The grand masters of French pastry arts seem have to shifted their attention to the East and this comes as no surprise. With an already intensely saturated populace of macaron lovers back home and the vast potential of an ever-growing market from China, it makes perfect sense for these big names in French cuisine to stretch their tents and earn the Asian dollar. Ladurée, Alain Ducasse, Joël Robuchon are already here and it is timely that they are now joined by one one of the most esteemed colleague, Pierre Hermé.
Pierre Hermé has been in Japan for quite a number of years now, with boutiques in several of her cities, most notably a flagship store in Aoyama, Tokyo. But interestingly when I’d visited his boutiques in Tokyo, I chanced up not local Japanese but tourists from China and Taiwan who have specially come to sample his creations. A sort of culinary pilgrimage I’m sure it was for them as it is for me. Surely Monsieur Hermé would have noticed that too. And a store in Hong Kong was nothing short of being strategic, with visitors from all over Mainland China flocking here at all times of the year. The potential would have been too great to miss and so presents the temptation and desire to venture into the Mainland China market. Hong Kong would be the ideal gateway.
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!
Apart from the Asian Pastry Cup, the Food & Hotel Asia 2012 also played host to a series of culinary events like the Imperial Challenge, an international Chinese banquet culinary competition highlighting the finest of Chinese cuisine where top chefs specialising in chinese cuisine pit their skills against each other. There’s also the FHA Barista Challenge which aims at advancing the barista profession. And there’s FHA Culinary Challenge which has several categories – Dress the Cake, Free-style Wedding Cake, Petit Fours and Pralines, Plated Desserts, Plated Hot and Cold Appetisers as well as Chocolate and Sugar showpieces. All the competitions were going on concurrently so there’s no way one’s able to attend all these altogether. The FHA Culinary Challenge is held in the same hall as the Asian Pastry Cup so it seemed the most logical for me to swing over for a look. And I’m so glad that I did! Many many inspiring creations which one can analyse and admire up close, literally just inches from the competition pieces. Jamming my lens into them as I shot away, I could literally smell the aroma of all that chocolate and fruit, raging those salivary glands, on the brink of an outburst. Alas its can see, can smell but cannot touch. So near but yet so far, life can be such a bitch!
There’s very description on the pieces as I did not take photos of the tags that came with them. But do enjoy their designs, some of which are the most intricate that I’d seen so far. Hopefully you would be inspired by them as I have. 🙂
Ah what luck! Just last month, when I reconstructed Pierre Hermé’s Macaron Jardin Enchanté, I also lamented on the very near impossibilities of potentially sampling the real stuff from the French pastry master. Macaron Jardin Enchanté was reconstructed with some brainstorming with Swee San and Chef Nicholas, but based entirely on sheer imagination. As I was piping the lime ganache over the shells, I couldn’t help but yearn to know how close these would taste to those made from the kitchens in Alsace. Alas, some greater being of higher order up there must have heard my prayers! How lucky am I, for the celestial bodies must be aligned, as I got to know a new friend recently who shares the same passion for macarons from PH and caramels from Jacques Genin as me! What more, she couldn’t have been more generous to help lug back a couple of boxes of macarons from PH and Laduree! Yes, I know Macaron Month is just over, but I certainly don’t mind a bit of “seepage and spillage” of some macaroning action to continue to in the months to come as I bring to you some reviews of these delectable French almond biscuits sandwiched with the utmost bizarre combinations of ingredients and flavours! So if you would allow me to indulge a lil’ bit more, let me show you just how crazy these dainty lil’ Parisienne confections can be!
First and foremost, a big Thank You to all our fellow sisters from the Aspiring Bakers’ family who had participated in “March Macaron Madness!!!” All this would only be possible because of you! So give yourselves a big pat on the back yeah?! Some of you could not make it in time for the event due to personal commitments but still made it a point to drop me a note over facebook, emails or comments on the blog to show your encouragement and support. I’m truly touched and overwhelmed by all the kind words. Seemingly a trivial gesture, but it really meant loads to me! What a fun and funky month it had been!!! Macaron madness all over town!
Macarons must surely rank amongst the top in the list of the most versatile foods in the world, with two almond and sugar biscuit shells to be filled with an infinite number of possible fillings from sweet to savory. This became the drawing board for patissiers all around the world, drafting all sorts of flavour combinations from the familiar to the exotic.
It all started from monochromatic flavours like the ever-popular vanilla buttercream, raspberry confiture and chocolate ganache. These fillings, withstanding the test of time, are indeed delicious, but can be rather boring at times. The constant desire to innovate the mind and invigorate the tastebuds motivate patissiers to experiment with “pairings” of flavours, in attempt to add depth and dimension to these petit fours. And these bold attempts to produce something unique and astounding is found in none of than the works of Pierre Hermé.
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!