Friday, November 25th, 2005

If Dessert Looks this Good – Should We Really Be Eating It?

Sam Breach, Becks & Posh

Posted by Sam Breach, Becks & Posh | View all posts by Sam Breach, Becks & Posh
2 Comments » | Published in Delicious Design 2005, General  |  2 Comments

It’s UK Friday! OK, actually our second Brit blogger actually lives a stone’s throw away here in SF, but she is an English Girl-Abroad. She writes Becks & Posh:

‘Becks and Posh’ is modern cockney for ‘nosh’. Follow English-Girl-Abroad, Sam Breach, on her culinary journeys, mainly in the San Francisco Bay Area, but also on her travels further a field, whilst she plays at being amateur restaurant critic, wine taster, food photographer, cocktail connoisseur, party planner, good food forager and practicing home cook, with trusted French advisor, Fred, by her side.

And when Sam isn’t blogging, she’s working as a visual effects artist at George Lucas’s ILM. Her entry is the ninth of our ‘Pass the Mic: Delicious Design’ event that brings together food bloggers and designers to mark the Thanksgiving holiday and the launch of our new Modern Tabletop category. We’ve also created a Flickr group “Aesthetics of Food” to make your mouth water. Enjoy!

The Height of Edible Fashion!

photograph picture of Pierre Herme's patisserie on the cover of Eux magazine

Fêted by the world’s fooderati and darling of the Parisian Pâtisserie Circuit, Pierre Hermé is a man who clearly epitomizes good taste. A trip to one of his stylish French or Japanese boutiques will illustrate the ease with which he satisfies the visual senses as much as the palate.

photograph picture inside of Pierre Herme's Vaugirard Store in Paris

Expect minimalist chic in Hermé’s stores: Clean lines and symmetry, a clinical backdrop splashed with harmonious hues. It is a cosmetic-counter approach to selling the sweetest of treats. Here you will find some of the most good-looking desserts in the world at equally handsome prices.

photograph picture inside of Pierre Herme's Vaugirard Store in Paris

Hermé’s catwalk of cakedom is first piled high with macaroons, a small selection of whom have been lavished, as if by makeup artistes, with glittering powders that sparkle with an irresistible shimmer.

Moving further along the runway, Hermé’s current collection of desserts a la mode include an array of individual little cakes that dance before my eyes like exquisitely dressed debutantes on their way to the grandest of balls.

The first pastry to catch my attention is wearing a flouncy, pale gown. I imagine being the one to bite through its virginal surface before greedily devouring it, right down to its core. Or perhaps I might flirt with the more bohemian contingent amongst this fine display. They are resplendent with earthy autumnal hues and luscious red fruits that threaten to stain the lips blush, perhaps before a wild, passionate kiss?

But then, the sexiest dark-chocolate models smolder with a deep, alluring, sensuous intensity, how can I resist? Or how could I fail to notice the shyer delectables coyly wrapped up in vivid, slightly transparent coverings that draw my attention, only to offer a modest, fleeting glimpse of the deliciousness that might lie within.

photograph picture inside of Pierre Herme's Vaugirard Store in Paris

photograph picture inside of Pierre Herme's Vaugirard Store in Paris

I am like a magpie, seduced by all the shininess. I want the ones that look the prettiest to be mine, regardless of what might be inside them. I want to take them home with me and savor them for ever like trinkets in a jewelry box. I don’t want to hear when the Pierre Hermé staff tell me that they have to be eaten today. I want them to become part of my eternal, personal treasure trove.

But as fashion is fickle, good cakes soon become crumbs. This display is for eating, not coveting. There is no doubt that Pierre Hermé’s pastries are for people with good taste but, most importantly, do they taste good too?

photograph picture of macaroons from Pierre Herme's Vaugirard Store in Paris

If you are lucky enough to be presented with a plateful of Pierre Hermé’s macaroons to sample you will first need to push aside any traditional or cultural preconceptions you have about the colours that represent the flavours you will bite into.

Vivid red pink is a strongly-scented Rose, not the framboise you might prefer. It is floral, sweet and incredibly girly. I happen to a bit of a sucker for anything rosey, but those of you who prefer their flowers in a vase should probably give this one a miss.

Bright green represents an interesting combination of Huile d’Olive et Vanille (olive oil and vanilla), not pistachio as you might expect. The boyish counterpart to his pink sister, Rose, this macaroon is certainly much less sweet.

Marron et The Vert Matcha looks like chocolate but is, in fact, chestnut with a dense, unusual, almost savory, green tea matcha at its core.

The most beautiful macaroon of all is the Truffe Blanche et Noisette, undoubtedly the star of the collection, like a beautiful bride, dressed in delicate white and brushed with flecks of fine silver. So powerful and lingering is the presence of the curious crème of white truffle that sandwiches together the two halves of this noisette macaroon, you might well decide that this strong marriage of flavours, like any serious wedding, should only be a once in a lifetime experience.

I am somewhat of a food adventurer who delights in trying new and innovative combinations of flavours. The experience of tasting the quirky Pierre Hermé Macaron collection was intriguing, but it was the more traditional examples that really made me gasp with pleasure. The simple but delectable Caramel a la Fleur de Sel was only bettered by it’s grander SuperModel sister, the Macaron Plénitude, a mélange of the same caramel and fleur de sel but with the addition of chocolate biscuit and ganache.

photograph picture of delectable cakes from Pierre Herme's Vaugirard Store in Paris

After the cute, uniform, little macaroon biscuits, come those far more fancy models, the cakes. Who could resist a large chocolate lollipop with a name like Mister H Mogador’s Passion? How whimsical. What fun. A childish treat strictly for grown-ups: because which youngster would spend 6,30 of their hard-saved-for Euros on one cake? Pierre Hermé isn’t afraid to go against the grain and famously uses milk chocolate, where others might not, in several of his desserts. I respect his choice but because of the sharp lemon and piquant passion fruit fillings in this choca-lolly, I would have preferred dark. Surprise Yu had the opposite effect. This simple, orange-cellophane-wrapped dome with a light creamy and piquant Yuzu fruit filling was a heavenly little cloud puff of crumbly, mouthwatering, light-as-a-feather meringue.

If I had only been able to pick one of Pierre Hermé’s delectable-looking confections, then I would undoubtedly have chosen the gorgeous-looking pear-shaped Instant Indivduel, Gelée de Thé Earl Grey pointes blanche, ganache au thé, mousse et biscuit au chocolate. The earl grey tea was subtle, it was dense and chocolatey but it didn’t wow me like the Dune Individuel. Described as biscuit dacquoise pistache, crème légère à la pistache and praline feuillete au mais grille, the pale exterior of this little meringue-crowned bombe hides a jaunty green centre that is light, creamy and texturally accented by crunchy, caramelized little nibbles of corn nuts. Fred selected a Plénitude Individuel, which like its macaron namesake contained macaron chocolat, éclats de chocolat à la fleur de sel, mousse chocolat, caramel croquant. Although he didn’t actually get to sample it in the end, I can attest that it was satisfying enough to please the most discerning of dark chocolat lovers. I can also attest that anyone with a sweet tooth and an appreciation of the potential for beauty in food, should swing by one of Pierre Hermé’s boutiques, the next time they are in Paris or Japan.

Pierre Hermé: 185 Rue Vaugirard, 75015, Paris, France.

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  1. Sherry says:

    December 19th, 2005 at 8:19 am (#)

    Absolutely love macaroons!

  2. savor says:

    January 5th, 2008 at 1:14 am (#)

    Goodness!! Look at those truffles, oh yum!!

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