Friday, 27 July 2012

Not only an awesome French electro duo (Youtube away) but also hopefully what I have achieved in attempting to make THE BEST CARROT CAKE IN THE WORLD. Yes, I am boldly going there but more on that later ;)

Five months ago, I found myself with some friends in a wee little city called Paris...*swoon*! Having ticked off a huge number of tourist attractions/traps one day (Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur...La Tour was to come) we wandered into Rose Bakery (46 rue de Martyrs, Montmartre) for a brisk lunch.

Front and centre: I swear I could have walked straight past the place had I not had my eyes peeled like a crazy person. P.S. Montmartre is a lovely arrondissement - you'd get killer legs as well from all that incline work! Image from The Cultured Anthropologist
Unbeknownst to us, there was a good going queue ahead of us for a table so we were forced to wait squished between the food counter (salads, cakes, quiches...heaven!) and the organic produce in wooden crates against the wall. Probably a bit of an OH&S issue but what do they care right...? Anyway, it was definitely worth the 20 minute wait despite some poor manners (Tres brusque! Or maybe that's just the French) and blatant ignoring on their part. Was it the language barrier? Sadly, no. Most staffers are expats and speak perfectly good english. They were just completely chockers with customers and we were resigned to being extra sardines wanting to join the party ;)

The menu: sort of like a mirage in the desert whilst we were waiting for a table...slow torture!
Run by Rose Carrarini and hus-band Jean-Charles, there are Rose Bakeries popping up around Paris and London (one at super snobby Dover St Market but definitely not as good as the originals - i did check btw). I was inspired to check the place out after buying Rose's cookbook (duh!) several years ago. I think I must have been sucked in by the neon green cover - like a moth to flame...

(Left) The book - great photography, formatted as a "Day in the Life of Rose Bakery". The recipes always work (unless you muck them up)! (Right) And a little portrait of Rose thrown in for good measure. Images from Phaidon & yayayanonono
So with a bit of confusion and pointing, we were ushered to a table. The bakery has a very pared back interior and at the back you're sort of transported back to kindergarten, just for a second with the rainbow splashes of paint on the walls and little chairs. Lucky I'm small! What I like about it is that it's no fuss. Rose Bakery has no delusions of grandeur, although it is probably the worst kept secret in Paris.

Smuggled out the back, 3 of us were crammed around a little table. Imagine this but with heaps more bums on seats! Photo: hg2
So, to luncheon!
I ordered a cappuccino for my requisite "one coffee a day" - sadly it was nothing to write home about (so a little ironic that i choose to do so here). It tasted like boiling muddy water if i'm to be honest. Hey, I'm Australian so I think I can stake my claim on knowing what good vs. bad coffee is. I'll just have to pop over to Italy or Turkey or Melbourne to get the real deal then eh. Suits me! Anyway, we obviously came quite late in the piece because things were being crossed from the menu left, right and centre...Nooo! Anyway, I ordered 'just a quiche' (even these were running low) et voila...

A rather scrumptious lunch featuring aubergine and red pepper quiche (how is that egg filling so light?), a cucumber salad and some grains/lentils. Props to whoever can "name that grain" - i'm totally clueless on that part. I must say I felt rather healthy after polishing that off - i soon took care of that though...
Here we are as promised, THE BEST CARROT CAKE IN THE WORLD. And surpise surprise, it's Rose's #1 bestseller. The cake was so soft (I will not use the word 'moist' to save sensitive ears) and crumbly (in a good way). And so light! This is what I want in a cake - AIR. Haha. Plus that creeeaaaamy cream cheese icing is T.D.F (To.Die.For)!!!
Spilling the beans (or should I say carrots)...here's the recipe for the cake :o
4 eggs
1 cup (generous) caster sugar
300ml sunflower oil
4-5 medium carrots, grated
2 cups sifted plain flour
1 tspn ground cinnamon
1 rounded tspn baking powder
1/2 tspn bicarb soda
1/2 tspn salt
1+1/2 cups finely chopped walnuts (ESSENTIAL)

125g softened unsalted butter
250g cream cheese
1/2 tspn vanilla extract
1/2-3/4 cup icing sugar (adjust according to your preference)

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Grease cake tin with butter and line with baking paper
2. Beat eggs and caster sugar until light and fluffy 
3. Pour in oil and beat for a few more mins
4. Fold in carrots and then the flour/cinnamon/baking powder/bicarb soda/salt. Fold in walnuts
5. Pour mixture into tin and bake for 45 mins or until skewer comes out clean. Cool in tin before extricating ;)

For icing
1. Beat butter and cream cheese for a few minutes until mixture is smooth
2. Add vanilla extract and icing sugar
3. Ice when the cake has cooled

Easy peasy! Here's one I prepared earlier:
Here's my 'lo cal' version sans frosting. It still tastes freakin' amazing btw. I didn't have the equipment (trays) to do individual cakes so I've baked it in a round cake tin (+++ extra baking time). And no, that is not mould you are seeing but gratings of my purple heirloom carrots from here!!
Et finalement...

Loafin' around...if only your kitchen counter looked like this!!! I tried the pistachio loaf back in London town and it is SO SICKLY SWEET. I needed like 1L of water to wash the sugar down...yikes
And there you have it, a snippet of my 5 day jaunt to Paris! If you can't get yourself there in person you can make a pretty cracking rendition at home, as I have attempted :) I will post you up some other foodie adventures, hopefully soon! Thanks for reading x

A Mostly Latin Lunch by The Selby

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Here's a nice 7 minute culinary diversion for you...
Filmed in the distinctive style of Todd Selby, a pioneer in interior design photography and portraits of creative/famous folk; this themed lunch is hosted by NYC chef Ignacio Mattos and his family including Paco, his baby son with blazing eyes (see for yourself). Other guests are David Tanis (cookbook author) and chefs Fernando Aciar and Pam Yung. It makes for a very professional outfit whipping up just a "casual" lunch. Looks bloomin' amazing if you ask me...

The menu included Piexe com Banana (seabass stew with fried bananas), farofa (an intriguing side dish with cashews, aromats and Yuca flour), salad of onions, radish and avocado and Farofa Doce (dessert of lime sherbet, coconut mousse and grilled pineapple). These were accompanied by starfruit caipirinhas (love that word) - a Brazilian classic! Anyway, the whole shebang looks peachy perfect for a summer's day. Too bad it's about -5 'round these parts at the moment.

It is a Selby tradition to have his subjects draw or hand write their answers to interview questions but on this occasion we're made privy to the recipes. HaHA!

Looks like food fun-times ahead! I love the hand painted elements to the clip, the watercolours give this film a vibrancy that suits it to a 'T'. I look forward to Selby's second book release in October, Edible Selby which is dedicated to the shoots he's done at restaurants/kitchens like with chef Inaki Aizpitarte of Le Chateaubriand in Paris (no. 15 in the World's 50 Best Restaurants) and providores Mast Brothers Chocolate in Brooklyn.

The Edible Selby began as a foodie spin-off but now caters to the old school book lovers (of which I am one). The cover features Eric Werner chef-owner of Hartwood in Tulum, Mexico. Image poached from Hype Beast
Thanks for reading! M.


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