Thursday, 22 September 2011

"You will Experience a Pleasure Coma for the Duration of this Call"

Twitter. To a pessimist, anti-social traditionalist like myself, is just another of the infernal devices taking over the minds of people worldwide, destroying the concept of natural and formal society, turning everyone into a "look at me" socialite with their newfound ability to have their opinions plastered on the internet. Much like a blog. I have also just joined Twitter. It has already motivated me, physically, to attend an event. Hypocrisy? Maybe. I chose to see it as keeping "current". Yes, I am ashamed..

In hindsight, it had to happen, as the world, seemingly like the lemmings it contains as a population, has embraced this "thing" and run away with it, to the point that corporations, governments and figureheads rely on it as a central communication resource. If it has one solace, its that it is pared back and straightforward of mission, and you won't find yourself being "Poked" like on a similar odious medium. No sooner that I joined Twitter, a move I only performed in order to remain updated with the sporadic happenings of the British Sake Association - through the gritted teeth of my conscience - and its influence has already lifted me off my desk chair and to Central London. That is an inhuman amount of motivating force. Having joined as a "follower", I quickly found several users of interest, including a Japanese/Korean Online Community that advertises events and the like, some of which I had attended, and thus something that would take my interest. With everyone seemingly forming a molecular bond with their phones, updates are frequent, with event postings coming up with regularity. This is dangerous. All the previous events I had attended required research or hearsay. This is making it far too easy to indulge.

My delightfully absent willpower was thus stoked by the "Twit" of a "Taste of Korea" exhibition at Harrods. Seeing as my repertoire of Korean cuisine experiences were based in a dank Hotel Restaurant in Jeddah, where I usually had the Shredded Chilli Beef [I know..], I thought it was an excellent opportunity to partake in. Especially as I could "fall" upon Laduree later on..Oh heavens, I am capitalising on gluttony. I promptly arrived, and through the maze of bumbling tourists and designer distractions, I searched high and low for demonstration, or any evidence of such. Not actually knowing where it was supposed to be. Neither did the staff it would seem. Eventually I was led into a possible direction, were an aroma suddenly became apparent, querying an idle member of staff who rather sarcastically asked if I couldn't smell it - I could, but my sense of smell is not GPS-guided - I was eventually led to the demonstration. Ah.
I had once again, in my boundless greed, severely overestimated the scale of this event - what I figured would possibly be a meal event, with a chef churning out full dishes for a generous exploration of the Korean Cuisine, turned out to be four offerings of canape'-sized thimbles from a counter in the middle of the Kitchen Ware department. This transgression, would not suffice for lunch. Regardless, they can subsist as canapes. 
They were ok:
- The Pajeon was essentially just a thoroughly onion-rich pancake with a slight "seafood" taste at the tail, rather nondescript.
- The Domi-jim combined a rather unexciting mix of steamed fish with a mix of vegetables which did not really taste of much.
- The Bulgogi, the one of the only items I had had experience with previously, was slightly sweet, and enjoyable but certainly not mind blowing.
- The Galbijim was very similar to the Bulgogi
- The Kimchi was merely ok, not terribly pickled or interesting.

Distraught by this catatonic upheaval of a disappointment and on the verge of being disinterested into a coma, I ventured downstairs to drown my sorrows in what I would presume to be the divine Diabetic aids at Laduree'. It also has a restaurant. An ominously decadent prospect. Eventually stumbling upon the hidden trove I stood in line awaiting my turn at the pastries counter. The sight alone of the hoards of immaculately presented macaroons and other assorted pastries had my arms tingling with tentative Diabetic-motivated separation. This would require restraint. Though shedding an arm would negate the wait gain from a lack thereof. Win win. Then the counter assistant spoke to me, and I snapped out of my fantasy haze, faced with the impossible prospect of having to decide between the awesome and the more awesome. Having settled on the idea of purchasing a gift box of 8, to spread the guilt, I initially asked the assistant to choose. In the end I chose most of the eight, of varying degrees of decadence and mellifluous descriptives, and I moseyed out. It was decided that having lunch in such an environment, would only serve to further the temptation of these devilish mini-hamburgers on my lack of willpower. I had all but also forgotten about the Traiteurs Hall which had initially sparked my interest.
Clambering into a taxi and heading towards what I hoped would be lunch, I took the opportunity to take a picture of my beautiful passenger.

Bag of Destiny
An act, that revealed an ethereal glow, as if a higher power were motioning me towards this exquisite  rainbow of sin. The complete line-up lasted no more than five minutes, and one was devoured instantly.

Laduree Macaroons in Ethereal Glow
Oh. My. Buddha. Beyond the fact I was alone in the taxi, and that my mouth was currently being overwhelmed by a flash of intense pleasure, I was at a loss for words. Just what is this exquisitely complex and multi-faceted orgy of flavours going on in my mouth?! Why is every little bite drawing out such intricate details amongst this immoral richness. Argh. Refined and absolutely unsubtle in equality, how can it be?! The Rose Blossom macaroon I had just climaxed to, was an actual revelation. Never have I sensed such a dense creaminess, to the point that a slight greasiness could be detected, such a fresh, richness. A richness lightened with the delicate yet prominent floral note of the Rose. Each bite created a dance of this decadence uplifted by the perfume aroma, revealing in the final stages just the slightest bite of tiny fragments of almond. This is surely an exaggerated amount of decadence, it looks like toy food for Jeebus sake. Arriving at the lunch venue, I was cruelly denied my entrance to the Columbian Food Festival, having in my vagrant-mindedness not realised that I was indeed, a day early.

Returning towards Knightsbridge, I once again consoled myself in the back of the taxi, with the second of the quickly disappearing macaroons. This time it was turn of the Madagascar Chocolate variant to disappear. Not as intensely exotic as the one that had just transpired, but rather a smooth and gentle pleasure. A prolonged chocolate aroma persisted with each bite, seemingly refusing to leave the recesses of my taste buds. A slightly dark chocolate, just slightly beyond a milk chocolate in flavour, dominated the experience. I quickly taped the box back up. A quarter had gone, and lunch was still the priority.

Perhaps deciding on returning to Knightsbridge for lunch was not the most formidably astute of decisions, as whilst choices abound, variety does not, its proximity to my required bus stop perhaps swaying the decision. Now I have yet another reason to despise Public Transport, it affected my lunch decision, a heresy unbound.  I eventually settled for a rather complete meal at a Portuguese Restaurant, the meal including a rather deliciously rich dessert, full of condensed milk and other unmentionables. It would not halt my perpetual sweet tooth - how it has not dissolved into oblivious by now, I do not know. At once the salted caramel morsel succumbed, exploding in a deep onslaught of a sticky, thick caramel/toffee suffusion. The texture was intense, the caramel not hardened but certainly thick enough to chew. It was divine. The next one had no time to itself and it was just as quickly dispatched - getting rather confounded at this point for not paying attention to exactly what I had ordered, and the colours of the remaining not giving much evidence, I was hoping the next one would not be vanilla. Though, I equally did not wish to have the melon one, the choices mainly being the unexciting ones left for the "guilt sharing" gifts. It was vanilla. Quite literally. Stubbornly so. It was delicious though, it was delightfully spicy, and evidently from a freshly ground pod, the clarity of the vanilla notes hinting at such.

This now left the choice at Orange Blossom, Lemon & Thyme, Melon and another I forget. I was hoping I would have selected the Lemon & Thyme, as I already had my savouring of Middle Eastern influence with the epic Rose macaroon that destroyed my macaroon innocence with its sinful levels of pleasure, but it was not to be, I picked the Orange Blossom. I think. It was intensely creamy, very much like the Rose one, bringing a slight greasiness to the lips and tip of the tongue, but I could not quite discern the flavour. It was subtle, and not quite orange blossom-y, but certainly not Melon, Lemon & Thyme or the other one. Which may have been raspberry. Regardless. It rocked. And I now imposed a sanction on the remaining three macaroons; they will no longer assault my weak will and overstimulated taste buds. No more. With that embargo stipulated, I ventured back towards my transportation, though certainly at this pace it will not be too long till the point when my means of movement will be dictated by how far I can roll, or the effect of gravity.

Where to now? To On Cafe. To purchase some more macaroons. Start this vicious circle again. All in the sake of comparison naturally. This is the issue with coincidences. They are easily exploited. Though, stick On Cafe in Iceland, or Brixton, and I'd still find reason to indulge.

On Cafe. Not actually a Cafe.
Arriving at the scene however, and peering in through the opened door, I feared my expectations - I should really learn to dial down this hopeless optimism - would be shattered yet again. The "Cafe'" was not a retail outlet, not by any stretch of the imagination, a small kitchen fronting a rather large storage area in the back. The smell of freshly baked brownies however was filling the air, and stirring my overinflated digestive system. It obviously upholds the bliss through ignorance ethos. Querying with the first person encountered, I asked, with perhaps a slight desperation in my voice, if any of the wares were available to purchase. Allowed.


Shutting away the voices in my head that were exclaiming "BUY IT ALL, NAO!", I observed, chose, and made my selections. Despite the fact I was not even interested in the brownies, I also expressed intent on purchasing some of those as well. The effect of just cooked baked items have that sort of power. Though at this point it would be remiss to say that any semblance of their existence is enough motivation for purchase to me. Further comfort was had in the pleasingly "home-cooked" ambience of the kitchen - the trays were decidedly homely, and not industrial "just add water and MSG" monsters of volume. I'm sure if I were a bit earlier I would have seen the bowls and kitchen spoons of a hyper productive mother figure in the sink as well. Again, that aroma further motioned this belief. Amidst the overtly-kind [and perhaps foolish] offer to allow me to buy now and purchase later, I declined and went in search for more monies to pay for new frontiers of my greed. Such an offer would open floodgates. Though in retrospect, those gates would close rather shortly once I inevitably cease to Catastrophic Diabetes.

I returned, I paid, I departed, amongst shared thanks and in recognition of their newest fan. A little tidbit, they obviously are confident enough to shortly  starting up a retail outlet in Harrods, contesting with the almighty Laduree. That will become interesting.

On Cafe Macaroons & Brownies
I exercised restraint somewhat, and allowed for the previous geographic mass of food to have some hope of initiating digestion before commencing on the Oriental treats. Once at home, a picture was taken before the On Cafe buddies would irrevocably be parted ways, and I picked off my kill, the most intriguing of flavours present. Not entirely sure what I was expecting in terms of flavour from the Jasmine and Charcoal - yes, rly - macaroon, though perhaps some expectation of barbecue infusions moronically persisted. What it was however, was delightfully soft, especially so compared to the Laduree pockets of joy, that provided a subtle crunch. They were not either as intensely creamy, being perhaps sweeter. A jasmine flavour was not really apparent either, but instead, a rather intriguing texture was evident, right at the finish of the macaroon - a slight chalkiness of the charcoal on the teeth, interesting. Pleasing, and at once not quite as serious in its mission to reduce you to a quivering mess of over-stimulation, the macaroon was light hearted and subtle in its pleasuring in comparison to the Laduree. 

And now I'm in a coma thankyouplease. 

The morning after would also bring about the breakfast composed of one of the brownie squares, sesame and ginger. It was exceedingly light, delightfully fragrant, and overwrought with guilty pleasure. I may just have to blame Twitter for this transgression. A useful blame-bearer.

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