November 24, 2006

Pierre Hermé overload + interview with a pastry chef

Pierre Herme
Pierre Herme

"This really feels like we're in a hospital!"

Janice and I are standing in the front area of the Pierre Hermé kitchen on rue Vaugirard. Head chef Colette Pétremant gives us thin plastic jackets, shoe covers and hair nets to put on before we can step further into the kitchen, lest we contaminate it with our mortal germs from the outside world of Parisian grime. And it's totally cool with me, as I am considerably sickly and mucus-filled and do not want to hurt the immaculate creations of Pierre Hermé.

(Yes, I did think that it may not have been the best idea to visit the kitchen while sick, but we didn't touch anything or stick our heads into any kiddie pool-sized vats of cream. Also, it took me a few months to secure the visit. But I shall talk about that laterz.)

I feel incredibly foolish to be standing in front of someone who must be bursting with culinary knowledge that I can't speak to because 1) I don't know French, nor does she know English and 2) I'm not a culinary student and thus know almost nothing about whatever is going on in the kitchen. Janice translates Colette's words for me and my softly spoken questions for Colette. My lack of journalistic ability shines through as I come unprepared and bearing no questions. Crap.

Instead, I try to soak in my surroundings. In the first room a few chefs rolls out lumps of dough into even logs and line them up on a sheet. A machine in the next room declares itself as a macaron machine. BEHOLD, IT IS A MACARON HATCHERY. I don't remember the exact words, but it definitely had the word "macaron" on it. Otherwise, I could've mistaken it as any other nondescript, blocky piece of kitchen equipment, since that's what it looked like. I suppose it's not practical to gold-plate a macaron-making machine, even if it's appropriate.

As we move out of the first room we pass a storage rack full of metal trays stacked with long triangular chunks of naked light yellow butter. I've seen stacks of butter before (hellooo, supermarket), but never unwrapped as though the slabs had come from a mother chunk large enough to have its own gravitational pull. You can't help but do a double-take when presented with that much butter. I may have done a quadruple-take.

We stop before the back room where about ten young chefs are quietly working around a stainless steel worktable. I can't see what any of them are doing except for one guy at a closer table who is troweling some kind of goopy nut and caramel-looking mass into a rectangular mold on a metal sheet. He effortlessly smooths down one sheet, takes off the mold, dumps more nutty goo on another sheet and gets cracking on the next one.

On the ground to our left sits a large spherical, steaming vat of lemon halves cooking in their own lemon-ness. To our back right is an ever larger vat/mixing bowl (large enough so that I could possibly crouch inside it) three-quarters filled with what I assume to be whipped butter and sugar. Oh. Baby. What is this madness? Just a regular day in the kitchen of a patisserie?

The Vaugirard kitchen employs 25 chefs who work in two shifts from 5:00 AM to 2:00 PM and 2:00 PM to midnight (or something to that effect; I wasn't taking notes). All the basic cake parts are made in this kitchen before being transported to the Bonaparte kitchen to be decorated. (The Bonaparte kitchen is also where the chocolates are made.)

Colette said a lot of things...most of which I'm pathetically blanking out on. Janice might need to help me remember. An important thing (for us macaron freaks) that I do remember is that their macarons last six days (before self-destructing so that no one can possibly experience the sub par qualities of an expired macaron), meaning that I can hoard as many boxes as I can stuff on my luggage on the ride home and have enough time to mail them to friends, who will then have to eat them IMMEDIATELY, not that they'll have any trouble doing that.

I feel intimidated standing in a kitchen where I probably have no place to be. Seriously, what am I doing here? My perfectly nice host is probably wondering the same thing. Janice explains to her what I'm studying and where I'm from, possibly giving Colette the idea that I'm a pseudo-competent journalist. (She will never know the horrible truth.) I understand what they're saying, but I can't interject with my non-existent French.

Colette lets us each pluck a vanilla macaron from the tiered shelves of macarons made the day before. Partially due to the environment I was eating in (standing in a kitchen, hearing two women discuss in French who this random American girl next to them is, blankly staring into a sea of hundreds of macarons) but mainly due to the macaron's awesomness, it is possibly the best macaron I had ever eaten. Ever.

...And I have no photos to show you since I didn't take any. (Don't worry; I'll go back and buy one for photography purposes.) The cookies and the filling don't shift at all when I take my first bite. My mouth fills with a vanilla flavor that I can only think to compare to the tone of a tuning fork...except in edible form. It's firm, yet soft. Dense, yet light. It leaves no material residue, just a clean, ethereal vanilla flavor balanced with the perfect amount of sweetness. Surprisingly, one small macaron is enough to satisfy my belly. (Of course, I could eat more, but then it would probably reach the point of "too much macaron". I know such a feeling exists because I have surpassed it before.)

We're told that they rarely let visitors go into the kitchen, which makes me feel even more unworthy for being there. There isn't a big story behind how I got to cross the line separating "magical workshop of beautiful dessert-like goods" and "place where they sell beautiful dessert-like goods". During the summer Charles, partner of Pierre Hermé, came across upon my website, noticed my enthusiasm for PH, saw that I was going to Paris and offered me a visit to a PH kitchen. I replied with something along the lines of, "HELL YES ZOMGO!@# I LUFF YOU," but less crazy sounding. When I got to Paris I called up his assistant, Anne, explained who I was and prayed that it wasn't all a big joke. I was afraid it might have been when a few months passed and I heard nothing, until BOOM, I got a confirmation...and then proceeded to dance a little happy jig. I owe Charles and Anne about a million thanks times a gazillion macaron-induced smiles for being so kind to this lil' food blogger. I must also thank Janice for being my bakery partner/translator for the day; she's one of the sweetest people I know.

Oh, and that's why I didn't visit right away, in response to all the people who asked me way back when if I was planning to/had gone to Pierre Hermé. :)

You must be tired of all this text. Please accept my apologies. Here are some shots of the Vaugirard shop:

counter chocs chocolate I want that mmm, things
so much tastiness
macarons
macarons!

Janice bought a box of macarons for her daughter. What a nice mum!

innards pain au chocolat flakes
pain au chocolat

I went on a more indulgent route by buying..er, a few things. First I crunched through my uber flaky, gazillion layered pain au chocolat (gianduja). In addition to this being one of the best pain au chocolats that I've eaten here, it may also be the largest one. I greedily consumed it's soft, light, rolled-up buttery-ness while standing over my plate (hey, no one was looking...that I know of), only leaving behind small flakes of golden skin.

And then I ate a salad. Really! I do eat those. Somewhat. The ripped up lettuce leaves are just something that I can eat with a can of sardines. Fish is one of the few canned foods that I find acceptable.

fetish
fetish

What do you polish off a salad of lettuce and sardines with? MORE PASTRIES. PH's current limited line of desserts (titled "Fetish") all feature vanilla. I wouldn't have pinned vanilla as an, "Ooh, so awesome" flavor...until I had that vanilla macaron and realized that vanilla is actually better than everything else in the world. Ever. Except hugs, maybe. I'll think about it.

sorry, I took too many photos
Tarte Infinitement Vanille

Oh sweet creamy circular mother of god. Here's the description of the "Tarte Infinitement Vanille":

pâte sablée, ganache au chocolat blanc et à la vanille, biscuit imbibé au jus de vanille, crème de mascarpone à la vanille

Like most things I've eaten from PH so far, everything was...perfect. Firm cookie crust, vanilla biscuit something or other (soaked in vanilla, apparently), smooth white chocolate ganache cream, light-as-air vanilla bean-specked marscapone puck covered in a microthin layer of creamy vanilla sauce. (My description isn't as poetic as the one in their catalog, but it's not like I'm getting paid to write fluffy words. Not that you could pay me to actually do that anyway.)

sorry, I took too many photos
innards

Perfect. Told ya so.

If you live in Paris, you must must must go to PH and try their vanilla creations before the vanilla line is over this Sunday, November 26th (the vanilla macarons are available until January 14th though, methinks). The short window of availability time probably inflates the desirability level, but I'd still push you to go even if it were available all the time. Because of the limited nature, you'll have to hoard everything at once. Il est terrible...not. [If you've seen the Borat movie, this is where you laugh. Maybe.]

The Other Pierre Hermé

Pierre Herme
Oo, nice signage

Even though both of PH's shops carry the same things, you may as well go to both. I mean, you are obsessed; you may as well do it right.

Pierre Herme IMG_5647
Outside / Inside

While the Vaugirard shop feels bright and playful due to the spaciousness and candy-color scheme, the Bonaparte location is smaller and darker, giving it a more sophisticated air. You enter the narrow shop through a sliding glass door, for god's sake (so you don't have to struggle if you're carry a sack of goodies, I suppose). However, sophistication doesn't displace friendliness; once our lack of comprehension shines through our blank faces, Valerie and I are attended to in English by the helpful, smiling PH cake attendants (probably not their official title, but it fits).

maccies! babies huge ones
maccies!

Oh shizz, there are so many macarons. However will I choose?

IMG_5686
They're going to diiie

...By buying five and assuming that I would go back later to try the rest. Starting with the pink macaron and going clockwise, the flavors are:

Rose: biscuit macaron rose, crème aux pétales de rose

Chocolat & Yuzu, "Azur": biscuit macaron chocolat, ganache au chocolat et au yuzu

Caramel à la Fleur de Sel: biscuit macaron caramel et grains de fleur de sel, crème au caramel au beurre demi-sel

Truffe Blanche & Noisette: biscuit macaron, éclats de noisettes du Piémont grillées, crème de truffe blanche

Fruit de la Passion & Chocolat au Lait, "Mogador": biscuit macaron, ganache au fruit de la passion et chocolat au lait

If you need to translate those descriptions, you do have...the Internet. I think you should be able to figure it out though.

I'll label these later maybe
They've been violated

I cut the macarons in half to share with Valerie. She doesn't especially like macarons, but I was hoping I could change her mind. Starting with weird flavors was probably the wrong way to go. In other words, I totally failed.

"The rose one tastes like...baby smell."

I could see her point, but I still thought it was tasty. Tasty enough to eat once.

Caramel was my favorite flavor. Instead of being filled with actual gooey caramel like the Laduree version, it's filled with a light caramel flavored creme specked with grains of salt. It's definitely an "eat again" flavor. Chocolate and yuzu combined chocolate with just a whisper of citrus. I liked the passion fruit and chocolate combination more.

And what about that white truffle?

white truffle
chomp

Although I've never had white truffle flavored "anything" before, the taste did not surprise me. Big bold, flashing words in my head immediately spelled "EARTHY" and "FUNGUSY". The macaron tasted like earth in a way that eating dirt wouldn't even measure up to (assuming that dirt is the most earth-like substance you can eat...not that you would eat it...). It's freakin' weird. I'm sure Valerie was more dumbstruck (or horrified) than I was since she didn't even know what white truffle was.

"It's a fungus."

"...ROBYN, why did you make me eat that?"

She'll never trust me again.

The white truffle macaron is too head-screwy for me to think about eating again, unless I just want to confuse my tastebuds. It doesn't really fit in the sweet or savoury categories. It's...[throws palms up, makes a "Hell if I know" kind of face]. Don't get me wrong; I did find it enjoyable. But I don't crave earthy fungusy macarons on a regular basis. Or even an irregular basis.

I didn't go deep into describing the cookie and cream components independent of flavor since they were...the best. The best I've had in Paris yet, I mean. One macaron may be a little drier than the other, but overall the cookies have that crispy crust-soft innards action and an optimal cream-to-cookie ratio. Laduree also has a good ratio, but their creme isn't as shockingly [cue salivation] as PH's. And I say "shockingly" as someone who has eaten way too many macarons before trying PH's. If you START with PH's, then I doubt it would be as big of a deal.

We ate other things. Oh yes, how we ate.

Kouign-Amann Kouign-Amann
Kouign Amann

Valerie's favorite was the Kouign amann, which is Breton for "butter cake". Imagine the best croissant ever, and then tastify it by 1000% by putting in more dough and injecting it with generous amounts of butter and caramelized sugar. That's kind of what a kouign amann tastes like.

thingy that tasted good Bostock
Bostock

Val was also taken by the bostock, "brioche imbibée au sirop d'amande et à la fleur d'oranger, crème d'amande". Without using a translator, I'm going to guess that it means brioche soaked in almond syrup and orange flower something-or-other with almond cream. It tastes like the description. Which means it's good. It was also a little sweeter than I expected.

chocolate thing
chocolate thing

This chocolate cake that Val pretty much wanted as soon as she saw it didn't travel well, hence the crappy photo. And I forgot what it was called. You can trust that it's awesome though. Sorry I can't come up with anything better; I kind of snarfed it down and wasn't really thinking of what I'd write about it while masticating the chocolaty layers.

canele
cannelé

Tony (who I interview at the end of this entry) told me that PH's cannelé was the best he ever had. Wellll. Time to test that baby out.

canele innards
innards

Yup, it was the best cannelé I ever had. I haven't eaten enough to feel like any cannelé connoisseur, but I can tell you how this stood out compared to all the previous cannelés I've had. The difference between the crust and the innards was astronomical; instead of the outer layer being a chewy skin that just smooshed into the not-so-chewy-but-not-so-different innards, it was a seriously crispy, multiple layered crust protecting a dense, creamy, hole-filled custard that FOR THE LIFE OF ME I CANNOT DESCRIBE because it's kinda like jello, but it certainly isn't jello, so maybe it's kind of like a marshmallow, but it definitely is not marshmallow-y, and hell, you'll have to just eat this yourself to see what I'm talking about.

So yes, it is really awesome. I was disappointed by what I found to be a weak vanilla flavor (at least compared to their special vanilla-tastic desserts), but everything else was spot on. I'd eat it again. Multiple times.

And that's the end of my Pierre Hermé overload. But this entry isn't done yet.

How did you get that awesome job?

A few weeks ago Tony Cook, a friend of my homestay family, stayed in our apartment for a few days while on a job assignment. ...As a pastry chef from Barcelona-based pastry shop of mega-greatness, Bubo. Uh. Awesome? YES. His "work" over the weekend that he stayed here entailed going to a bunch of patisseries and chocolatiers and paying attention in particular to their packaging. Oh, and eating the food, I suppose. Lucky bastard!

We chatted (or perhaps I gleefully shouted) about his patisserie-hunting and I seemed to be doing pretty well with my...ahem, name dropping, until he found out that I hadn't been to Pierre Hermé.

"I have lost all respect for you."

Damn, this guy means business. His response was spot-on as well as his praise for PH. (He was kidding about losing all respect for me, by the way—he didn't have any to begin with! HAR HAR! Oh, I kid. Maybe. Nevermind.)

I did an impromptu interview with him in the kitchen the night before he left to find out more about his journey into the world of pastry chef-ing and to see whether I would have any chance becoming a part of it. First, a quickie bio that may help put things into context: Tony is originally from Hawaii, eventually moved to Spain to teach English for seven years, went to École Supérieure de Cuisine Française for pastry and baking and returned to Spain where he serendipitously came into his job at Bubo. Here's the interview, pseudo-transcribed, abridged and cleaned up for your reading enjoyment:

How did you get started with baking?

One of the things I always wanted to do was go to culinary school, but I knew I didn't want to be a typical chef. One summer when I was in Hawaii I broke my arm and all I could do was stay home and cook, so I started baking with one arm. And I loved it! That's what inspired me to go to culinary school. I became so interested in baking that I bought this book, The Bread Baker's Apprentice. That's when I decided to study pastry and baking.

I had been living in Barcelona for seven years and I knew I wasn't ready to move back to the states, so I searched on the Internet and found a program for English speakers in Paris (ESCF). found out it was a great program, good price, and very competitive, so I came to Paris for a year. Going to Paris to study something like baking sets you apart from the competition.

How did you start working at Bubo?

I was sadly walking through Barcelona [sad because he had just moved back from Paris, aka "wonderland of patisseries"] just after having bought a new scale to weigh ingredients with at home when I came across Bubo, run by Carles Mampel, one of the best pastry chefs in Spain. I was blown away by the quality of the products; I had no idea there was anything like this in Barcelona. It hadn't even been open for a year when I walked in.

I said I wanted to work for them, so after working like a slave for free in their kitchen for a month I was given a job. Carles is a great man and a great teacher. I learned so much from him and polished my skills.

[I didn't have a real question, but here's something noteworthy that Tony said while we blabbed about..ye know, stuff.]

Carles is really incredible when it comes to combining flavors and textures. There are a lot of pastry chefs who can prepare all the elements of pastry very well, but the ones that are set apart, like Pierre Hermé or, in my opinion, Carles, have the ability to combine flavors and textures into original, new forms that are really pleasing to the palette.

What are your favorite things to prepare?

There are very few things I don't like preparing. I like making different creams, mousses and gels. I don't enjoy making croissants. Rolling croissants is a bit tedious. Making the dough and rolling out isn't actually difficult though, especially if you have a sheeter (a machine that has conveyor belts that go back and forth between two rollers and roll the dough out).

I don't make this stuff at home anymore since I'm working 6 days a week, 60 to 70 hours a week. At home I make salads and things like that. I enjoy work; the day flies by. I don't ever get sick of it, but sometimes you reach the point where you can't eat anything sweet.

What would you like to do after working at Bubo?

After this I think I would like to have my own little pastry school and shop in Hawaii where I could teach local kids. There are lots of people entering the vocational job market and most of the pastry chefs and cooks come from the mainland or elsewhere. Why not have these kids trained to do it?

[And for a quick timeline of Tony's working life...]

I was 39 when I got into baking. First I wanted to work in radio as a writer, so I did that. Then I wanted to work in agriculture, so I did that. I had always wanted to teach English in Europe, so I sold everything, moved to Europe and taught English. Then I realized I wanted to do the culinary school thing, did that, and now I'm a pastry chef.

Last words of advice?

Anybody can start cooking. Get your degree first, then decide.

Many thanks to Tony for being an awesome first interview subject for my blog (probably the last as well, unless I come across more pastry chef house guests!)...and for being awesome in general. :) He's a very friendly, knowledgeable and approachable guy. If you see him at Bubo, say hi for me!

If you made it to the end of this entry, I'm really impressed. ...And grateful that you took the time to read something that took a bit too long to write. Now I can go to bed! :]

addresses!

Pierre Hermé
185, rue de Vaugirard, 15th
Metro: Pasteur (6)
72 rue Bonaparte, 6th
Metro: Saint-Sulpice, Saint-Germain-de-Pres (4), Mabillon (10)

Bubo
Carrer de les Caputxes, 10
08003, Barcelona, Spain
[Obviously I haven't been there. If you can go, let me know how it is!]

Posted by roboppy at 12:25 AM

Tags: France, Paris, Pierre Herme

Comments

Yay Robyn, you posted! :) I've been following your blog for a while, and I would like to say I enjoy "growing" with it. Hurhur. Your tastes and mindsets about eating and food has changed tremendously and it is a joy to read. Your enthusiasm is infectious and it is true that your writing has a "voice" as you once posted. I can almost hear the excitement in your voice, your expressions when biting into a fantabulous macaroon or croissant! Keep posting girl!

Posted by: Jazmien at November 24, 2006 1:43 AM [#]

Robyn, your photographic genius never ceases to amaze me....i swear, you could make a living off of food photography if you ever need something to fall back on ......you could make a rice cake look delectable.

Posted by: Kaitlin Hess at November 24, 2006 2:08 AM [#]

Hello! This is the first time I am commenting but I have been infected by your obsession with macarons ever since I started reading your blog a few weeks ago. And so I've been on my personal quest for macarons (I am now living in Sydney), it's almost like the quest for the Holy Grail here, the one store mentioned in an online review had closed down when I arrived at its doorstep. But last week I was in Hong Kong and found a patisserie selling the elusive commodity! So I am no longer a macaron virgin- I had the caramel one and it was ab fab. Yesterday I chanced upon another French patisserie in Sydney and bought 2, they were absolutely disappointing. So I was relishing in the aesthetics of your photos today, yum...

Posted by: bo bo gal at November 24, 2006 2:39 AM [#]

robyn,

yet another awesome entry! i am really enjoying reading about all your paris adventures, eating and otherwise. reading you seems like knowing you! (that pretty cool if you ask me...)

and to think, your blog gets you into such exclusive places! amazing amazing amazing...

happy thanksgiving!!!

--tokyorosa

Posted by: tokyorosa at November 24, 2006 3:00 AM [#]

Robyn!

I love this post!!! i can't believe you went inside PH!!!

When I go to Paris, I'm going to jump off the plane and head straight to PH for my pilgrimage...

You know, a friend of ours apprenticed there for a little while. She loved it!

Posted by: jennifer at November 24, 2006 6:48 AM [#]

Robyn, your posts have gotten me macaron-crazed! All those beauteous macarons (and other goodies)!!!! Did I mention I'm jealous? =) Your photos are awesome - I've been rather lazy and not taking photos of anything. I love lil macarons lined up in a delicious row. So cute, yet, not cute enough not to eat. Did that make sense?

One day, I shall visit Paris and visit all those lovely shops. Something tells me when I do, it's heading straight from the airport to patisseries. Your posts have inspired a macaron hunt in SF. =D

Posted by: Manda at November 24, 2006 8:22 AM [#]

Hi Robyn,

Thank you so much for inviting me along. It was a privilege, a rare opportunity to see what is behind that door and to talk to a Chef Patissier of PH.

Sorry, I wasn't a good and efficient translator. Oh, Colette Pétremant did explain that the "goopy nut and caramel-looking mass" that the guy was working at is for the "Millefeuille" cake. I didn't translate that huh?

My daughter enjoyed eating all the macarons except the white truffle flavor. Haha, it did sort of confuse her tastebuds. My favourite is definitely the vanilla flavor.

Posted by: Janice at November 24, 2006 10:11 AM [#]

WOW WOW WOW !!!!
I AM SOOOOOOOOOOOO JEALOUS
a visit to PH's kitchen and all the rest!
Triple WOW. I did a post just on PH's chocolatey thing...the carrement square thing..Hmmm
Well I'm speachless and should be doing my Russian drawings..will return to read more slooooowly
MERCI

Posted by: ParisBreakfasts at November 24, 2006 11:27 AM [#]

Happy Thanksgiving! although a day late, but i was too busy eating to comment. Love this last post, except that well you know, i'm now hungry again. I think macarons are a gift from the gods otherwise they wouldn't be so good. Hope u get to visit more awesome places during ur stay.
Stan

Posted by: stan at November 24, 2006 11:52 AM [#]

Jazmine: Thanks for reading! And letting me infect you with my enthusiasm. It doesn't itch, right?...right...

Kaitlin: Thanks! Rice IS delectable! Mmm...I could go for some now.

Bo Bo Gal: Oh man I infected you too. ...COOL! Sorry that your Sydney macaron hunting resulted in disappointment. But at least you got to go to HK; I'd love to visit there someday! FOR FOODS!

Tokyorosa: Yup, now you know me! And if you're not scared, then...that's a good thing. Oh, in real life I make a lot of random noises and I speak less eloquently (yes, even lessss), so...yeah.

Happy (post) Thanksgiving!

Jennifer: I know! How did they let me in there? Crazies! ;)

Ooh, apprenticing there would be so awesome. If I knew how to do anything.

Manda: You mean not cute enough that you could resist eating them? THE CUTENESS MUST DIE! RAWR (chomp)

[pats belly]

Yeah, ain't nothing to Paris except the patisseries. I forgot about the rest of the culture, oh my.

Janice: You're welcome! So glad you could come. :)

Oh yeah, you did translate that...but then I wasn't sure, so I left it out. OKAY, goopy stuff is for millefeuille. Filling, I suppose? I'm not a big fan of millefeuille actually, but I should try PH's cos it's probably...awesome.

Mmmraah I need more vanilla.

PB: :D Yaay, PH freaks unite! We must write posts about him in unison!

Stan: Too busy eating to comment makes perfect sense. If I were in the US I'd be busy eating to!

Yup, I'm not done with my chocolate/patisserie hunting yet. :)

Posted by: roboppy at November 24, 2006 1:34 PM [#]

OMG! Lucky lucky girl!

There's a tentative second trip to Paris planned for me next year where I hope to finally make it to Pierre Herme!

And there's a definite trip to Barcelona after Christmas and Bubo was already scribbled in my little book! Have you seen their pastries? - they're so beautiful!

Posted by: Su-Lin at November 24, 2006 2:36 PM [#]

your macaron photos always look like exquisite edible jewels . innards are a great idea ! you'd make a great food photographer - which would have nice perks :P

Posted by: eat2love.wordpress.com at November 24, 2006 2:37 PM [#]

I always think truffle tastes like kissing the person you're most attracted to--not necessarily the one you love best, but the one who thrills you the most. If you kissed that person after he or she had actually been eating truffles, I think you'd go into a state of shock from sensory overload.

Also, about your not knowing what to call the people who explained things to you at PH Bonaparte: could they be "Cake Concierges"? When I shop at Dean & DeLuca on Madison Avenue the lady or gentleman in the produce department picks out every individual potato, apple, or onion and wraps it separately and places it in my shopping cart. So that's a Produce Concierge.

Posted by: Annie at November 24, 2006 7:02 PM [#]

oh my god, my jealousy has skyrocketed. Don't even know what to say . . all the pastries look beauotful. I am dying to try something by Pierre Herme, wow. =) Its amazing you got to go inside and see how everything works . . you've done the coolest things!!

you're like an undercover pastry spy for all of us living over here in the sad sad pastry-devoid US . .

Posted by: susannah at November 24, 2006 7:19 PM [#]

happy thanksgiving to you a bit late. eat many macarons and prosper! --- i'm changing jobs to write fortune cookie fortunes. nice interview bit and your pictures really have been looking better and better. and every entry injects me with la jalousie for to go to la France. Ooohhheerrrrr. NY/NJ does grate on the nerves in comparison, sometimes. Ok enough rambling. More rambo-ing. ohhohoho. sorry I'm very scatterbrained lately. Onwards and forwards!

Posted by: janet at November 24, 2006 9:21 PM [#]

ROBYN! You are AMMMAZING! You're incredible! I'm so jealous! I don't even know what to comment on, being able to visit Pierre Herme like that must have been the most fantastic experience ever. I just finished reading the post, and I'm sitting here thinking, "WOW. just WOW." I hope that coveys it :)

PS. That's such a concidence how Tony Cook is from Hawaii - you bet I'll be returning home if he ever opens up a school back there!

Keep macaroning! :)

Posted by: Kathy at November 24, 2006 10:16 PM [#]

Robyn!
Happy belated Turkey Day! :) I was too busy baking and blogging about my baking for the past few days. (If that made any sense?)

Anyways, that chocolate goop of a cake looks luscious! I would lick the plate or container to get every scrap of chocolate ganache I could get. Wouldn't it be lovely to live in or near Pierre Hermes and eat all of their yummy goodies (especially the macarons)?

Posted by: Tina at November 24, 2006 11:02 PM [#]

Su-Lin: Yes, too lucky! It's kind of wrong.

Oh yes, ye gotta hit up PH and Bubo! I haven't seen the pastries in real life, but my homestay mum took a bunch of photos. And I got to munch on marshmallows that she brought back. Mmm tastyyy.

Jo Jo: Thanks! I would love to be a photographer...of innards. Then I would have to eat the food (halfway), bwahahaa.

Annie: That's a very unique way to describe truffles. ;) Perhaps it'll be a way for me to find out who I'm most attracted to..."MM TASTES LIKE FUNGUUUS!"

And the Cake Concierges term is GREAT! AHH! Yes. You're awesome.

Susannah: I hope I'm not overhyping the awesomness of PH...but yeah, it can be quite heavenly. :)

Undercover pastry spy! Damn, that'd be such an awesome job.

Janet: I ate two more macarons today, WOO HOO!

Wait what, writing fortunes, mrrh? Like "You will step on a snake today and die"...damn, that'd be fun.

NJ is the poop. Maybe that's why I'm not dying to go back. Cos. IT'S JERSEY! And my housemate is counting down the days until she can go back to Florida.

Rambling's cool. I do it alll the time.

Kathy: Ahh, well you can be as jealous of me as I am of YOU! Now we're even. ;)

Yes, Tony is from the STATE OF AWESOME! I'll wanna move to Hawaii if he opens a school there! (Although if it's for local kids, I guess I won't be allowed in, doh!)

Tina: Dude you were SO busy! I just sit on my bum all day! And that's why I gain A MILLION POUNNNDS yes.

I live too close to PH, man. That's the only place I went to today! Haha! Ahh! My god, how horrible.

Posted by: roboppy at November 24, 2006 11:55 PM [#]

Robyn! I love following your bakery adventures! I am green with envy right now. Keep on making me jealous...it looks as if you had a lovely visit to Pierre Herme, something out of a dream (well, something out of one of my dreams, anyway, but such is the life of a bakery hunter, right?). Have fun! I look forward to more.
Kristin

Posted by: Kristin Friedersdorf at November 26, 2006 4:19 AM [#]

Robyn, belle poste! Les photos sont incroyable, si seulement tu avait pris des photos à l'intérieur du cuisine...mmmmm....macarons...

Posted by: AARON at November 26, 2006 11:41 AM [#]

Looks sooo amazing! J'adore tes photos..... You are possibly the best "behind the glass" photographer I know!

Posted by: reese at November 26, 2006 7:11 PM [#]

Kristin: It definitely is something out of a dream! :) A dream held by a few people. Who really like pastries. You know, the awesomest people.

Aaron: Merci! And that's about all I can say in French without screwing up too much.

The kitchen looked like any regular kitchen, so I did get photos of the most photogenic part. :)

reese: Thank you! I'd like to take good photos outside of glass too. OH GOD I NEED A FILTER FOR MY LENS SO BADLY.

Posted by: roboppy at November 27, 2006 1:32 AM [#]

OMG, those macarons are the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. What amazing colours!

What with Paris being a 2.5 hour train ride from where I live in London, it's criminal that I haven't been for nearly 8 years!

Guess I best go book myself a Eurostar ticket..

Posted by: Paulie at November 27, 2006 7:15 PM [#]

whoa mama - all of that looks divine! *drool drool* I've never had a cannele before, and Pierre's looks scrumdiddlyumptious.

When I was last in Paris, I tried the Mogador (the name reminds me of a Lord of the Rings type character), and I wasn't really a fan. Give me the traditional flavours anyday!

Posted by: embrouillamini at November 28, 2006 11:16 AM [#]

Drool.
Just wanted to let you know your blog is immensely entertaining. I read it while I'm at work to escape my boring job. :)

Posted by: Traci at November 28, 2006 6:18 PM [#]

What are the history behind macarons? (There is a backstory to everything!)

Posted by: diana at November 29, 2006 5:23 PM [#]

Paulie: Holy crap what are you waiting for! If I lived 2.5 hours away from Paris I'd go a lot more often. Like too much. Yeah.

embrouillamini: Canele, SO TASTY! I think half of the ones I've eaten were just "alright", so I'd totally recommend PH as a first. And then everything else would probably taste bad. Hm.

Mm yes, traditional flavors are the yum.

Diana: "France is indebted to Italy for its introduction to this delicate pastry. It is widely believed that the Venetians discovered the macaron during their seafaring voyages of the Renaissance era, and that the chefs of Catherine de Medici brought the recipe to France at the time of Catherine's marriage to Henri II. The term "macaron" has the same origin as that of the word "macaroni" - both mean "fine dough"."

YAY ITALY! More at Discover Paris.

Posted by: roboppy at November 30, 2006 12:24 AM [#]

I just wanted to tell you that after the many beautiful pictures and descriptions of macarons that you've had on this site, I finally decided to try one. I had a pistachio macaron at a patisserie in my city, and it was really awesome. I only got one, but now I wish I got more.

Thanks for the (indirect) recommendation. Good luck with everything that's going on with you.

Posted by: yoko at December 8, 2006 7:04 PM [#]

i am in awe of your website, your detailed & witty writing style, vivid photos and awesome reviews inspire me to eat better. i feel like i'm on a culinary adventure. I wish I knew about PH when I visited Paris & Tokyo! Macarons have become one of my favorite delights.

Posted by: waisze at January 17, 2007 2:58 PM [#]

Oh Robyn, this is such a wonderful post specially for macaron fanatic like me. Anyway, I did try to reconstruct Pierre hermes white truffle macaron (recipe was in his PH10 book and I'm sure I translated it okay) at home....I agree the taste was too weird.

Posted by: veron at February 29, 2008 3:12 PM [#]

I know what you mean about overload.After the two-day PH chicago class we had a dessert buffet of everything he made. I was so rueful that I cannot finish an entire ispahan entremet...ofcourse this was after devouring a foie gras and a black truffle macaron...

Posted by: veron at May 31, 2008 3:12 PM [#]

Wonderful post! I discovered their macarons just last Christmas during our trip to Paris. My favorites were the chocolate and foie gras, the truffle one you posted and the pamplemousse with wasabi. I wish we could get them here in the tristate.

Thanks for the behind the scenes look!

p.s. they also have a shop on the right bank now - rue Cambon just off the rue de Rivoli

Posted by: jadedfork at January 27, 2009 10:14 PM [#]

Gorgeous pics! And equally gorgeous macarons!

Whenever I'm in Tokyo, I go macaron mad. Last time I was there, Pierre Here were offering a seasonal trio: black truffle, white truffle, and foie gras. Incredible.

Posted by: BaronDestructo at August 9, 2009 11:26 AM [#]

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» 03/19/14: Taipei 2011, Day 5: Mussels, Fried Oysters, and Extreme Soft Serve in Danshui

» 03/09/14: Taipei 2011, Day 4: Keelung River Bikeway, TAS, Beef "Pie," and Din Tai Fung

» 02/14/14: Behold French Fry-Stuffed Fat Sandwiches From RU Hungry in New Brunswick, NJ

» 01/27/14: Taipei 2011, Day 3: Taipei 101 Food Court and Dim Sum Dinner

» 01/15/14: Hong Kong Recap: Favorite Bites, Sweets, People, Etc.

» 12/02/13: Taipei 2011, Day 2: Shaved Ice Two Ways, 7-Eleven, Shilin Night Market, Etc.

» 11/05/13: My Favorite Places to Bring Tourists on the Lower East Side

» 10/23/13: How I Made My BMO (Adventure Time) Costume

» 10/20/13: Taipei 2011, Day 1: Fried Crullers, Bear Head Doughnuts, Scallion Pancakes, Etc.

» 08/19/13: Indessert, My New Favorite Dessert Shop Serving Tong Sui in Chinatown

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links

Please don’t hate me if I haven’t included you. I tried to whittle this down to a manageable list, but there are just too many food blogs out there that I like! I shall update this list every so often.

Blogs

A Hamburger Today
A Hungry Girl's Guide to Taipei
The Amateur Gourmet
An American in Ireland
Appetite for China
Baking Bites
Beef Aficionado
The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck
Bionic Bites
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The Boy Who Bakes
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Candy Blog
Cha Xiu Bao
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Dan Delaney
David Lebovitz
Deep End Dining
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FastFoodr
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i nom things
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Law and Food
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Me So Hungry
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Ms Adventures in Italy
My Camera Eats Food
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No Recipes
Noona Blog: Seoul
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Ono Kine Grindz
The Paupered Chef
Paris Breakfasts
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Seoul Eats
Slice
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So Good
Street Foodie
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Swirl and Scramble
Tamarind and Thyme
The Tasty Island
Thursday Night Smackdown
Tommy Eats
The Ulterior Epicure
umami
U.S. Food Policy
The Wandering Eater
We All Go Poopie
World to Table

Non-Blogs

Brooklyn Chowder Surfer
Edible Queens
Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down
Serious Eats
VendrTV

Recurring Eating Companions

These friends have lent me their stomach acids on numerous occasions.

Chichi
Colin
Diana
Eric
Greg
Kåre
Kathy
Melissa
Morten
Olivia
Tristan
Veronica