Fumie's Gold(en) Pastries

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Eve M. Tai
Oishii!
Fumie Kumagai is power-preaching about French pastries à la Fumie. "My cream puff is custard and whipped cream," says the elfin dynamo behind Fumie's Gold (10045 N.E. First St., Bellevue). "But my choux is softer than the French version. French version is dry. Mine is dry too. But soft." Before I can scratch my notes down, she's on to her chocolate mousse cake. "Looks like a sponge cake roll. But no cream. Chocolate mousse instead. No cream. Chocolate mousse," she repeats.

You might call Fumie's Gold another French bakery with a Japanese spin, but that would be like saying that molecular gastronomists like to play around with ingredients. The Hokkaido native got her French baking chops at the Cordon Bleu in Sydney, and now deploys them to create her own pastries.

When asked if she's influenced by Japanese culinary tradition, she nods. Then she shakes her head and comes clean. "No, no," she giggles. "I create my own." She'll admit that like many Asians, she prefers her pastries lighter on the sugar. But you won't find red bean paste here. And the ubiquitous green tea shows up in only one pastry, the soothing honey green tea cake.

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Eve M. Tai
Channeling Hawaii
Japanese may be Fumie's native tongue, but baking is her first language. Her inventions include the novel Hawaiian Dream, a cream cheese-and-mascarpone cake tinted with the lovely tropical tang of passion fruit--all anchored by a macadamia nut-and-graham cracker crust. It's divine. "I figured since we had such a wet spring and I couldn't take time off to visit Hawaii, I would bring some of Hawaii here," she smiles.

Another one of her funkier creations is her version of the mont blanc. "No meringue," Fumie makes clear. Instead she makes hers with pastry cream and a ball of vanilla cake in a tart shell. She lathers it over in squiggles of chestnut frosting until it resembles a sea creature. The mont blanc isn't a big seller with Americans, but Japanese customers, who comprise half her clientele, love it.

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Eve M. Tai
Fumie and her gold.
Her most popular dessert? Strawberry shortcake. It's summer embodied--a pure white and light sponge cake (again, a Fumie variation) with whipped cream and robust, sweet, red strawberries.

Fumie promises more treats ahead for summer, including a coconut mousse, pistachio cake, and coffee Jell-O, a popular dessert in Japan. Note that Fumie's has no seating, so enjoy your treats at Bellevue's Downtown Park across the street. And if you live in Seattle, it's worth the drive to stock up on pastry gold.

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