Friday, August 29, 2008

A little taste of Hokkaido - Nouvelle Pâtisserie Japonaise Kitakaro 北菓楼

Nouvelle Pâtisserie Japonaise Kitakaro 北菓楼

One of the notable pâtisseries from my southern Hokkaido trip....and being situated in Otaru 小樽, the history and hospitality of the location only made Kitakaro that much more memorable. This gem hides within a gray stone complex, and if it wasn't for the honey floral aroma that disbursed from within, I would have mistaken it for a historical Japanese bathhouse, grand but eccentric....


As I walk inside the tunnel that spanned the broad walls, the welcoming lights emerged into sight, followed by elegant displays of their signature sweets. The aroma intensified....unique combination of fragrance from honey, eggs and flour could only be the results of on-premise baking! With a few broken Japanese phrases, and a little squeezing through the immense crowd waiting to exchange their gold for the delectable, I have arrived to the kitchen for the demonstration of their most priced item - Baumkuchen 妖精の森, which translates to "The Fairy Forest"....the tree-ring pattern of the cake represents the forest, whereas the golden sheen on the cake, the inviting aroma, and the exquisite flavour of this signature piece could certainly live up to the enchanted beauty of fairies.

With just one tasting, I was sold....the delicate flavour of maple and honey balanced well with the sweetness and buttery richness of the cake. It was moist yet light in texture....delightful with a cup of Earl Grey and lemon *will speak more about my devotion to Earl Grey as an ingredient later....

The Japanese are known to have intricate inspirations for their machinery designs....and they have done it again....a special oven just to achieve the perfection of 妖精の森....words alone wouldn't do justice here....heh....please check out the video featuring the making~!

video

The Puff that Rises....

....yet when it reached Boston, Mass, it has fallen flat.


After chatting with my friend Jen, whom has recently visited Beard Papa's "ビアード・パパのパ" in SF *feeling envious*, and written an entry on her blog, here is my tribute to this amazing store....and for those whom enjoy the puff as much as I do....


I stumbled upon the late Boston location when I first visited Boston for the interview of my current job....well....I spent 2 hours for the interview, and 2 days visiting the city. As a person whom spent her high school years in Hong Kong, Beard Papa's wasn't a nouveau icon....but with the sign in sight, rushing towards the custard clouds was the natural reflex. What attracted me more was the intense aroma of fresh vanilla bean... one of the staff started extract the minuscule seeds from the second most expensive spices after saffron. My cooking instincts then attracted me to a plastic cup filled with the spent pods used for display. With a brief hesitation, I spoke with the manager, and the soon after, the cup of spent pods ended up in my bag.


As Alton Brown puts it....nothing is worth more than a cooking tool that can multi-task. I would say the same for ingredients. The spent vanilla pods would be a waste if they do not end up in your jar of castor sugar, or a good bottle of potato vodka!

It was sad to see Beard Papa's disappear from the Faneuil Hall....I always ponder from the thought of whether there is just a lack of demand for great pastisseries in Boston. It was determined not to miss out on them when I headed back to Hong Kong this past June....and I was surprised by the diversity this company has incorporated to their stores....stay tune for my new Asian experience of the "ビアード・パパのパ"!


Jen's blog: http://rhymeswithhungry.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Summer Flavours of Boston....

As a recent resident of Boston whom lacks the passion for this city, the farmer's market at Copley Square is a great escape, twice a week during the summer months.


Though with the limited selections, and prices that can easily top off similar stalls in the Big Apple....in the presence of fresh produce in pristine colours, and the fragrance from the woods that recalls your memories of summer wilderness, it is hardly a challenge for ones' mindset to transform from tiredness towards adventurous, looking forward to the challenge to the upcoming dinner.


The excitement doesn't end there when you have the pleasure to stumble across a store while its proud owner is presenting the rare variety of the mycorrhzial edible fungus....picked from the wild....the Golden Chantrelles, or the Cantharellus.


The chanterelle exists by forming symbiotic associations with plants, thus making it very challenging to cultivate. C. cibarius is the best known species of this genus is the Golden chanterelle, which is orange or yellow, meaty and funnel-shaped. On the lower surface, underneath the smooth cap, it has gill-like ridges that run almost all the way down its stem. It has a fruity smell and a mildly peppery taste, and the gill-like ridges helps with the release of its intense flavour into your dish....though, they also make water a lethal weapon for leaching out the flavours and aromas from the chanterelles. With such delicate structure, this mushroom is best cleaned with a slight moist paper towel, using it to gently dust away the soil.


I couldn't help but admire them closely with my camera....with my mind drifting off thinking of the type of adventures these jewels are destined to head....

début de la fleur au Cacao....


The name I have in mind for the "L'Empire des Gourmet" I want to create someday....as my passion for food and cooking began from inspirations that lies within the Cacao....

With a life time goal to travel for culinary experiences....hope to share some of it here with you. Merci!

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