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Batter Chatter: Interview with Aran of Cannelle Et Vanille

Interview with Aran of Cannelle et Vanille
Cannelle Et Vanille. Some may argue that this means "cinnamon and vanilla"--but those people would be fools. Consult the Dictionary of Cakespy you'll find a far more poetic translation, along the lines of "most beautiful pastry website on the glowing technological wonder we call the internet". Seriously--this is a site with all hits, no misses. Aran, the incredibly skilled pastry chef and photographer behind the Florida-based operation, originally hails from the Basque Country, and that certain European je ne sais quoi has a way of creeping into everything she does, from stunning Îles flottantes surrounded by a web of spun sugar to super-stylish ice cream sandwiches. Let's learn a bit more about her, shall we?

Why did you start your site?

Cannelle et Vanille: I left work to take care of my son and the first year after he was born, I realized I had not been baking enough and something was missing in my life. I didn’t really know what blogs were until a friend of mine introduced me to Cupcake Bakeshop and then I found Tartelette. One Sunday afternoon, I just started a blog out of the blue and I haven’t stopped since.
Photo from Cannelle Et Vanille
CS: There's no delicate way to say it: your site is food porn. How does it feel to know that all over the world, people are drooling over your site?
CV: It feels great! I never thought so many people would follow my blog but I love thinking that every dessert I make and every photo I take can make one person smile. It still amazes me.
Photo from Cannelle Et Vanille
CS: It seems like a lot of people who begin blogs / sites dedicated to their passion find that it really changes the way they look at the world. How has your site changed life / the way you look at baking?
CV: It really hasn’t changed the way I look at baking. I really just bake what comes to me naturally. But what I have found is that I have struck friendships with people that I would have never met in any other way.

Photo from Cannelle Et Vanille
CS: You're from Basque country. What foods do you miss from home?
CV: So many to count… little tiny green peppers from Gernika, fresh fish, red beans from Tolosa, great produce, mamia and my uncle’s puff pastry!
Photo from Cannelle Et Vanille
CS: Is the US approach to food and eating really as repulsive as we suspect it is to people from other countries?
CV: “Repulsive” is a harsh word… I wouldn’t say repulsive. I think there are many people in this country who enjoy fine food. I don’t mean expensive food per se, I mean people that know how to identify fresh fish, how to smell bread or pick great fruit. But I think that the masses are still way behind of how food is viewed in other countries such as my own.

Cakespy Note: Clearly Aran is too diplomatic to say "You Big Mac-eating Americans are gross!". But we have our suspicions. Oh yes.

Photo from Cannelle Et Vanille
CS: Following up on that point, a while back you actually sent us some of your delectable lemon-olive oil madeleines. Well, I (Head Spy Jessie) personally would like to admit that I hoarded them and shared only one with Mr. Cakespy. Does this make me a bad person?
CV: No, it makes me laugh! It reminds me of myself when I was 7 years old and my grandmother gave me a small white chocolate Nestle bar. I was holding the chocolate bar when my brothers entered the room and I stuffed it all in my mouth, all at once, so I didn’t have to share it with them!

Note from the Head Spy: Allow me to clarify that while Aran was seven during her hoarding incident, I was 26. Yeah.
Photo from Cannelle Et Vanille
CS: If you could spend time baking with any figure in the food world--living or dead--who would it be?
CV: It would definitely be my grandfather Angel who was also a pastry chef. A fine one if I may say so. He retired when I was about 9 years old so I never had a chance to work with him.
Photo from Cannelle Et Vanille
CS: You have pretty much the cutest son, like, ever. What's his favorite dessert?
CV: He loves everything and it can be a problem sometimes. He particularly likes my banana bread but will try anything I give him.

CS: If pressed, what would you say the next big thing will be in baking or baked goods?
CV: I think small and delicate will stick around. I like the idea of a small treat. I like leaving wanting more. I also think a natural and rustic approach to food is necessary. I don’t think this is a new idea at all, but I see a lot of focus on it once again.
Photo from Cannelle Et Vanille
CS: Does your family ever get pissed off that they can't eat dessert til your photo shoot is over?
CV: Yes and they drive me insane! The pressure is always on. I sometimes have to hide things in unexpected places so they don’t disappear before the photo shoot.

Photo from Cannelle Et Vanille
CS: What is your ultimate goal as a baker...and with your site?
CV: It’s hard to say. Baking is almost like an impulse for me. Sometimes I feel like an idea comes over my body and I must transform it into something sweet. It’s like purging, otherwise I go insane.
I think as of now, my goal is for me to become a better photographer. That’s where I am at the moment.

Want more? Get yourself over to Cannelle Et Vanille right away; check out her wonderful photos at flickr. If you're interested in hiring Aran, she's available, baby--she's mos' def your girl for recipe development, consulting and food photography and can be contacted through her site.

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