Macaroon Making at L’Atelier Des Chefs

Mac4

This weekend, I treated myself to a Macaron (or Macaroon) making class at the formidable L’Atelier Des Chef in their Oxford Circus branch. I honestly didn’t know what to expect, and was pleasantly surprised upon arriving, to be welcomed into a warm and friendly atmosphere, with a view of one of their kitchens in the background and a wonderful array of kitchen implements and gadgets galore to the left of the entrance.

We were shown to a large wooden table where I met the rest of the group (10 of us in total) and given some fetching plastic aprons to put on. Then we were let loose in the kitchen, under expert guidance from the friendly (and very patient) chef. Between us, we made the shells and fillings for the following flavours:

  • Pink shells with a buttery salted caramel filling
  • Vanilla white shells with a creamy praline crème pâtissière filling
  • Orange shells with a zingy orange and lemon buttercream
  • Green shells with a lip-licking chocolate and mint ganache

Shells1

In groups of three or four, we blitzed, mixed and folded our way to near-perfect macaroons. Some were slightly flatter than others (due to over-mixing) some did not have the crunchy shell like some of the others (due to not drying out as much) but overall we had a fabulous batch of macaroons, to nibble on the train home. The best thing, was that we were able to learn from the chef, exactly what we were doing wrong and how to get it right next time. Just what I needed, as a complete Macaron novice!

Mac1

We had two fun-filled hours and we didn’t feel rushed or under pressure to fit in too much in the time available. The class was very well organised and I am already itching to do one of their other classes – maybe one of the Baking courses (home-made jam doughnuts anyone?).

2015-01-31 10.39.43

2015-01-31 10.41.09

2015-01-31 10.25.07

2015-01-31 10.24.50

2015-01-31 10.36.23

2015-01-31 10.41.23

Ingred1

Choc1

2015-01-31 11.15.34

2015-01-31 11.15.45

Mac3

Mac2

Advertisements

An Afternoon at La Pâtisserie des Rêves – South Kensington

This weekend, I went to a beautiful place that I have wanted to visit for a loooong time. La Pâtisserie des Rêves in South Kensington.

Shop 2

I have had the La Pâtisserie des Rêves cookbook for a while, and have drooled over the mouth-watering pictures of delicate pastries, tarts and biscuits, elaborately covered by glass domes. So you can imagine my excitement when I gazed upon  perfectly manicured platters of patisserie set inside a pastel coloured sweet shop for adults.

Shop 1

2015-01-25 14.25.28

The displays were eye-catching and glamorous.

2015-01-25 15.04.07 2015-01-25 15.06.16 2015-01-25 15.06.32 2015-01-25 15.06.51 Tarte Tatin

I felt that I had to try one of the signature dishes, and so plumped for the decadent Paris Brest – a light and airy choux pastry ring, filled with a praline cream and pure praline paste. The dish was very rich and sumptuous, and I am already contemplating a return visit to sample the Millefeuille.

The teaware provided was so stunning. I almost wished they would sell the teapots in store – but no such luck.

2015-01-25 14.31.47 2015-01-25 14.32.13

Others in my group selected the Saint Honoré, Vanilla Gran Cru, Baba au Rhum and the Chocolate Eclair.

Saint Honore Grand Cru

2015-01-25 14.32.30

Eclair 1

All of the dishes looked gorgeous and a few more trips are required until I can be certain of my favourite. The staff were helpful and attentive, and the prices were surprisingly good for such high quality of produce. The portions are very generous and so too are the fillings.

I purchased some goodies to take home and share with The Husband. Firstly, a d’Enfants box, filled with miniature versions of full-sized patisserie. Also I bought home a packet of Coconut Marshmallows and three small tins of biscuits (I wanted the pretty tins, more than anything else!)

D'Enfants

Enfant Selection

PB Bite Choc Bite Crop

2015-01-25 17.51.13 2015-01-25 17.50.34

2015-01-25 17.40.10 2015-01-25 17.39.35

The Cake and Bake Show 2014

I totally forgot to tell you about my trip to The Cake and Bake Show in October last year. I must be losing my marbles! Hours of fun was had at Earls Court in London, ooohing and aaaahing over beautiful cakes, lovely lace fondant and Mary Berry on a Unicorn.

2014-10-04 10.28.09 2014-10-04 10.28.18 2014-10-04 10.28.29 2014-10-04 10.28.35 2014-10-04 10.28.45 2014-10-04 10.30.18

There were cooking demos by the Neff ladies (well that’s what we called them) – they were ladies who used Neff ovens to make delectable dishes. They had the ovens that are used on The Great British Bake Off (you know the ones – with the sliding doors), and some other gadgets that got me very interested (love shopping for my kitchen).

2014-10-04 10.33.49 2014-10-04 10.33.53

There were pretty stalls selling brownies, cakes, meringues, tarts and pastries.

2014-10-04 10.42.21 2014-10-04 10.42.26 2014-10-04 10.42.31

My favourite display was from the Meringue Girls – beautiful rows of multicoloured meringues.

2014-10-04 11.40.54 2014-10-04 11.41.00

There were a lot of cakes on display, showing off new techniques like the fondant embossers (something I had never seen before).

2014-10-04 10.50.59 2014-10-04 10.54.26 2014-10-04 10.54.31 2014-10-04 11.12.02 2014-10-04 11.12.12 2014-10-04 11.12.38 2014-10-04 11.28.14 2014-10-04 11.28.17 2014-10-04 11.28.38

All in all, a grand day out. Looking forward to the next show already!

A stonking Saturday at the Shard, via Borough Market & Tredwell’s Restaurant

This weekend was a bit of a whirlwind. It’s funny, I always feel that as the weekend is only two days long, and the week is a massive five days, that I need to make those two little weekend days count. Most of the time, it is spent doing the boring stuff like chores, cooking meals and cleaning up afterwards. This weekend however, I decided to drag my husband (the Mister) out of the comfort of the armchair and venture into the city.

First stop was The Shard, at London Bridge – the tallest building in the EU. We chose the wrong day to go – it was very cloudy and visibility was quite poor. Nevertheless, it was a really enjoyable experience! We were led up to the 69th floor, where there was a viewing platform, looking over the whole city. London looks spectacular from above in any light, and the views were really worth the £25 ticket price. Next we went up to the 72nd floor, which is open to the elements.

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

I loved watching the trains coming in and out of London Bridge station, chugging over Borough Market.

SONY DSC

I have a thing for angles and industrial buildings…this is the view if you look straight up whilst inside the Shard.

SONY DSC

Love-birds over London…

SONY DSC

There was a short discussion between the Mister and I, as to which experience was better – the Shard or the Eiffel tower – we decided that we had enjoyed the Eiffel tower more, but only because visibility was excellent, and we went at dusk, as the sun was sitting low in the sky. I think if we were to go up the Shard a second time, we would choose to visit in the evening to see the sun setting over the horizon and London lit up in glory.

We followed our vertiginous ascent, with a short trip to Borough Market, who are currently celebrating their 1000 year birthday! We timed this quite badly too, as it was lunchtime, and the place was rammed to the rafters with hungry punters. I had wanted to grab a quick bite from Horn Ok Please, who are masters of Indian street food, but we couldn’t even get near their stall. They do a mean dosa and an even meaner pani puri and so the Mister promised to take me to their Brick Lane stall where I could indulge in as much chai and golgappas as I wish.

And so, we bid farewell to a buzzing Borough, and made our way to our next, brand-new venue in Seven Dials, Covent Garden.

Marcus Wareing’s new Restaurant – Tredwell’s.

2014-09-20 14.40.02

Marcus Wareing already has two (most excellent) fine-dining restaurants in London – the Gilbert Scott at the Renaissance Hotel and Marcus at The Berkeley, and when I was invited for a ‘soft-opening’ for Tredwell’s, I had to jump around a little bit and get far too overexcited. Tredwell’s is marketed as an informal dining experience, with an emphasis on ‘sharing’. You can order small and large bowls of food, to share with your table and we were not shy, treating ourselves to eight bowls of culinary delights.

The salty, smoked pork cheeks arrived with a sweet cauliflower purée and slices of pickled cauliflower, adding a sour kick. Next came the delicious, pillow-soft, curried lamb sweetbreads, which were delivered with carrot purée and lentils. Third on the list was the spinach and wheatgrass soup, with chunks of artichoke – this was full of flavour and felt quite healthy!

The harissa-glazed aubergine was a delight, accompanied by crunchy peanuts and slices of chilli which warmed our cockles. For our mains, or large bowls, we chose the sticky smoked chicken thighs and the lamb chops, both of which were tender and impeccably cooked. Finally, we chose to close our meal with a ‘Virtuous chocolate brownie’, and a fruit and nut chocolate parfait. The brownie was decadent and rich, but still felt light and not at all heavy. The silky-smooth parfait with fruit and nut chunks stole the show, and the Mister declared it was the best thing he had tasted all year (not including my cooking, of course).

SONY DSC

The cocktails were also really rather good with their vodka, avocado, cucumber and lime concoction, leaving an impression on the two of us. Immediately we came home and made ourselves an ad hoc, avocado based cocktail, filling us with health and vitality (and Vodka).

SONY DSC