October 17th, 2008

Pierre Hermé’s Ispahan Croissant

Coco&Me - Pierre Hermé Ispahan Croissant - www.cocoandme.com

Coco&Me - Pierre Hermé Ispahan Croissant - www.cocoandme.com

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Last Tuesday I read on Dorie’s blog that Pierre Hermé sells croissants with Ispahan flavour. The picture she took of it looked sooo good, sooo drool-manufacturing, I decided to use my ‘wild-card’ & ask my Paris-residing brother to get it for me & bring it to London (I say ‘wild-card’ because I rarely want to ask him – the reason being, A, he is super-busy, & B, he is clueless about cakes!).

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This week is my lucky week. He happened to have traveled to London to see his Phd tutor about his papers. – And so there they were, MY croissants in a cute P.H. bag, with added bonus of twenty macarons (two each of ten kinds). Yessss…

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“Ispahan” is Hermé’s signature flavour, composed of rose, litchi & raspberry (Apparently he came up with this now iconic flavour-combo back in his days as a executive chef at Ladurée – & that the patisserie retains the rights to sell them too).

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This croissant version has rose-flavoured almond cream with a couple of lichis studded inside, & has freeze-dried bits of raspberry scattered on top of the white icing. Unfortunately mine wasn’t with pink icing like Dorie’s… (I want cute-sy PINK P.H.!) But regardless of the icing-colour, the taste was superb, with a mixed sensation of buttery almond cream & pastry together with the tangy raspberry bits & fruity lichis that refreshes the palate.

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Humpf… Why can’t we buy beautiful croissants like these in London?! Or, even better, why doesn’t Pierre Hermé open a shop here in London??

October 6th, 2008

Sherry & Heston

Coco&Me - Heston Blumenthal - The Sherry Institute of Spain - cocoandme.com

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Last Monday I was invited to a Heston Blumenthal event held by The Sherry Institute of Spain. I spent the evening sipping five types of beautiful Sherry, nibbling on small but very tasty Heston canapés – all in the name of “finding the perfect food pairings with Sherry”.

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((Heston Blumenthal is the chef & owner of The Fat Duck, a three Michelin starred restaurant here in the UK. He’s most famous for his scientific approach to techniques & flavours (coined molecular gastronomy) & pushing the culinary boundaries. – For example, he makes ‘aerated chocolate soufflé’ by use of a vacuum jar to increase expansion of bubbles during food preparation…!))

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I was expecting a lecture-like situ, where we all sit down facing one direction. But instead, it was like a party. After an hour of drinking Palo Cortado Sherry (the best tasting one of the evening in my opinion), topped-up with more & more Sherry (bring it on waiter!), Heston gave a speech for about five minutes, then one-by-one, different types of Sherry & suggested foods were handed to us with accompanying notes – for us to critique. Although me & my girl-pal “L” found it all a bit giggly, because the glasses & glasses of Sherry were an intoxicating 20% alcohol content, &, coupled with accompanied by “L” that I haven’t seen for a while, it became a rather merry evening!
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The Sherry & food combo’s were:

  • Olorosopaired withSmoked mackerel & coriander seeds rillettes. – The aroma notes of prune, hazelnut, molasses & figs balanced the smoky & oily flavour of the fish.
  • Finopaired withGruyere fondue & ground cloves. – The stone fruit element in the wine worked well with the cheese.
  • Manzanillapaired with - Crab with paprika on toasted country bread. – Unripe peaches & green apple aroma. Crisp acidity.
  • Amontilladopaired withPata negra ham, peaches, balsamic vinegar, rocket & marcona almonds. – Woody & spicy aroma with balsamic note.
  • Pale Creampaired withScotch quails egg. – Nutty, meaty, smoky, fruity aromas.

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In all, the flavours of the foods were perfectly extended by the Sherry. We were very much impressed with it all, & were hmm-ing & ahh-ing with every one of them. Undoubtedly, eating a three Michelin starred Heston food (& in his presence) was exciting, & every plate was indeed “perfection”, just like his book title.
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The most notable by far was the scotch egg. Firstly, I looove scotch egg. And this one had quails egg which I dig more than chicken egg too. AND I don’t know HOW, but the egg was still “soft-boiled”, gorgeous yolk still oozing. Pork sausage meat juicy n’ bouncy. Ahhhh-mazing.

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So I guess you’re wondering what the purpose of the event was & how I got to be there. Well, it was all about debunking the myth that Sherry is only to be drank at Christmas, & that it can be enjoyed with simple dishes that can be made at home, all year round. – And indeed, it was a definite eye opener for me. I really enjoyed drinking it, & if you can handle the alcohol, why not have it with your dinner? Count me in to the ‘convinced’ vote. – As for why I was invited, they think food bloggers can spread the word just like journalists can. Well, if it’s a fab food event like this, please invite me again – please.

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“L” & I sat comfortably on a sofa in the corner of the room all evening. I guess we ought to have mingled, but, it seemed to be full of industry-types, & what am I going to say to them? Hi, I’m just a market stall holder? Anyway, we left when it was starting to get uncomfortable – it is a PR exercise afterall. Not for two (tipsy) girls to giggle about at. There were to be two more dishes, apparently eccles cake with stilton and Sherry butter, & then a Sherry custard cream trifle with even more Sherry tastings – but any more Sherry would’ve been a bad move anyway – I’m surprised as it is that I got home without sleeping on the train! (I nearly did…)
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Coco&Me - Heston Blumenthal - The Sherry Institute of Spain - cocoandme.com

(We kept forgetting to take photos… because we were hungry eager beavers & needless to say, a little tipsy…)

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