Ladurée hardly need introduction. They are the old guards of the French school of pastry-making, founded in Paris 150 years ago back in 1862. Not only have they been associated with the art of pastry-making for the longest time, but also tagged with big names like Pierre Herme, who worked to expand Ladurée’s chain of dessert boutiques and developed the “Ispahan” during his stint there. I was lucky to get a box of Laduree macarons recently, so here I am to share with you my take on them. I start with two simple and yet familiar flavours, lemon and raspberry. Incidentally these sharp flavours are some of my favorites too!
青木定治 Sadaharu Aoki’s バンブー Bamboo , his signature creation which first led me to know his works and made me very curious about him. The aesthetics of it is really quite astounding. Well, none of the clever use of avant garde juxtapositions one would find in the works of revolutionaries like Christophe Adam of course, but its beauty is sheer sublime. There are some works which ranked as being “unparallel” in design and built by many. Pierre Herme’s Plasir Sucre is one of them, Gaston Lenôtre ‘s L’ Concorde is another and more recently, Christophe Adam’s Eclair Aquatique. Surely Sadaharu Aoki’s Bamboo must stand amongst this stellar cast. Or must it?
Apart from their regular chestnut and kubocha mont blancs, I’d also picked up a few other pieces of their “signature bakes” at Green Pumpkin@NEX. Helmed as a “Japanese Bakery”, Green Pumpkin incorporates a range of Japanese-themed ingredients into their wares. I was pleasant surprised by how well the Pumpkin Mont Blanc went. The earthy tones from kabocha and apt level of sweetness made the piece quite delish. Hence, there’s much anticipation when I took on their Yuzu cheesecake, since the Japanese citrus is one of my personal favorite and ingredient of choice when it comes to dessert-making. Sadly, Green Pumpkin’s success with their Kabocha Mont Blanc did not perpetuate and resonate further to their other pieces.
Before our trip to Keikanshin Japan, we did some reading up on the patisseries in the region which are accessible to us. The list was quite overwhelming frankly. But given the time constraint, we had to trim it down to a small compilation, mostly those with takeaway outlets within the depachika of major shopping malls like Daimaru, Takashimaya and Sogo. Jean Philippe Darcis, Michel Belin, Wittamer etc were just some of the international names that had landed in Japan over the last few years. But personally, I’m more keen on sampling creations by the Japanese patissiers.
From a recipe book “Monter au Plus haut du ciel” published by MOOK, I learned about Hayashi Syuhei 林 周平 a patissier from Kagawa Prefecture in Shikoku and now currently based in Kobe with his own Patisserie, Mont Plus. The book title, literally meaning “To Reach for the Skies” was very intriguing and so were the creations within. Kobe wasn’t on our itinerary but thankfully, Hayashi san opened an outlet, mont plus PAYSANNE in JR Osaka Station in Umeda. I knew I had to pay a visit to sample his works.
I remember watching Nicole Kidman’s Moulin Rouge exactly a decade ago during my undergrad days, bedazzled by the fascinating sets and exuberant costumes. This razzle-dazzle like fantasy on the life of a young Parisian socialite, Satine leading a life of absinthe-dripped extravagance (Yes! thanks to Kylie Minogue as the Green Fairy!), swooned by men from the streets of Paris, enchanted by her flamboyance, all flocking to the renowned cabaret just to be gleamed by her beauty. ‘Gorgeously decadent, massively contrived, and gloriously superficial‘, are just some of the words used by critics on the movie but I say this is a mere understatement. Filled with song and dance, laughter and tears, this must have been one of the most refreshing musical films we’d seen in this century, since the days of Rodgers and Hammerstein.
Hilariously funny and at the same time, heart-pouring empathic, the movie is quite literally a roller-coaster ride. I particularly enjoyed the large scale scenes of song and dance, bearing overtones of a Bollywood production! And how cleverly used it was, such a classic! Now in retrospect, it all makes perfect sense to me the French artistic and haute coulture scene during that era must have been extremely curious and captivated by influx of Oriental and Asian elements, fueling ideas for Bizet’s Les pêcheurs de perles and Massenet’s Thaïs. And hence the elephants, saris and turbans we saw in the Maharaja scene. Entertaining and at the same time thought -provoking, at least for me!
When I first learned of Pierre Hermé’s Satine dessert series a couple of months back, I couldn’t help but feel extremely curious about the association of the PH’s confections with the Moulin Rouge. Paris, decadence, sugary indulgence, flair and flamboyance… the resemblance between the two is just too uncanny. I’m also very curious to know what it tastes like. Needless to say, very little is mentioned over the internet. ph10 has some recipes of desserts from the Satine series but being a rather technical and clinically written publication, no word on the source of inspiration. Alas, the recipe for the Macaron Satine could be found in PH’s Macaron and I had to get myself a copy and hopefully solve the puzzle. But wait a minute, since when do we ever need
an excuse justification for buy PH’s works!?
So did I solve the mystery?