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Hey there, you may be wondering where I disappeared on Portfolio of Patisserie for the past three months. Where have I been? I have been failing.
I’m not a professional baker, I’ve not been to culinary school and I certainly have no gift in fine cuisine. I just love exploring new ideas in cake, cookies and sweets. So it’s been incredibly frustrating to be failing every single time. I will post my failures but by the time I bake, decorate and photograph the cake to realize that the taste/texture of the recipe is a little off, I can’t seem to muster enough energy to blog about it. Anyway, here goes:
Fail 1: Sakura and Green Tea Castella Cake
I bought a box of sakura home from Tsujuki market in Japan but ended up having to throw most of it away because it was startng to rot. This was a failure in part because I was too impatient with the frosting (I don’t even recall what kind it is.. buttercream?) and I should have let it cool down first before frosting a rather overly most and sticky castella cake. I got tired of circles and opted for pyramid forms. Most of all, I wanted to play with color. Punches of pink against cool white with a tranquil green center surprise.
It’s really funny: when I was in Japan, I asked a salesgirl how to apply gold leaf. Do I need to invest in a tweezer? Her reply: use chopsticks.
Asia for the win.
Fail 2: Matcha Cheesecake
Laura and I fell in love with the aesthetically pleasing outcome of this cake. I seriously think this recipe, which came from a Japanese cooking site (Laura translated) needs a lot of tweaking but it tasted extremely sour due to heavy amounts of yogurt and sour cream. But the texture and color of the cake is impeccable. As you can see, I added the lace print border around the cake that I got from the Jusco $10 store and it’s the perfect height! The cake knife is also from there too- thought it would look nicer than a fruit knife.
Fail 3: Matcha Cheesecake (Round 2)
Not soon after Laura left back for Japan, I tweaked the entire cheesecake recipe to contain less sour cream and yogurt and more cream cheese. Anyhow it was better but still not to my expectations. Also the hue changed from emerald green to a duller shade with a brown tinge around the side. The ‘polka dots’ was just an extra touch to my third failure.
Anyway that’s all I can contribute for today. I’ll try to find some time to blog about my long ago birthday (the dessert part!) and Agnes’ birthday cake which was… a semi fail as well. T-T Help! I need a breakthrough!
One of my favourite things about baking in this kitchen is when I can sit in front of the oven with a friend, talking or simply reading magazines while we wait for chemistry to prevail. I can just stretch out my legs and lean my back against the cupboards. It’s so comforting.
Laura and I back in March, reading Japanese baking books and ViVi magazine.
Hahah this picture was seriously too perfect because it pretty much sums up Nara. First it was three rickshaws on the Philosopher’s Path, now it’s three deer.
First and foremost, thank God for Google translate. I couldn’t find the address anywhere in English so I translated this Japanese sweet store’s homepage until I found it after clicking around the site aimlessly! Whoohoo… go Google translate!
Been distracted by other things that as you can see I am doing quite a poor job finishing this collection of posts. My posts are building up so I’m gonna stop talking so much and let the photos speak for themselves. Life goes on. 😛
Anyway we took a day trip to Nara land of the (lazy, fat) deer. You can feed deer at the park and I was imagining cute Bambis frolicking on the plains. Sadly there were a lot of scruffy, dirty deer that knew how cute they were and how willing tourists would be to walk up to them without having to get up to get a biscuit or two. Seriously they would not even wander outside of the grass to eat as you can see the from deer craning its neck to get food from Agnes.
We have a knack at finding out exactly where the sweet shops are without any recommendations or maps. Or maybe they just find us. Or maybe Japan is just full of the good stuff.
Tenpyoan is also located in Tokyo and peddles a collection of both traditional Japanese sweets and some with a modern twist. If you visit, you HAVE to try their ice cream which comes in flavors like ‘soy bean flour and brown sugar’ or ‘sweet potato’. We got the ‘mikasa’ (aka dorayaki) ice cream which is mashed up dorayaki mixed in with the cream. Agnes got the chestnut and although I’m not a fan of Mont Blanc THIS WAS AMAZING.
But I think the one item that bowled me over was the green tea cake with a layer of white chocolate cream. I don’t think words can describe the flavour and textural harmony that this cake has in your mouth. The cream is slightly crunchy almost as if like ice cream but not cold while the soft layers of cake are moist and bitter with the matcha inside. We ended up getting another each for the ride home. I would die to get this recipe especially the layer of cream.
What is that I see? Many pairs of eyes staring back at me!
Oh yes, it’s Ghibli time!
My previous visit to Japan the past summer was missing a visit to the Ghibli Studio. Thankfully since I moved to HK, I got to embark on a pilgrimage to see it this time around! We got lost switching trains to Mitaka so whilst we were waiting for the next one to arrive, we ran into this udon/ramen stop for a bowl of curry udon which we devoured in five minutes flat standing at the bar with two minutes to go before the train came. That was our breakfast. Yeye.
WELCOME TO MIYAZAKI WORLD WITH MR ROBOT FROM LAPUTA
This is my boyfrien- I mean my ticket. Exchange the standard ticket for a keepsake film strip from one of Miyazaki’s animations. I just so happened to get one from my favourite film: Howl’s Moving Castle!
Above is the Ghibli’s Straw Hat Cafe (an ode to Sophie’s hat shop?). Unfortunately there was a huge lineup to get in so we decided to skip on it. It’s quite cute isn’t it? My stalker wide angle captures the entire floor! Sorry I haven’t got any pictures of the interior of the Ghibli Studio which doesn’t allow photo taking. It’s really nice inside (though smaller than what I expected)- it resembles a more natural version of Hogwarts.
Anyhow despite the dismal weather, it was quite a lovely opportunity to take photos of the sakura located in the garden next to the studio. Laura read about a patisserie located across the studio from the Chico’s Dessert Tour Guide book so off we went…
Me shooting Agnes in the cafe space.
Patisserie du Bois is wedged between two larger buildings right across from the Ghibli so if you ever have the chance to experience a slice of the Miyazaki world, do stop by the cafe for some cake before you head back to the train station. Sorry I can’t find the address in English but as you exit the studio, it’s to your right. This may sound terrible but I forgot exactly what we had (too many desserts, should have written them all down!). From what I recall, mine was a framboise meringue cake and Agnes had a chocolate tart.
So as we wandered back to the train station to meet up with Laura in Harajuku, we passed by a department store and this cake shop caught our eye (note to self: bring blinders to stop self and friend from sidetracking on unnecessary cake ventures). It was housed in the department store that’s right next to Mitaka station; I’m terribly sorry about the vagueness of my directions but Ginza Cozy Corner is actually a chain shop that you can find iat other hotspots such as Shibuya and Shinjuku station. It was really cold and rainy that day so we ended up popping in (again). To be fair, we actually had pork udon after the above patisserie. Yes savoury food comes in intermissions of hot udon noodles:
Talk about a cake explosion. We stood there for a good ten minutes debating what to order. We ended up getting the mille crepe which is a ‘thousand’ layers of crepe sandwiched with cream to make a light and airy dessert. For all New Yorkers I highly recommend going to the originator of this confection at ‘Lady M’. Also got a strawberry shortcake just because it looked too cute.
My apologies for the sporadic, sparse posts…it’s 3am and wordpress has been acting up lately and continues to show ‘?’ whenever I try to upload photos so it’s been highly discouraging when each of my posts contains about 30 photos I have to manually upload. Hopefully all the photos are visible. Anyway, that concludes my Cafe Culture posts! On to the next!!!!
Dear WordPress, why are you not showing my jpeg collages?! You irk me so. Anyhow apparently my Shibuya Cafe post is not visible to most people, while it works on my macbook and my office computer. Strange. I’ll leave the previous entry and will upload again if it continues to not show up. I guess I will stick with the old format and occasionally make a banner or two. I’m a little disappointed because I love InDesign. Can you see the above banner? Oh well, back to the boring format:
Now we’re off to Osaka and whisked quickly back to Shinjuku, Tokyo. Boutiques go beyond clothing and expand to create the consumer lifestyle through homeware and food. Welcome to Corporate Cafes!
Calling all girls in Osaka!
I scanned the above page from J-Mag Vivi with an excerpt on the Jill Stuart cafe (as you can see it’s been squashed in my bag). Since my friends are fans of the brand, we decided to stop by the department store to experience a slice of the Jill Stuart life- a life that comes in pale pink and cream stripes:The cafe wraps around a large part of the floor with the seating surrounding the center of the department store. Order at the cashier and find yourself a seat.
The cafe wraps around a large part of the floor with the seating surrounding the center of the department store. Order at the cashier and find yourself a seat. We ordered a berry and mascarpone cream waffle, banana and chocolate waffle and a royal milk tea:
Anyhow the menu is largely made up of waffles, ice cream and various mixed drinks. You’re not really there to experience something original, but tried and true desserts in a pretty environment. It’s safe to say the well-heeled girls that go there go for the brand’s identity and the enticing souvenir shop next door with goodies like these:
The day we arrived back in Tokyo via Osaka (another blistering 8 hour bus ride), we went bleary eyed to the Comme Ca Cafe in Shinjuku which is housed in the Shinjuku Comme Ca Mode store (5th floor). I didn’t take many photographs of the cafe which comes in an austere gray save splashes of vivid-color tablecloths. Images of deities and gods create an ‘other world’ atmosphere.
The majority of the menu consists of tarts and pies. In line with the season, their citrus summer collection is made up of grapefruit, bittersweet chocolate crusts, and slices of oranges. The combinations may sound slightly odd but they were all sold out by the time we got there! We ended up getting a classic chocolate/banana/strawberry tart and an unusual tart that was topped with miniature oranges (if you know the name of the fruit, please share!) which you eat peel and all (after much speculation of sucking the flesh out :P). Each slice is about ¥750-¥850. The orange one was strangely good- eating sugary peels was quite a memorable experience.