Confidential discovers the wonders of a really good Italian pastry section
While guests at the buzzing San Carlo restaurant sip chilled Prosecco and dine on the finest Italian cuisine on the first floor, little do they know that a hive of activity is going on right underneath them.
In the basement under the restaurant, some of the city's most talented pastry chefs are working away creating hundreds of delicious cakes, pastries, gelato and desserts. San Carlo’s pastry kitchen is actually the central production unit for the whole company. Confidential went for a sneaky peak to watch as the chefs whirled past in their own kitchen ballet, amidst gorgeous tortes, mousses, mille-feuille and chocolate bombes destined for their restaurants all over the UK.
Overseeing all this delicate work is head pastry chef Ethan Ballan, a native Mancunian who perfected his craft in the pastry kitchens of London’s famous Dorchester Hotel.
We watched in awe as the experienced chefs effortlessly glazed gorgeous pistachio cakes and chocolate tortes with mirror sheen icing, before finishing them off with perfect piping in melted chocolate.
Ethan introduced us to Leo, who is in charge of producing over 100 five-litre tubs of homemade gelato each week. We reckon it would be almost impossible to find anyone else as utterly devoted to ice cream, which is his life it seems. Leo had just returned from a research trip to Tuscany, the home of the best gelato, to make sure the stuff he produces for San Carlo is as good as you’d find anywhere in Lucca or Siena
With a smile on his face and light in his eyes, Leo showed us the huge Carpigan machine he uses to mix the ingredients for the gelato base including fresh cream and the finest Bourbon vanilla pods. From this they produce a wide range of gorgeous flavours including pistachio, hazelnut and fresh mango – all completely natural, of course.
The calm, organised pastry section illustrates just why afternoon tea at San Carlo is an experience not to be missed; with delicate cakes, indulgent iced fancies and, what they claim to be, the best cream scones in town, reflecting a typically Italian love of all things sugary and sweet.