It takes real devotion to create the full range of Christmas and New Year festive bakery delicacies without compromising on quality. In the case of Plaza Athenee, a Royal Meridien Hotel Executive Sous Chef Thibault Chiumenti, Pastry Chef Daniel Back and the Quick Stop Patisserie team it means sometimes working through the night and always maintaining round-the-clock shifts for the bakery ovens.
But more important than sheer hard work is the expertise that is brought to the tasks. Getting such items as stollen, the German bread, just right - not too moist/not too dry, not too sweet/not too bland, not too soft/not too hard - requires in-depth knowledge you don't get without digging deep. A little perfectionism, in terms of both ingredients and techniques, goes a long, long way, too (must-have candied chestnuts at 4,000 baht a tin are just one example of the lack of corner cutting here).
"Everything is cooked fresh everyday from scratch," confirms Chef Dan who arrived at the hotel at the start of the festive preparations from London.
Evidence of the lengths the team is prepared to go to can be found not only in the variety and quality of the bakery items. You can see it most graphically in the form of a walk-in gingerbread house, set to one corner of the hotel's elegant lobby, inside which are displays of all those toothsome sweet things, so much a part of the festivities, that we give ourselves permission to indulge in on just such special occasions.
Like gingerbread cookies, which are also traditionally occasionally formed into sub-doll-size houses for the amusement of little angels-but not pagoda-size shops so large that the evocative aroma emits an invisible force field of festive emotion a metre or more wide.
You don't just knock one of these things up overnight - although in this case you do work on it all day and night to meet deadline, in time for the launch of the gingerbread house's ultimate charitable mission, raising funds for underprivileged children by kind donations from those who take advantage of the memorable FB or instagram opportunity. The actual baking was a two-month enterprise and 60 kg of icing sugar was necessary to create all the faut snow and mortar.
On the other hand, it does have the advantage of offering more counter space to array all the irresistible items emanting from Quick Stop. Watch out especially for the panettone suffused with a hint of rum. The homemade festive season chocolates are also irresistible, including some with a delicious ooze of liqueur inside, as per tradition.
Dan's take on cheesecake is pretty out of this world as well and you don't have to wait until Christmas to try it. The secret's in the three-stage pastry preparation that makes it more buttery even than Edinburgh shortcake, fresh vanilla pods and first rate cream cheese.
The stollen is as good as it gets also. But be warned! One slice is never enough!
The minced pies are also divine, as are traditional Christmas fruit and chocolate cakes and a take on Christmas pudding with surprisingly broad appeal. Not to mention a dozen or more different flavour, brightly coloured macaroons.
"We're pretty fortunate with all the fruits that you use in festive items, with excellent fresh dates and figs and such available from the Royal Projects," Dan illucidates.
Then there's the ingenuity of the presentation. It seems that no shape is too tricky to fill with chocolate, from standard Santas to snowmen that actually look as if they are made from snow thanks to a special application technique. Kids just can't resist them, but who can?
Less familiar shapes include beautiful bells and ingenious Dali-esque melting chocolate clocks showing five-minutes-to-midnight.
What's more, you can also order all kinds of roasts - from turkey and ham to lamb and rib - with all the trimmings to take away for your celebratory meal.
Quick Stop offers a range of three pre-packed hampers. You can, of course, fill a hamper with your own selections if you prefer but the ready-made ones are very convenient, especially if you have a large order for your business.
Premium quality seasonal foods and beverages stylishly packaged to eloquently convey festive best wishes include festive cookies, chocolate bars, caramelised almonds, chocolate bon bons, chocolate Santa Claus, fruit terrines, assorted macaroons, stollen, panettone, Christmas fruit cake, festive pralines, chocolate snow men and homemade jams. Plus exclusive imports of traditional fare from Europe and elsewhere, from premium olive oil, balsamico and pasta to Sauvignon blanc, Chardonnay and a Cabernet Sauvignon.
Ready-made hampers range:
(Bt 2,400 net)
Festive Cookies, Christollen, Ginger + Crispy Chocolate Bar, Caramelised, Almonds. Chocolate Bon Bon, Assorted Homemade Caramels, Tangerine + Lime Marmalade, Assorted Macaroons
(Bt 3,900 net)
Christmas Cookies, Fruit Cake, Pasta Tacconi, Assorted Homemade Caramels, Cranberry Dark + Red, Genesis Red or White Wine from Chile, Ginger + Crispy Chocolate Bar, Panettone, Assorted Macaroons (12 pieces in box), Mango + Passion Fruit Jam, Balsamic Vinegar of Modena
Royal Champagne Hamper
(Bt 7,900 net)
Christmas Cookies, Fruit Cake, Festive Pralines (20 pieces in box), Chocolate Bon Bon, Champagne, Panettone, Christmas Chocolate Nut, Christollen, Le Petit Flacon French Premium Olive Oil, Pasta Tacconi, Lychee Honey, Fruit Jelly Assorted Macaroons, Ginger + Crispy Chocolate Bar
Quick Stop Patisserie, 1st fl, Plaza Athenee, A Royal Meridien Hotel at Tel 0 2650 8800 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org