Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Pierre Herme

As we neared the end of our stay in Paris, our diet had consisted wholly of baguettes, sandwiches, croissants, crepes (not pictured because it was pouring rain when we bought them), pita sandwiches, madaleines, and yogurt, but I was holding out to purchase chocolates and macarons from the best.

Pierre Herme is arguably the best pastry chef in the world and we finally made it to his patisserie an hour before they closed, on our last day in Paris. Talk about close call, but I was able to get everything I came for and more.

There are two Pierre Herme pastry shops in Paris, one in the center of the city which I have heard gets quite crowded, and the other a bit farther from the center and not as crowded. On our way to pick up gifts to bring back home, we stopped at the Pierre Herme on Rue Vaugirard which was brightly lit and cheerful with its orange and yellow counters.

I admit that I was afraid the salespeople would be pretentious about the fine products they sell and scoff at my faltering French language skills. On the contrary, the young gentleman who helped me was extremely pleasant (probably because of the large quantity of expensive goods I was purchasing) and very patient as I asked several questions and surveyed the delicacies on display. My experience at the pastry shop was so welcoming that as soon as I stepped outside, I decided I needed even more chocolates and macarons, since I wasn't sure the next time I would return to Paris. The young gentleman assisted me again when I immediately reentered the shop and this time gave me two free macarons, one for myself and one for Devin.

Pierre Herme pays strict attention not only to his edible treats, but to the presentation of his shops and the packaging, which were both elegant in their simplicity.

The chocolates melted very smoothly in my mouth. They are delicate and chocolate is the forefront flavor, unlike cheap chocolates which rely on sugar to deliver some remnant of flavor. When the chocolate first hit my tongue, there was a cool sensation, even though the chocolates were never refrigerated. A lot of the chocolates are raspberry or strawberry flavored, making them quite tart. They're very delicate and some of the best chocolates that I have eaten.

Macarons are very delicate cookies consisting of two meringue wafers sandwiching a ganache filling. Biting into the fragile meringue wafer of Pierre Herme's macarons gave way to intensely flavored cookies which were lightly sweetened by the ganache filling. Similar to the chocolates from Pierre Herme, the macarons relied on the fine ingredients to provide flavor instead of relying on massive doses of sugar.

These are what the macarons looked like after carrying them from Paris, back home to Tustin. The flavors include: chocolate, vanilla, pistachio, passion fruit, vanilla olive oil, salted caramel, ispahan (rose, lychee, and raspberry), and rose.

I was very excited to try the vanilla olive oil macaron and was surprised to find a salty olive in the middle of the macaron. The flavor was quite unexpected and I'm still not sure that olives belong in desserts.

This is Pierre Herme's signature creation, the ispahan. His ispahan macaron consists of rose flavored meringue cookies with lychee cream and raspberry jelly.

Rose flavor can sometimes be overwhelmingly floral, but the rose meringue cookies lightly hinted of rose flavor. The tartness of the raspberry jelly was cut by the sweet lychee cream. The combination of flavors complimented each other well and from the care that Pierre Herme puts into his creations, it is no wonder he is at the top of the pastry world.

Unfortunately, our trip to Paris ends bitterly because I was supposed to receive the security deposit back from the apartment owners almost two months ago and I am still waiting for it. Both she and Lodgis, the company I used to find the apartment, have been ignoring my requests for the security deposit to be returned. So it is with haste that I prepared this final post on our trip to Paris because I don't want to think about the way I have been cheated out of a very much needed sum of money.

Pierre Herme
185 Rue Vaugirard
75015 Paris, France


Square Peg said...

WOW...I am so jealous! Paris and Chocolate!!! Your blog continues to look fantastic and my keyboard is now covered with saliva...
My most memorable recollection of Paris is an anniversary dinner my husband and I shared. We were with a tour from London but wanted to enjoy our 11th anniversary alone. We wandered off on side streets after viewing a beautifully lit Arc D'Triumph. We found a very small restaurant where no one spoke English. The bartender spoke Spanish and German and I spoke a bit of Spanish, so he translated to the host who spoke German and French and he translated to the waiter who spoke French. We were there for 4 hours, spent about $300, and that was when the dollar was strong, and had the best meal and the best wine we had had in the entire three weeks we had been travelling. Your blog entry has brought back some wonderful memories.

Afishionado said...

square peg: Paris was wonderful, but we realize it was a budget trip, since Devin is still in school and only working part-time. We plan to return someday and really splurge, but that means I need to continue to practice my french! Thank you for sharing your story, it is very romantic and highlights the camaraderie that persists through language barriers.