Food | Authentically French


It’s 10:30 in the morning and I have not had breakfast. The smell of coffee fills the air around me and I cannot help but walk into a French bakery nearby, Boulangerie Élysée. To my surprise, this bakery looks a lot like those I used to frequent back in the days when I was a student living in Paris. The quality of French bread, desserts, and pastries is well known around the world, because the French people, in my opinion, have great taste in everything edible.
In Macau, most bakeries make Taiwanese style bread, and they cater to the Asian palate. Boulangerie Élysée, however, has a baker and pastry chef who is all the way from Nantes, a city in Western France. He has been in Macau for seven months and knows only how to bake traditional French bread, no experimentation with Asian flair at all.
“When I was studying in school, I could not imagine myself getting a job behind a desk and sitting in an office all day. That is why I chose to become a baker, so that I can have an interesting job and travel around the world. It’s a dream come true,” says Steven Bengoa, baker and pastry chef at Boulangerie Élysée.
One bite into Steven’s croissant and I am completely satisfied. A good croissant has crispy outer layers and fluffiness in the middle. I adore the fact that I can get a different sensation every time I bite on it. Many of us consider the croissant to be a type of bread, but Steven explains that it is actually a kind of Viennoiserie, Vienna-style pastry made from a yeast-leavened dough.
“Basically, we add eggs, butter, milk, cream and sugar to bake the croissant. It has a bit of sweetness to it, almost like pastry. The laminated dough with butter, accompanied by the technique of rolling and folding, enables the layers of separation. In the end, the dough puffs up and we get the light and flaky character of the croissant,” he explains.
Before I finish my breakfast, General Manager Michael Wong comes over with a cup of café au lait and a chocolate macaroon to sweeten me up. The French style café au lait, coffee with milk, is similar to the Italian café latte. My perception of the only difference is that the café au lait is not so strong; aromatic and gentle, perfect for my taste. The macaroon, on the other hand, is soft and not too sweet, rich with flavors of dark chocolate.
“I myself do not enjoy desserts that are too sweet, so I make the macaroons according to my own sensibility. The feedback from the customers so far is excellent,” Steven comments.
“We went all the way to Nantes to hire Steven because our wish is to keep everything at Boulangerie Élysée authentically French. In fact, we have many regular French customers who come in everyday and buy bread at our bakery. This level of French authenticity is not to be found easily in Macau, especially in an establishment outside of the big hotel properties. We made a very big effort to make this happen,” Michael adds.
Although Macau will have its own replica of the Eiffel Tower soon at Cotai, the city will never have the French flair of Paris. Yet, I am extremely grateful that we are now fortunate enough to have a great French baker and pastry chef in town. When I miss Paris once in a while, I can still come to Boulangerie Élysée for a delicious cup of coffee and a croissant.


Categories Taste of Edesia