The Sweet Side of Jakarta
From nutmeg, vanilla and clove to fresh Sumatran mangoes, La Patisserie at Four Seasons Hotel Jakarta is using local ingredients to craft delectable desserts.
Nutmeg, clove, mace: These are the reasons that parts of the Indonesian archipelago were once known as the Spice Islands. Today, the aromatic riches continue to flavour local cuisine, including desserts, which are much more than mere postprandial afterthoughts in the land of spice.
Indonesians, especially in the capital city of Jakarta, have a passion for pastries and believe that dessert is not only part of a meal, but a dish for celebration.
“Local spice and tropical fruits are a powerful source of ideas,” says Lorenzo Sollecito, the executive pastry chef at Four Seasons Hotel Jakarta and the man responsible for spinning the region’s abundant ingredients into the desserts that fill the glass cases at the Hotel’s new La Patisserie.
“Indonesia is an amazing country,” Sollecito continues, “not only in terms of local products – chocolate, vanilla, spices and coffee – but the people and Indonesian hospitality are simply amazing.”
On the menu
One of the most unique items on the dessert menu at La Patisserie is the Upside Down Mango Cheesecake, which takes more than 24 hours and the hands of the entire pastry team to prepare.
Sollecito begins by mixing the ingredients, including fresh mango and local vanilla, and letting them rest to develop their texture and flavour. The cheesecake batter is then poured into individual serving glasses and baked. On top of each sits an intricate “floral” arrangement of berries, chocolate and vanilla crumbles, with chocolate “stems” and pistachio “coral.”
“It looks precisely like a small garden inside a glass,” Sollecito says. “This is an exclusive creation done in collaboration with Chef Andrea Noli and all the pastry team.”
In comparison, Sollecito’s signature dish – the apple crumb tart – is quite simple.
The tart is made from Sollecito’s grandmother’s recipe and pays homage to his childhood spent in Mezzocorona, Italy, where he grew up peeling apples while sitting in his grandmother’s lap. In Mezzocorona, indigenous apples are key ingredients in local pastries.
“I believe that simplicity is the key to happiness: A nice slice of tasty apple crumble is always a good solution when you want something sweet and not too heavy,” says the chef. “It’s ideal for breakfast, lunch, tea time and after dinner, and it’s best a little bit warm and with vanilla gelato.”
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Other simple yet delicious items on the menu at the decadent dessert shop include cakes, macaroons, batik chocolate pralines, bonbons and, of course, a chocolate cake. “I am a classicist and no fan of the elaborations of molecular gastronomy. I want customers to fully enjoy the pleasure of my desserts without making each dish overly complicated,” he adds with a smile.
An Indonesian twist
True to the meaning of his name, which means “quick, attentive and careful,” Sollecito has been eager to adopt Indonesian ingredients such as local spices and tropical fruits. Mangoes from Sumatra inspired La Patisserie’s Upside Down Mango Cheesecake; vanilla and Balinese coffee beans can be tasted in the Dolcetto Latte; and pineapple, lemongrass and ginger add flavour and colour to the carpaccio.
“[These are some of the] amazing local products that I love to use in order to serve to our guest a dessert mixed between Indonesia and Italy, my own country,” Sollecito says.
Another favourite at La Patisserie are bonbons with ginger and coconut. Sollecito has plans to develop and add more local flavours.
“He is a perfectionist and is eager to learn and develop,” says General Manager Christian Poda. “Now that he is in Indonesia, he is studying local art, history and desserts to make new dishes inspired by this.”