Musings of a bon vivant in Hong Kong


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Macaron Magic at Pierre Hermé

Macarons are evil. These bite-sized, girly-coloured meringue-based nuggets of sugary goodness somehow make most girls weak at the knees or lose their minds, not to mention very grabby and extremely possessive once they get their mitts on a box. Call it the Gollum effect if you will.. and I’m no exception. So of course, the first thing many of my girlfriends and I did when Pierre Hermé finally opened its doors in Hong Kong in 2013, was immediately trot to IFC to gawk at the display of macarons, buy a box of 7 precious confections, stroke said box in a Gollum-like manner and then proceed to elegantly cram the goodies in our mouths.

Pierre Hermé Macaron heaven in IFC

Pierre Hermé Macaron heaven in IFC

Fast forward to last month and Pierre Hermé opened its third shop inside The Ritz-Carlton. Sadly I couldn’t make it to their afternoon tea party to celebrate and sample their afternoon tea sets  which were crafted especially for Valentine’s Day. However, I was lucky to have a chance to pop to their IFC shop for a sinful breakfast of macarons so I could try a couple of their non-regular flavours. The terrible feeling of having a breakfast of macarons was short-lived once I stepped inside and proceeded to gaze lovingly at the selection in front of me.

My precious

My precious

My normal go-to’s are Isaphan, Huile D’Olive, Celeste (Passion fruit, strawberries and rhubarb) and the Infiniment Pistache, so I was delighted that I got to try and now fall in love with different 5 flavours which were:

– Infiniment Rose (Rose & Rose Petals)
– Rose & Coing (Rose & Quince)
– Mogador (Milk Chocolate & Passion fruit)​
– Chuao (Chuao Chocolate & Blackcurrant) Not part of the usual line-up!
– Truffle Blanche & Noisette (White Truffle & Roasted Piedmont Hazelnut Slivers) Winter selection only

The amazing line-up

The amazing line-up

Honestly, all 5 were sensational, but I must say that the Mogador is my new favourite, with its delicate balance of milk chocolate and the slightly tart Passion fruit coming through. Another new love is the Truffle Blanche which I saved till last and really savoured. (Though I think the girls watching me eat would probably beg to differ as I doubt I spent more than 5 minutes in total wolfing all 5). The truffle was extremely aromatic and frankly, this macaron blew my mind. Thankfully the truffle is only available during the winter season otherwise I’d be tempted to constantly buy a box of ONLY this flavour.

Hello Truffle Blanche

Hello Truffle Blanche

One of my best friends in Singapore reaped the benefit of my “taste testing” when I visited her the following week with a box of all the above. It was one of the more hilarious things I’ve seen, seeing D’s eyes go wide at the sight of the macarons and trying really really hard to eat them slowly and painfully, with more will-power than I have, saving half, maybe a quarter, of some of the flavours for her husband. That’s true love right there.

Chopstixfix rating: 5/5 BECAUSE I LOVE MACARONS

Pierre Hermé Paris- IFC Mall Central, Shop 1019C Podium Level One (10am-9pm)/ Harbour City, Kowloon, Shop 2410, Level 2, Gateway Arcade (10am-10pm)/ The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, Kowloon, ICC, 1 Austin Road West (10am-8pm)

Many thanks to Pierre Hermé Paris- Hong Kong and Catch On for the kind invitation and letting a girl enjoy macarons with unabashed delight. 

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Bravo Panino Giusto

Out of the sandwich offerings in Hong Kong, most are a bit meh sometimes, (interpret that word as you see fit 😛 ) except for Pret A Manger and possibly Oliver’s. And maybe a dirty Subway. But now there is Panino Giusto in IFC Mall which specialises in Milanese ‘sandwiches’- Panini.

Panino Giusto

Panino Giusto

IMG_8289

Panino Giusto

Panino Giusto

Established in 1979 in Milan before branching internationally, Panino Giusto brings us authentic, freshly-made panini, as well as toasties, plates of sliced meats, salads and desserts. You will not catch this store pre-making their panini and cling-wrapping them to go! They say the key to their success is their  “rule of 7”: 70 grams of freshly sliced meat, 70 grams of cheese, vegetables, sauces and oils, sandwiched between 70 grams of French bread. All ingredients are hand-picked from Italy and then Panino Giusto branded.

Location-wise, I love it. On the 3rd Podium level of IFC Mall, it has the benefits of the roof a few steps away, sunlight pouring through the glass windows and a pleasant seating area for a relaxed meal or coffee and dessert. It’s great to see their fridge of hanging meats taking centre stage at the front of their store, alongside a shiny red Berkel meat slicer. There’s something exciting about seeing big chunks of amazing hams and meats being sliced in front of you for your panini. Guaranteed freshness.IMG_8280 IMG_8276

My friend and I were given a voucher to try out a couple of their panini, one salad, a starter and a dessert when the shop first opened, although since then I have been back for more and I can tell you that the quality and my enjoyment has been consistent.

One of their must-have panini is their signature Tartufo, a delicious panino of Parma ham (24-month aged), Brie, tomato, rocket and Alba truffle oil. The rich scent of the truffle oil hits you when the warm panino arrives and I just loved the whole combination. I also quite enjoyed the fact that the Brie is not melted, just warmed by the toasted bread as it gave the panino added texture instead of being a warm, gooey mess. This has become my favourite at Panino Giusto whenever I go.

Tartufo

Tartufo

Another lovely panino is the Savoy with Praga ham, Mozzarella, tomato, rocket and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. All the flavours were quite mild but nevertheless, it makes for a lighter and less salty offering than the Tartufo.

We also tried their Stuzzico Crudo E Caprino starter dish of Parma ham, goat cheese and warm bread. I admit, we ignored the bread and the cheese in favour of stuffing ourselves with the moreish slices of Parma ham. At $88 for a plate, I have to say that it is worth it seeing as going to the deli counter at Taste or CitySuper for Parma is outrageously expensive for possibly around the same number of slices.

Stuzzico Crudo E Caprino

Stuzzico Crudo E Caprino

Their Pratomagno salad of Carpaccio, herbed artichokes and fresh Parmesan was also lovely. The beef was delicate yet full of ‘beef’ flavour and went well with the artichokes.

Pratomagno salad

Pratomagno salad

To end we had their house-made Tiramisu. Those of you who enjoy a heavier coffee taste may be disappointed with this but though creamier than other versions,  I thought it was rather scrumptious and not overly laced with rum.

Tiramisu

Tiramisu

Although most of the panini may be a little steep at $78 -88 each depending on ingredients, Panino Giusto is, I think, the place to go for a panini fix. There is a fine and quite large selection to choose from and you needn’t worry about not feeling satiated afterwards; they are filling enough to keep you going for the rest of the afternoon. The salads and starters are good but definitely not the main attraction.

Chopstixfix rating: 3.5/5

 

Panino Giusto, Shop No. 3077, Podium Level Three, IFC Mall, 8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong. Opening times: 10:00-22:00 Tel: +852 2564 7000 http://www.paninogiusto.com.hk