In Hong Kong, while the ever-popular tea houses are a favourite for the locals, French confectionery undoubtedly has a special place in their hearts. Following the much-anticipated opening of Pierre Hermé's new boutique 'Macarons & Chocolats' in the iconic ifc mall, there has been renewed interest (or should we say, appetite) in France's iconic nibbles.
For Pierre Hermé, it's all about tastes, sensations and pleasures – which is exactly how he describes his experience in Hong Kong. In fact, he told us that every time he arrives at the airport, he immediately feels a positive energy that fuels his creativity. Come and discover his monthly collections! The Macaron Veloutés which debuted last summer – a creamy blend of yogurt and fruit filling - was a perfect example of using seasonal ingredients. As the Les Jardins collection is coming out now, the confectioner explains that he does not adapt flavours to the local markets, because the world of Pierre Hermé is absolutely unique. Wherever you go – Hong Kong, Paris, Tokyo – you can savour one-of-a-kind creations by one of today's most prominent pastry master chefs.
As Paul Lafayet sees it, it's all about creating happiness. Every day, his young, dynamic French pastry chefs whip up specialities such as crème brûlée, gateaux and much more in the Lafayet kitchen in Hong Kong, using selected ingredients from around the world: fragrant vanilla pods from Madagascar, hearty almonds from Valencia and Provence, as well as cream and butter from Normandy. Macarons such as Baileys, oolong tea, banana balsamic, passion fruit and poppy; artisanal pastries like mango pistachio dome and choux (think of a beignet pyramid); and the guilty pleasures of the larger-than-life Grand Series are a departure from tradition.
One of pastry-making's primary ingredients is chocolate, and no-one is more obsessed with its quality than La Maison du Chocolat. The Hong Kongnese prefer their chocolate dark and not-too-sweet, which happens to be the maison's most classic creation. And so it is a match made in chocolately heaven. At La Maison du Chocolat boutiques, you will also find goodies like eclairs, cakes, tarts and other pastries, all made with its recipes from France. There are also limited-edition collections that celebrate Chinese festivals. But before you tuck into these sweets, you should really 'know' your chocolate. Regardless of the cocoa percentage, it should not be too crunchy, never too sharp, bitter or pungent, it should melt in your mouth and, last but not least, its wonderful taste should linger on your palate like a good wine.
One of the reasons why the busy Hong Kongnese love luxury pastries so much is that they are a wonderful excuse to stop for a delicious treat, as Chef Richard Long, at The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong, said to us. At the hotel's Lounge & Bar on the 102nd floor and the Café on the 103rd floor, you can enjoy his signature French pastries, as well as East-meets-West creations where he prepares local ingredients such as bird's nest or Chinese red dates with western culinary techniques. Chef Long recommends his hot and iced warm crispy chocolate sphere. This is chocolate at its most adventurous and is created specially for the Chef's Table tailored menu.
There is nothing quite like a wonderful pastry for bringing a little joy to your life. Whether you are a chocolate savant who swears only by the best, or you are someone who eats wherever you go, chances are, in Hong Kong, you will find something (sweet) to sink your teeth into.