If you’ve read the last few posts and noticed the dates, you’re probably thinking “wow, she covered a lot of ground and did nothing but eat that first full day in Hong Kong.” You’d be sort of right. I had a list of bakeries I had looked into before even landing in Asia and had really only hit 1 (Jenny Bakery). The ongoing downpour prevented me from being as mobile as I would like not to mention Sandra and I kept getting lost.
Case in point, after we left Din Tai Fung, I had mapped the closest bakery which was Passion by Gerard Dubois, which, as you can guess from the name, was a French patisserie. It was really close to Din Tai Fung, according to google maps. We kept walking around, circling and circling, to where we thought it would be, based on the directions but it kept eluding us. We stumbled upon Lee Garden One and Two and I snapped a couple of amusing pictures of the wall art.
|Wall art at the basement level at Lee Garden|
We finally had to break down and ask someone (fortunately, Sandra speaks Cantonese so she did the asking and interpreting) only to discover we really were just right there but missed a turn here and there. Still, we finally made it. I’m not sure what I expected but Passion is akin to the high end bakeries back home like Alexander’s Patisserie, JeanPhilippe or La Panotiq. Lots of beautifully presented desserts that honestly look too good to eat. Having gone to culinary school for Baking & Pastry Arts and affirming I don’t have that artistic soul that comes out in plating beautiful desserts, nevertheless, I’ve learned to have an appreciation not only for the precision work required to plate edible gorgeousness but the artistic vision to create “the look” in the first place.
At that point, I was full of dim sum and still had the egg white coconut tart from Hei Lee Bakery awaiting me so I only went with one dessert; that was the salted caramel mille-feuille or as it’s more commonly known if you don’t want to sound snobby, a Napoleon. Layers of flaky pastry sandwiching vanilla and salted caramel pastry cream. I’ve made mille-feuilles once, also back in culinary school, when I had access to lots of butter and a sheeter. They’re much easier to buy than bake and the results are probably better since French pastries are not my strength. Not to mention, I enjoy eating them more when I don’t have to think about how much butter went into producing such flaky layers.
One thing I had discovered by that point: Hong Kong doesn’t do Diet Coke or, as it’s more commonly known in Asia and Europe: Coke Light. Earlier that day, we had searched various 7-11s and mini-marts only to find they had either fully leaded Coke or Coke Zero. I don’t do regular Coke and I only drink Coke Zero as a last resort. So I was pleased to hear the person in front of me order a Coke Light and I added a couple of cans to my mille-feuille order as well. One to consume now to stave off a caffeine withdrawal headache and one for later since I don’t know when I would find Coke Light again.
The rest of the day didn’t go quite as planned. I had thought to withstand the ongoing rain again, go explore some more and meet up with a couple of other coworkers for dinner. Instead, I ended up with a headache of near-migraine proportions (jet lag?), canceled on the dinner and slept the rest of the afternoon and evening, waking up at 11 pm, well past the dinner hour.
So my mille-feuille became a midnight snack. It was pretty tasty and the layers were perfectly flaky (butter!). The vanilla pastry cream was good but I thought the salted caramel was a bit bitter, more like dulce de leche than sweet caramel with a salty bite. For the record, salted caramel or plain caramel is not the same as dulce de leche. The mille-feuille was still pretty though and made for a tasty, if unorthodox, first “dinner” in Hong Kong.