Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Le Macarons du Pierre Herme

Paris is beginning to gear up for fashion week, where, impervious to the falling leaves outside, summer dresses and sky-high sandals will be shown in Tuileries' tents. With its stratospheric prices, unrealistic silhouettes--what grown woman can wear hot pants?--and counter-seasonal calendar, it's easy to dismiss haute couture as irrelevant, or, at best, a self-indulgent exercise aimed at the cognoscente.

For at least a few years, macarons have been the patisserie of choice for the high-fashion crowd. (Their cameo in Sophia Coppola's frivolous but glamorous Marie Antoinette certainly didn't hurt.) It's an obvious selection: these little fripperies are bite-size, (largely) dairy and wheat free and easily adaptable to the changing whims of colour and flavour. For the high-status producers, Laduree and Pierre Herme, the hype surrounding their collections has become a talking piece for the chattering classes, much like the new Marc Jacobs line. Herme even presents a biannual runway show, where waiters parade the catwalk holding trays of his inventions.

Pretentious? Undoubtedly. As Herme himself proclaims on the cover of his brochure, "Tout le monde les adore macarons par Pierre Herme." Vogue has called him the Picasso of pastry. But Herme has earned his star turn. His macarons can make a grown man cry. Well, at least mine.

We started with a classic: caramel with fleur de sel, then moved onto the macaron pictured above, the Mogador, which pairs passion fruit with milk chocolate. It was very nearly perfect, but couldn't compare with the "Huile d'Olive a Vanille," a subtle stunner complete with tiny bits of olive suspended in a vanilla paste.

Suffice to say that while we never made it to the Musee Picasso, we were back in line at Pierre Herme later that week.

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