Sunday, March 27, 2011

Le 15 inspires new Food writers by Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal

An important aspect of the workshop on food writing I conducted at Kala Ghoda was interesting tasting sessions. Both to illustrate my points AND get the participants excited about the subject. In fact someone even commented that the workshop seemed to be about eating more than writing! But how can one write on food if one does not eat, taste? 

So in one of my assignments I circulated Macaroons and Wasabi Cream Cupcakes made by Pooja of Le 15 Patisserie. Participants were asked to use their taste buds and the notes provided to write an article on these confections in a form, style and voice of their choosing. I knew I had made a good choice when a visible wave of glee went through the room at the sight of the distinctive Le 15 cake boxes as I pulled them out. It took a few moments for the buzz to be brought under control as the Macaroons made their way around, followed by the Wasabi cupcakes, leaving a wake of ecstatic exclamations in their wake. 
And the submissions that came in did full justice to the treats that inspired them. Here are my two favourites.

THE RED CARPET by Vinda Dravid 

A pink Cadillac swooped into the midst of the gathered crowd, carrying a celebrity duo who the paparazzi didn’t quite expect would turn up. Demurely, the Cupcake stepped out, drawing gasps, and “oohs!” and “aahs!” from the crowd. Dressed in a resplendent swirling gown of pale green and adorned with silver, she looked tantalizingly ravishing. The paparazzi drooled, clicking away frantically at their cameras. Wondered if she had chosen to come unaccompanied, after all...

Oh but how very wrong they were! For out stepped Mr. Macaroon, brusque and suave as ever. Coming to stand alongside the Cupcake offering every one present a spectacle to remember; his smooth crisp facade commanding admiration, (although those who knew better, knew of his soft, sweet almost gooey quintessence). The couple turned to proceed towards the red carpet, only to be stopped by the urgent question resonating all around-“Who are you wearing?” The cupcake smiled, “Who else? “ She affirmed “But the rage of this season; Le15Patisserie!”

The alluring couple sauntered down the red carpet of my tongue. The Cupcake glided daintily, leaving a trail of sweet mellow freshness, redolent with astringent, sharp wasabi in her wake. And the Macaroon ambled after her, crisp at first but quickly melting into twin softnesses; of smooth sugary almond and rich, creamy frosting. An exemplary Mumbai creation of a French Classic derived from Italian expertise. An experience that will be forever embedded in my taste-buds!

Mere Paas Macaroon Hai! By Rajesh Mehar 

If Amitabh Bacchan was a Pâtisserie…

There are the gen-X, chocolate-box, ‘rom-com’ leading men, and there are pudged up has-been ‘heroes’ of the years gone by. But, there is only one Amitabh Bacchan, effortlessly brilliant in the 1970s and agelessly wonderful in the 21st century.

It takes a lot to be able to do the classic and the contemporary equally well; and that’s the reason why, if Amitabh Bachchan was a pâtisserie, he would be called Le 15.

Whether it’s baking classic confectionaries to perfection or improvising with ingredients that are unfamiliar to the dessert-section of the menu, Le 15 consistently exceeds expectations with each visit. On this particular occasion, I had the pleasure of sampling the classic French Macaroon(not to be confused with the coconut-heavy, crisp-crusted English Macaroon) and a delightful new invention called the Wasabi Cupcake.

Which one would be better? The Macaroon, comparable to the classic Amitabh’s Vijay in Deewar, or the Wasabi Cupcake, which is more like Amitabh in Paa: unfamiliar and excitingly new?

First the Macaroon: unlike it’s English cousin, the French macaroon is made with egg whites, icing sugar, granulated sugar, ground almond and food colouring. The little round beauty in my hand was a deep purple, with a slightly lighter purple filling peeking at me from between two layers of cookie, almost teasing me to take a bite. One bite and I quickly forgot Le 15 owner Pooja Dhingra’s pedigree culinary training from Le Cordon Bleu (considered the guardian of French culinary technique). My whole being focused on an immense, almond-flavoured love, both, the love that had obviously been stirred into this exquisite classic and love from the bottom of my heart for the maker of this perfect confection; soft but not soggy, crisp but not crusty. The cookie casing of the macaroon was like a 4-pm drizzle at the end of summer in Mumbai, just right. And the filling was immaculate, sweet but not too sugary, melty but not runny. Amitabh’s Vijay from Deewar would have been proud.

Now for the Wasabi Cupcake. The very name of this probable tea-time companion sounded oxymoronic. Cupcake is a word often used euphemistically to describe dainty young women, but here it was preceded by Wasabi, a word that threatened and promised that punch of hotness that the legendary condiment packs. Le 15’s Wasabi Cupcake was orgasmic from the moment it entered my mouth. The first sharp sting of Wasabi shot up my nose even as the sweet frosting triggered the pleasure centres of my brain, mere microseconds later. Moments afterwards, the initial sting of the Wasabi abated, to be replaced by the soft texture of the cupcake and frosting, soothing my palate in preparation for the next phenomenal bite... A rollercoaster of flavour that would have made Amitabh’s Auro from the movie Paa, gurgle gutturally in pleasure.

Coming back to Deewar, if Shashi Kapoor playing Inspector Ravi Verma, challenged Amitabh’s Vijay Verma to put his money where his mouth was and declare Le 15 a pâtisserie par excellence, “Bhai, tum sign karoge ya nahin?!”, I would put my money on the suave Vijay repeating that evergreen line confidently, “Haan! Main sign karoonga!” 

Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal
Blogger | Gastronomy writer | Author| Consultant | MD - A Perfect Bite
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