12 June 2008
PIERRE HERME : P is for perfect and H is for heavenly : sweet delights, from cakes to pastries, chocolates, sweets, tarts, deserts, petits fours, sorbets and macarons!
Pierre Hermé is an artist – an artist of pastry making. Born in Colmar, Alsace, to a family of three generations of baking & pastry making, he began his apprenticeship at Gaston Lenôtre at the age of 14. It was here that he discovered his passion for pastry making. After many years of experience, he opened his 1st boutique in 1998 at the Otani Hotel in Tokyo. It was only in 2002 that he came back to his roots and opened his Parisian store, which I had the pleasure of visiting.
But I am getting ahead of myself, and a story is told best from the beginning!! This past weekend my fiancé whisked me off to Paris for a romantic trip for two….. Knowing my passion for the culinary arts, & the need for inspiration for our forthcoming wedding cake, he had sweetly included a few surprise visits along the way.
As we strolled through the streets, there was no shortage of eye candy…. So when we arrived in the 6ème arrondissement, at Pierre Hermé’s small patisserie on rue Bonaparte, I was intrigued but not overwhelmed. Perhaps the fact that you had to wait outside to then squeeze into the shop, should have been an indication…. but as they say the proof is in the pudding, we had yet to taste.
The door opened to reveal a small, rich, dark chocolate store, with a narrow walkway, in front of a glass display case. Inside were creative little cakes & macarons, neatly arranged in straight lines. We chose a ‘tarte infiniment vanille’ and a selection of colourful macarons.
Sitting in Jardin de Luxumbourg 10 minutes later, with our little orange & white boxes, I can safely say we had discovered the crème de la crème in patisseries! I surprisingly do not have a great sweet tooth, however even I could not argue that this tart was the embodiment of perfection … the perfect balance of a crunchy butter crust, filled with a vanilla bean cream that was sweetened just so, topped with a vanilla pana cotta and glazed with a very fine layer of meringues. We were speechless.
Back in Geneva, I opened the macarons…. while I have tastes these delights before, nothing has ever come close to those of Pierre Hermé’s. He has achieved a delicate harmony between his ingredients, not too sweet, or strong, no over-powering flavours, everything works together to create a sumptuous finale – circular, thin crisp shells of beautiful colours, filled with a variety of velvety creams ….
Here are the current summer MACARONS they offer:
- ISPAHAN – pink shell with lechi / rose cream & raspberry compote
- CELESTE – deep yellow shell with light passion fruit cream & strawberry rhubarb compote
- CARREMENT CHOCOLAT – chocolate shell with bitter chocolate ganache & coco beans
- SATINE – white shell with cream cheese mousseline & orange passion fruit compote
- Mandarine and red berry cream in an orange shell
We also tried some of their other flavours:
- ARABESQUE – apricot, peach & pistachio
- JASMINE – jasmine flower with jasmine tea cream
- INFINIMENT VANILLE – Mexican, Tahiti & Madagascar vanilla bean
- Rose – rose petal cream
- EDEN – peach, saffron & apricot
- Olive oil & vanilla bean
In short, Pierre Hermé’s patisserie is by far the best that I have tasted, and would hight recommend a special trip to his boutique.