Long before we heard of Sadaharu Aoki, there was a Japanese Pastry Chef in Barcelona, doing his thing and establishing himself as one of the best pastry destinations in the city. Takashi WHO? Takashi Ochiai and his Patisseria Ochiai.
He was a pastry chef in Japan, but left for Europe to seek knowledge and experience, as is always the case. His travels brought him to Belgium and London, where he worked for a few years and picked up French and English. Chatting with him was great as we could communicate freely!
Eventually, he ended up in Spain, learning their traditional pastries and decided to set up shop in Barcelona in 1983. Besides specializing in Japanese pastry, he is also an astute businessman and imports Japanese products for distribution (Yann Duytsche is one of his customers) as well as produces ice creams and chocolates for wholesale.
It was birthday time again, which means a good time to experiment on recipes on other peoples’ dollar! This raspberry charlotte has its design roots in Spain, Pasteleria Totel to be exact, and the idea behind it was to:
Create a mousse cake with different textures
Play around on the theme of acidity, for sprightly flavours full of zing as summer gave way to autumn
Use ingredients that can be purchased at the Supermarket
Try to show off by making the most bling bling damn cake my friends had ever seen
Caramel Rings, Exploding cakes, super duper ultra cool website, great history, cool shop at La Rambla……in a nutshell, one of the pastelerias that I was MOST looking forward to visiting. So, was it worth the hype and wait?
Mille Feuille (French) or Milhoja (Spanish) basically just means 1000 Leaves in English, a reference to the layers of flakey puff pastry that make up this iconic pastry. Mille Feuille, sadly, is oftentimes assembled waaaay too ahead of time and ends up with flaccid pastry layers.
I shall hereby make a statement bordering on ignorance and extreme bias based on very limited experience in eating Mille Feuille in Europe. It seems that Mille Feuille in France uses a lighter, flakier pastry than in Spain, where it is more crunchy and ‘tight’.
Having tried a few MF’s in France and Japan, my favourite version is still the Spanish one. However, I have to say Jacques Genin’s MF is the best I’ve had so far, but can only be made a la minute, or it will lose its amazing lightness and texture. This version here is the one we did at Pasteleria Totel in Spain, using an inverted puff pastry base. Here is the recipe:
The first thing that greets you at La Boqueria are the Jamon shops selling slices or huge chunks of heaven. Jamon Iberico, made from the black footed pigs that eat wild stuff that gives them all that beautiful flavour. If you ever have the opportunity to get close to different types of Jamon, give em a sniff. Continue reading →