30 Oct2013

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When she was still a kid, we tried a slightly bizarre experiment. Instead of giving the kid dessert last, we let her eat it first, wondering if she would then eat more “real” food as a result. It didn’t work, duh. But nothing ventured, nothing gained. She has always had a sweet tooth, and some of this blog chronicles snippets of our pursuit for the ultimate sweet. We once tasted 23+ flavors of gelato at one Roman gelateria. We have featured macarons from Paris in detail. We have written up candy emporiums, pastry shops and chocolate purveyors. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that when presented with an opportunity to attend a chocolate buffet (overheard in the hotel elevator), the kid’s ears perked up and there was a twinkle in her eye…

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Set in a bright, glass-enclosed and air-conditioned L’Orangerie in the middle of the gardens at the Hotel Metropole in Hanoi, the mid-afternoon chocolate buffet appeared to be the ultimate tourist trap in the making… Some $30++ per person when perfectly good meals at city restaurants were running us just $8 or so… but we decided to splurge on what turned out to be the most inexpensive, expensive merienda (more on that later).

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I suppose I can understand why most kids and adults go gaga over chocolate fountains. But let me burst that chocolate fountain fantasy right here and now. It turns out they mix chocolate with a LOT of vegetable oil to keep it flowing through those mini-fountains. Otherwise, the chocolate, with lots of milk I suppose, would look like chocolate milk, not liquid sateeny glossy melted chocolate. Eew, you are thinking, and you would be right. Not to worry, I had some anyway, but indulge with extreme moderation is all I can say. :)

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The array of chocolates on offer was pretty extensive for such a small hotel and say just 6-8 tables partaking in the buffet. I can’t recall everything they had, but there were far more choices than you could ingest in one sitting, even if you lingered for hours and nursed a pot of tea…

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There were cakes, cookies, financiers, pies, in dark, milk, white chocolate. There were muffins, scones, and fruit. Several kinds of ice cream. And even a few savory nibbles in case you needed a breath of non-chocolate goodness.

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I told the Kid that she had to have at least five plates to make it worth it, and she complied. I think the plates will have to describe themselves.

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I like chocolate, but just can’t have THAT much at one sitting… so I focused on the sandwiches with egg salad, salmon, prosciutto, tuna, mini-burgers, fruit, etc.

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We each had a wonderful pot of tea, the Metropole house blends which they also sell in their gift shop. Without the tea, I think it would have been difficult to consume as much as we did in an hour’s time. Clear weather turned to claps of thunder just overhead and a tropical rainstorm, a fine setting for lingering and more tea, and of course, more food.

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I think this was my dessert plate and at some point, everything started “melting” flavor-wise into each other…

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They also had made-to-order crepes.

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Ice cream and fruits dipped in chocolate as well. But the biggest surprise of all. Despite signing for a merienda bill at a nosebleed charge of roughly $100 for three of us, the chocolate buffet ended up costing us absolutely nothing. When we checked out of the hotel, in a very nice gesture to try and make up for several service glitches on our last night, the hotel took the buffet off our bill despite our saying that was totally unnecessary.

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From Hanoi to Hong Kong, just a couple of hours away, and the chocolate adventures continued. First, the small jewel box of a shop of Pierre Herme.

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Yup, so “precious” and so “pricey”… the macarons rivalled colored semi-precious stones in a different era. So much of this branding, packaging and fluff. But Herme DOES have really good macarons. Though I am told that these may be frozen or at least chilled on their way from Paris, if they aren’t actually baked in HK. I know that Laduree in New York flies theirs in, but I am not sure how Herme gets their goodies to HK. We bought a small box as a present for a friend, and the Kid had a macaron picked out as one might pick out a small piece of jewelry. That’s what I love about shops like these in Paris, one goes there for a little “treat” or an “indulgence” but they stop at one.

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The Kid (ex-Kid) picking out a goody at a small branch of La Maison du Chocolat, perhaps the family’s all-time favorite chocolatier, introduced to us by Sister decades ago. I can still clearly recall the first time I ever entered a La Maison shop, it is THAT etched in my memory banks, complete with aroma triggers as well.

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My treat was a chestnut eclair, garnished with chestnut cream, a small bit of chestnut and some gold leaf. Enjoyed while sitting at a Starbucks and sipping a cup of tea. The little joys in life. :)

 

COMMENTS:

  1. millet says:

    great service recovery at the metropole!

    Oct 30, 2013 | 9:52 am

     
  2. ami says:

    Your family should check out the basement food halls of the big department stores of Japan. Half the floor is devoted to all things sweet.

    Oct 30, 2013 | 10:09 am

     
  3. Marketman says:

    ami, I have done just that many years ago when an aunt was stationed there. She would take us to the food halls at around 11am, have us taste all this stuff, then at noon say “you are busog na no? We don’t have to buy lunch…” :) She was serious. :)

    Oct 30, 2013 | 10:32 am

     
  4. rosa says:

    Noticed you kept calling her The Kid the entire post, with a brief acknowledgment saying ex-Kid in parenthesis at the end. Is this your way of keeping her a kid after the last post acknowledging she’s now a lady? :)

    Oct 30, 2013 | 2:55 pm

     
  5. EJ says:

    Next time you’re in Singapore, you can indulge yourselves at the Fullerton Heritage’s chocolate buffet in the evenings, which has been going on for over 10 years now. It seems that Marina Bay Sands also has one now.

    Oct 30, 2013 | 5:11 pm

     
  6. satomi says:

    I’m drooling here ;) I can’t understand why French macarons are so expensive when they’re not difficult to make ^_^

    Oct 31, 2013 | 12:14 am

     
  7. rp says:

    aaah. i was just in pareee at LMDC, PH, Laduree, Gerard Mulot, etc etc [on a 3 week revisits of london/istanbul/paris/venice + new visit to prague/budapest] and partook in too many sweets+chocolates

    Oct 31, 2013 | 12:30 am

     
  8. pixienixie says:

    I don’t have a sweet tooth, so…meh. :) I like the teacup, though! Is the black part some kind of implement placed in the cup?

    Oct 31, 2013 | 5:54 am

     
  9. Megamags says:

    The Sukhothai in Bangkok also has (used to have?) a great chocolate buffet. They have a cart full of different kinds of chocolate (ranging from dark to white) that you can mix and match for personalized hot chocolate. :)

    Oct 31, 2013 | 8:03 am

     
  10. Christin says:

    Wow! Mouth watering post. Although I don’t think I will look at a chocolate fountain the same.

    Oct 31, 2013 | 10:01 am

     
  11. MP says:

    I don’t think I will ever go near a chocolate fountain ever again!! Vegetable oil + chocolate? Grrrr… But I like it when hotels or any service-oriented companies try to make up for blunders….

    Nov 1, 2013 | 12:00 pm

     
  12. EJ says:

    Pixienixie, you are probably referring to the tea strainer?

    Nov 1, 2013 | 7:12 pm

     
  13. Thelma says:

    i have a sweet tooth myself….all the goodies on the plates look
    sooooo yummy!

    Nov 2, 2013 | 5:35 pm

     
  14. Fussy Cebuana says:

    That’s one pretty eclair! I must try this in HK!

    Nov 2, 2013 | 10:56 pm

     
  15. natie says:

    I must say, LMDC and LD were one of the Paris highlights. The macarons were one of the best indulgence we had…best Euro we spent..

    Nov 4, 2013 | 4:28 am

     
  16. Susie says:

    We were just in Hanoi to see our grandbaby…took my M for the chocolate buffet which lasted from 3 to about 630. I have never seen a happier child! I had a bowl of soup then a scoop of ginger ice cream..gorgeous stuff!
    The chestnut eclair….was it as good as I remember?

    Nov 5, 2013 | 8:37 pm

     
  17. pixienixie says:

    EJ, gosh, tea strainer? now I feel a bit foolish. :) thank you, though.

    Nov 7, 2013 | 9:04 pm

     
 

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