A peek into the kitchen of Fort patisserie La Folie
A new French patisserie, La Folie, opens at Fort at the end of this month. Phorum Dalal spends an afternoon in chef and co-owner Sanjana Patel's kitchen as she creates edible delights using a wall scraper and a car-painting airbrush
Beyond obsession, that’s what La Folie means in French,” says Sanjana Patel, chef and co-owner of La Folie, which opens at Kala Ghoda at the end of this month, with a straight face. Standing in her 2,500 sq feet commerical kitchen at Saki Vihar, Andheri East, and the familiar fragrance of chocolate wafts through the air, intermingled with a caramel-ish scent, peppered with a candy-floss sweetness. The mouth waters, and I swallow the temptation that rises like an irresistible wave.
On the long centre-platform, Patel is piping crimson macaroon batter on a large tray that she pats at regular intervals from below. “That’s to remove air bubbles,” says Patel, who has worked as a chocolatier at Jean Charles Rochoux Chocolatier and Monsieur Olivier Bajard in Perpignan, South of France. Patel has been catering from the kitchen for the past 10 months, and presently delivers between Andheri and South Mumbai.
Patel moves about her space with a military finesse as I shadow her around the kitchen. She stops at a tempering machine and asks me to look into it. Inside is a rotating container of melted Venezuelan chocolate that is continuously pouring from a tap above. The picture of Willy Wonka’s sea of hot chocolate flashes through my mind.
Patel takes a bowl of tempered chocolate and spreads it on a sterilised platform to make chocolate garnishes for the cakes. For this, she uses a scraper that painters use to scrape walls with. “It’s the best tool I could find to spread the thick liquid,” says Patel, who smears a little of the liquid onto her lower lip to test the temperature. She lets me do the same, and as I savour the taste, Patel is already taking account of who is overseeing the macaroons in the oven, chopping hazelnuts into perfect halves, while assigning another chef to start icing the Infinite Caramel Cake, which has to be delivered in an hour.
She takes over the Pabana, a passion fruit and mango cake with coconut mousse. “This is a low-cal, gluten-free option,” says Patel, as her well-practiced hands lift the cake from the milk-chocolate base, and begin to apply gelatin on the circumference, dusting it with coconut powder. A bright orange on top, and a velvety white on the sides, she finishes the piece of art with thin chocolate slabs.
Patel’s team comprises an architect, an interior designer, and a few amateur home cooks, among pastry professionals, who all share the passion for desserts. “I wanted to hire people who had a sense of design and art,” says Patel, who looks at the final cakes, steps back and smiles in satisfaction.
She cuts a generous piece for me. I dig my spoon into the many layers of passion fruit, mango custard, mousse, cake and the crusty milk-chocolate base and take a wholesome bite, allowing the fruity flavours to mingle on my palate. The white mousse that was dusted with coconut balances the acidity and the chocolate base is scrumptious.
I also try a bite-sized Rouge Velour, a lemon genoise cake layered with strawberry compote and a light crème Chantilly Philadelphia. Tangy at first, and then instantly creamy, this one makes the chocolate-fan in me bow to the magic fruit desserts can stir.
The cafe will serve signature cakes such as Rouge Velour, Infinite Caramel, The Candy Cake, along with artisan desserts including macaroons, truffles, pralines and cookies.