A question which I’d been getting from some friends and readers of late is, “What have you been baking lately?” Well knowing their kind intentions, I replied them with a honest “nothing much”, discounting the usual pandan chiffons, christmas fruit cakes and CNY pineapple tarts and cookies of course. Indeed, the direction of this blog has changed somewhat compared to how it was conceptualised years back when I first started to write about the confections I make at home. Don’t get me wrong, pastry is still my passion, which I am always ready to engage in fervent discussion with anyone who broaches the topic. But so is cooking. Which came first, cooking or baking? Not quite exactly a chicken or egg question but I think I had sufficient grounding in both since young. But the question from these friends and readers brought me back to the very reasons how this blog had begun, to share my passion for pastry and baking, so I guess it is also timely for a quick revision of my pastry 101s…
My story with the mango and passionfruit pairing started back in 2011, when I first made Hidemi Sugino‘s “Tahiti タヒチ – Tarlette au Mangue et Fruit de la Passion“. It was a beautiful creation which I hope to make again some time soon in the near future. Hopefully when miyazaki mangoes become more affordable(I wish!), or when I have access to the cheaper Taiwan grown variety. Then in 2012, triggered by the Diner en Blanc saga (read about it here), El Tropicano was born, a plated dessert comprising of a soya bean panna cotta and a fruits tartare with mango and passionfruit as the main components. It was made somewhat tongue-in-cheek and in a slightly spiteful manner if I might add, now thinking in retrospect but all in good fun. Then in 2014, I opted for something simpler, and made a Mango and Passionfruit Yoghurt Pudding which was simple but no less yummy. Needless to say, the matrimony of these two much loved tropical fruits is high on my favorites’ list. And now 2015, I’d cracked my head again, this time for a cheesecake-based entremet, named “Tahiti v.2015” after Sugino’s creation which got me all started.
Haven’t made macarons in quite a while now. I think I need to make it a point to go through it periodically. Macs are so temperamental and finicky that one can never be really sure he’s gotten them right. Going feetless, erupted tops, burnt shells, soggy bottoms are just some of the ways they would throw tantrums and get back at us in “silent protest” for the neglect and being all assuming with the “if you think you know me, well you don’t!” So drama huh? Well… ask a macaron maker and I’m pretty sure that he would have his own version of “Tales of Mac Macabre” to tell.
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?