Sunday, March 7, 2010

Day Twenty-Four: Les Macarons, Pierre Hermé

I know... macarons again?

After a frigid afternoon watching the marionettes (a fairly trippy version of Pinocchio, complete with dancing mushrooms, a ravenous lion whose tail is amputated by the title character, uh, puppet, and creepy goblins that spring at random from beneath the stage) with husband and daughter at the Luxembourg Gardens, we shuffled, teeth chattering, over to nearby Pierre Hermé. Along with the Ispahan about which I posted earlier in the project I had also brought home a couple of macarons, which hubby had loved. My plan was to show him the lovely shop and pick him up some macarons with a fancier patisserie for me, but after waiting in a loooong line that ran out the shop's door, we finally squeezed in to find the patisseries nearly cleaned out. A couple of Ispahan creations and macarons were all that remained. I say "all" - with more than a dozen flavors ranging from traditional (caramel) to exotic (jasmine), there are certanly worse dregs with which to be left!

On the way home dear daughter begged for a "baneee" (her version of "vanille"), the vanilla macaron which she is accustomed to getting on the way from the Grande Epicerie or any long string of errands that require a bribe. Pierre Herme's small macarons on offer today were for the most part exotically flavored - the tamest flavor I'd gotten on this trip was the Arabsesque, which is an apricot-praline macaron covered with pistachio dust. We had to pause and laugh, watching our two-year old daughter, reclined in her stroller and smacking contentedly on a world-class patissier's Sunday wares. "You know what, kid? You've got a pretty nice life," dear husband mused.

After a dinner of Ina Garten's roast lemon chicken (thanks to the Barefoot Contessa) and one of the last remaining bottles from our Loire visits, a punchy Borgeuil from Jacques Druet we bring out tea and the macarons. We both ate a hearty dinner, so we just try a few. I've sampled the rose macaron a few times now, so I'm prepared for the burst of rose flavor and creamy filling that explodes in my mouth. My friend M and I will fight our Laduree vs. Hermé battle to the bitter end, but for my money these are the best rose macarons in Paris. I pause and pledge to give her a blind taste-test the next time we are together in Paris (I think somehow that there will be more macarons together, even after I move). Husband tucks right into the grande macaron vanille I got him (afraid his cautious palate would be overwhelmed by the more exotic flavors) and proclaims it "terrific." I snag a quarter of it and agree - the middle tastes almost like homemade buttercream vanilla frosting (in a good way), the outside is perfectly crisp, the vanilla flavor full without being supersweet.

I also sampled the metallic-dusted Jasmine macaron - yet another floral flavor, this one is much more subtle than the rose, but almost as delicious. Next was the Magnifique, flavored with raspberry and a hint of wasabi - I was prepared to be smacked in the face with the latter but really it was just a slow burn on the back of the throat, long after the raspberry note. I could have used a little more zing, but overall the flavor is tangy and refreshing.

I'm saving Mogador (passion fruit and milk chocolate) and Chuao (chocolate noir with cassis) for tomorrow.... maybe I'll even give one to that lucky kid o'mine.

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