Ask me about my NYC trip, and I'd have many things to tell. So many that I have a hard time on where to begin. Meeting up and hanging out with my BGF from London was certainly THE highlight, so was the visits to the top of Rockefeller Center, the "Slice of Brooklyn Tour", walking across Brooklyn bridge and many more. One of the highlights of my NYC getaway which I can't wait to tell you about,was the visit to Pichet Ong's Batch Bakery.
It was sheer serendipity that I found myself at the charming west village, steps away from Pichet Ong's dessert spot- P*ONG after agreeing to meet my friend at the nearby meatpacking district.
Turned out, the park we met was right across Magnolia Bakery. I will tell you more about the cupcakes next time. Or maybe I won't. The cupcakes were nothing to call home about. But the line that formed outside the bakery eluded us. Did we miss something. Well, nevermind. It doesn't matter.
After the cupcakes, we consulted ST's little TimeOut guide, and there it was, chef Ong's P*ONG restaurant was within walking distance! At that point, I didn't remember his bakery-Batch was just next to P*ONG.
As we walked past Batch, the man himself was there, wearing a black singlet with a matching three quarter pants, frosting a batch of what looked like chocolate peanut butter cupcakes on the counter. I enthusiastically walked in and confirmed that he was indeed Chef Ong, and told him that I admired his work and was a big fan. I went on to tell him that I had tried his favorite banana cake and the Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream recipes. As if that's not enough, I told him that I am Mrs Ong. All of which was true, even the last bit. OCT's surname is indeed Ong, which makes me legally Mrs Ong.
Maybe it's not everyday that a crazy female fan would walk in and proclaim herself Mrs Ong, chef looked a bit shocked and didn't know how to respond. So I asked him for recommendations on what we must try. Still half full from the heavy lunch and cupcakes, we ordered the chocolate hazelnut cake and green tea tiramisu that Chef Ong recommended, along with two cups of iced coffee, which he mixed for us. On hindsight, I must thank ST for not running away and dissosiated herself from me on the embarrasement I definitely had caused.
"Do you take milk with coffee, and how much?" Chef Ong politely asked.
"As much as you deem right, chef" I replied.
"And chef, do you mind, signing a copy of your book for me?"
"Sure, who should I address that to?"
"just kidding, my name is Mandy"
"Right Mandy, here's a carrot cupcake on the house" Chef Ong smilingly offered.
"Do you like the tiramisu?" He asked
"Yes! I like that you use rhubarb at the bottom layer!"
And then we went on chatting about pastry, on where he drew his inspirations, how he began in the pastry kitchen,his opinion on Asian inspired desserts; in between frosting his tray of cupcakes, picking up a few calls and entertained a few walk-ins.
Chef Ong was really nice and patient to answer all my quirky questions, which made me feel comfortable in his ecclentric little bakery. I feel so surreal, sitting on the only couch, eating cakes with my best friend, and talking to one of the 10 best pastry chefs in US at the same time. It is not everyday that I get to meet such remarkable baker who so generously dispense his knowledge and wisdom on sweets and life in pastry.
While we were half way through the cakes, chef suddenly asked if we didn't like the cupcake, because it was not finished. We told him that it's because we were trying to savor it slowly, while digesting the insight he imparted. :p
As if on cue, I put down the huge piece of chocolate hazelnut cake, and started eating the carrot cupcake.
"I like the filling in the cupcake, chef. Is that cream cheese? What did you put in it, it tastes interesting."
"It's salted cream cheese" Chef Ong replied.
"Oh, interesting! Where did you buy that?"
" I made it"
"I see....of course you made it...." I felt like an idiot. But salted cream cheese was indeed a brilliant idea.
Before he ran off, I took the opportunity to have a photograph with him, and ordered another macaron. I confessed that I was not a big macaron fan, which he emphatized and proceeded to tell me something shocking about macarons. Oh, and another salted caramel macaron on the house. :)
That's Chef Pichet Ong and moi, with a half eaten macaron. I was having an allergy on my right upper eyelid, so I didn't have any makeup on.That explains why I looked pale and tired. Should have put on my sunglasses!