Thursday, June 20, 2013

Les Elements Patisserie

This review is a two for one special: a cooking demo AND some baked goods!

First, we start with the demo, which took place at the Ferry Building Saturday market.

Chef Luis Villavelazquez of Les Elements Patisserie was the guest chef.  I recognized him immediately, as he sells pastries at the market on Saturdays and Thursdays, and most recently, bread on Tuesdays as well.  I've enjoyed some of his chocolate chip cookies and very creative scones in the past (always made with unique flavors, with even more unique glazes on top!).

He is also currently working as a consultant at La Victoria Mexican Bakery in the Mission, where he got the inspiration for the dish he was presenting, a chamomile-goat milk tea with cinnamon crisp and caramelized yellow peaches.  He explained that in Mexico there is very little cow milk available, and that families have their own goats instead, and so he uses goat milk in this recipe.  It also has a lot more flavor than cow's milk.  His work at La Victoria is on modernizing their menu, while still keeping it fairly traditional.  He is also bringing in higher end ingredients.

His demo was very informative, and he taught us a number of tips, like how we could make the cookie portion of this dish in advance since it was a thin, hard style and would keep ok.  He also stressed the importance of measurements and weighing in the pastry world, and how pastry is very unlike savory cooking, in that it is about precision, not about just going with what you feel.   He is clearly a methodical, calm chef, and mentioned how it is important to him to take lots of notes, how he constantly is refining his recipes, and always cooks with a clean station.  He was also incredibly knowledgeable, and taught us about some of the chemistry behind his work, like how food processors break up the gluten structures in dough, how the fat content of goat's milk makes it so we don't need to add cream, and how, due to the high calcium levels, we could sprinkle the fruit with pectin if we needed to cut it up in advance, and this would help protect it and cause it to not break down.
 Chamomile-goat milk tea with cinnamon crisp and caramelized yellow peaches.
The milk was nicely sweet, with a subtle chamomile undertone, but as I don't particularly care for goat milk, it had more goat flavor than I like.  If you like goat milk however, this was probably pretty good.

On top was crumbled crisp cookies and the caramelized peach.  The peach was really well executed, softened but not mushy, and the caramel flavor to the glaze was really delicious and complimented the peach well.

This was a rather odd dish however, and I wasn't quite sure what to do with it.  Do you drink it?  Spoon it?  It was somewhat like the end of a bowl of cereal, where you have flavorful sweet milk and some little crumbly bits of cereal left.  Enjoyable, but definitely different.
Tierra Farms Cornmeal Ciabatta Roll.  $0.75.
Les Elements recently started offering breads at the market on Tuesdays only, so I decided to try one out.  I went for the small sized cornmeal roll.  But ... I think it had a sourdough base, and being a horrible San Franciscan, I just can't stand sourdough.  I did like the texture from the cornmeal and the heartiness to it.  It had a good crust on the outside.

I mostly didn't quite know what to do with this roll.  Cold, it was just a roll, unremarkable.  I warmed it in the toaster oven, and liked it much more, but it was still just a roll.  I tried it with some butter, with some strawberry jam, and even made a mini pb & j.  None quite seemed right, although the butter was the best.

$0.75 was a good price for a roll, and I appreciate that they sell single rolls, rather that requiring me to buy a dozen at a time.

[ Not Pictured ]
Cardamon Oatmeal Cookie. $1.75.

The cookie had an interesting flavor from the cardamon, but I didn’t really like it.  It had a nice heartiness, but was a hard style cookie, which I just don’t care for.

I've also really enjoyed their scones in the past, but unfortunately, do not have any notes from those.  I used to get them from the market on Tuesday mornings every time I had an afternoon flight, and they were the perfect treat on the plane later in the day :)
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