A little taste of Europe in Taipei

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Just before Christmas, I bought some scones from a place called Hogan Bakery to fill my friends' Christmas goody bags, and some chestnut balls for myself. Turns out the pastries were so good I went back to get myself some scones and some other pastries for the family.

The story behind this bakery is that it's supervised by a Taiwanese pastry chef named (surprisingly, or not surprisingly) ... not Hogan. His name is Wu Pao-chun and he won the Master Baker title in the 2010 Bakery World Cup in Paris. (Who knew there was such a cup?!) One of the breads he baked in the competition was a loaf containing ingredients that are very Taiwanese in nature: Taiwanese millet wine, dried lychee and roses.

I've tried to pick up this award-winning loaf several times now, but they're always sold out! They only make them during certain hours of the day, to add to the exclusivity.

In any case, the bakery features a very healthy dose of European pastries, all of which have tickled my fancy:

Your average English (mini) scone ... I tried them in cranberry and raisin. Delicious.

I had this for lunch one day ... it's a flaky pastry (croissant-like) with tuna and onion pastry

Very tasty

Creme caramel something or another ... This was very sweet, sticky, crunchy, but delicious. 
It's basically a round croissant with a creme brulee'd top

Some fluffy, puffy supposedly-cream-filled bun that I didn't get to try

The chestnut balls

Flaky and gooey from its honey glaze ... very yummy. 
Though I'm never really that impressed with chestnut flavoring (or creme de marron) ... 
it doesn't have much flavor, period. It's kind of nutty, 
but it tastes more like sweetened, mashed up beans.

If I recall correctly, the items averaged about $0.75-$0.90 each, with the scones going for $0.50 a piece! 

This is the only dessert/bakery place I've been to so far that I've found to be consistently good by my American standards. (Which means enough sugar, enough butter.) I even stepped into Dunkin Donuts for the first time today, finally ready to try one of their cups of coffee or lattes, but service was so slow that I ended up leaving. Very sad. But now that Christmas is over, I expect Hogan will have a variety of Chinese New Year-themed (or just non-Christmas-themed) pastries for sale, which is just another excuse for me to buy and subsequently stuff my face.

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