January and it is strawberry season. Specifically Korean and Japanese strawberries that is. This is practically the only time of the year that I eat strawberries. Apart from the erratic French gariguettes that come a couple of months later. IF they ever come that is. Fraises des bois and Mara des bois…I can only dream. Yes we do get strawberries on the supermarket shelves almost all year round. Call me picky but I don’t buy straws from Australia, New Zealand or the Americas, be it North or South. They just don’t dig as well as the Korean, Japanese or French fellas. Neither do I eat Driscoll’s
crappy strawberries. No offence guys but they just make you think that you are eating strawberries. So in reality and as snobbish I may sound, the “real” strawberry season is actually very short. For me at least. As seasonal as how these fruits had been in the past and should rightfully be so. Apart from buying and savoring them as it is, we often crack our heads to find ways to extend our days to enjoy them before the season closes. And what better way to lock in these flavours through making jams out of them, an age old method to “immortalise” the delicate sweetness the current season bequeaths upon us which alas, come so swiftly yet ends all too shortly.
Bearing strong contrast to many countries within the Arabian Peninsula which are characterised by inhabitable desserts, Iran is surprisingly quite well known for their vegetable and fruit produce. The first impressions of Iranian produce for me has to be their emerald green pistachios and saffron but more recently we saw other fruits like oranges imported from there as well. The local climate is particularly conducive for fruit and vegetable cultivation it seems. As such, fruits and greens form a large part of an Iranian diet and this can be seen through the variety of salads enjoyed by them. Amongst what I’d read on Persian cuisine, Salad-e Shirazi must surely be the easiest to prepare.
Simplicity can be such a curse. No doubt a simple pound cake requiring only a handful of ingredients is hardly a technical challenge compared to an multi-component entremet. Yet, it is often the simplest things that are the easiest to pick up but most difficult to master. As such, I’m constantly on the hunt for THE perfect cake recipe, if there’s ever such a thing, be it a pound or chiffon, or even a simple buttercake. Some recipes “worked” for a while, and just when you thought you’d nailed it, a better cake comes along and sends one back to the drawing board! And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who’s been through this!
While searching over youtube for French recipes to prepare a rack of lamb, I came across a BBC cooking series “Kitchen Secrets” hosted by renowned French chef Raymund Blanc. Monsieur Blanc left France in the 1970s and crossed the English channel , where he found a new life and new hopes. Entirely self-taught with no formal training in classical techniques whatsoever, he opened his first restaurant Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons as a small shop in 1977 before expansion in 1984. The restaurant was conferred two michelin stars a year later and held them since. I found myself glued to the cooking series, watching the episodes for the two seasons running over youtube, all in a single sitting. Naturally, having spent all that time in front of the monitor, I didn’t get to prepare that rack of lamb for that evening’s dinner, but all was not lost as I found myself quite inspired.
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!
pâtisserie Sadaharu AOKI paris ‘s dessert boutiques in Taipei were THE places which we were looking forward the most to visit on our trip to Taipei last year. Having read so much about him and his works, we were in dire need to sample some of his creations. It is our closest call we could ever get to pastry heaven. Pierre Herme is still another 3 hours away in Tokyo but going to Aoki is by no means settling for second best! With his macarons highly raved amongst fellow dessert afficionadoes online, little deliberation is required when we were considering takeaways back to Singapore on our last day. So here on Macaron Day, we share them with you!
I’m “fast forwarding” my Japan posts to bring to you guys the Le Cordon Bleu Macarons from Kobe! “Nan desu de?!” some of you might ask. ‘Cos in barely 2 weeks’ time on 20th March is Le Jour de Macaron aka Macarons Day! This day which celebrates the popular French confectionery was initiated by no other than the man who revolutionised macaron gastronomie, Pierre Hermé. Since its inauguration 7 years ago, Macarons Day is celebrated by many patisseries around France, with notable names like Sadaharu Aoki, Dalloyau, Laurent Duchêne and Jean-Paul Hévin, just to name a few. It has since spread across the Altantic to NYC and Toronto, as well as the rest of the world! And over at Aspiring Bakers, we are having celebrating it for one whole month with “Aspiring Bakers #17 – March Macaron Madness!”
We visited Kobe as a day trip on our second last day in Kansai. It was an impromptu decision actually as we’d initially decided to stay put in Osaka after visiting Kyoto and Nara a couple of days back. But we kinda ran out of places to visit in Osaka, which is pretty much of a business and commercial hub, with much less character and history than its neighbouring cities and towns. So it was off to Kobe for more patisserie hunting!