Mouthwatering Macarons in Hong Kong! – Pierre Herme

There are macarons and there are macarons. I like to think I am becoming a bit of a connoisseur although this is a little big-headed of me as my sole experience of good macarons is when I partook of the delicious items at Laduree in Singapore(which I posted about here) after which I realized that all other macarons paled in comparison. A Macaron snob is probably a more apt description.
A recent trip to Hong Kong gave me the opportunity to indulge my new passion once again as there is a branch of another famous French Patissiere called Pierre Herme.
The shop is in the IFC Mall on HK Island, located very conveniently on the route I took every day from the office back to my hotel. Never being one to resist temptation I popped in on the first day to sample Monsieur Herme’s wares. Purely of course in the interests of culinary science as I wanted to compare with the Laduree macarons I had eaten in Singapore.

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It’s a small shop. Smaller than Laduree in Singapore, perhaps reflecting the higher cost of real estate in HK, however there is still plenty of room for the glass display case filled with brightly colored macarons, like Blackbeard’s chest filled with treasure.
The first order of business is to choose a gift box, all different sizes and designs, the boxes themselves being quite collectible. One then gets down to the serious task of deciding what to fill the box with.

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There are 17 different flavors plus there are often special flavors which are not on the regular menu. When I was there they had 4- 5 yoghurt filled macarons to choose from.
This makes it very difficult for a glutton like me, because I have to try all 17 flavors to decide which ones I like but by the time I have tried all 17 I have forgotten my preferences and have to start all over again. Terrible but sometimes one has to make these sacrifices!

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In the end I settled for a small selection and took them back to my room for a little feast.

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The macarons are truly a delight to the taste buds. Crispy on the outside with just the right amount of gooiness on the inside and each flavor distinctly different.
Some of the flavor descriptions are fantastic. How about “Pure Origin Peruvian Dark Chocolate, Morropan Province, Village of Asprobo”, or “Pistachio, Ceylon Cinnamon & Morello Cherry”? “White Truffle & Roasted Piedmont Hazelnut Slivers”? Or the Boss’s favorite” Mandarin Orange Olive Oil & Cucumber Water”. One even sounds like an aftershave: “Vanilla, Old Gold Agricultural Rum & Cedar Wood”. I wasn’t sure whether to eat it or rub it all over my face!
I loved the South American dark chocolate varieties (dark chocolate being another one of my numerous vices) but my overall favorite has to be the “Infiniment Café Au Café Vert Et Au Café Bourbon Pointu De La Reunion” or Green Coffee and Refined Bourbon Coffee from Reunion for the linguistically inept like me.
The big question is whose are better? Laduree’s or Pierre Herme’s? I honestly can’t say. Both are delicious and the flavors so varied it is hard to compare. Both places, the macarons are so moreish it is really difficult to restrain oneself from gorging on them. Also to be fair I had a little too much gap between visiting Laduree and visiting Pierre Herme so it is difficult to have an accurate flavor comparison. There is only one solution. I am back in Singapore at the end of the month so it looks like I will have to pay a repeat visit to Laduree to refresh my taste memories.
Remember I am doing this all for you my readers!

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Mouthwatering Macarons in Singapore!

On a recent flight to Singapore while waiting for the inflight entertainment to start, I was leafing through the inflight mag looking at the pretty pictures.
Suddenly a picture of some brightly colored macarons caught my eye.
Now Tommy doesn’t get along well with gluten which limits the range of sweets he can gorge himself on. However macarons are on the allowed list so the photo piqued my interest and I felt Tommy awakening in his lair.
Reading further I discovered that the famous French Patisserie, Laduree had opened up in Singapore and was not far from the hotel where I would be staying. Gently arousing the Boss from her slumber with a quick elbow to the ribs, I told her of the grand plan formulating in my stomach brain.
Sure enough after settling into the hotel room we headed down Orchard Rd to Ngee Ann City to sample some French sweetness.

Laduree Ngee Ann City
The shop is a delight to the eyes with it’s chandeliers and pale green interior lined with gift boxes and macaron towers. Taking pride of place in the center is the glass case filled with multicolored macarons.

Laduree Ngee Ann City Interior

Not knowing where to start we asked the helpful staff for advice. They are not cheap at SGD$3.80 each so financial propriety won over gluttony and we chose four different flavors based on their recommendations.
Macarons packed and paid for we walked out the door and after only a few steps unable to resist temptation any longer we decided to eat one. 30 secs later the bag was empty and we were back in the shop being greeted again by the knowing grins of the shop assistants!
Throwing financial caution to the winds we bought another selection of flavors and this time vowed not to eat them before returning to the hotel room, which was an exercise in extreme willpower as they are mouth-wateringly delicious.
The dark chocolate and the salted caramel were my particular favorites, although I have to say it is hard to pick one flavor over another as they are all very good. Tommy was just grateful for some sugar.

Laduree Macarons
So if you find yourself in Orchard Rd in Singapore pop into Laduree in Ngee Ann City. Your taste buds will thank me.
By the way, I am off to Hong Kong this week and I hear another “Master of Macarons” (just made that up but it sounds like a French Superhero) has opened in the IFC Mall on HK Island. It is called Pierre Herme and another blogger reckons it is better than Laduree. Never one to believe something without testing it for myself I intend to pay Monsieur Herme a visit. Watch this space!

Ladurée Singapore

Takashimaya S.C., Ngee Ann City, #02-09 – Singapore

Tel: + 65 6884 7361

HFC – Heavenly Fried Chicken!

Dorabjee & Sons

I have just discovered a new (for me) culinary delight!

On the second day of my drive from Bangalore to Mumbai we decided to stop in Pune for lunch. The Boss was having flashbacks to her childhood memories of Chicken Biryani at an Iranian Restaurant called Dorabjee & Sons. Reluctant at first to leave the bypass and head into the city, The Boss’s winsome tones finally won me over and entering the restaurant name in the GPS we plunged into the chaotic traffic heading towards the center of Pune. I was cursing under my breath as the destination was 14kms from the bypass, but The Boss reassured me that it would be worth it.

Dorabjee & Sons
45 mins later and many close calls with errant two wheelers later we pulled into a quiet lane in the old Parsee area of Pune. The streets were still lined with lovely old buildings with shuttered windows, a pleasant change to the usual concrete boxes that have sprung up in modern times.

Dorabjee & Sons

Dorabjee & Sons is a little single story place established back in 1878 by the present owner’s great grandfather. Basically furnished inside with tiled walls and red plastic chairs the place isn’t very fancy, however it is famous for it’s food and my in-laws have visited many times over the years, each time they visited Pune.

I looked at the menu and all the usual suspects where there: Mutton and Chicken Cutlets, Biryanis, Sali Boti etc. however I spotted something I had not eaten before. Chicken Farcha. The waiter explained that it was chicken fried in egg, two of my most favorite things so I thought I would give it a try.

Mutton Cutlet, Chicken Masala, and the heavenly Chicken Farcha

Mutton Cutlet, Chicken Masala, and the heavenly Chicken Farcha

The plate arrived and I tucked in. Fantastic! The best fried chicken I have ever had. The chicken is marinated in, depending on the recipe, but usually ginger/garlic paste, lemon juice and chili powder, then dipped in beaten egg and deep-fried. It is heavenly! I rapidly ordered another plate and could quite happily have sat there all afternoon eating piece after piece until I couldn’t fit any more in! The best fried chicken I have ever had!

Mutton Cutlet, Chicken Masala, and the heavenly Chicken Farcha

Mutton Cutlet, Chicken Masala, and the heavenly Chicken Farcha

If you ever find yourself in Pune, definitely pay a visit to Dorabjee’s and make sure you get a plate of Chicken Farcha!

The Bill

The Bill

Another Thai food favourite – Erawan Tea Rooms

Erawan Tea RoomsAnother favourite food destination in Bangkok for Tommy, The Boss, and I, is the Erawan Tea Rooms at the Grand Hyatt Erawan.
A little more expensive by Thai standards, however it is worth every penny as the food is always excellent, they have a great range of teas, and their service is superb. The staff recognize us even after a break of 6 months, which adds a few more puffs of air to my already inflated ego.
They even do a Thai inspired High Tea with local snacks and desserts complete with scones with cream and Chiang Mai Strawberry jam.
This is what we had on our recent visit:

Yum Som O - Pomelo Salad

Yum Som O – Pomelo Salad. The Boss not even waiting for me to finish taking a photo!

Grilled Pork Neck

Grilled Pork Neck

Erawan Tea Rooms Food

 

 

Pad Pak Boong Fai Daeng (Stir fried Morning Glory), Tom Yum Koong (Clear and Spicy Prawn Soup) Brown Rice, and Pla Neung Ma Nao ( Steamed fish in a lime sauce).In the Erawan Tea Rooms they cleverly de-bone the whole fish making an already delicious dish even easier to eat!

Rice Dumplings in Coconut milkAnd finally, one of my favourites, Rice dumplings in hot sweet coconut milk.

 

Possibly The Best Thai Food in Bangkok!

We discovered this little gem on a previous trip and made sure we scheduled a visit this time. In fact we ate here twice in 3 days.@North East Family

Located diagonally opposite terminal 21 at the Asok interchange in Sukhumvit, is @North East Family, a lovely little place that serves superb Isaan style food.

We have a visual test of a restaurant in Thailand before we enter. If it is full of Thais we eat there as we know the food will be traditional, however if it is full of Westerners we give it a miss. This place we discovered by chance one day and looking inside and seeing it packed with Thai office workers we decided to give it a try.

@North East Family Interior

The food is always delicious and remarkably cheap by Bangkok standards.

Here are some of our favourites ( I apologise for the quality of some of the pics. I was so excited to eat that I didnt check whether the photos were clear or not):

Som Tum, Pad Pak Boong, and Sticky Rice

Som Tum, Pad Pak Boong, and Sticky Rice

Grilled Chicken

Grilled Chicken

Barbecued Pork Neck

Barbecued Pork Neck

Salt Crusted Barbecued Snapper

Salt Crusted Barbecued Snapper

 

 

Culinary indulgence in Bangkok

We started our Bangkok food trip at the Intercontinental with the most deliciously presented coffee we have ever seen, complete with sugar on a stick!

This is how coffee should be served!

This is how coffee should be served!

White Tea and Matcha cookies

White Tea and Matcha cookies

Afternoon Tea at the Intercontinental Bangkok

We ended our trip with this: New Zealand Pinot Noir, Banana and Yoghurt smoothie, and a Coffee Cake. This was just mine, The Boss had a glass of water!

 

One of the (many) reasons to marry a South Indian – Mangalore Fish Curry!

Walking into the kitchen this morning my nostrils were hit by a tantalizing smell, one that also aroused Tommy from his slumber.
The Boss had decided to make one of my favourite dishes, Mangalore Fish Curry.
One of the, of course, countless bonuses of being married to such an angelic creature as The Boss, is that she is a magician in the kitchen. Something my ever present friend Tommy thanks me for on a daily basis.
So here is a visual journey through the creation of a delicious lunch:

Freshly grated coconut

Freshly grated coconut

The Boss' box of magic tricks

The Boss‘ box of magic tricks

Ingredients ready for dry roasting

Ingredients ready for dry roasting

Dry Tamarind

Dry Tamarind

Roasted ingredients in the Mixer

Roasted ingredients in the Mixer

Coconut added
Finished masala

Finished masala

The most important ingredient - Fish

The most important ingredient – Fish

The finished Curry

The finished Curry

Chutney Ingredients

Chutney Ingredients

Coconut Chutney

Coconut Chutney

Mangalore Fish Curry, Red and Green Spinach, Coconut Chutney, Brown Rice

Mangalore Fish Curry, Red and Green Spinach, Coconut Chutney, Brown Rice

Have to go now. Tommy and I have a meal to finish!

By the way, this was the first plate of many! And if for any strange reason there is any left over (not likely), Mangalore Fish Curry and fried eggs is a breakfast made in heaven!

Dining with Bollywood Stars – Is it uncool to acknowledge them?

Bollywood Stars

Pic Courtesy Meanest Indian

The other day The Boss and I went to visit our friend who lives in Bandra in West Mumbai. Bandra was first colonized by the Portuguese in the 1500’s and administered by Jesuit Priests and consequently became home to a predominantly Christian population.

In more recent times Bandra has become the preferred residential location for the rich and famous and is to Mumbai what Beverley Hills is to Los Angeles.

Many of Bollywood’s bright lights live here and every time The Boss and I come to eat in one of the many excellent restaurants we always spot a celebrity.  Not seen a superstar yet, the equivalent of say, a Tom Cruise or a Julia Roberts, but we have spotted many other actors and actresses each time we have dined.

The Boss is an excellent spotter. She only needs to see someone once in a magazine and will then recognize them anywhere. I am terrible. Most of these people, without makeup and in normal clothes look nothing like their on-screen persona, so consequently I never notice, preferring to tuck into my food and knock back copious quantities of fermented grape juice, and it is only when the Boss brings them to my attention, that I realize that I am eating in the presence of Bollywood Royalty.

The interesting thing is that if any of these film and TV stars are out in public in other parts of the city or India they are mobbed in no time by the public. But in Bandra that is uncool. Bandra residents may glance sideways and will possibly mention it to their companion, but will not make a fuss and they just carry on with whatever they are doing.   Even though I am a foreigner here and don’t watch a great deal of Hindi films I still get a thrill at seeing someone famous or even infamous, but Bandra people would never lower themselves to indulge in star struck adoration.

I wonder if it’s the same in Beverly Hills? Can any readers enlighten me?