Life is short....eat dessert first!!
An invitation to interact over coffee and eclairs at Longitude, the all day coffee lounge at the Le Meridien hotel had me all excited. Being a passionate baker, I thought it to be an excellent opportunity to interact with the chef and get some handy baking tips on how to make the perfect choux pastry especially as I have been struggling now for some time with making my choux pastry. And of course, getting to taste some of the delicious Parisian pastries was the icing on the cake.
While waiting for the others to arrive at the hotel's uber chic coffee lounge Longitude, I sipped on some excellent Illy coffee. I was told that the coffees served here are from illycaffe, a world renowned Italian coffee blend that specializes in the production of espressos since 1933. Rich and strong, the hot cup of coffee was just the thing I needed to freshen me up after the long drive from Gurgaon.
Soon the others too joined. The best part about attending such events, apart from always learning new and amazing things, is that you get to meet other bloggers too, who are like minded and share the same passion as yours. It was great as always catching up with Sangeeta Khanna and Arvind Passey and a pleasure to meet Anita Tikoo and Aditya Banerjee who I was meeting for the first time.
Once we all settled down, we were introduced to Chef Vikas Shrivastava who is the executive pastry chef at the hotel. Anasuya, the Director of Marketing Communications with Le Meridien explained how the new Eclair programme is a Starwood driven programme to introduce French eclairs with unique local flavors inspired by the destination. This programme has been adapted by all Le Meridien Hotels world wide. I thought it is a lovely endeavor where the chef can get creative and experiment with local flavors.
Here too, along with the classic flavors like the Vanilla, and Chocolate, there were also some unique flavors like Passion fruit and Hazelnut Praline. To give his own local twist, Chef Vikas came up with local flavors like Rose Cardamom and Jaggery Ginger. My personal favorite was Jaggery and Ginger flavored eclair. This eclair had a lovely fresh taste of ginger which offset the sweetness of the jaggery, creating a perfect balance of taste and flavors. All the eclairs were extremely soft and light as air. Filled with whipped cream and iced with fondant icing they were a haven for dessert lovers.
"A true éclair is a long, thin pastry made with choux pastry dough, filled with a cream, and topped with icing. The dough, which is the same as that used for profiterole, is piped into an oblong shape with a pastry bag and baked until it is crisp and hollow inside. Once cool, the pastry then is filled with a crème pâtissière, whipped cream, or chiboust cream; and then iced with fondant icing."
|Rose and cardamom|
|The Classic Chocolate|
|Ginger and Jaggery|
Chef Vikas also showed us the technique to fill pastry using pastry bags and then decorate the choux pastry with fondant icing.
We also got to create our own eclairs with fillings of our choice. I almost felt like a kid playing with the icing and decorating the eclairs with different colorful toppings.Of course, ours were not even half as close to what the chef had made.
To give relief to our sweet tooth, we were also served some excellent savory snacks.
It was a lovely afternoon - well spent in great company and good food.
|Group Pic courtesy: Arvind Passey|