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Pierre Herme


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#1 cabrales

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Posted 24 March 2002 - 07:15 PM

Among Herme’s creations is the “Ispahan”, which features lychee and rose flavors. “Where” magazine recently provided a picture of this dessert – apparently consisting of two pieces sandwiching, among other things, rasberries. Above the top piece are a raspberry and a red rose petal, and there appears to be a layer of cream (presumably lychee) between such items and the top peice. While I have not yet visited Herme's shop, the Ispahan item sounds interesting. ;)

Herme’s newer shop is reported to be 185 rue de Vaugirard in the 15th arrondisement (01 47 83 29 72; members should verify before relying -- unconfirmed). His other shop is 72 rue Bonaparte in the 6th (01 43 54 47 77).

#2 Patrice

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Posted 24 March 2002 - 08:25 PM

While in France, I visited Hermé superb shop on Bonaparte.  I always been a fan of his work and a visit to his new shop confirmed my opinion: he's really way ahead the others.  I tasted his Ispahan and also a superb lemon tart.  His macaron are the best ( the new one: milk chocolate and passion fruit was fantastic) He's also doing the desserts for the very trendy restaurant Korova in Paris.  His boutique is like a jewelry, his cake are masterpiece.
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#3 cabrales

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Posted 24 March 2002 - 08:27 PM

I tasted his Ispahan

Patrice -- What did the Ispahan taste like?

#4 Patrice

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Posted 24 March 2002 - 08:33 PM

The rose flavoured macarons with the acidity of the rasberries and the velvety texture of the lytche give the cake a complex but very harmonious flavor.
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#5 Bux

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Posted 24 March 2002 - 08:50 PM

His boutique is like a jewelry


I was struck by how little it resembled a food shop and how much it resembled a boutique for fine leather goods or jewelry. The only disappointment is that it is not a salon de thé and as we were not returning to our hotel for a while and not carrying forks, we were a bit restricted as to what we could buy and eat on the run. Fortunately macarons are ideally suited for just that. I thought the salt butter caramel macaron was irresistible and having had one, it will be doubly irresistible next time.

His kouign-aman was the epitome of delicate elegance and craftsmanship, although I have a soft spot for those in Brittany that are overloaded with butter and sugar and have a thick caramel crust on the bottom.

Korova is his wife's restaurant. I'm curious about the food there. Has anyone here been there?
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#6 cabrales

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Posted 01 April 2002 - 03:44 PM

I tasted Pierre Herme's creations for the first time recently.

– The Ispahan (4.90 euros) – The Ispahan was quite delicious, but lacked some subtlety in the utilization of rose flavors. It is based on two rose-flavored macaron biscuits about the size of a woman’s palm. (As members may know, macarons typically have a bulgy ½ circular type shape for each half; the Ispahan looked less circular and more bulgy, disc-like in shape, due to the larger surface of the macaron.) The biscuits were a medium pink color, and had a luscious look to them that was enhanced by the single burgundy rose petal and the large raspberry placed on top. Plump rasberries occupied the space between the two macarons, adding, as Patrice noted, appealing acidity as well as juiciness of moderate density and color effects.  Toward the middle of the space between the macarons were lychee fruit couched with a bit of cream; these were, unfortunately, a bit overwhelmed by the rose flavoring of the biscuits. For me, that flavoring, while appropriate for a very small macaron also offered by Herme (with rose cream), was too strong for a larger macaron for the lychee.

I ate the Ispahan with my fingers, like a sandwich, and each bite would crush some rasberries to highlight their dark reddish interiors. This added yet another shade to the medium rose of the exterior of each biscuit and the maroon colors of the interior of each biscuit. Overall, the Ispahan is well worth a taste, and is a visually gorgeous item. Korova’s description of the Ispahan is: “biscuit macaron a la rose, creme aux petales de roses, framboises entieres, letchis” (rose macaron biscuit, cream of rose petals, whole rasberries, lychees).

– Macarons (58 euros/kilo; there are about 55-65 macarons in each kilo). The flavors available for the macarons were (1) “rose”, with cream of petal of rose sandwiched by two small rose-flavored biscuits, (2) “caramel a la fleur de sel”, with a cream of caramel with butter and a special sea salt, (3) “citron” (lemon), (4) pistache (pistachio), (5) fruit de la passion et chocolat au lait, with a ganache of passion fruit and chocolate, (6) chocolat, with a ganache of bitter chocolate, (7) “huile d’olive et vanille” (olive oil and vanilla – not sampled), and (8) café (coffee).  

As Bux mentioned, the tastiest macaron by far is the caramel with salty butter – a balanced mixed taste of sweetness and saltiness; rich and satisfying. The rose macaron was nice, although it is likely not required to be separately ordered if a client is also sampling the Ispahan. I also liked the coffee flavor, although it lacked “depth”. I have never been a big chocolate fan (and, unusually, prefer milk chocolate to dark chocolate), so it was not surprising that I found neither chocolate-based ganache subjectively appealing.

Apparently, there are periodic changes in Herme’s “collections”. Items available when I visited included:

--Millefeuille Fruits Rouges Et Menthe Fraiche (a new item called Millefeuille of Red Fruits and Fresh Mint; ingredients in French included “pate feuilletee, biscuit amandes, compote de fruits rouges, creme a la menthe fraiche”)
– Une Surprise (a new item called A Surprise that is wrapped in a vivid neon yellow translucent wrapper, like a giant bonbon; ingredients included “meringue, biscuit eclats d’amandes, marmelade fraises, fruits creme monte mousseline a la vanille”)
–Tarte Au Café (Coffee Tart; ingredients included “pate sablee, ganache au café chantilly au café”)
– 2000 Feuilles (2000 Leaves; “pate feuillette caramelise, praline feuillete et creme mousseline au praline”)
– Millefeuille
– Eclair au Chocolat
– Carrement Chocolat (“biscuit moelleux chocolat, creme oncteuse au chocolat, mousse au chocolat, fines feuille de chocolat croquant”)
– Paris-Brest (“pate aux eclats d’amande et sucre grain, creme mousseline au praline”)

The above were available in individual-sized, small pieces. Other cakes were available for larger groups, including the Ispahan.  Also offered were very few sandwiches and some bread items.

Additional information on Pierre Herme follows.  The 185 rue de Vaugirard shop (01 47 83 29 72) is currently projected to open for business in June. Korova and the existing Rue Bonaparte generally offer the same items for sale. Finally, Korova is relatively easy to access at 33 rue Marbeuf in the 8th arrondisement. It would be a less-than-3 min. walk from the Franklin Roosevelt metro station.   ;)

#7 Margaret Pilgrim

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Posted 03 April 2002 - 09:20 PM

Be forewarned that Sunday afternoon before last there were 18 people waiting outside on the sidewalk, and as many already inside waiting to be served.
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#8 cabrales

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Posted 04 April 2002 - 01:43 AM

Margaret -- When I visited on a Thursday morning (around 11 am), there was only one other client and I was served immediately. It took me several minutes to decide among the different available goodies, and the two vendors were waiting for me.  ;)

#9 Margaret Pilgrim

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Posted 04 April 2002 - 11:49 AM

It took me several minutes to decide among the different available goodies...


Cabrales, you took the thought right out of my head.  When we arrived, it looked like it would be "several minutes" per person for those outside, "several minutes" each for those not yet served inside, or a good chunk of an hour before it was our turn to gape in indecision.  We should know by now that a sunny spring Sunday is not a good time to check out someplace trendy.  :p
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#10 cabrales

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Posted 04 April 2002 - 12:01 PM

Margaret -- I bought at least one of each type of macaron (except for the olive oil/vanilla). However, there were so many other patisserie items to try that, with the price of each item being low in absolute terms, I seriously thought about buying more than I could finish and merely taking one or two bites of certain items. But it seemed wasteful, and I didn't carry through with it. The next time I visit, I might have to revisit that possibility.  ;)

#11 cabrales

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Posted 05 April 2002 - 07:10 AM

Macarons . . . .“caramel a la fleur de sel”, with a cream of caramel with butter and a special sea salt . . . As Bux mentioned, the tastiest macaron by far is the caramel with salty butter – a balanced mixed taste of sweetness and saltiness; rich and satisfying.

I have been thinking about the effect of fleur de sel on the sweet caramel macaron.  In the macaron, the salt was not "distinct" from the remainder of the item. And its utilization was difficult to pinpoint or to describe. Pierre Herme and other chefs' utilization of salt in pastries and other desserts is described in an August 30, 2000 NYT article (A Hesser's "There's a New Flavor in Town and It's . . . Salt; Dessert Traditions Go Over the Shoulder"):

"Salt's traditional role in desserts was to elevate flavor. But it was never used to this extent. . . . Mr. Conticini [at Petrossian, Paris]. . . has been stretching dessert's definitions . . . . Fleur de sel is sprinkled on hazelnut and chocolate cakes. . . . The salt does not emerge in every bite; just now and then a faint crunch will appear. At these moments the flavor changes -- it comes alive more, then retreats, and the cake becomes sweet again. . . .
'[Fleur de sel is] one of the major ingredients,' Mr. Herme said. 'If you want to see what it can do, you get a slice of baguette, you put ordinary chocolate on top, and you put it in the oven. After five minutes, when it comes out, you sprinkle some olive oil and put maybe four or five grains of fleur de sel on it, and you will see how fleur de sel can push the flavor of the chocolate. It's amazing.'"

#12 cabrales

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Posted 07 April 2002 - 07:31 AM

A couple of additional observations on Korova, which happens to be located very close to Maison d'Aubrac (offering Aubrac beef). I had tea there Saturday afternoon. As Margaret reported, the queues were considerable (often 8+ person deep) in the take-away, pastry purchase area. I seated myself in the Korova restaurant, which offered the pastries at apparently comparable (unclear whether exactly the same) price levels to the take-way scenario.  

I had the Ispahan again, which was perhaps more beautiful than last time. I noticed that a single dew drop on the burgundy rose petal was replicated using a clear (likely sugar) solidified drop. A pleasing feature. I again liked the juicy fragility of the rasberries, and tasted the texture of the lychees more toward the center of the macaron. I also sampled the olive oil and vanilla macaron -- the only one I had not tried before -- and found it only so-so.  Then, two wonderful caramel macarons with fleur de sel. All accompanied by green tea with fresh mint. ;)

I was tempted to try the lemon tart, which had slivers of lemon peel, positioned curled and flat on the surface of the yummy-looking (apparently) lemon custard.

The Pierre Herme "signatures" listed on the Korova menu included (1) Tarte chocolat, (2) Tarte au cafe, (3) Plaisirs sucres, (4) the Ispahan, (5) 200 Feuilles, and (6) Carrement Chocolat (a chocolate box with gold leaf on top). The "Autumn/Winter 01-02" creations were indicated to be the Arabella, and Tarte au chocolate au lait (milk chocolate tart).  

The more "substantial" dishes on the menu utilized during the afternoon tea period were relatively limited: (1) Poulet fermier roti au Coca Cola, puree de pommes de terre (Roasted farm chicken with Coke, potatoe puree), at 24.50 euros, (2) Pastrami a la "Yiddish Mamma", pain aux cereales (pastrami with bread), at 17.50 euros, and (3) Jabugo Spanish AOC ham, at 20.00 euros. I am not aware of what menu items are available during lunch or dinner. My own guess is that Korova might be a better place for sampling Pierre Herme's pastries than for taking in a meal.

#13 pickled

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Posted 07 April 2002 - 11:42 PM

I recently enjoyed tasting several pastries from the "Signatures" at the Pierre Herme boutique in the 6ieme;
Papillote praline, Tarte au cafe, Tarte aux pommes and Surprise.
(I did buy them knowing that I would just be tasting, quickly at that, on a bench, in front of the fountain at St. Sulpice)

Though I found each fantastically flavored and constructed, the sugar levels were off the charts! In a way, this took away from my pleasure of sampling Mr. Herme's work.

Not to mention, less than half of the items printed on the menu under "Les Signatures" were available at the time of my visit.

Has anyone else been surprised when visiting Pierre Herme?

#14 Bux

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Posted 11 April 2002 - 04:35 PM

I have been thinking about the effect of fleur de sel on the sweet caramel macaron.  In the macaron, the salt was not "distinct" from the remainder of the item. And its utilization was difficult to pinpoint or to describe. Pierre Herme and other chefs' utilization of salt in pastries and other desserts is described in an August 30, 2000 NYT article (A Hesser's "There's a New Flavor in Town and It's . . . Salt; Dessert Traditions Go Over the Shoulder"):


While salt in dessert has gained some recent attention (notoriety?) many of us as children, have enjoyed pretzles with ice cream or chocolate and a pinch of salt figures in many dessert recipes which may seem flat if made without the salt. More germane to Hermé's caramel macarons with fleur de sel are the carmels of Brittany that have traditionally been made with the salt butter of Brittany.

I'm curious to know why fleur de sel is used when it's been dissolved into the preparation. It would seem to me that the feature of fleur de sel is it's fine texture, not its unique flavor.
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#15 Steve Klc

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Posted 12 April 2002 - 05:27 AM

I suspect fleur de sel is specified, even when dissolved in a preparation, because the savvy patissier knows that it has cachet in the media.

I'm with you Bux on the true appeal of fleur de sel as being its large crystalline structure, potential for visual appeal and the crunch of the grain.  It works differently in the mouth.  There's no doubt in my mind that the effect of most dissolved or dispersed fleur de sel in a baked good is indistinguishable from most other salts, though some palates may disagree.
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#16 Bux

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Posted 12 April 2002 - 06:57 AM

I should say I'm offended by the pretentious and conspicuous use of fleur de sel in this manner, but I'd probably have to add a similar comment about the use of flecks of gold leaf decorating Bernachon's Palets d'Or. Perhaps it's better to adopt the philosophy of life espoused by cabrales in the beef thread in regard to a bit or pretense in haute cuisine"...but that can't be helped in French cuisine."
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#17 Steve Klc

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Posted 12 April 2002 - 12:08 PM

well, on the subject of gold leaf, there is the same visual appeal thing working as with the visible sea salt grains--24K gold is edible, and a nice visual contrast with the dark chocolate and in some applications, kind of an almost supernatural way a little piece twists and folds back upon itself even in the absence of any wind or breeze.

yes, there are undoubtedly other historical connotations and pretense is one of them.
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#18 Bux

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Posted 12 April 2002 - 10:16 PM

Indeed, there's a lot to be said about making food appetizing to look at as well as taste. I tend to affect the attitude of a prude or puritan while enjoying my foie gras. I may say it's only the food that counts but the truth is that I've come to appreciate all the other things around the food that make fine dining both a pleasure and an expensive proposition. That something looks good enough to eat may be a compliment in some arenas, but when it comes to food, sometimes "it looks too good to eat" is the ultimate.
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#19 cabrales

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Posted 14 April 2002 - 04:10 PM

I should say I'm offended by the pretentious and conspicuous use of fleur de sel in this manner, but I'd probably have to add a similar comment about the use of flecks of gold leaf decorating Bernachon's Palets d'Or. Perhaps it's better to adopt the philosophy of life espoused by cabrales in the beef thread in regard to a bit or pretense in haute cuisine"...but that can't be helped in French cuisine."

Bux & Steve Klc -- Apart from the visual appeal you discuss, Bux's quoted post alludes to the possibility of the use of "pretentious" or "eye-catching" ingredients to satisfy some non-palette-related needs that some diners might have.

Using the caramel/fleur de sel macarons as an example, it is conceivable that certain diners might enjoy having their egos stoked in feeling they are receiving a gastronomically sophisticated or "cutting edge" item (obviously, this is only perception-related, since fleur de sel has been utilized for a long time, albeit not necessarily in the context of desserts).

Although most luxurious, expensive ingredients taste good (e.g., caviar, high quality foie gras, truffles, Bresse chicken), I have at times wondered whether certain diners choose dishes with these ingredients as much based on how those ingredients fit in with their own notions of themselves, as on the "intrinsic" taste of the item.  :confused:

#20 Steve Klc

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Posted 14 April 2002 - 05:51 PM

Most definitely so, Cabrales.  Much in the same way a certain segment of diners go to the Palm--or other power steak places--for those gargantuan lobsters and cuts of meat--and perhaps for ego-stoking of a different sort?
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#21 cabrales

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Posted 15 April 2002 - 12:10 AM

for ego-stoking

Steve Klc -- Depending on circumstances, certain other diners might be going to restaurants with "eye-catching" ingredients, high cost or extravagant wine lists to impress *others* of their perceived stature, knowledge, wealth or taste. This might manifest itself in situations like, for example, business lunches or recruiting lunches.  :wink:

I tend to think that the reinforcement of one's notion of self is a more intriguing discussion. Even for eGulleteers, for example, could some members be choosing particular restaurants because, for example (without any negative connotations): (1) a given restaurant is a "rising star" and discovery of restaurants before the dining masses do reinforces the member's notion of having a particuarly good palette, (2) a given restaurant is a familiar place and the member is in need of feelings of security at a time of transition in his life, (3) a restaurant is known for innovation and understanding its cuisine might reinforce the member's desire to feel like he is absorbing new things and "growing", (4) visiting restaurants around the world reinforces the member's perceptions of himself as a well-informed and well-traveled person, or (5) a restaurant is associated with a happier time in the member's past, and the member revisits the restaurant to reinforce his memories associated therewith.  :wink:

#22 Bux

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Posted 15 April 2002 - 01:17 PM

Sure all of the above and perhaps different combinations for different folks and I assume we are agreeing that none of that is necessarily a bad thing all by itself. I think much the same can be said for opera fans and baseball fans who enjoy catching a rising star, going to a stadium or concert hall they know well and feel comfortable in, growing by a better understanding of the sport or art, etc. What sport or opera fan doesn't enjoy a new venu when he travels and who among us is not nostalgic for earlier happy memories. Dining is just another pursuit that gratifies us in many ways both sensory and intellectual.
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#23 cabrales

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Posted 15 April 2002 - 03:41 PM

Sure all of the above and perhaps different combinations for different folks and I assume we are agreeing that none of that is necessarily a bad thing all by itself. . . . Dining is just another pursuit that gratifies us in many ways both sensory and intellectual.

Bux -- I'd be the first to admit that at least one of the five listed considerations applies aptly to me, but I'm not going to specify which.  :raz:

#24 Bux

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Posted 16 April 2002 - 01:51 PM

Gee, they all work for me   :biggrin:   at least in some aspect in some little way. Earlier this afternoon, I was thinking that the only time there's a problem is when one of these aspects moves one to choose the more expensive over the genuinely better. That assumes you have had the opportunity to understand why the better is indeed better. It's excusable to choose the inferior but more expensive at least once for reasons of intellectual curiosity, assuming you can afford to indulge such curiosity.  
:biggrin:
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#25 cabrales

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Posted 19 April 2002 - 06:56 AM

The Winter 2002 edition of Edward Behr's "The Art of Eating" notes the following regarding Herme and Conticini:

"The fall theme [for Herme's collections] was the color chestnut, and the spring theme is to be transparency, expressed in apperance, texture, flavor. Just three locations are intended for Paris but others are planned for other cities . . . . (It's not clear, however, what he seeks in the United States, either in his books or his relationship with the Wegmans chain of supermarkets)".

"Peltier is the palce to watch under the patissier Philippe Conticini. The main Peltier location was closed for two months to be radically redone in a new manner to suit Conticini's about-to-be-launched new pastries. The shop hadn't reopened in time for this issue."

The locations of Peltier are:
66 rue de Sevres (7th), 01.47.83.66.12 (open daily)
6 rue Saint-Dominique (7th), 01.47.05.50.02 (open except Sundays and Mondays)

The Behr magazine has a nice tidbit on sauce spoons, and on Escoffier.  :wink:

#26 Patrice

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Posted 22 April 2002 - 05:17 PM

In the new french Saveur magazine there's an interesting story about Hermé and his wife, who receives guest to lunch: os à la moelle with caviar, macaroni with truffles and carrots and oranges salad with cardamom ice cream!!!
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#27 Margaret Pilgrim

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Posted 23 April 2002 - 06:01 PM

 In the new french Saveur magazine there's an interesting story about Hermé and his wife, who receives guest to lunch: os à la moelle with caviar, macaroni with truffles and carrots and oranges salad with cardamom ice cream!!!


Patrice, I am interested in knowing about the dessert you describe.  Where is the comma? I am hoping that you are suggesting carrots and organges salad with cardamom ice cream.  That'sinteresting.  

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#28 Patrice

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Posted 23 April 2002 - 06:33 PM

Yes Margaret, it's a carrots and oranges salad with cardamom ice cream.  He serve the dessert in a Martini glass.  The carrots are cooked in a cinnamon sirup.  This desserts, like others from Hermé can be taste at Korova, where his wife also serves as consultant for the main menu.
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#29 Bux

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Posted 23 April 2002 - 06:44 PM

Interesting point. I had already assumed dessert was carrots and oranges with the cardomom ice cream. Maybe that's because I had a dessert with carrots that Patrice made last week. At any rate, carrots seemed a perfectly logical dessert ingredient after Patrice's successful use. Come to think of it, Philippe Conticini prepared a dessert with carrots at the Salon du Chocolat in Paris last fall and that was also quite successful.

One of the simplest successful uses of a vegetable for dessert was a piece of fennel stalk poached in syrup and served with home made vanilla ice cream. That was at Eric Frechon some years back in Paris. He's chef at the Bristol now.
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#30 cabrales

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Posted 06 May 2002 - 01:59 PM

I sampled the Tourte d'artichauts et legumes confits, sorbet aux amandes ameres (Artichoke torte and confit vegetables, bitter almond sorbet) at Grand Vefour. An excellent dessert, consisting of three components. First, a torte combining slightly sweet artichoke with a creme brulee like material on an unusual bottom piece. Second, confit cross-sections of celery that had candied elements and offered a refreshing taste. Finally, an appealing almond sorbet.  :wink:

Have members sampled a vegetable-based dessert at Guerard Besson (sic)?  I vaguely recollect description of it, although I have not dined at the restaurant.