I felt really deprived of good pastries while I was in Shanghai, so when I was told that Four Seasons Hotel (Beijing) had a decent afternoon tea and retail selection, I immediately made a booking to go there during my Beijing trip. One of the main reasons for my excitement was that the executive pastry chef (Holger Deh) created his very own unique flavoured Cacao Barry Or Noir couverture and it was available exclusively at Four Seasons in Beijing.
I am by no means an expert in Afternoon Teas but I have been to a couple, one in Melba Langham (Melboure) and one at Puli Hotel (Shanghai), both differed in quality (Langham was heaps better). I understand that the acceptance of high end patisseries in China is still slowly growing, but given Four Seasons was a five star hotel, I still had a mid to high expectation of it.
During my last week in Shanghai, I decided to visit Chef Alexander Patisserie in the Xuhui district after reading an article on weixin.com (article in Mandarin) which listed the top 10 ‘patisseries/afternoon tea spots’ in Shanghai for the first half of 2014.
This patisserie is owned by Chef Alexander, who is Chinese but was trained in some French culinary school. His patisserie is actually really small. There were only two high tables (4 chairs) and I think they pretty much expect you to buy takeaway. Alternatively, they recommended us to bring their cakes to a cafe nearby so we could have a seat even though they sell coffees themselves, strange.
Given the background of the chef, naturally I expected the pastries in this shop to be French. Walking in the shop, you do sort of get a quaint French feel, with the plates used and the decor but upon closer inspection of their display case, I was wondering why this patisserie was introduced as a “French” patisserie…
I attended my very first chocolates & praline level 1 class back in November 2013 and everything seemed so straight forward there. We were taught how to temper on a marble surface and students got to work with a chocolate melting tank each. The products from that class were beautiful, shiny moulded chocolates (and some enrobed pralines), so I thought I could easily replicate them at home!
Moulded chocolates from class – Chocolates & Praline Level 1
Remember my previous post on making moulded chocolates (June 2014)? I was working with very basic and cheap tools and I was still able to produce some nice moulded chocolates.
But it wasn’t always that easy for me. Due to my impatient nature, I got too excited during the chocolate class with the amount of chocolate we were working with (12 chocolate tanks) and also the surprisingly beautiful products that were produced in the short 7 hour class, that I completely ignored my basics.
It isn’t hard to make shiny moulded chocolates at home, provided that you get the basics right, i.e. time, movement and temperature (Official Callebaut guide).
When I first arrived in Shanghai in February, I was quite disappointed to find that it didn’t really have much to offer in terms of patisseries even though it is a big, modern and busy financial hub. Fortunately, Angelina and Laduree (previously reviewed) opened their respective first shops in Shanghai before I left for good!
For our 3 years anniversary, my boyfriend took me to Mr & Mrs Bund for a lovely dinner. Overall, I felt that the restaurant under-performed in their mains, but oh. my. goodness, their desserts were to die for! Absolutely stunning desserts that made fireworks in our mouths! It was innovative, ingenious and amazing.