I’m on a tart making spree! This happened once several years back when there was an online tart and pie bake-along event where I did Pierre Hermé’s Tarte Ispahan, Ladurée’s Tartelettes Croustillantes Abricots ou Cerises and the classic Tarte Bourdaloue aux poires all in a short span of just days apart from each other. It was crazy but fun!
Days back, I saw good figs at our local supermarket, and was determined to reprise Hidemi Sugino’s Tartelette aux Figues which I also did at the end of that same year back in 2011 but alas came feijoas and I got distracted, out of which Tartelette au Feijoa et Chocolat Noir was created. However, determined not to let those beautiful fresh figs, and the extra pâte sucrée in the fridge go to waste, I made yet another round of of tartlets, this time a pairing between figs and rosemary, Tartelettes aux Figues et Romarin, inspired by flavours of the Mediterranean Aegean Sea.
Making these tartlets was a last minute decision, wait, make that an impulse! The initial intention was really to make some of Sugino’s fig tartlets since we finally managed to get some good figs in Singapore this season. Last year’s were horrid. But then came along feijoas, which were on sale at our local supermarkets. I’d seen them last year but they were very expensive, since only one (premium) supermarket carried it, the price was kinda monopolised. That is what happens over here unfortunately yes… But this year, the prices dropped by more than half! No more excuse for not trying them. They were packaged as “zeijoas” since this batch were not from their native South America but New Zealand, where they are widely cultivated and grown by the kiwis in their backyards as a fruit tree. No prizes for how the name “zeijoa” came about but I’m hoping that our folks over here would not take this name too seriously as the actual one! More curiously, these “zeijoas” were marketed as “Causasian guavas”. I wonder how many actually knew that the common guava we’d been eating originated from Central and South America as well. Despite the slight similarities in taste , I wonder why would anyone do that. Oh well, I guess the logic is functional, mapping the known against the unknown, the familiar against the unfamiliar. But sounds kinda silly if you ask me, likening one to brand fettuccine as the “Italian mee kia” and yes in case you are wondering, it is being done by one of the popular brands for electrical goods, on their latest noodle making machine! Anyway, we’d digressed.
My first tasting of the feijoa I bought and I was blown away. The fruit had just beautifully ripened, with the core of the insides really gelatinous and sweet. The fruit was also highly perfumed, a bouquet of aromas which reminded me of bubble gum candy and a “grape-flavoured” soft drink called “Qoo”. It can be easily eaten by slicing lengthwise into two and scoop out the flesh as how one would eat a kiwi, with just a dessert spoon As we work towards the skin, the texture changes and becomes more… yes, you’d guessed it, guava-like, slightly fibrous and grainy in texture while the taste also developed from being sweet to sour. It is more juicy than the average guava. The progression of flavours was really interesting and I thought won’t it be great if I could put this into pastry?! And indeed I did! So here’s my little impulsive weekend baking venture, Tartelette au Feijoa et Chocolat Noir – Feijoa and Dark Chocolate Tartlets.
We‘’d tried quite a number of patisseries in Hong Kong over the last couple of years, from those who herald from France like La Maison du Chocolat, Pierre Herme and Jean Paul Hevin, to the local names like Petite Amanda. Some were reasonably good, like Passion by Dubois but some like Paul Lafayet seem to have fallen short of something. There is a lot of room for improvement and reflection, vis-a-vis the patisserie standards of its neighbours Taiwan and Japan. Yet we remain very hopeful as the pastry scene in Hong Kong is growing increasingly exciting yet at the same time. On our most recent trip, we made a point to visit a highly raved patisserie which we’d yet to try. They have been the Number 1 choice under the “desserts” category on a local Hong Kong food guide chart for quite sometime now. Is it as good as what’s been said?
Whenever we are in Taipei, we’d always make it a point to drop by Sadaharu Aoki’s dessert salons in either Bellavita or Hotel Regent Taipei, and sometimes both! There are always something new or seasonal, like a surprise that awaits us to uncover! Last year, we had Sensuelle, a Hotel Regent Taipei exclusive and our visit to Patisserie Sadaharu AOKI paris earlier this year was no exception. There were two new creations that were just waiting for us to sample!
Ladurée, an old guard in the long-withstanding tradition of French pastry-making is a name that hardly needs introduction. It is due to open its first outlet in Singapore in a week’s time. We’d visited Ladurée’s flagship store in Japan just last week. Hopefully this would be a “sneak preview” of we could expect when it hits town soon.
One of the main highlights of Food & Hotels Asia 2012 is the Asian Pastry Cup. The most prestigious event for pastry professionals, APC allows young patissiers from all over Asia to contest one another in terms of skills, technique and creativity for the top prize. The top three prize winners automatically qualify themselves for a place to compete in the uber prestigious “Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie 2013″ aka Pastry World Cup, traditionally held in Lyon, which en masse the best patissiers from all around the world. And by winning the Coupe du Monde, one basically get elevated to join the heights of the “pastry gods”. Easier said than done, as it is a competition with a lot of sweat and tears, as the teams battle against each other over long and gruelling hours to produce the best chocolate cake, best plated dessert, best sugar showpiece, best chocolate showpiece,…and finally the top prize!
In short, intensément!!!
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!
Pâtisserie Factory Shin @ Daimaru Umeda, Osaka. Another “home-grown” name trying very hard to make a name for itself in the patisserie circle in Japan, and had been somewhat successful, having almost 40 dessert boutiques and takeaway counters all over Japan, including Daimaru Umeda which we’d visited. And they had one of my all-time favorites, Mont Blanc in not just one, but two flavours!