Dessert, pastry, chocolate. These words speak to me and many women of guilty pleasures, extra calories, the naughty but oh so good end to a meal or a sneaky sugar fix during the day. But it makes us happy, and Hong Kong females are going to be ecstatic to hear about a branch of the French patisserie Paul Lafayet, in Windsor House in Causeway Bay, which opened 6 months ago.
The original branch has been in operation for over a year in Tsim Sha Tsui, but frankly having a Causeway Bay shop means we no longer have to trek over to the dark side to get our Macaron fix.
Toni Younes is the French entrepreneur behind Paul Lafayet, (the name inspired by his Great-grandfather I am told), and is a world traveler and a food lover. Such is his passion for French food, pastisserie in particular, that he was compelled to open Paul Lafayet in Hong Kong to share the art of artisanal French pastry. Two French chefs act as consultants – Alexandre Brusquet who worked for seven years with 3 Michelin Star chef at Paul Bocuse restaurants in Lyon, France and Pascal Schwalm who was the Intercontinental Hong Kong pastry chef for four years until the end of 2009. There is a kitchen offsite that delivers the fresh pastries twice a day to both branches.
Paul Lafayet clearly targets females. Everything is just so…pretty. The presentation of their pastries, cakes and macarons is exquisite. Each sweet beautifully created and nestled safely behind glass, gawked at by passing children, mothers, groups of women and the odd lone female caught unaware as she walks through the mall who then stops and looks longingly at the cakes. And drools.
I myself end up taking a bazillion photos of the display cabinet; it’s like a cake gallery. It should have had a place in Art HK. All the pastries are made from premium ingredients with no preservatives and are all Artisinal French style desserts.
I don’t have a sweet tooth, more a savoury one, my first inclination is to hanker after a bacon buttie rather than chocolate, but my dinner of dessert was sublime, I almost cried when I ate my Macaron. So God help those of you who love sweet things. It will be like Christmas, all birthdays and festivals have come at once.
The creme brulee is reputed to the best in Hong Kong. I can’t say that I’ve had every creme brulee in Hong Kong to judge this but, it was certainly the best I’ve ever had. It is hand-caramelised on site, (you can watch the shop girl wield the blow torch), and you can even take the bowl it comes in, home. The texture and the taste was unbelievable. Trust me when I say that every morsel must be savored, because before you know it, it’s all in your tummy and you’ll mourn for a few minutes. I adored the crunch of the crystallized sugar and the smoothness of the vanilla egg custard within glides off your tongue. I love how you can actually see the vanilla pods in the custard.
The next two cakes were both gorgeous. The Craquelin au chocolate, made from 70% single origin dark chocolate with a crisp base, will satisfy anyone’s chocolate craving and more. Very rich, the chocolate was intense and a little too much for me (but I’m not a chocolate fiend unlike some).
The Cremoso craquelin- a maccha mousseline with crispy praline chocolate, was divine and so delicate in flavour. The green tea penetrated through the mousseline with none of the bitterness you sometimes get in green tea puddings and I loved the praline finish.
Ah macarons. Little round parcels of food joy. I selected four- jasmine, pistachio, oolong and sesame.
I started with the lightest in flavour, the jasmine macaron, which was subtly infused and fragrant. All four were ambrosial but my absolute favourite was the sesame. I smile thinking about it.
If you’re thirsty, Paul Lafayet serves a selection of the fine Kusmi teas which were founded in 1867 in Saint-Petersburg, Russia and then taken to Paris by the company after the Revolution. I had the Prince Vladimir, a blend of Ceylon and China teas with scents of orange, lemon, vanilla, grapefruit and spices. A refreshingly smooth and elegant accompaniment to desert.
As I finish this review, I long for a macaron. See you ladies at the Paul Lafayet counter!
Paul Lafayet Shop G13, G/F, Windsor House, 311 Gloucester Road Causeway Bay
3421 1982 www.paullafayet.com/
Paul Lafayet Shop G23, K11, 18 Hanoi Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
3586 9621 www.paullafayet.com/