The Petites Bouchées Dessert Table, plus a Giveaway!

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Petites Bouchees Dessert Table

(please click on the pictures to activate the lightbox for more vivid display!)

I’ve hinted on a project that I have been working on for a few weeks now. Well, now it can be revealed. Petites Bouchees has ventured into the stylized dessert table business!
This idea has been percolating in my brain since last year, but it was only this year that I had the guts to go through with it.
Wedding professional consultant, Meghan Ely of OFDconsulting has been instrumental in connecting me with great vendors in the area, with whom I am so thrilled to be now working with on current and future projects.

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Wedding Cake – Sweetest Thing Bakery

It’s so easy to get carried away with a first project, but I wanted to pay tribute to the lovely wallpaper I first laid eyes on in an adorable pastry shop in San Francisco called Miette. I couldn’t not include a candy station for which Miette is also known for and their macarons were the first ones I tried that got me hooked on these little Parisian confections.

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Wallpaper Shortbread cookies

I was lucky that they made the wallpaper cookies that matched the backdrop (yes, I’m going to use the “wallpapered” structure somewhere in my house after this project) – whimsical hydrangeas and starburst floral patterns – so I mailordered them to make an appearance on my very first dessert table.

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Peadee Pops by Flour and Iced

I won’t deny that this has been a learning experience – I think I’ve spent enough time at Michael’s and on the internet sourcing paper and crafting ideas to bring into the dessert table. Many times, I thought my head would burst thinking of all the little details that need to be done. Sometimes they just fall into place and sometimes you just have to accept that the tarts and buttermilk panna cottas have no room on your little (or big)scheme of things. It’s picking and choosing and always remembering that there is always that next dessert table. :)

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A little candy station- I just adore the lollipops
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Dainty cupcakes

And of course, how can we forget the macarons?

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Rose Litchi Macarons
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More macs

Thanks to:
Jenny West of the Sweetest Thing Bakery for the beautiful wedding cake
Krissy Salmon-White of Flour and Iced for the gorgeous peadee pops (aka cake pops)
Paper and Pigtails for the adorable labels
Roshan and Dale of Quarterman Photography for the cool pictures
 

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Peadee Pop!

Now for the giveaway. I love Crate and Barrel (CB)! They always have such sensible and cool vessels that lend themselves to showcase your baked goodies perfectly. To celebrate the launch of my dessert tables, I am giving away two CB- $50.00 gift cards, just leave a comment between now and July 19, 2010 stating what you would like to see on a dessert table besides cupcakes and cake pops. I will pick 2 winners using the trusty random number generator. The winners will be announced on July 20th and email notifications will be sent to the winners and they should respond within a week or a new winner will be chosen. The winners will be required to provide a mailing address for the gift-card to be sent.This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

I have a couple of events coming up that will showcase my dessert tables. The first one coming up is called “An Engagement” which is a Bridal seminar and showcase to be held at the Downtown Hilton on July 25. See you future brides there!

The Macaron Food Pyramid

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L-R,T-B: Hazelnut-Caramel Fleur de sel, Matcha-Matcha Ganache, Chocolate-Espresso Buttercream, Passion Fruit Milk Chocolate, Rose-Litchi Ganache, Pistachio Bittersweet Chocolate

Those of you following my tweets know that I have been covered in confectioner’s sugar and almond flour for 2.5 days as I furiously baked macaron after macaron batch for some orders and Broad Appetit. At last count, I baked more or less 950 macarons – that’s 1,900 piped shells!

I loved every minute of it. There is something so gratifying as you fill them and join the shells together and watching the filling squooshing to the edge. Yep- love.

I’ve been thinking about making another video, something more planned unlike the impromptu one I did on youtube last year.

The "Hungry" Hubby has also improved his video-editing skills so transitions should be better. :)

In the mean time, I’ll try to get a macaron recipe up. I’ve been wanting to make a chocolate macaron version using the Italian Meringue. This is a bit advance since it uses cacao pate but it should be similar to Pierre Herme’s chocoalate macarons that he sells in his shops.

Stay tuned!

Get ready for Broad Appetit 2010!

Mark your calendar for this Sunday, June 6th, because it’s Broad Appetit 2010!

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There will be macarons and cupcakes ofcourse! Macarons are great make-ahead treats because they need a couple of days to mature in flavor. Here are some behind-the-scenes from my marathon macaron baking sessions…

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Chocolate macarons waiting to be filled with Espresso Buttercream

And my favorite macaron to make…

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Passion Fruit-Milk chocolate

My least favorite thing to do is washing dishes…

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Empty bowls of ganache

Don’t worry, that ganache left on the spatula and bowls won’t go to waste and was done on purpose. ;)

Macarons behaving badly and a wedding

I know I’ve pulled another disappearing act on this blog. Hopefully, most of you have tried the simple roast chicken I had in the previous post. What? No? Come on guys, I’ve got one about to go into the oven as I type and it took me less than 15 minutes to prep (okay, I did wash and dry it earlier).

So where have I been? Back to the Philippines, this time to attend a wedding! Me and my family debated around the idea about me making macarons for the event. First dilemma was where to bake them; it turned out that my sis-in-law’s bakeshop was too busy and she only had humongous mixers – and I mean industrial size. My brother’s home kitchen was the obvious next choice until a friend of ours, Mitos Yniguez, offered the use of her brand new restaurant kitchen which had a separate pastry area.

But my biggest unknown was my ingredients. Because of darn luggage limitations of 50 lbs. I also decided against  bringing my own ground almonds and when you change an ingredient like your almonds, all you can do is pray.

I guess I didn’t pray hard enough.

And I remembered why I like grinding my own almonds and stay away from almond meal.

Anyway, meet Mitos. Proprietress of Baguio’s newest "it" restaurant, "The Hill Station."

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Mitos and me

And guess what, I even had two assistants. ;)

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Two spectators looking on

The all important step of weighing your ingredients carefully is what I taught first. Yes, I brought my own weighing scale.

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Weighing the almond meal

And without my trusty beer pitcher to hold my piping bag, it took three of us to transfer the batter. :D

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The blue batter!

I noticed that the batter was too thick to beat but this was further confirmed when I piped them out and the peak did not flatten. You can normally rectify this with a damp finger but these were REALLY stiff.

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Sheetz! Darn peaks!

Because the oven wouldn’t go below 325F, this was what happened to one batch. This phenomenon is what I call "duck beaks"

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I did not have enough iteration of batches to finally eliminate the peak by reducing the almond flour, but I solved the oven problem by sticking a wooden spoon between the oven door so it wouldn’t run too hot.

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macaron kisses :(

Heck, at least they didn’t crack and they had feet!

While waiting for the macarons to dry and bake, I got to sample some of Mitos’ "Hill Station" offerings. Her five-spiced chicken fingers were delicious!

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Chicken fingers

They make their own bread, which makes this charbroiled-burger doubly scrumptious…

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Burger!

The right bread is also what’s important for their version of the Vietnamese Bahn-Mi which Mitos calls Saigon Steak sandwich…

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Saigon steak sandwich

Even the staff meal of Chicken curry was flavor-packed.

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So remember folks, when you get the chance to visit Baguio drop by:

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Going back to the macarons, I did manage to make 150 pieces despite the stars not aligning exactly. Though they didn’t look ideal, they were made with love and for my beloved niece…

Isn’t she a vision….?

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For more wedding pics…

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Paris – it’s a love-hate relationship…

…mostly love, actually :)

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A view of the Eiffel Tower from the Trocadero

So we ate…a lot, but we walked a lot too. In fact, I’ve never walked so much in my life. I shall spare you most of my sightseeing pictures as I’m sure that there are more than enough travel blogs that cover this, but I think it is my duty to tell you about my adventures in Paris in relation to food.

I didn’t prepare too much. In fact I did not make an itinerary or reservations at any popular restaurants at all. Since sightseeing, getting together with "Hungry" Hubby’s aunt and his friend are priorities, we needed to play it by ear. From past experience, after spending the entire day walking everywhere, the last thing you want to do is to dress up and sit down to a 10-course meal.  What I did do was to make sure that I knew how to buy macarons and tarts in a pastry shop and my good friend Helen helped me brush up on my French (I took French language lessons from her over a year ago). She also recommended the restaurant where I had one of the best meals of my life…but I’m getting ahead of myself.

My first day in Paris was marred by an embarrassing incident at the Paris metro. Taking Helen’s advice to take the RER B and skip the 50 € cab fare from Charles de Gaulle to the 6th Arrondisment, I think she did not realize  we had 3 huge suitcases, which was fine for the RER but the Paris metro was a different matter. I went ahead through the composter (the machine that accepts your ticket and the portals or turnstile let you through) but I was not quick enough and  was horrified that the jaws of the machine clamped down on my suitcase! HH, who was struggling with the 2 bigger suitcases saw my predicament and heaved from the other side to pry my suitcase free but not after an earnest struggle and a lot of stares from les Parisiennes.

We did get to our hotel without further incidents but became embarrassingly aware of our awkward burden as we passed more experienced, well-traveled Parisians pulling their dainty suitcases behind them. Our concierge conversed well in  English, and to our pleasure we were upgraded to a junior suite for the whole of our 12-day stay. Yipee!

When we got to our room, it was gorgeously appointed with luxurious silk drapes but our awe was short-lived once our American-sized suitcases filled the room and every inch of available space diminished. It had a gorgeous bathroom and an Elchim blow dryer – wow no cheesy Sunbeam blow dryer here. Bathtub was also lovely but not very friendly to take showers in. Ahh…the Parisians… they want nothing "pas jolie". Extra hooks to hang towels and toiletry bags would have been useful, but I guess they were "pas jolie" too.

Anyway, you are all here for the food, right?

I think the biggest misconception I had about Paris was regarding its coffee. The only French-press I saw was an antique and was not in use.  When we were in San Francisco at La Boulange, they served our coffee in a bowl and HH exclaimed that his Uncle in Paris prepared it that way every morning. So imagine my disappointment when I was served coffee in an espresso-sized cup – their café . I attempted their watered down version called café allongé but my face below says it all.

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not a drinkable cup

No wonder, there is an abundance of Nespresso boutiques in Paris. Even Parisians can’t drink their own coffee! Through sheer tenacity, we finally did find a great cup of coffee at Malongo Cafe (and I do mean great).

Okay let’s start with the best Macarons and overall Pastry.

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Pierre Hermé on rue Bonaparté

Sorry Ladurée fans, but Pierre Hermé simply blows everyone out of the water. I visited Ladurée’s tea room and had one of the most ordinary chocolate eclairs of my life.

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Tea at Ladurée

I also visited Ladurée’s boutique and was met by a pouty salesperson who treated me like I was scum as though if I touched anything on display I would contaminate it. So, uhm I was wearing a hoodie and did not look like I was dressed for high tea but I visited Pierre Hermé in the same outfit and they were cordial, helpful and extremely professional.

I did not let this prevent me from trying Ladurée macarons on another day. Sorry, but I can’t understand the hype. They were not good. And that’s all I’m going to say about it.

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Laduree Macarons

In fact, I liked the macarons of Sadaharu Aoki and Gerard Mulot better than the Ladurée. Aoki’s matcha millefueille and Mulot’s canelé were also very good.

So why does Pierre Hermé rule (rock!)? Vivid taste, balance of flavor, luxurious ganaches. His white truffle macaron was sublime but I really loved his macaron Chuao – a macaron with single origin chuao chocolate infused with cassis (black currant), that also had pieces of the fruit in it.

At this point I realized that several of you are already up in arms for my remarks about Ladurée. The concept of how a macaron should taste is wide and varied and it’s all a matter of preference. I do not like shells that taste obviously crunchy. I like my macarons to have a shell that my teeth would not have a problem with. I like a macaron where I do not have to guess what its flavor is from the rest of the group. That said, the macarons made by the hands of Pierre Hermé and his assistant were still the best, so there is an obvious loss of vision in the end product when it gets pushed to production. The difference seems to be the outer layer. The egg-shell thin outer layer gives an audible snap that does not reduce to crumbles in your mouth. More about this in another post.

We took a selection of pastries back to a friend’s house for dinner.

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Clockwise from top: Vanille tart, hazelnut ?, Coffee tart, Chuao tart ->my favorite

Hubby cannot shut up about the coffee tart and wants me to reproduce it.

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Ispahan gateau – I had a smaller version of this back at the hotel
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More macarons at Pierre Hermé boutique

Best Duck Confit?

Chez Dumonet it is.

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Unbelievable Crisp Skin!
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Yes, that’s a thick slab of foie.

I’ve had good confit at a chain restaurant called Chez Clements too, in fact the taste of the meat was a bit better, but did not match the skin crispness of the Chez Dumonet one. I had a bad duck confit at another establishment, but I won’t say where since it is a historic restaurant. But I must say my own duck confit would give them serious competition, actually HH said in terms of flavor mine was still the best. :)

I wonder if Chez Dumonet deep-fried their confit leg?

So let’s insert something else I hate about Paris and would be a reason why I might not survive there. The wine, I just cannot take the wine. I know there are a lot of French wine lovers but I truly love Napa Valley wines. All I can say is, watch the movie "Bottle Shock".

So who had the best Hot Chocolate?

This is tough – the best le chocolate chaud. But I gotta hand it to La Maison du Chocolat. Its hot chocolate was thick and bitter yet glides smoothly  down the throat. A close contender was Angelina and Patisserie Vennoise – both these places get very packed so be prepared to wait.

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Angelina hot chocolate
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Watch out for the buses when you step out of this cafe

A chain called Le Deux Maggot also serves a decent hot chocolate. Stay away from the shops that have their hot chocolate in a swirling machine or you’ll get something akin to Swiss Miss.

My favorite place involves the kitchen shops. HH’s friend had us take bus #85 with him so we can see Paris from above ground. We got off at the Etienne Marcel stop.

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The historic cookware store, E. Dehillerin
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Can I say, hold on to that credit card?
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More Stuff

It can be real confusing when you get into this store. Most of the prices are listed in a book and you have to look it up with the item number stuck to the product. Someone actually followed me around and told me the prices of each, I felt a bit hurried but the salesperson was nice enough. I managed to get out of that store without having to take out a 2nd mortgage but I did leave with a very nice copper jam pot which HH later hauled all over Paris. :)

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Mostly haute pastry stuff here

Another kitchen store is Mora. It looked like it was manned by a couple hoity-toity pastry students. One of them yelled at HH for taking a silicone mat off an induction burner. Good thing HH’s friend was with us and he told off that dude in French which translated to " If you do not like working here, go home". Score one for the tourists. Yeh!

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Great ingredients here!

When we got to G. Detou, I had to mentally compute how much luggage room we still had. Shelled Iranian pistachios, plump vanilla beans, foie gras paté, canned duck confit, Valrhona chocolate packed to the ceiling what more can this girl ask for?

Why can’t we have a store like G. Detou in Richmond, Va? Shall I open one? :D.

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Butcher shop

My most favorite street in Paris is rue Montorgueil not too far from all the kitchen stores above. Now this is the kind of neighborhood I would love to live in. A neighborhood butcher shop, hubby refused to take a picture of the dead bunny on the display window (what happened to investigative reporting?)

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A fish shop

And home to the historic Stohrer Patisserie.

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A breakfast at Tiffany’s moment, instead of jewelry – food!

HH’s friend is a fan of Paul a boulangerie/patisserie that was further up the road.

Which reminds me, one thing I love about Paris is that everyone had great baguette. Even the shittiest tourist joint serves great bread! Unlike croissants which HH and I swore off after having them for a few days for breakfast, the smell and taste of bread is a constant welcome encounter.

One of the things I hate about Paris that could give any tourist heartburn is their constant strikes. When we were there, some museums were on strike. But the worst of all was the transportation strikes. Two days before our flight home, the taxis went on strike. I felt sorry for a guest at the hotel who had two kids (thankfully one was a teenager) who had to drag her suitcases around Paris looking for a cab to take her to the airport because the concierge couldn’t find her a taxi. Then on the day we left, the RER went on strike and that cost a bit of traffic too.

But you gotta love the Paris Metro (when they are not on strike). It can get confusing at first, but after a few tries that’s all you need to get around Paris. In fact, because of the taxi strike we decided to just take the metro to L’Ami Jean and it was easy-peasy…

…. and where I had one of the best meals of my life!

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That’s Chef Stéphane Jégo the genius of Basque cuisine

The interior was unassuming, I love the homey feel with ham hanging from the ceiling and football (rugby?) paraphernalia on the wall. Amusingly enough the cuisine is Basque not French. The menu was, despite my passable restaurant French, totally alien and all I understood was langue de veu (veal tongue) and lapin (bugs bunny). Our waiter spoke English (thank goodness) and he rattled down the menu in the language we understood.

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Pumpkin soup

I am not a fan of foamy dishes (visual yuck!) that seem to be popular nowadays with haute cuisine but this soup absolutely transported me to heaven with every creamy spoonful.

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Veal tongue

If there was a dish I wish I could savor forever, it was the braised veal tongue. I loved the texture but the flavor was just an assault on my gastronomical senses. It was hard to describe, heck I didn’t even know what was in it.

For dessert I had riz au lait. The waiter proclaimed it the best in the world. I took his word for it and it came in a big bowl enough to feed four people. It was pretty good but nothing as sublime as the hubby’s apple tart!

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Apple tart with granny smith ice cream

I was beginning to doubt that Paris could make an edible apple tart, I’ve had quite a few in several places and all of them were so tasteless I could only think of Helen’s remark about how most pastries in Paris are bland.

But this, this was perfect! I had a bite (okay 2) and this was second to the best apple tart of all time.

BTW, you get a better deal when you order entrée+plat+dessert. For our three course meal plus 2 glasses of wine, this fantastic dinner only cost 91 €, a bargain in Paris. The food here is haute comfort food!

Other notable eats were at Le Comptoir du Relais, Chez Christine and other brasseries and bistros but this post is already so long, maybe HH can cover them at his Hungry Hubby website (if he starts updating it again…slacker!) including the time when we asked for ketchup for our moule frites. :) Also, lest I forget the touristy Fouquet’s, where I had the most expensive bottle of coca-cola ever, 8 €, you can be sure I savored every drop of that soda from the bar till the end of our late lunch.

We’re at the home stretch, how can I not mention ice cream at Berthillon?

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Tarte Tatin with Vanilla ice cream at Berthillon

The ice cream was incredible, the Tarte tatin was not and was an example of a bland dessert. Do not be fooled by the beautiful caramelization. Here’s a view of the elegant interior of this famous ice cream shop.

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Berthillon

Along this stretch of road on Ile st. Louis is an amazing foie gras shop!

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foie gras galore!

I so wanted to bring home a couple of jars but HH was feeling icky of stuffing it in our suitcases. The guy did say he had U.S. customs clearance forms and I should have listened to my stomach this time instead of my Mr. Pasteurized Hubby.

This is in no way an expert’s guide to Paris. On the contrary, HH and I were a couple of wide-eyed tourists as any tourist can be on their first time in Paris. We were lucky that HH’s aunt (did I mention she lived a couple of doors up from Mariage Freres near Hotel de Ville) and his friend showed us a couple of places we probably wouldn’t have gotten off the internet without specifically looking for it. We love the architecture, we love the food and the bread! We just loved the walking and the metro! The only time we used a taxi was when we left for the airport to come home – with four suitcases.

If you are planning a trip to Paris, I suggest you read David Lebovitz  book "The Sweet Life in Paris" and website for great recommendations on places and how not to piss off the Parisians. :D And luckily, David had a book signing while I was there.

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The photographer should have told me my book was facing the wrong side!

And I found this map indispensible, Streetwise Paris. I also had the book "Hungry for Paris" by Alexander Lobrano. I did not use it much but it was no fault of the book, simply my unfamiliarity of Paris. Now that I have an idea of how Paris is oriented and have done most of my sightseeing, the next trip will be planned around eating.

Until then,

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Au Revoir!

Some notable addresses:

Pierre Hermé – 72, rue Bonaparte

Ladurée – 16, rue Royale

Sadaharu Aoki – 35, rue de Vaugirard

Gerard Mulot – 76, rue de Siene

La Maison du Chocolat – 52, rue Francois 1er

Angelina – 226, rue de Rivoli

Chez Dumonet – 117 rue de Cherche-Midi

L’Ami Jean -  27, rue Malar

Berthillon – 29-31 rue Saint Louis

G. Detou – 58, rue Tiquetonne

Mora – 13, rue Montmartre

E. Dehillerin – 18, rue Coquilliére

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My prized copper jam pot that the hubby hauled for a day in Paris

* All the pictures were shot with the Panasonic Lumix, LX-3, a great camera to take on a trip! The picture of the Tarte Tatin and most of the outside pics were unretouched. Pictures are best viewed in the lightbox just click on the picture to open the lightbox.

J’etais ici

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Eiffel Tower, on a cold rainy night

It was like another world away, this place we refer to as the old world. My first time in Paris was surreal, I can’t believe I was there. Twelve days of eating, twelve days of trying to fit more into my belly, I was bursting at the seams, but I soldiered on, it was for research after all.
I have sampled as much macarons as I could and I’m glad I could now say which one is undoubtedly superior. Best hot chocolate? I have that for you too.
How about the best duck confit? You’d be surprised at what I think.
The French are great people, the myth that they are rude is simply just that, a myth. The most unfriendly of French are those I met at the restaurants around the touristy areas and I simply think they were just perpetuating the myth of their rudeness – part of the "tourist" package. More about that later.

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Technical Discussion room

I am also very excited to share here  the completion of my 2-day macaron stage at Pierre Herme’s pastry program. It was intense and tiring but I have learned a lot and it will take me days to decipher my notes. It had a technical track and “Hungry” Hubby thought it was a chemistry class as I had graphs of ph-balances of different ingredients and how these affect your product. Did you all know that Pierre Herme and Laduree use the exact same recipe for their macaron shells? It’s the procedure that is different. Hmmn..not sure if I was supposed to divulge that. Anyway, if you all would like to know which method – French, Italian or Swiss meringue is best for you then check back in a week or two. I will be blogging about the food of Paris first then do a recap of the class.

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Me, filling the mac shells :)

Busy October…

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Cupcakes and macarons

Cupcakes and macarons seem to be the dessert of choice this October. I had so much fun making these and thought you all would want to see what this obsessive macaron maker was up to. The above dessert table was for a bead store opening. The Fandangled Bead store is located at the Shops at Stony point. I can’t believe the selection of beads in this store.  I can see how gorgeous it would be to decorate a cuppie with beads except I have to make sure that no one eats the beads: "Warning, take beads off before eating!" :)

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My other store event was for the 30th anniversary of Rostov’s Coffee. The "Hungry" hubby has been getting coffee from them since 1985 and they have the best selection in my opinion. We like to mix the following beans (equal amounts): Excelso and Yirgacheffe.  And boy, did we underestimate how much macarons and cupcakes were needed. Since the owner was also having an oyster roast with other finger foods, I told her not everyone was going to eat dessert. Well, that day the weather was freezing and it was raining. Guess what the customers wanted first when they came in: coffee. And what went so well with coffee? Macarons! The 200+ macarons disappeared in 45 minutes. The 156 cupcakes? 30 minutes later.

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Cupcake tower 1
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Cupcake tower 2
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Chocolate-Espresso/ Vanila Vanilla macarons
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Caramel/ Pistachio/Passion fruit

In hindsight, it probably was not a good idea to put the macarons by the coffee area.

:)

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Chocolate cupcakes were the first to disappear

Owner said, she would order 500 of each next time. Ofcourse, I hope she was joking.

And here’s another little project for a small wedding. Rose cuppies.

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Rose chocolate cupcakes

Not quite Pierre Herme’s, but close

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The Foie Gras Macaron

So I had high hopes for this – Pierre Herme’s foie gras macaron. I tasted it when I took his class last year and if there was heaven in a macaron, this was it! The combination of foie gras and milk chocolate was pure genius and the balance of flavor and texture is like nothing I’ve ever tasted.
I should have tackled the recipe immediately while the experience was still fresh in my head. But you know them Frenchies, verboseness in instructions is not a trait. You’d do well to read between the lines. Just check out the recipe below and you will know what I mean.

I love a challenge anyway specially when it comes to these bite-sized pastry favorite. The biggest problem facing me was how to cook the foie gras. All the instruction I got from the class was “to cook it until you smell it.” I was even told that the temperature to use was 350 F. I did get advise from twitter (I forgot from whom, but thanks!) to cook it at 250 F if I did not want to see my foie gras dissolve into a puddle of delectable, albeit useless, oil. My foie was already cut into slices which was probably not a good idea to start with and it did shrink quite a bit and lost more than half of its original weight. It was then that I recalled another tidbit from a year ago…use a water bath!
Well, too late.
After I strained the foie gras through a sieve, I was left with 95 g of foie from 350g – yes folks, I was left with less than a third of what I began with. Pathetic, really and I had to reduce the recipe ratios accordingly. I wondered why PH did not just give it a whir in the food processor but I eventually figured he wanted to sieve out the stringy veins and come out with a very smooth puree. With the great Pierre Herme, it is not about quantity but quality.
To make matters more challenging, PH uses gellan – a gelling agent that I have had no success in using. I always ended up with graininess and the results were no different this time either. It said to boil the mixture which didn’t make any sense because wouldn’t that dissolve my foie further? Well, I went with blind faith and no, the foie didn’t disappear and my gelee set in record time …but … was … GRAINY! :(

Times like these are when you want to cut your losses and forget about it. But I wanted to see how close (or how far) the taste was going to be so I soldiered on.

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Place a dab of chocolate to attach gelee
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Cover with more ganache!

Macaron Shells
See here for Italian Meringue version and here for the French Meringue which was the one I used. I used red powdered food coloring and gold shimmer dust for the shells.

Check out the impromptu video I made here about making macarons via the French Meringue method.

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A cross section of the Foie Gras Macaron

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My Macarons and Me on the RTD

            The Richmond Times Dispatch is Central Virginia’s major newspaper. In today’s food section there is an article about Christmas cookies and the stories behind them. The food editor, Bill Lohmann, asked me to give some tips about making the perfect cookie. I was also very flattered when he called my macarons

            “ …the best cookies anywhere. Her Parisian style macarons, at once light and filling, rich and flavorful, deserve to be called something more than cookies.”

                 Thanks RTD!!!

       

 

I am so not gelling…

So, I’m back! For the first 2 weeks of June, I had to attend to my day job plus an influx of macaron orders. Remember I mentioned some exciting projects? One is underway and won’t be finished until the end of August… I am so psyched about it.   The second was supposed to be a minor kitchen renovation to add a second oven but that fell through because we decided to get one of those stand alone kitchen ovens instead – the ones that restaurants use. You see, when you are an IT person like me – a database administrator- you always think of your backups. I’m always afraid that if my one and only oven fails – what do I do with my orders. We also inquired about a generator from the electric company but got a sticker shock – that’ll have to wait.


Gellan


I was also busy in the Test kitchen. First, experimenting with a new ingredient called gellan. This is what Pierre Herme uses to make some of his gelée cubes. A question that came up often in class was when to use gellan and when to use gelatin, he said it all depends on the texture you want.


So why am I not gelling…


Passion fruit gelee  



      My passion fruit gelée needs some more work. I don’t like the texture- the graininess in the mouth feel – the gellan probably needs to be cooked some more. My raspberry one did not turn out any better either and acquired the texture of tomato paste … yuck! So, if any molecular gastronomy geek can guide me as to its proper use, I will be eternally grateful :).


But I am most excited experimenting with the macaron au sucre cuit. I think I’m close to getting the results I want. I take back what I said about this method before. It is not any sweeter than the French Meringue way. Now whether I will use this for my business still remains to be seen – I find it more involved but has a better rate of return for big orders with multiple flavors.


     Anyway, here’s a sneak peek:


Mac3 


    I will reveal my new flavors for Petites Bouchees towards the end of August. But most of you familiar with PH’s macarons probably could already tell what the cocoa-dusted yellow one is. J


   My grubby little fingers have thoroughly smeared sticky syrup on my PH recipe book – I’m finding some pages stuck together! I’ve also received multiple requests to publish some of the recipes from his class. I am looking to make the Emotion Ispahan soon and maybe… that’ll be the first ;).


   And last but not least, check out this cute watercolor from Cakespy. Isn’t it the most lovable thing to have? I know I had to have it the moment I laid eyes on it. Jessie also has an etsy shop here.


Cakespy_pic