Red is one of my favourite colours: powerful, vibrant, and energetic, it’s the sort of shade that makes the heart pound and the blood race. It calls to mind battles and victories; passion and fury; life, love, and everything glorious in between.
When it comes to desserts, however, red has not always been that appealing to me. I am not that big a fan of scarlet-hued desserts, really, though I do confess to a weakness for billowy whipped Greek yogurt topped with a profusion of strawberries, cherries, and cranberries. But a meal at Inagiku over at the Shangri-La in Makati brought a few bright crimson desserts that I found most interesting and quite pretty, to boot.
First, there was a tsubaki (camellia blossom) dumpling (lower right). This is a prime example of wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets) made with an or sweetened bean paste. Here, the bean paste is coloured and moulded by hand to resemble the flower from which it takes its name. Flavour-wise it is a one-note wonder: the classically earthy sweetness of an calling to mind similar Oriental sweets made with bean or lotus paste. If you love snow-skin mooncakes or or eat your hopia (Chinese griddle cakes filled with sweetened mung bean or adzuki paste) straight out of the fridge, you may find this delightful. It goes beautifully with green tea, if I may add.
A verrine of cherry and mascarpone cream (upper left) with a buttery sesame-studded sable sticking out of it is, essentially, a stripped-down and miniaturised cheesecake. The mascarpone cream is lush, subtly sweet, but its flavour stands up well to the bright-flavoured, slightly tart cherry compote. Swirl the compote through the cream to truly appreciate this little dessert.
The final dessert is, believe it or not, a blueberry cheesecake bombe (lower left). It looks like a ripe Fuji apple, but look for the seam running along its circumference and the globe splits open to reveal blueberry compote swirled into mascarpone cream with a cinnamon-walnut streusel scattered through it. Similar to the verrine, it also makes for an interesting dessert. Oh, and the shell? It’s also edible; it’s made of white chocolate. ;)
While its the buffet that is Inagiku’s primary draw, these desserts show a level of pastry craftsmanship that is both laudable and delectable.