Mickael and the vanilla bean stalk
Blind dates can be tricky. They can go either way. But not at SPI Cinemas. Having introduced the concept in 2006 – Sathyam’s Blind Date means you can pick a ticket without knowing which movie you will be watching. Now that model has been incorporated into the dessert racks at their patisserie as the Ecstasy Blind Date. You might not know which confectionary you are getting – but I have two words for you that guarantee a sweet ending – Mickael Besse.
The Michelin star chef, who started this dessert boutique in 2007, was back in town last week to celebrate 10 years of Ecstasy with a fascinating masterclass and a new menu of nine desserts that includes the Blind Date. A consultant with SPI Cinemas, he does let on that all the four pastries he has created exclusively for the surprise ‘date’ (that will change every other month) celebrate Valrhona chocolate and are examples of classic French offerings with a twist. Spoiler alert: This month it is an exquisite éclair, oozing chocolate custard and salted caramel all wrapped in a soft leaf of chocolate. And if you are wondering what that mysterious flavour in the cream filling is, it is a smidgeon of truffle oil.
Class in perfection
At the recent masterclass in the patisserie, the 44-year-old chef tells us that he is picking vanilla as the core ingredient, “as India is one of the largest producers in the world” and that he is “bringing in the technique of smoking from French cuisine”, and how incorporating smoked vanilla into his creations is a tribute to the connections between the two cultures. “This is easy,” says the chef, as he deftly rustles up a pecan crumble, chocolate mousse and smoked vanilla cream — all part of the process to make the multilayered, chocolate glazed, 100 ml of Smoked Vanilla that he was demonstrating. However once you realise that the smoked vanilla needs nearly six hours to be ready and subsequently the layered pastry needs a full day in the freezer before the glaze, you realise that this is in fact — rocket science.
Labour of love
In this line for more than two decades, Mickael does share that, “Designing and writing a new recipe takes me a few hours, but executing it to perfection and ensuring its consistency takes months,” even as we bite into the soft-centred delightful 100 ml dessert that is polished off in seconds. “I am inspired by my travels. I believe keeping your eyes and heart open to other cultures contributes to one’s passion and creativity,” says the France-based chef who recently went to Stockholm for a family holiday and believes that “life is made for sharing” and adds that his connection to the team at Ecstasy ensures the consistency of his offerings. You can also expect a new line of beverages, ice creams and chocolates. Meanwhile regulars can heave a sigh of relief as favourites like the Tiramisu and the Mikata have been retained on the menu.
Surprise your palate
Admittedly, when it comes to flavour and technique the smoked vanilla is the star of the new menu, however there is an unsung hint of tart that caught my palate’s attention in the midst of all that lusciousness. Cubes of gleaming jelly – the humble fruit paste is made of natural pectin – and well represented in the new additions as it is smothered within the 100 ml of Smoked Vanilla, scattered on the Textured Glass besides tucked into the Infinity Cakes. Chewy and sharp, you will find that it is the perfect foil for the cream, crunch and sweet. It’s the simplicity of the flavour that disarms you. As Mickael said, “I am not here to show off technique. I am here to create a simple cake – but a perfect one.”
At Ecstasy, Sathyam Cinemas, Royapettah. Rs 140 onwards. Details: 43920444