Cake Day

25 May

My cake obsession hasn’t been sated even after coming back to Hong Kong!! So here goes. For some reason, everywhere I went today, they were out of cakes I wanted…Lucullus, Cova, even Pappagallo (!!). So I ended up at Starbucks. Since I’ve already tried their lychee mousse and red velvet cake, I took their 3rd new offering – the Earl Grey Mousse Cake, and an old favourite, the Hazelnut Coffee Roll.

Only when I got home did I realize I JUST had an Earl Grey cake yesterday (full review to come later)…which would make for good comparison. 2 different calibers of cake shops, obviously…but how did they fare?

The Starbucks one is covered with a sweet gelée which tasted like…..sugar. And it was more jelly than gelée. Well, I suppose that increases shelf-life and makes it more sturdy, which makes sense as Starbucks is not gourmet. Inside, there were 5 different components. First, the main component was a light brown Earl Grey mousse. It actually tasted like a very sweet and mild HK milk tea, which is what Earl Grey tastes to me sometimes :S So I guess they succeeded….? lol. I enjoy my Earl Grey without milk/sugar usually. The texture was a bit gelatinous too.

Next was a sponge cake layer, which had hints of citrus. Since Earl Grey is infused with bergamot, this makes sense. I actually quite liked this layer…it’s moist and fragrant. Following another mousse layer was a crunchy feuilleté-like layer, which serves to provide textural difference. It was actually really sweet as well, like nutella. Then, another thin layer of mousse, and then chocolate sponge cake (without the citrus tang). Finally, the base is a tender hazelnut biscuit, which was moist, a bit too moist in fact.

For the price of the cake ($2x), it was thoroughly enjoyable. Obviously, one can’t compare it to the delicate One Two Tea I had yesterday, but that was almost double the price. The Starbucks one, owing to its sturdier textures, was more filling too….I always think Starbucks is a good bargain! I actually also liked how it was super sweet….good for when the sugar craving hits. Can see this not faring well with the Asian palate though.

The hazelnut coffee roll was very strong on the coffee taste and totally lacking in the hazelnut taste. The roll layer is pale white, which means it was probably made just with egg-whites (and less guilty). The filling is a hazelnut buttercream mixed heavily with coffee granules. I didn’t detect any hazelnut, and the coffee taste was overwhelming. Oddly, the cake was also specked with what appeared to be chocolate chips, but tasted like nothing. If you really want a coffee hit from your cake, this is your cake. However, if you expected some hazelnut tones…prepare to be disappointed.

Ladurée Collection

24 May
Pretty Ladurée box

Pretty Ladurée box

Since my last post was of Pierre Hermé’s macarons, it would be natural to follow it with a post on Ladurée. As I mentioned yesterday, I love both and they pretty much stand equal on my favourite macaron list, both being #1. Although I only brought back 6 Ladurée macarons, I already finished off plenty in Paris, and also brought back a box of 8 for my Mum. So, what is featured here is only a tiny fraction of what I actually had.

Mmmm yummy in my tummy!

Mmmm yummy in my tummy!

In the box of 6 I brought home, there were 5 of my favourite flavours (réglisse, café, caramel, rose, et vanille), and one flavour I hadn’t tried yet (citron vert et chocolat). Ladurée does the classic flavours very well.

The licorice was a shocking midnight black, but the filling was a creamy beige. Rather than having the weird licorice candy flavours, this was more caramelly and slightly herbal. The fleur d’oranger, rose, and vanilla all tasted strongly of what they were supposed to taste like, while not being artifical. The caramel is my all time favourite macaron. The filling is wonderfully smooth and runny, while still holding it’s shape. It accentuated the slight chewiness and delicate, crisp shells of Ladurée macarons. The seasonal citron vert chocolat, on the other hand, didn’t fare so well. The lime green shell was specked with chocolate flakes, while the filling was chocolate ganache. I found the whole macaron tasted too perfumy. In fact, my mum even described it as tasting like citrus dishwashing soap.

My 3 favourites: Vanilla, Caramel, Réglisse

My 3 favourites: Vanilla, Caramel, Réglisse

The best part of Ladurée is that they always manage to get the shell-to-filling ratio perfectly. Sometimes, I find that PH’s fillings are a bit overwhelming. Ladurée never has this problem. Their intense flavours mean that a modest amount of filling is enough to bring out the taste. As mentioned yesterday, Ladurée’s shells are very delicate on the outside, and quite chewy and distinctively almondy on the inside. Classic.

Just for comparison, I purchased some macarons from a well-known local patisserie, Paul Lafayet.

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Pierre Hermé Collection

23 May
Box of 12...minus 1 that I ate

Box of 12...minus 1 that I ate

So I finally published the last of my backlog of drafts from my Paris trip lol…back to the present. Well, this was not so present. These were the Pierre Hermé macarons I brought back from Paris for myself. As you can see, the round flimsy box doesn’t travel so well…even though I packed it in a tin box which was stuffed with scarves.

Such a cute box!

Such a cute box!

This box of 8, however, travelled really well and was pretty much crumb-free with no cracked macarons. Obviously, it’s a bit more expensive too. But it’s so cute so it’s worth it. And yes…I got myself 20 PH macarons (in addition to the Ladurée box of 8…and the dozen I polished off during my last 2 days). I got these at the Lafayette basement outlet, and they usually have 12 flavours on display in a day.

I can’t decide if I like PH macarons better or Ladurée. They’re quite different. PH is heavy on the filling which can be quite thick in texture and quantity. The shell is very crisp and the texture of the biscuit is quite light. He also has some savoury and “weird” flavours. Ladurée, on the other hand, has a slightly chewier and more almondy shell, with lighter fillings (in texture), but a very strong taste. I like both. Here are the flavours I’ve tried, in the order of my preferences:

Asperge Verte & Huile de Noisette: The hazelnut flavour was SUPER strong…loved it. I guess the oils of a nut make the flavour eh? Wow this was like a punch in the eye….er…tongue…in terms of hazelnut flavour. The ganache was kinda oily in texture. The asparagus was found in dried asparagus bits in the ganache, which didn’t really contribute to the flavours. This is totally worth getting just for the noisette hit.

Huile D’olive & Vanille: Wow…what a surprise! This has bits of olive pieces inside, which I surprisingly liked! Very pronounced savory AND sweet tones. The olives balanced the sweet vanilla very well. PH seems to enjoy surprising us with green macarons…

Arabesque (Abricot & Pistache): The apricot flavour in this was very strong and real…couldn’t really detect the pistache, unfortunately. It’s a very pretty apricotty colour though. Smells heavenly too.

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Amazing Week

14 May View of the Shing Mun River near Che Kung Temple

Wow this week’s been the most amazing week ever…definitely made me love HK a little bit more and miss Paris a little bit less. So, recap:

Monday: Mother’s day lunch at Sushi Fuku-Suke which was really good. Had the omakase dinner there before already which I found not very creative, but lunch is a really good deal for quality Japanese food! Too bad the place was half empty…guys…….radiation won’t hurt you that way. Please support your local Japanese restaurants. Then, went to the Jacky Cheung concert at night with the parents. I know like NONE of his songs lol….and he’s not even hot, so it was kind of boring. Oh well…the whole point was to spend time with my parents, so that was nice.

Tuesday: I went to a new riding club in Clearwater Bay for my assessment lesson, and I love that place! It reminds me of the barns in Vancouver, with the whole tackshop/office setup, totally overpriced drinks+ice-cream, and horse show DVDs playing on the TV. Rode a horse called Blaizer who had a super bouncy trot, but an amazing canter. Too bad I’m still on the waiting list as their weekends are quite full.

Pixar Exhibition at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum

Pixar Exhibition at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum

Cool stairs

Cool stairs

Wednesday: I played the TGV set I bought for the kid I tutor……..and we both love it!! I also went to the Pixar exhibition at Shatin in the afternoon, which was my first visit to a museum in HK since…..forever. I miss Paris’ HUGE museums, but it’s interesting to go through HK’s museums too. I bought a yearpass which should motivate me to visit more. Walked a bit around Ma On Shan and the Shing Mun River area and took some pretty pics. I guess nature can be found in HK too lol. Then, I went home to a long day of waiting for the aircon guys to install my new aircon (my old one had something wrong with the compressor or something). Finished around 10 pm….

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I’m Back

1 May
Pistache-Amande from Beatrix

Pistache-Amande from Beatrix

The above viennoiserie was a wonderful flaky pocket filled with pistachio and almond paste. So buttery, so sinful, and so wish I had Beatrix here in Hong Kong. Yes, I’m back. Sigh…just came back from a huge family gathering at Shatin with CHINESE FOOD. I have to admit I kinda missed it…but right now I’m totally missing French food and my pastry destinations more.

I didn’t end up going to the Louvre yesterday morning as I still hadn’t finished packing. So instead, I woke up at 8 (slept at 3) and finished packing, but still managed to go out TWICE in between lol. Once to get the aforementioned breakfast. Then I realized I needed sturdy boxes to hold my macarons in and went out again, and of course had to get something from Pain de Sucre too. My first sweets from Paris was a Pain de Sucre macaron and marshmallow, and I have to end with Pain de Sucre too….it makes my trip complete. Sigh.

My last Pain de Sucre haul before returning to HK

My last Pain de Sucre haul before returning to HK

The two macarons were caramel and the green one was Angélique du Marais Poitevin et fromage de chèvre!! I’m not sure what the first part is, but I assume it’s some kind of herb? The filling is goat cheese flavoured. PdS’s macarons are really uniquely textured…very dense and chewy, unlike anything other macaron in Paris. You either hate it or love it. I find them interesting. The goat cheese one was distinctly cheesy, but you definitely had to concentrate to taste it. Not like Pierre Hermé or Ladurée’s VERY strongly flavoured macarons! Review of those will come in separate blogs after I’ve finished everything I’ve brought home.

La Renauderie: Pâte à choux croustillante, crème mousseline à l’épine noire

La Renauderie: Pâte à choux croustillante, crème mousseline à l’épine noire

This is the pretty-looking éclair-like pastry. I actually found the pâte a little soggy. The crème had a beautiful, light texture though. I believe l’épine noire means prunes…correct me if I’m wrong. It was quite alcoholic. The other green thing wrapped in saran wrap was a Tea-time, which is a little pistachio flavoured sponge cake studded with cherries which I ate on the plane.

Oh, I was just BARELY in time for boarding because checking out of my apartment took a little longer than expected. I wanted to go for a last Ladurée haul at the airport before boarding, but didn’t have time too. Sighhhhhhh…

My fridge after my trip

My fridge after my trip

Oh well, guess I should be satisfied with everything I got in my fridge for now. Lol…wait for reviews!

The End…For Now

29 Apr

So here I am, on my last day of my stay in Paris. My flight’s at 1 pm tomorrow, and I still haven’t packed at ALL. :S FML….like yesterday, I spent the whole day at the hospital doing surgery. Also said all my goodbyes to the nurses at the clinic, to the interns, the doctors I met, the OT nurses, the professor, secretaries. Delivered my Berko cupcakes to the clinic nurses which were well received. Took lots of photos, wanted to cry. Sigh…I hate goodbyes. I’LL BE BACK, PARIS AND HOPITAL SAINT-LOUIS!

After that, went to the Grands Magasins (again) to get more souvenirs (again). I finished off the macarons I bought which were supposed to be smuggled back to HK for my family and me…….whoops. So I bought more. And bought extra so I wouldn’t have to steal from the boxes. I wasn’t really in an eating mood (surprising, eh?) tonight as I was feeling so sad. 😦

Starbucks Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake

Starbucks Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake

So I got something from Starbucks. Cheesecake from Starbucks. What was I thinking?? Well…Berko was closed by the time I got back to the Beaubourg area, so I couldn’t end my trip with an amazing piece of Berko cheesecake. Yes, I was very, very sad. This Framboise-Chocolat Blanc Gâteau Fromage was so bad I didn’t even finish it. For one, the texture is all wrong. I think gelatin was used, which makes it a bit-jelly like. Not as bad as the Hong Kong style cheesecakes, but definitely not creamy like cheesecakes are supposed to be. Also, I couldn’t taste any white chocolate OR raspberry. Starbucks fail.

Goat Milk Chocolate Pudding

Ewe's Milk Chocolate Pudding

Also bought a bunch of stuff from the gourmet deli near my home, including this interesting pudding made of ewe’s milk (brebis). I was expecting a stronger, more gamey taste. Unfortunately, it only tasted like a very smooth chocolate pudding. It was the texture of warm ginger milk pudding…just at the border of liquid and solid. Actually, I think even HK style milk pudding has a stronger gamey taste than this.

Fromage Blanc Marron

Fromage Blanc Marron

This was something else I bought from the deli (yes I went crazy…it’s my last day after all). Chestnut flavoured fromage blanc isn’t something very common in HK, but I’ve seen it everywhere in Paris. Actually…getting this was a stupid idea…since it seems pretty easy to make myself. Good nonetheless. I’ve grown to really like fromage blanc…the texture is smoother than yogurt (which I find more watery), and the tartness isn’t overwhelming. It’s also usually made with skim milk!

On to the pastries…

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Second to Last Day Sigh

28 Apr Spéculos® (Buttercream)

Today, when I got to the hospital, I found out that most of the interns from other places had left Paris already! :(:( If I had known, I would’ve stayed longer yesterday. Also, I missed a house party one of the interns from Marseilles was throwing……and now they’ve all left. My favourite intern from Algeria was still here and leaving the same day as I was though, so that’s a consolation.

The box of 6 I got yesterday for myself

The box of 6 I got yesterday for myself

Since it’s my last 2 days in Paris, I’m staying at the hospital for the whole day until they finish. I also needed to scramble to get souvenirs for people back in Hong Kong and also gifts for those at the hospital. So today, after school, I headed to Berko first to get a dozen of cupcakes for the nurses at the clinic, and also a box of 3 for myself (in addition to the box of 6 I haven’t finished from yesterday lol). I’m gonna miss living 5 mins away on foot from a cupcake slash cheesecake store…………better for my waistline though.

Then I went on a massive shopping spree at Lafayette’s food market, and also various macarons stores like PH, Ladurée and Sadaharu Aoki around the Grand Magasins area. Also bought some cheese for my family as a souvenir. The cheese guy at Lafayette was so nice. But I also made a gaffe haha…I asked him if Tomme was similar to Swiss cheese, and he gave me the nastiest glare and said “NON!!! C’est FRANCAIS!!!! Pas suisse, nos fromages sont FRANCAIS!” Heh…sorry. Hurt his French pride. I sated him by buying some Tomme Affinée, Beaufort de Savoie, and Camembert. He also let me try a lot of cheese before buying…he gave me HUGE (like, 3X4 INCH) pieces to try. I was so full after trying lol.

Noix de Coco & mangue (buttercream); tarte aux fruit rouges

Noix de Coco & mangue (buttercream); tarte aux fruit rouges

This was my appetizer. Let’s just say tarts are not Berko’s forté…the tart base wasn’t buttery enough and I would’ve preferred more filling. Of course, it’s not fair to judge them based on a mini-tart I guess. The coconut and mango cupcake was yummerz!!! And I don’t even like coconut.

Takeout from Monoprix: tabouleh and satay chicken noodles

Takeout from Monoprix: tabouleh and satay chicken noodles

I also bought some takeaway from Monoprix as I like to experience what “instant food” is like in other countries as well.

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