Saturday 11 May 2013

Vive Le French May!

It's May again, the time to indulge in French food. I've decided that today I will eat nothing but French food! 

Today begins with a cup of Betjemen & Barton's Une Journée à la Campagne. There will be crêpes for lunch and fine French food for dinner. :) Isn't that awesome? Though the need to do revision for the coming Japanese quiz does in some way ruin the French mood... 

Btw, I must thank Ysaurella, the loveliest French Steepsterite, for swapping teas with me! I sent her some of my Lupicia teas and received a generous amount of French teas (e.g. Mariage Frères, Betjemen & Barton, Dammann Frères) that can never be found in Hong Kong from her in return. Merci beaucoup! Sharing the love for tea with people around the world is one of the most beautiful things in life. :)

(Leave me a message if you are interested in swapping teas with me too!)

Sunday 5 May 2013

Signature Tea Set @ C'est La B

Many people who read my post on SEVVA agreed that their tea set looked marvellous but its price tag was a huge put-off. If you share the same view, perhaps you would like to take a look at the cheaper tea set offered by SEVVA's sister cafe, C'est La B? 

Following the feverish success of SEVVA's awe-inspiring cakes (most notably Marie Antoinette's Crave and Le Louis), owner Bonnie Gokson has set out to expand her sweet empire in HK. In 2011 she opened Ms. B's Cakery, a tiny cake shop in Sheung Wan that has received disproportionate attention from local sweet lovers (and from the general public too, when Maxim's Cakes was accused of unabashedly copying their Rainbow Connection cake). C'est La B was born after Ms. B's Cakery and is the third in the trilogy. It is a line of casual cafes where you can buy Ms. B's desserts and enjoy them right at the spot. I didn't visit C'est La B until they started to offer afternoon tea set - there were simply too many pretty sweets that I didn't know where to start, so I guessed a tea set would be my best bet!

C'est La B currently has 2 outlets, one in Tai Hang and another in Pacific Place (shown here). A third branch is due to open in busy Tsimshatsui in the coming months. The quirky and whimsical design of C'est La B makes me think of Tim Burton. Black-and-white striped floor, candy-colour cushions, floating teapots... just the kind of cafe that you expect to see in Burton's movies! :)

I love literally every corner of the cafe - it's so surreal, so cool! I really should have asked where they bought all these gorgeous cushion covers!

There are both indoor and outdoor seating (but it's still inside the mall, of course). With all these jazzy stools and chairs, one cannot be blamed for mistaking the outdoor dining area as a kids' playground. ;) 

We arrived at the cafe at about 1:45pm, which was 15 minutes before teatime... but the waiter was so kind that he offered to serve us the tea set right away as he did not want to keep us waiting. This was just the opposite to the treatment that we received in SEVVA! Props to the wonderful waiter!

1st tier (clockwise from top):

Lemon & poppy seed chiffon filled with tangy lemon curd
and finished with fresh cream topped with delicate sugar poppy flower

Vanilla Cheesecake with Queen Anne Cherries
Glorious and velvety vanilla bean cheesecake balanced with sour Queen Anne cherries

Blessing in Disguise
Carrot & cheesecake with berry glaze

2nd tier (clockwise from top):

Berry Delight
Delectable strawberry + raspberry mousse with homemade berry jelly

Panna Cotta
French vanilla Panna Cotta with biscotti "dust" + caramel crunch

Childhood Dreams... Smarties!

Caramel Toffee Choc Cup
Chocolate mousse + caramel toffee

3rd tier (clockwise from top): 

Panfried Jiaozi served with Mango Chutney

3 Signature Sandwich Rolls
Smoked salmon, cucumber & cream cheese
French ham & Gruyere
Egg & tomato

The tea set definitely scored full mark in terms of presentation - everything looked so chic on that glossy black tiered stand (easily the coolest stand I've ever seen). The first time I tasted Ms. B's aptly named Better Than Sex I was totally blown away, so I was expecting the tea set to take my breath away in a similar fashion. Sadly, it was quite a let-down... :(  

Well, the food wasn't too bad, but I couldn't help feeling disillusioned when it tasted just like mass-produced Maxim's cakes/desserts... or worse. The desserts in plastic cups and vanilla cheesecake all needed more time in the fridge as they appeared to be runny or slightly melted. Sunshine was incontestably a beauty and was pleasantly spongy, but that was pretty much all it's about. For the Smarties, I really would not bother to mention them had they not been rancid. :0 Caramel toffee choc cup was the only sweet that could be described as truly enjoyable. It had my favourite sweet elements all packed into a cup and was like the down-to-earth version of Better Than Sex. It was as sinful as you can infer from its name! It's rich but it's so smooth that it slid down my throat before I knew it, leaving a long, satisfying, chocolatey aftertaste. :)

There was a star among the savouries too: dainty sandwiches in C'est La B's signature black and white! Smoked salmon + cream cheese + cucumber is an infallible formula, and when the ingredients are as fresh as those used by C'est La B, the result is lip-smacking! :9 The rest of the savouries were, however, just ok and far from being memorable. Tea was another area where C'est La B lost marks... there were only a few boring everyday teas to choose from. If they were willing to invest so much in all those fancy decorations, why didn't they give some more thoughts to the tea selection? :( 

Ambience: A- 
Service: A
Food: C+

Overall remarks: I want to love C'est La B so much, but the reality is, I don't. It's a shame that their food is hardly as mind-blowing as the decor. I'd rather go to SEVVA for the good food and lament its poor service and outrageous price afterwards... 

C'est la B (website)
Shop 202, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, Hong Kong
Afternoon tea: 2:00pm-7:00pm daily
$380 for 2 persons