Baking from another planet!
French patisserie is an art form – I’m not talking about scones and little fruit tarts. I am talking about pieces of art that are almost too beautiful to stick a fork in (but you do it anyway as it tastes as good as it looks).
We all know ‘The Great British Bake Off’ but have you ever watched 'Bake Off: The Professionals’? Oh my god – the creations these teams design and produce is out of this world.
Last year, a team from Cakes & Bubbles took part and although they didn’t win, I had the café on my list of places to visit when in London. When you Google Cakes & Bubbles, you’ll get “sophisticated space hosting a dessert-only restaurant by a multi-award-winning pastry chef”.
This award winning pastry chef is no other than Albert Adria of the famous El Bulli in Barcelona where he won Best Pastry Chef of the World (this is all the introduction Albert needs for any food lover).
So, when I saw that Albert opened Cakes & Bubbles at the Café Royal Hotel in Regent Street, I knew I had to pay them a visit. So - last week, Mr T and I went for a quick visit (all safe and proper) and I sneaked away for a treat.
Wowser – I was in patisserie heaven and coupled with my favourite champagne, nothing could stop me from enjoying the atmosphere of a sunny street. I went for the whole experience (it was a treat after all) and I still have a smile on my face.
Two wonderful hosts, Fiona (from Cork) and Lauren looked after me and I felt almost like the queen (or at least a distant cousin).
The afternoon tea experience started with a selection of four items: a Baklava Pistachio Pillow (filo pastry filled with a light mousse), a little chocolate heap with a cherry jelly inside (light as a feather), a chocolate ‘cork’ (thin chocolate cake rolled up with a hazelnut mousse and crushed praline) and the Golden Egg Flan (a baked custard with a bitter caramel on the bottom and a passion fruit jelly on top) – all items were light and melted away in your tongue.
I deserved a second glass of bubbles (after all, it’s called Cakes & Bubbles). The palate cleanser was a rose (a real dark red rose), sprayed with rosewater and a lychee and raspberry jelly drop. I was instructed to smell the rose, let the jelly drop into my mouth and while the flavours exploded to smell the rose again.
As I am a girl of great imagination, I felt transported back to a rose garden I visited many years ago in Bavaria – people walking past, watched me and smiled when they saw the pure delight on my face.
But it was the third course that truly showed the talent of the creator and chefs in the kitchen as the famous ‘cheese’ cake was delivered to my table.
A round form with the texture of washed rind cheese gives you the illusion that this is indeed an artisan cheese – it wouldn’t look strange on a cheese counter. But when you crack open the shell of white chocolate mixed with hazelnuts, you come to a light mousse created from Baron Bigod cheese.
I have to admit, I have never heard of the cheese (as I love Irish cheeses too much) but this cheese seems to be famous amongst chefs in the UK. It is a raw milk brie de meaux style cheese and its soft, almost oozy centre can taste of fresh citrus or earthy mushrooms, depending on age.
The dessert wasn’t sweet or too savoury – it was simply perfect (now I have to figure out how to make it). After all these sweets (all of them very light so I wasn’t feeling like a stuffed goose), I treated myself to a third glass of Veuve Cliquot and waited patiently for Mr T. Thank you to Fiona and Lauren for looking after me so well!