the exercise wagon for a few weeks, and it’s really made me appreciate how much better I feel when I’m active. It’s not even really about weight, honestly; I just like how energized I feel. Also, when I come home from work and hop on the elliptical for 45 minutes, I sleep really well that night. Like, really well. As in, I put my head on the pillow and I’m comatose within seconds.
(It doesn’t hurt that my standard workout is exactly the length of an episode of Lost — a handy coincidence now that Netflix streaming to consoles is a beautiful reality.)
So, now that I’m back in action, I don’t feel quite so guilty about the bumps along the road. The scrumptious, delicious bumps.
Meet today’s bump: Beard Papa. I have no idea why this pastry is called a Beard Papa — well, no, that’s not true. I know exactly why it’s called a Beard Papa. The Beard Papa chain is Japanese, and therefore its name is made of random English words slammed violently together like atoms in a cyclotron.
Beard Papas are far more appetizing than their name would suggest, which is to say that they are not hairy old men. They are cream puffs, and they are incredibly good cream puffs at that. The litmus test here is the fact that I will eat them; I’ve always hated cream puffs, but these are different. The pastry is super light, crisp on the outside and extremely airy inside. The cream itself is, you know, actually cream, not some vile concoction of corn syrup and dairy solids. The take-out packaging recommends you consume your purchase within the same day, because honest-to-god fresh dairy products and baked-daily pastries don’t keep.
The Beard Papa experience is elegant in its simplicity; it is the In ‘N’ Out Burger of desserts. On any given day, you are allowed your choice of three different flavors of cream: Vanilla, chocolate, or the flavor of the week. Once you make that selection, you may then choose whether you want a plain cream puff or an eclair. And that… is the extent of your choices. OK, Beard Papa also sells a small variety of croissants and cheesecakes, but I don’t really know why you would go to Beard Papa and order something that is not a cream puff. Would you go to a fine Italian restaurant and order macaroni and cheese? No, you would not, because you are not a heathen. Likewise, you would not go to a Beard Papa and order cheesecake. Some thing are simply Not Done, at least not by the properly civilized.
Pictured above is this week’s flavor, coffee, served eclair style. (The shop’s signage said the current flavor was pumpkin, so the reality disappointed me… but only slightly, because there is no such thing as a bad Beard Papa.) Based on my pre-Beard Papa experiences, I always thought eclairs were disgusting, soggy, creme-filled donuts topped with cheap, sugary chocolate frosting, but Beard Papa has taught me otherwise. Eclairs are, in reality, delicious fresh cream puffs dipped in top-quality dark chocolate. Eclairs are, in reality, wonderful. The chocolate shell is pleasantly thin, too, so it doesn’t add much heft to the basic puff shell. One of the finest attributes of a Beard Papa is that its flavor and texture are absolutely decadent, yet it’s light and modestly sized so it doesn’t sit in your belly like a rock. This remains true even as an eclair.
I only know of three Beard Papa shops in the world; one is in Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan. The other two are, inexplicably, a block apart in downtown San Francisco. They are both less than a ten-minute walk from my office, which means the fact that I do not buy one daily and simply roll to work may surprise you! But delicious things like this — even if weight-watching weren’t an issue — shouldn’t be eaten too frequently. A Beard Papa is not the kind of thing you want to take for granted. It is the sort of thing you eat only occasionally, perhaps to celebrate a great success in life, or maybe because someone you love has come downtown to join you for a rare lunch date. You share Beard Papas; you savor them; you appreciate them.
And then, the next day, you jog up a mountain to burn off the extra calories. Yeah, I have my Saturday morning cut out for me.
P.S., did you know that if you click on a photo twice, you’ll see a much larger version of that image? In this case, I feel doing so is a necessity in order to properly appreciate the delicate interior of a Beard Papa.