Tastebuds

A food blog from everywhere!

Paris Big Names

Big name products that we had during our visit to Paris!

Berthillon Ice Cream:

I loved their vanilla flavour, but I was disappointed by the three others that we tried (figs, caramel au fleur de sel, and something else that I forget). Although the flavours were intense, they were all so cloggingly sweet. And the hefty prices (9.90 euros for three tiny scoops from the cafe where we went to) didn’t help either.

Brie de Meaux from Laurent Dubois Fromagerie:

Maybe it’s just me, but do all Brie de Meaux taste stinky?

Patrick Roger‘s Caramels au Fleur de Sel:
Even though Patrick Roger is most famous for his chocolates, these salted butter caramels that I found in his shop were absolutely amazing as well. They were soft and sticky, but not exactly chewy, and you can taste all the ingredients so clearly. The butter, the sugar, the salty hints; they’re all there.

PatrickRoger1
Look at that window display!

Poilane:

The poilane loaf that I tried had a nice sourdough taste, but I found the texture of the interior too crumbly and dry. And the outside crust was too hard. Maybe I just went on the wrong day. However, their punitions (little butter cookies) are to die for indeed, and the brioche was awesomely buttery; would be great for making French toasts.

Jean-Paul Hevin‘s Turin:

This elipse-shaped cake consisted of a sugar crust at the bottom filled with meringue and some blueberry jam-like thing and topped with a thin layer of chocolate. I didn’t find it mesmerizing but it was definitely good; not too sweet and the meringue was light and soft.
A separate post featuring macarons coming up!

August 25, 2010 Posted by | Bakery, Desserts, French, Paris, Restaurants, Travels | Leave a comment

Toronto: Wanda’s Belgian Waffles

http://www.wandasbelgianwaffles.com/

A new branch of Wanda’s Belgian Waffles recently opened in Pacific Mall, so while I was there with a few friends some weeks ago, we decided to check it out.

Truth be told, this location choice seems quite out of place amidst all the Asian food booths in the food court on P. Mall’s second floor. Those manning the store look like the only non-Asian employees in the whole mall.

Anyways, the waffles. We had an original vanilla waffle dusted with icing sugar and a maple waffle. They grill the waffles to order, thus ensuring maximum freshness. It is interesting to note that unlike typical waffles, the ones from Wanda’s contain yeast in the batter, which is a lot more doughy as well. Thus the resulting product was quite doughy and dense, with the very middle somewhat undercooked, as opposed to light and fluffy. THere was some texture contrast between the crispier outter layer and the innards, but it wasn’t too noticeable due to the denseness of the waffle.

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Original vanilla waffle

Taste-wise, I thought both the original and maple waffles were quite similar. They both had a distinctive yeastiness from the batter and were very sweet. In fact, I thought that a plain plain waffle itself, with neither icing sugar nor a maple crust, would suffice on the sweetness scale. But then again, it may be because my taste buds aren’t used to the copious amounts of sugar found in everything here.

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Maple waffle

Overall, I thought the waffles’s taste trumped their texture. The yeastiness wasn’t bad for it brought an extra dimension to what would otherwise be mundane sugary-ness.

August 12, 2010 Posted by | Desserts, Restaurants, Toronto | 1 Comment

Toronto: Yutopia

Main Floor in Pacific Mall
4300 Steeles Ave, Markham
http://www.yutopia.ca/

Ever since I tried frozen yogurt for the first time at Pinkberry in New York last summer, I’ve been having on-off froyo cravings all year. Unfortunately, I haven’t had many opportunities in China to satisfy such yearnings, but now that I’m back in the West it’s time to tend to my froyo-deprived digestive tract.

I haven’t really tried many frozen yogurt places in Toronto. Partly it is due to the fact that I’ve had a few rather distasteful experiences with bad yogurt in the past…plus, frozen yogurt tends to be pretty expensive around here. So I tend to be cautious when venturing into any froyo place.

Yutopia in Pacific Mall definitely ranks as a noteworthy find. Unlike all other froyo stores in the city, Yutopia’s yogurt is self-serve and priced by weight. Customers simply grab a yogurt cup, pump in as much yogurt and sprinkle on as many toppings as they please, and then pay-by-weight at the cashier. Simple concept, yet I like it because it gives the customer more freedom to adjust the treat to his or her tastes.

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One of our creations

Yutopia has four flavours available at any time. So far I have tried original (strange after taste, not too reminiscent of yogurty-creaminess), taro (has a pretty convincing creamy taro flavour), pomegranate (tangy), mango (my favourite; very refreshing & not too heavy), and ferrero rocher (tasted like chocolate). One thing to note about Yutopia’s yogurt is that it tends to be on the icy side, unlike their creamier counterparts elsewhere, and thus the froyo melts quite fast. I guess that can come across as both a good thing (if you’re not into heavy desserts) or a bad thing (if you’re after an ice-cream-like creaminess).

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Mochi topping!

Topping choices at Yutopia differ from time to time, but they include fruits (berries, mango, bananas, canned peaches, etc.), cheesecake (whose heaviness rather overwhelms the delicate flavours of the yogurt), cookie dough, cereals, chocolates, and MOCHI, a slightly sweet, chewy Asian dessert that works surprisingly well as a froyo accompaniment. Another notable and unusual topping is cucumber, which is supposed to accompany the original flavoured yogurt. I think the cucumber pieces add a crunchy texture contrast more than anything else because their delicate taste is trumped by the yogurty sourness.

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Cucumber topping…hmm…

The ambience of the store is simple and chic, standing in stark contrast to the surrounding Asian stores. The place is rather small and has no seats, so plan to enjoy your yogurt while strolling through the mall.

August 11, 2010 Posted by | Desserts, Toronto | Leave a comment

Singapore: Oio at VivoCity

After lunch I walked off to get frozen yogurt at Oio. Oio was a pretty small, chic-looking store with clean white sterile looking walls very characteristic of yogurt places. Sadly, though, the plethora of flavours that I was expecting weren’t there; they only had original and I think two fruit-based flavours. It seems that most of the Asian cities I’ve been to aren’t yet too keen on frozen yogurt…oh well, they’ll catch up to the West eventually.

I got their brownie parfait, which consisted, from bottom to top layer, of:

  • Hershey’s chocolate sauce
  • Brownie blocks
  • Frozen yogurt
  • Fruit (I chose blueberries)
  • More frozen yogurt
  • Strawberry sauce (I chose this)

Quite frankly, though, I didn’t really like this strange concoction. The yogurt was very refreshing and didn’t have too strong of a tart, yogurt taste, but everything else was a miss. The brownie pieces had obviously been sitting out for too long cause they were extremely dry and unappetizing. The blueberries were unripe as well. So really, the brownie parfait wasn’t worth it at $8. I think it would have been more satisfying (and cheaper) had I just gotten a small cup of frozen yogurt with some random topping.

January 7, 2010 Posted by | Desserts, Restaurants, Singapore, Travels | Leave a comment

Another trip to Hong Kong

So this weekend my dad and I took another random trip down to Hong Kong. Yay! Well actually the reason was because my dad needed to renew his visa but me, I’ll look for any excuse to go to Hong Kong. Really I think Hong Kong is one of the greatest cities in the world and I would absolutely LOVE to live there one day. It’ll either be Hong Kong or New York.

Anyways. As we all know, any trip to Hong Kong requires splurging, and this one was no different. As soon as we got out of the train station I went over to a bakery and got an egg tart and a bbq pork triangle.

The egg tart (which was, btw, very fresh and still warm from the oven) was of the uncaramelized variety, the type that I don’t quite like as much. I find these type of egg tarts to be too monotonous in texture…the whole thing is just…soft and filmsy. Of course they taste just fine but I find that they lack textural variation.

The bbq pork triangle was also pretty decent. The filling was saucy and sweet without being overly so. However, one common trait about all char siu bakery items that really bothers me is the presence of fat chunks in the filling. The pork meat tastes great but the chunks of gooey pork fat are quite off-putting…do people actually eat them???

After that little snack we went off to go book browsing. Yep, in this side of the world Hong Kong is practically the only place where I can stock up on English books.

After book shopping we decided to have lunch at one of the innumerable Japanese restaurants that can be found in just about every crack and cranny in Hong Kong. In Tsim Sha Tsui, at least, one can locate a Japanese eatery in just about any random direction. Assailed with so many different choices we haphazardly settled on Sushi One Plus.

As soon as we entered I knew it probably wasn’t a good choice because the place simply didn’t feel authentic. But then of course I was hungry and didn’t bother searching out some other place. So an unauthentic Japanese meal it’ll have to be!

Looking to eat light so that I’ll have room for junk later on, I ordered three small dishes. First came the fatty tuna sashimi, which was expensive but wonderful. The fish was a little cold but that didn’t detract too much from its creamy, melt-in-your-mouth taste and texture. Yummm….

The uni handroll was unglamourous. I wish they added a piece of cucumber to provide some crunch and texture contrast to the roll. The uni was also a bit too small. It tasted fine and fresh and all but I know that it can be done better.

My last order was the asparagus with caviar. The asparagus was sort of weird; it seemed like it couldn’t decide whether it should be hot or cold. However, I think that those little sprigs of asparagus matched with the plumpy caviar quite well. The flavours of both were subtle and thus complemented each other. Unfortunately the strong Japanese mayo at the bottom somewhat ruined that harmony…

My dad ordered a lunch combo and I tried some of his items. Above is the tamago, which was served steaming hot, was sweet and rather dense. I didn’t really enjoy it.

The lunch combo also came with this salmon and mango sushi, which I didn’t try but it looks like it’s got too much rice and not enough filling.

After that semi-decent Japanese cuisine experience we headed over to Harbour City to accomplish my main purpose of the day: buy MACARONS from JEAN-PAUL HEVIN! I’ll blog about that in the later post but below is a photo of the awesome hallowed macarons =)

After splurging on macarons I walked around Harbour City by myself, looking for edible interests. First I stopped at the Panash Bakery at Ocean Terminal and quite impulsively got a chocolate croissant. Unfortunately it wasn’t such a good choice. The nice shiny croissant looked promising on the outside but the inside was dry, tasteless, and paper-like. Even though it was no longer warm the chocolate was in a sauce form and not a solid block like it should be. I took two bites and threw the thing away. Bleh! >

After the failed pain au chocolat I felt in the mood for something cold so I lept at the sight of a very unusual ice cream cone in 7-11: Ovaltine ice cream =O!

Definitely not a flavour that you see around often. As you can see, the top of the cone is covered with chocolate and in the first few bites the chocolate completely obscured the ovaltine. However once the chocolate covering was gone the wheaty ovaltine flavour was unmistakable. Even though I don’t like ovaltine much I quite enjoyed this cone for it was something unique. My only complaint (a defect that affects all pre-packaged cones in warm weather) is that the cone was soggy…

Oh yeah actually a funny thing happened while I was unwrapping the ice cream. Because the weather was so warm, I was in a hurry to get my camera out and take a photo and I think in my haste I accidentally threw my camera case into the trash can along with the ice cream wrapping. Wow, I must have looked really stupid doing that…Thank god it was the case and not the camera.

Anyways, later in the afternoon I walked into Starbucks and, spotting an interesting cake flavour, couldn’t resist trying it out. The Earl Grey cake was quite mousse-like with a hazelnut base and a jelly-like topping. The Earl Grey taste was definitely present at just the right amount. The cake was pretty light and so if you like Earl Grey and light cakes, you’d definitely like this.

All right, lastly and finally I had some chocolate from Leonidas. The Palet d’Or, which had 75% or something cocoa content, consisted of a mousse-like center enrobed with dark chocolate. It was very chocolatey and slightly bitter though I found the center to be a bit dry. Overall a nice piece of chocolate.

The truffle naturel wasn’t really a conventional truffle; instead of being a dense chocolatey mass it was a ganache covered with a thin layer of chocolate and cocoa powder. It wasn’t what I expected so I can’t say much about the truffle…it was good, but it wasn’t what I wanted.

Whew! What a long post! And that, readers, is the documentation of my day of fooding in the wonderful city of Hong Kong. The end =)

November 1, 2009 Posted by | Bakery, Desserts, Hong Kong, Japanese, Miscellaneous, Restaurants, Travels, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

37.2 Degrees Bistro

37.2 Degrees Bistro
Address: G/F, No. 29, Tian Shou Lu, Tian He, Guangzhou
Telephone: 020-38324725

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Quite a while ago a few friends and I went to 37.2 Degrees Bistro to get cake.

The restaurant, even though it has two floors, is quite small. When we got there at around six the place was already starting to crowd up so I guess it is quite popular. I hear that the food there is quite good, but during our stay we only sampled the cakes.

They display their selection of cakes at a counter on the first floor. I selected the Napoleon cake, which consisted of flaky pastry, cream, nuts and fruits nestled in multiple layers. The taste of the cake was all right, but I must say that it was such a pain to eat! They only provided us with this tiny tea forks with which it was impossible to spear through a slice of the Napoleon cake. I ended up making quite a mess and had to eventually dissect the cake layer by layer, which sort of defeated its purpose.

My companions ordered the New York cheesecake and the mixed nuts cheesecake. Both were very good and both tasted quite similar. They were nice, dense, creamy cheesecakes, very much unlike the one that I had at Angel Simple. So if you’re ever in the mood for authentic cheesecake, this place may hit the spot.

Mixed Nuts Cheesecake

New York Cheesecake

September 30, 2009 Posted by | Desserts, Guangzhou, Restaurants | , , | Leave a comment

Honeymoon Dessert

Honeymoon Desserts
Address: Shop 103, G/F, Up Tower; #182 Bei Jing Lu; YueXiu District; GuangZhou; PRC
Website: http://www.honeymoon-dessert.com/en_us/

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I realize that Honeymoon Desserts is the name of the dessert place that I encountered in Hong Kong at Times Square. Recently I also learned that they have branches in Guangzhou! So one day, while at Beijing Lu, we decided to go and give the place a try.

The restaurant here was very HK style aka cramped and expensive. They have items that cost upwards of 60RMB! Well, we stuck with their less pricey selections.

This is the purple glutinuous rice with almond milk. Here their glutinuous rice was a little different; they omitted the taro chunks and added corn. It still tasted all right, though I did want the big chunks of taro. The almond milk tasted weird…artificial, almost. Or maybe it was just because I am not used to the taste of almond extract. I also wished that they had added crushed ice into the almond milk as that would have made it more refreshing.

We also had the red bean soup with jelly. I think there was a choice between hot and cold and we chose the cold variety. I didn’t really like this dessert. THe jelly was tasteless, absolutely tasteless, and the red bean soup…I don’t know why, but I’ve never enjoyed red bean soup that isn’t home made. It’s got this strange aftertaste that isn’t present when you make the dessert at home…Maybe they’re adding something that we aren’t…I guess I’m just not used to the taste.

Even though we didn’t greatly enjoy the items that we ordered, I don’t think that that is a fair reflection of their desserts. I think we’ll have to return and try their other items in order to make a better judgment.

September 28, 2009 Posted by | Desserts, Guangzhou, Restaurants | , | Leave a comment