I would go to any length to get me-self some Pierre Hermé goodies, even if it means torturing my poor parents by giving them blistered and aching feet. My allegiance to Pierre Hermé seems to weigh more than filial piety; I think something is very wrong with me, or perhaps in a warp sense, just very right. Before you wag your accusing finger at me, please understand that Pierre Hermé is impossible to resist, and that I felt guilty and made it up by feeding my parents with tonnes of macarons (not equivalent in weight of course because I would be very, very poor), which they thoroughly enjoyed.
The walk to the Saint Germain des Prés area, where the Pierre Hermé boutique is located, began from Notre Dame. We had just attended service and viewed the Crown of Thorns on Good Friday. The queue to get into the cathedral was insanely long and the wait became quite treacherous with almost-gales whipping mercilessly at us as we battled countless umbrella flips. On a few occasions, I swore my umbrella nearly did perfect Venus Flytraps on my head. We were relieved to seek shelter once we got into the cathedral, and all the happier to return to the outdoors, greeted by the warm, comforting sun.
Rain or shine, it couldn’t have changed what was about to come; my dad was suffering from very painful feet, in silence no less. Having realised that dad wasn’t enjoying a pleasant walk in the sun like M and I were, I suggested for them to hop on the metro back to the hotel, but dad insisted on coming with me for fear that his very grown-up daughter would meet with some disaster. So we trudged ahead. It must have seem like hours before we arrived at the boutique, and M took my poor parents to a café to rest their feet. Out of loyalty (or gluttony….), my sister joined me at the queue.
The window display at the boutique featured one and only one thing, some kind of a cream cake sandwiched and layered with thin wafers of pastry.
No macarons in sight?! Could there be a creation more delish at Pierre Hermé than its world-famous macarons?
The queue was moving rather slowly and we were at the doorway a good amout of time later. My heart beat in anticipation. I was that close to pouncing on those macarons that friends have raved sooooo much about.
And then it was my turn. I checked out the pricelist. Crazily expensive. But I had one chance and one chance only, so I told the shop assistant that I wanted the 16-piece gift box, which cost €34. I braced myself for the array of colourful macarons that were screaming to be chosen, and I refused to be pressured by the snaking queue into making a hasty decision. The macarons were too expensive; I was determined to take my time to acquaint myself with every flavour displayed on the counter, and if I didn’t know what the French labels meant, I was going to make sure that the shop assistants explain them well to me in perfect English. This I must get for paying €34.
Rose (rose). Infiniment caramel (salted butter caramel). Chocolat (Venezuala Porcelana dark chocolate). Mogador (passionfruit and milk chocolate). Jasmin (Jasmine). Eden (peach, saffron and apricot). Pistache (pistachio). Huile d’Olive et Vanille (Vanilla and olive oil). Magnifique (strawberry & wasabi). Mosaic (pistachio, griottines & cinnamon).
M is slightly allergic to pistachios, so I asked the shop assistant to load up on the remaining eight flavours, which worked out well to give us two pieces of each flavour, more to go around and less to share!
I cradled my pretty bag of macarons, walked out of the boutique with a silly grin, and as I walked past the growing queue outside, I think I kinda wore a smirk on my face. Ha! I’ve got my macarons and you’re still queuing for yours!
We rummaged teabags from the hotel room, and had a little afternoon tea session with so-so tea and glorious macarons. They were out of this world and impossibly delicate. I have described Ladurée’s macarons to have the most delightful shells with lightly-crisp exteriors and very slightly soft interiors, but Pierre Hermé takes this to another level. How is that possible?! The ganache of every single macaron was ethereal, creamier yet lighter than its Ladurée counterparts. The cream boasted of perfect marriages of the most unlikely flavours in the subtlest hints.
The only one that I didn’t like was Eden, but the rest were gorgeous. My favourites were jasmine, salted butter caramel, olive and vanilla, and strawberry and wasabi. Having a Jasmin macaron was akin to perfuming your mouth with cups after cups of fragrant jasmine tea. Needless to say, I will always be a big fan of salted butter caramel. The olive oil and vanilla-flavoured macaron was unthinkably and strangely delicious. I was most pleasantly surprised by strawberry and wasabi. I actually grimaced when the shop assistant explained its contents to me and was very hesitant to taste it but the sweet and tart strawberry jam gave way to the tiniest hint of heat from wasabi and it works perfectly! This was the macaron that convinced me that Pierre Hermé is a true genius.
I felt that the money was very well spent and the macarons were worth every penny, however expensive they are. In fact, I loved them so much that I dropped by the Pierre Hermé counter that opened recently at Selfridges & Co. in London (hallelujah!) to buy more macarons (£80 per kg, or available in gift boxes). There were other flavours available that I didn’t try in Paris, such as Chuao (dark chocolate with blackcurrant berries) and Mosaic, and I happily gobbled them up soon as I got home because they were sooooo good.
Pierre Hermé boutiques are also committed to ensuring the highest quality of its pastries, as evident from my encounter at Selfridges. I wanted to get the strawberry and balsamic vinegar ones, but the assistant refused to sell them because ‘ze shells are a beet soft’. He then proceeded to discard two huge trays of that flavour. My heart broke into pieces and I regretted not begging him to let me have them for free!
You must must must try Pierre Hermé macarons. They are hands down, the best macarons you’ll ever have. When you finally get your hands on them, know that people will be sucking up to you just to steal a bite, but don’t you dare share these babies with others. Be incredibly selfish and hide them away from prying, greedy and discerning hands. You have been warned!
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Pierre Hermé macarons are available at:
72 rue Bonaparte, 75006 Paris
(this is the first shop he opened, there are a sprinkling of others in Paris but I suggest going to this boutique to say you’ve been there, done that!)
Foodhall, Selfridges & Co., London.
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