Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Pierre Herme – Azure

Ever since I started Le Cordon Bleu a month and a half ago, I had almost no chance to eat any dessert other than the ones made by me. On top of the large quantities of things I churn out at school every Thursday and Friday, I also get the itch to make something of my own once in a while. As a result, Jason’s colleagues and our friends and neighbors have been having desserts pushed on them on an almost daily basis. Needless to day, this put a severe damper on my quest to taste test every Pierre Herme dessert on sale in Japan. But I did find a rare gap where there was no dessert at home and I took the opportunity to taste one of PH’s classic items, the Azure.

The azure contains two of my all-time favorite flavors: chocolate and yuzu. In fact I’ve had my eyes on it from the beginning but somehow have always bypassed it, probably because it looks plain compared to PH’s other creations and did not contain any exotic flavors such as cilantro or saffron. However, I was in the mood for something simple and uncomplicated that day and Azure fitted my needs exactly. It is a layer of chocolate ganache and a layer of yuzu cream, sandwiched between a piece of dark chocolate and a piece of chocolate sablee cookie. No fancy decorations or unexpected surprises. It’s simplicity at its best. It might even be my favorite so far.

For other Piere Herme items, see here.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Why can’t life always be peachy and perfect?

Ok, to be fair, my life is not too shabby. We’ve got our health, Libby’s still going strong at age seven, and we are happy with the way things are for the most part. So I shouldn’t complain, right? But it's my blog, so I am going to anyway, damn it!

It all started three weeks ago when we went to Hong Kong for the weekend to see some friends. Since we only had two days and have exhausted most of the tourist attractions on a prior visit, we focused our attention on food. After the first day I started to break out in hives, little bumps like mosquito bites here and there, nothing major. I figured it must’ve been the fengshui or something I ate that didn’t agree with me. I expected the problem to go away when I got back to Tokyo. It didn’t, and in fact got even worse. My stash of Claritin only relieved the symptoms when I took it but never made the problem go away. The problems with western medicine!

So frustrated by the ever present itchiness somewhere on my body, I almost gave in to Jason’s constant nagging and went to see a doctor. Luckily though, I talked to my parents, two veteran allergy sufferers, first. Their theory, and mine, is that some allergies come from within, caused by a toxin inside the body that somehow got triggered by an outside factor. According to them, to make it go away, I have to stop eating any food that could be allergy-triggering or are “heating.”

We Chinese believe that certain food will “bring on” diseases, or in other words, make the body susceptible to illnesses. We say they are “fah.” We also divide food in three general categories: cooling, heating and neutral. I am somewhat familiar with the heating and cooling properties of food but am completely clueless when it comes to which food brings on illnesses. So I asked my mom to give me some examples of food that’s “fah.” “Well, cilantro is a big one,” she said matter-of-factly.

Wait! Woah! Hold on a minute! Cilantro??!! Fragrant, green, healthy-looking cilantro? I just bought a big bunch and in a race against time to prevent it from rotting away in my fridge have been putting it in everything. I even made ice cream with it. No wonder my allergy is not getting any better!

After I calmed down she told me more. Seafood is no good, although fresh water fish is benign. (not helpful because there ain’t no fresh water fish sold in Japan, except for that very seasonal ayu) Spicy food of any kind is bad (I found fresh jalapeno pepper for the first time in Tokyo and had been eating nothing but spicy food lately). Chicken, and especially turkey should not be eaten either, and it’s best not to touch beef or cheese. Hmmm, I think that’s about 80% of my daily diet right there. Add to it the “heating” food such as oranges and anything red in color, I’ll have to eat nothing but rice and green vegetables until my allergy clears up! And no turkey? What about Thanksgiving?!

“So, um, is there anything left for me to eat at all?” I asked. “You can always eat pork and duck!” mom offered enthusiastically. Sure, that helps! The only way I know how to cook a duck is to roast it, and what’s that going to do to my waistline if I make it a daily item on the menu?

Arrrrgh! This is all so irritating. I guess with a mom that’s allergic to just about everything she touches and a dad whose pollen allergy is so severe that he used to schedule his overseas trips to coincide with the peak of allergy seasons, it’s a small wonder that my allergy problems didn’t manifest until now. Still! Why can’t I eat everything I want and be happy?!