Yongkang Street 永康街 lies within the Da’an district 大安区 in Taipei, a semi-residential and business area. It is one of my favorite places in this bustling city as it is dotted with a variety of unique shops, restaurants, cafes and tea salons where one could simply hang out leisurely for a few hours amidst all the sight-seeing and shopping. It is symbolic of the kind of lifestyle which many younger Taiwanese now very much look forward to or are striving for, where one could afford the time to smell the flowers, admire changes of the seasons, rest the mind and tame the soul. Unfortunately over the last few years, no thanks to the opening up of tourism regulations for visitors from across the straits to visit Taiwan, Yongkang street is slowly being overrun by the Mainlanders, epitomised by the long queues outside 鼎泰豐 Ding Tai Fung and 永康牛肉麺館 Yong Kang Beef Noodles, not to mention the noise and rowdiness they bring along with them. However, as the Taiwanese locals strives to live out their own lives the way they’d wanted, it is still possible for find quaint spots of serenity in the vicinity of Yongkang Street where 慢活 “leisure life pacing” is still the abiding philosophy.
Gâteau de Voyage à l’ Huile d’ Olive et au Citron… what a mouthful of a name for such a simple cake. Loosely translated as an “Olive Oil and Lemon Travel Cake”, the term “Gâteau de Voyage” was popularised through the great French patissier Gaston Lenôtre back in the 1970s and has since become a “staple” in many French patisseries. most notably from Pierre Hermé, a prodigy of Lenôtre who created many flavours of “Gâteau de Voyage” based on his “signature” and “fetish” series. I am forever looking for a good “Gâteau de Voyage” recipe and thus when I chanced upon this one which uses olive oil in place of the standard butter, I knew I’d have to try it out!
Wondering down the streets of Central, Hong Kong after our morning walk in the Mid-levels/Soho area, we were feeling a little hungry and could sit down somewhere for a pitstop. In between meals, we didn’t want something too heavy so high tea seemed like the perfect choice. There are many 5-star hotels dotted along the coastal stretch overlooking Victoria Harbour from Sheung Wan all the way to Causeway Bay. Since we just came out of H&M along Queen’s Road Central, it seem to make sense to head in the direction of Pedder Street to a place which I have on my “to-eat/do” list. We didn’t make reservations as high tea here isn’t part of the travel itinerary but we are here nonetheless to try our luck. Thankfully, it was a lazy weekday afternoon and there were empty tables available, though not very many. High Tea @ Le Salon De Thé de Joël Robuchon it seems destined to be…
I think many like me have experienced the frustrations of wanting to make something but discovered that an ingredient or tool or two is lacking in the pantry or inventory. Like three different types of vanilla beans Pierre Hermé calls for in his Tarte Infinitement Vanille, or the chic-looking square tartlette moulds in Sugino’s Tartlette aux Figues, are just some of the factors which had deterred me from attempting these recipes. Some of these ingredients may be seasonal, e.g. exotic berries and Rainier cherries, while others totally inaccessible, e.g. meyer lemons, quince, bergamot, wild strawberries fraises des bois…just to name a few, or simply out of this world… like talent!
I guess rhubarb is one of those things that fall into the “seasonal” category. I was absolutely enthralled when I recieved a “tipoff” that a good batch of them was in town a couple of weeks back, promptly me to go grab some before they are gone again. It would have to be another long year’s wait for the next Australian winter before we see them again and I don’t think I can survive the ordeal!
True to the word, they looked fabulous in all that vermilion brilliance. And while I was pondering over what to make with these, mulberries are sighted as well. Twice lucky! How often does one get that! Aran’s Rhubarb and Mulberry Crumb Cake came to mind quite naturally.
Pâtisserie Henri Charpentier (PHC) is easily the most “accessible” french bakery in Japan, with many takeaway outlets in depachikas of the major departmental stores like Isetan, Daimaru and Takashimaya, all over Japan. In fact, I don’t recall not seeing them at any of the departmental stores we went to! If one is forced to draw comparisons, PHC is like BreadTalk in Singapore, only that the former is much much much much much much…better, especially for a pastry junkie like me!