Wednesday, 2 March 2016

A few cafes in Taiwan

The blog serves more than just mathematics or academic things, so let's talk about food this time.

I went to Taiwan a month ago to meet my friends (from osu! and more), joined FF27, read books,...and of course ate a lot. Without doubt the night markets and old rusty little stalls in the dark corner both yield delicious traditional food, but I also tried lots of western-styled cafe - most of them are giving great surprises. Here allow me to introduce 3 of them:

1. Caldo cafe [台北市復興南路1段107巷5弄2號]

Earl grey, such elegant tea never combines with pastry easily: you want its aroma but not much of its colour, you want its smoothness but you've lost its liquidity --- earl grey cake is quite tricky already, then of course a successful earl grey souffle deserved to be a masterpiece.

Pictured above is an earl grey souffle with grapefruit sorbet and sea salt caramel (on the right it's a cup of fruity Columbia coffee). A well thought combination and the relaxing smell of bergamot spreads throughout the cake, and it spreads evenly and smoothly in your mouth with the assistance of heat from the freshly baked souffle.

I ordered a cinnamon apple pie as well --- not the apple pie in traditional sense, but they use multiple layer of cinnamon crusts with layers of apple on the top and finished with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The cinnamon mix works really well, but the crust quickly changes its texture from crispy to soft chewy due to the moisture of the ice cream, and both aren't really something that you would fully enjoy, That's why I would recommend the souffle more -- 7 flavors available and once per day, you will always find something you like the most there.

Cost: 350 ~ 400 NTW for souffle + a cup of drink

2. Leslie [復興南路二段160巷11號1樓] (oh this is actually on the ground floor)

Absolute quality. It's hard to find sweets like that at a medium-high price or even in some of the top quality restaurants. Here they specializes in French styled pastry and light food. My first impression is the very warm decoration, and you can feel that from the behavior of customers: a comfortable place for comfort food.

As shown above they serve different tarts, many of which are limited edition. I tried a lemon tart, and failed to overcome the desire to have a try before taking a photo. Silky smooth custard but never too heavy as the zesty lemon flavor immediately comes in taking care of your mouth. The layer of syrup allowed the custard to retain a rather consistent texture and also giving a more mouthful appearance as well.

I also ordered a mille-feuille as shown above. Thin and fragile layers but never too crispy (in contrast to the cinnamon apple pie), you can cut through the cake without much effort and enjoy the combination between the buttery layers and the wonderful cream in between in one single bite.

Certainly I cannot try 4 or 5 different pastries in a single visit so I do missed a number of other deserts like tiramisu made using a mix of coffee wine etc. The shop also serve tea from Mariage Freres, a tea producer that has the same status in France as Twinings in UK. Sakura 2011 is the one I tried and the rose scent works properly with high quality sencha --- and that opened a new door to me as a tea frantic: the moment that I was typing this sentence I was enjoying a cup of wedding imperial with irish cream...

Cost: 350~450 NTW (2 cakes/1 cake and a cup of drink)

3. Simple Kaffa [敦化南路一段177巷48號B1]

Suited in a European styled hotel would this coffee shop brings you to back to a memorable nigh in Prague...? Probably not, but perhaps Tokyo would do. They serve coffee that has won a few medals and their cakes are quite unique that you are not going to find them elsewhere.

Pictured above is a honey flavored cake with a cup of toffee almond latte (hopefully I got this one right). The cake has a sponge texture but with more moisture; the honey foam fills the gap in the cake so that it smells good but it's never too sweet. They also serve a green tea cake that has a really concentrated matcha flavor in its custard that melts under room temperature --- I do not think I'll be able to describe this really interesting combination, but that deserves to be called as innovative in a positive way.

Cost: ~300 NTW (a cake and a cup of coffee)

Hopefully the above allows more choices when you are looking for light food in Taipei and they are really worthy for a go, especially Leslie :)