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Showing posts with label Pastries. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pastries. Show all posts

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Bites: Matcha Croissants @ La Belle Sweets, Victoria Park

Most pastries aren’t really my kind of thing but Matcha is. When I heard that a new patisserie in town was serving Matcha filled croissant, I was super keen.  Best of all its not too far from where I live.  La Belle Sweets in Lathlain recently opened their door to the public and the social media has covered them pretty well.  From catchy Pokemon cakes to delicious looking pastries, La Belle Sweets has it all.  

Sitting places are extremely limited which made it feel like a takeaway place.  Fortunately, we got a spot and that was nice!  Between the us, we got coffee and some pastries to share. 
The pastry chef’s skills is unquestionable with the layers of the croissants defined so very clearly.  Buttery, flakey and super fresh.  Everything one the table was pretty decent!  However, I felt like there could be more Matcha cream in the croissant as it was not much!  I guess sometimes there is an expectation in life that when you open something like that and the Matcha just bowls you over haha.  This was probably just nice.  La Belle Sweets’ Matcha cream itself is sensational.  Strong flavoured, not to sweet with that strong kick of grassy Matcha note.  Just what I wanted!
My morning at La Belle Sweets was rather short but it was time well spent.   The pastries we had that morning were several of the many that La Belle Sweets pump out of the oven.  My over all experience was unquestionably positive. In saying that note that I am not a sweets person.  So if you are a sweet tooth you might be in quite some trouble!

La Belle Sweets Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, April 22, 2016

Istanbul: The best Turkish desserts in Istanbul at Grande Kafe.

What does fried wheat strands, rose syrup, endless supply of pistachios and the famous Turkish delight have in common?  They are all delicacies of Istanbul’s history as the melting pot of European and Eastern cultures.  While I am not a dessert person, one place in Istanbul has made me proclaimed that “this is one of the best dessert places I have been to in a long time”, a statement which I have not made for the entire 2014/2015 period till then.

After a trip to the Basilica Cistern, we were craving for some food and the tempting colours of the Grand Cafe or Grande Cafe as the Turks call it lured us in.  

Sugar, sugar, everywhere sugar.

There are plenty of sweets here but majority of the ready to go desserts were Turkish delights, Baklava, Lokmas and such.  Very inviting!  Note that the Turkish delight in Turkey seemed less artificially sweetened compared to the ones I had tasted before coming to Istanbul!

In a true  East meets West fashion, the four of us ended up with three desserts and some tea or rather "chai" in Turkish.  Two were Turkish staples the Kunefe and a Trileche while the other was an American style cheesecake.  What is a Trileche?  It is the pinnacle of simplicity.  consisting of a sponge soaked in mildly spiced milk topped with a creme caramel style burnt syrup.
The soaked spongy cake was a reminiscent of a childhood where I enjoyed dipping everything in my cup of hot Milo.  Biscuits, cake and breads!  And at the very top the Trileche was a very fine tasting caramel layer.  It was sensational.  The Trileche looked like a dessert that does not contain complex techniques or sophisticated flavours but yet it pleased the palate so very well.  I am amazed.

What is a Kunefe?  It was essentially baked cheese topped with intertwining wheat strands that is baked until crisp. Once cooked, it is doused with syrup and topped with crushed pistachio.  
The result is a combination of texture, flavour and visual pleasantry that help produce an outstanding dessert.  The crisp of the wheat strands, fragrance of the pistachio and subtle syrup worked together to make a mildly savoury cheese taste sensational.  It was warm and absolutely pleasing for that cold-rainy day.  It was super good.  I have never had a Kunefe before and having is this once is making me want to have it again (unfortunately other Kunefe that we had in town did not even come close).

Last but not least is the Berry Cheesecake which I believe needs no introduction.  With the Kunefe and Trileche stealing the limelight, there was no space for error with the Cheesecake if it wanted its own 5 minutes of fame.  
Unfortunately, it did not pass my requirement for a good cheesecake.  Whilst everything looked really pretty, it lack that melt in your mouth feel.  A sensation one gets from when the baker properly fine tunes the addition of gelatine, agar or other hardening agents.  This one was really hard which I did not enjoy.  Needless to say, it was the wrong dessert in the wrong place haha.  Still edible nonetheless!


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Munich: A Schmalznudel Breakfast @ Cafe Frischhut, Prälat-Zistl-Straße

Germany is a country known for its beer, football, precision engineering and really tall people.  But there is more to Germany than what meets the eyes.  A rich cultural heritage paired with modern influence has resulted in a diverse European landscape.  In the next few posts, I re-visit the sights and feeds that made me love this systematic country.

A chilly wind welcomed me the next morning.  The bus ride to town had some graffiti here and there but nothing was more astonishing than seeing boozy party heads board the 8am bus home.  Even as they boarded I could hear dance music echoing from the nearby club! This was party town for sure.  But nothing could distract me from my quest to seek the German version of the Cantonese “Ham Chin Peng” or deep fried bread called the Schmalznudel.  For that, I went to Cafe Frischhut located by the Viktualien Market.

The smell of freshly fried bread was every bit tempting.  The first bite in is a little off-putting as it did not taste as good as it looked.  But soon, the simplicity of the slightly salted pastry becomes an interesting flavour. Crispy, fluffy and over all very pleasing,  Then you hit the middle bit which is sweet!! This reminds me so much of home!  

Because two is better than one, I call for a second pastry.  This time it was the apricot jam doughnut and it was nothing short of more-ish.  Fruity apricot jam with a mild tartness had to be the highlight as I reckon the deep fried doughnuts were done better in Victoria Market in Melbourne.  Even then, how much difference can there be?  And more importantly who in the world dislikes a good doughnut ball right? :D!

The sink it all in, a cup of warming hot chocolate the way it normally is.  Super chocolatey but not too sweet.

While the warm breakfast here beats the other cold ones we have had in Europe, the price was a slight shocker.  These simple pastries amounted to €16 which is quite a lot if you ask me!  Also note that the drinks and food have different prices for eating in and taking away.  Having it in the cafe cost some 50 cents more per item!  But at the end of the day, I was still every bit satisfied.


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Paris: Pastry Galore @ Maison Eric Kayser & Boulangerie Gosselin, Paris

Paris is known as the city of love but it is also known for its amazing food.  Many things come to mind when you associate the French with food.  You get decadent desserts, Michelin starred restaurants serving the finest meals to quaint little bistros serving classical French food.  For me, there was one thing I looked forward to more than the rest when I was there.  That is to try their re-known pastries.  In particular, the much-talked about classic, the Croissant.  In October, I made a short trip to Paris over the weekend and tried some popular bakeries in town.

My first morning before walking through Luxembourg Garden was a stop at Maison Eric Kayser on d’Assas road.  This bakery was one of the many others that formed the famous Eric Kayser franchise.  To get my morning fuel, I tried three different pastries. Sorry for the really random looking pics! I was too hungry to re-arrange them and present them nicely together :P!

The classic Croissant.

The White Chocolate Brioche

The Raisin & Vanilla Custard Pastry

The pastries were rich, tasty and more-ish.  But while the Croissant and Brioche should have been the favourites, they were served a little too cold for my liking.  This means it was not as fluffy or airy as they could have been.  For that reason alone, my favourite was the Raisin & Vanilla Custard Pastry.   

The morning before I went home came seemingly close to being a failure.  With most places closed, it was hard to find anything proper.  Then there was the marathon which had several main roads close in the Louvre area.  Just when my friends were about to settle for McDonald’s  I managed to lead the team to Boulangerie Gosselin.

Chocolate Eclair


Pistachio Twist? Croissant?

Another moment of decadence in Paris.  While I have tasted better Eclairs in life, this was a good one although I felt the need for better balance and that it could be fresher over all.  The Croissant here was noticeably airier compared to the one from Maison Eric Kayser.  However, it was also less buttery.  Alas, my favourite one was the Pistachio Pastry.  Crusty, slightly sweet and fragrant, it was a hard one to beat.  

The pastries in Paris were consistently good or perhaps I have been to some consistently good bakeries.  Controversially enough, I cannot help but feel let down by the croissants.  Fortunately, the discovery of some seriously yummy alternatives kept my hopes up.  At Maison Eric Kayser, the Raisin and Custard swirl was all the rave.  Crispy, creamy and a toned sweetness, it was impeccable.  On the other hand, the fragrant of the pistachios from Boulangerie Gosselin still lingers on my palate today.  Looking in hindsight though its like going to Italy to buy a Ferrari only to come back with a Citroen.  Does not sound very right now does it? =|


Friday, October 2, 2015

London: the Full English @ Delaunay, Convent Garden.

London is one of the world’s most international cities and it's food scene is sensationally vibrant.  But because EasyJet arrived some 3 hours after my intended arrival, I was too tired and decided to sleep my hunger out.  Never trust something that calls itself "easy".  Thankfully, it did not take long before the morning came and I was prepared to eat.  For this,  I brought my host/colleague Jacques to the Delaunay, an elegant top class establishment with suited up waitstaff in Convent Garden. 

What better way to start the morning with some tea and a Jam Doughnut (£3.75).  While it was really quite a basic Jam Doughnut, I still enjoyed every bit of it! I am a sucker for these things haha.  Fluffy, sugary deep-fried doughnut balls filled with a fruity jam.  Damn!

After finishing the doughnut, our breakfasts arrived.  Jacques and I decided to go for two very different breakfast which the Delaunay offers.  Mine was the full English while his was the Viennese breakfast.  The main difference?  His was a traditional Austrian breakfast platter of charcuterie with a bagel, egg and accompanying sauce of mustard whilst for me, it was the good old fry-up.

The Viennese breakfast (£11.50).

For the full English breakfast (£16.50), you have all the usual suspects.  Streaky bacon, juicy sausages, fried eggs, shrooms and a decadent black pudding.  The only odd element which I feel did not deserve to be on the plate were the baked beans.  Not because it was not a proper element of a full English, but simply because it looked so “out-of-the-can” which it probably was.
While everything was prepared well on the plate, it was the black pudding which I enjoyed most.  The black pudding was crisp on the outside but on the inside, it was mildly creamy with all the seasoning of herbs making it really tasty and unlike the ones in Australia which tend to be seasoned heavily, the one here was seasoned moderately which helped accentuate the meatiness of the pudding!

While the breakfast was really quite enjoyable, it was not a cheap affair!  It was perhaps we had our breakfast quite quickly and did not quite take the proper time to absorb the wonderful place the Delaunay was.  You will realise there were people there earlier than you still sipping their same pot of tea even though you have finished your breakfast.  My choice of breakfast that morning might seem odd to those who know me considering I have sworn to never eat things I could make at home.  This includes omelettes, bacons, sausages and the list goes on. But coming all the way to England means I had to try their iconic morning starter, the full English breakfast.  Thankfully it was delicious!

The Delaunay Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Copenhagen: Danish Pastries @ Lagkagehuset Bakery, Kobenhavn K - Copenhagen.

Danish pastries are a morning staple like Vegemite is to Australia.  In Copenhagen you are sure go past many bakeries in town with one the more popular chain stores being Lagkagehuset and it was my early morning stop on Sunday morning. The Lagkagehuset Bakery was perfect considering most of the other bakeries close on Sundays.  From the outside, one might mistake the modern exterior for an upscale bakery.  But do not be fooled as sleek exteriors are almost a must in this stylish Danish capital.  The baked products are on display so just tell the waitress what you want and she will pick it up for you.  Heating is available too. 

My two picks for breakfast were the chocolate croissant and the classic Cinnamon Snail.  Despite having some of the best layers for a croissant, the lack of an intense butter aroma made the usually decadent chocolate croissant very dull.  It definitely needed a re-work!  It was safe to say that when in Rome, do what the Romans do.  So do not eat Croissants in Copenhagen :P!

Thankfully the Cinnamon Roll was up to scratch and lived up to my expectations. Peeling the crisp layers off, you get you fingers all sticky before revealing the hidden pockets of tasty cinnamon sugar. First bite in and the tasty roll was faultless. Who am I kidding?  I am in Copenhagen after all!  Deeper inside, you get the soft more fluffy bits!

No wonder many have praised them for their pastries which I have to say was quality although not as amazing as what some have claimed it to be! Note that Lagkagehuset was one of the few hardworking bakeries open for on a dreamy Sunday. Its prices were decent and the quality of Lagkagehuset's pastries were up to scratch. Stick to the Danish basics and you will do just fine!! 


Monday, September 21, 2015

Copenhagen: Danish Pastries and the best Hot Dogs @ Andersen Bakery, Kobenhavn V - Copenhagen.

Great breakfasts make normal days better.  If you are in Copenhagen, I have a little place for you to start.   This bakery is the love child of a Japanese Baker and Danish Pastry that goes back some half century ago.  Conveniently enough it is located right along the walls of Tivoli Gardens, the worlds oldest theme park.  This is Andersen’s Bakery.  


The morning is a little drizzly when I got out at 8 in the morning but the good folks at Andersen Bakery starts before dawn to ensure everyone is well-fed in the rainy Autumn weather.  My pick for the morning was the classic Cinnamon Roll and a  Danish Vanilla Creme Crown.  To keep me warm was a pot of English Breakfast.

The Cinnamon Roll was a classic Danish Pastry. It smells so good it was unmistakable from the moment I stepped in Andersen’s Bakery.  Fortunately enough, it tasted as good as it smelt.  Crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside, this bun was absolutely more-ish with the little bursts of cinnamon & sugar mix in certain parts of the roll!

The second pastry was not a default choice of mine.  After snooping for awhile, I was overwhelmed with the choices pastries and I decided the to get waitress to recommend something she liked personally.  Her choice was the Danish Vanilla Creme Crown which was spot on!

Each bite was flaky and when you hit that custard centre, you get a silky smooth custard with a fragrant hit of warm-floral vanilla.  Best of all, this custard was the real deal.  Not some random custard out of the can.

But when the clock strikes 10 in the morning and you want something proper to keep you going through lunch, I recommend Andersen’s Hotdogs for a wholesome brunch.  My choice that afternoon was the Spicy Dog.  

For 55 Crowns you get a delicious signature hotdog in a white bun, both of which are specially made in house.  To finish, the hot dog is given royal treatment where it is topped with fried shallots, Jalapeños, relish and wasabi mayo. 

The Spicy Dog combination is simply potent and as you bite into the juicy hot dog, you soon realise why the Danes are one of the largest hot dog consumers in the world despite their relatively small population.  This had to be the best hot dog I have ever eaten.  Not to mention the toppings which paired with the hot dog so very well.  You get the crispy fragrant onions, the tangy relish and a chilli kick from the Jalapeños before thin slices of cucumber cools the tongue.  It was lovely.  To complement the chow, Andersen Bakery also had a freshly squeezed elderflower lemonade!

Andersen Bakery is one of the most popular places in Copenhagen and it is not surprising at all.  Top notch Danish Pastries paired with amazing hot dogs makes a formidable combination.  If you have one chance to eat Danish Pastries/Hot Dogs in Copenhagen, it would have to be this little bakery.  Also, do note that the prices here are a quite similar to what you would pay for say a fully loaded hot dog on the road while the Danish Pastries are the same price like the ones you would get from your local baker.  So if you ever go to Copenhagen in Denmark, remember to stop by Andersen Bakery.