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cabrales

Pierre Herme

163 posts in this topic

On the Buddha Bar, it is terrible, but it was very busy during 4Q 2001 when I visited. I ordered a sushi plate that was very poor (I was on a diet at the time as well). The drinks were passable, but seats were very difficult to come by. :hmmm:

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On the Buddha Bar,... terrible, but ... very busy

Meets my definition of "awful places."


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Although the Pierre Hermé thread has wandered far away from its gastronomic origins into the realms of Paris chic finance, I hope it won't be amiss if we return to what their products taste like. This past Sunday I picked up more than a dozen different pastries from the rue Bonaparte store. Forewarned that there might be a line, I had called in my order from the States. Earlier they had faxed the price-list. (Incidentally the quality of the copy was poor so some details were illegible).

In fact there was no waiting line on a drizzly Sunday afternoon. Fewer than half a dozen customers were desultorily milling in and out. (On the night before, the line at the cheese shop, Barthelemy, was snaking out into rue de Grenelle, by contrast). The pastries were waiting for me when I arrived. Since I was rushing to bring them to friends for tea, I did not bother to check what they had packed. Nor did the Rudi Gernreich-costumed -- no mono-kinis, just lots of solid angular browns and blacks -- serving staff offer to go over my order. The bijoux-like post-modern austerity of the boutique is amusing, but it wears a bit like a Jacque Tati movie from the fifties -- all a big joke.

Les Émotions: acidule, veloute,

Les signatures: tarte aux pommes a l'orange-- (for 3-4 persons), surprise

Macarons: huile d'olives, chocolate aux fruits de la passion, caramel a la fleur de sel, chocolat

Petits-fours: plenitude, ispahan, tartelette chocolat, mont blanc, tartelette citron, caraibes

Most of what I ordered was there, but much was missing. In place of the signature, caramel a la fleur de sel, and huile d'olives macarons, I got pistachio and coffee, neither of which I had ordered. The tarte aux pommes a l'orange (for Euro 21.40 !!) could hardly serve that many since it was the size of a standard single-serving tarte from any Paris patisserie.

Once in the shop, I added two other items that I thought would travel well for the trip back to the States, one package of sablé florentines and one of sablé chocolat. Only one made it.

My reaction to this range of tastes is still mixed. First as to les Émotions, acidulé and velouté, anyone who knows English cooking will immediately recognize them as chic Parisian versions of the trifle, the treacley sweet combination of fruit, nuts, cream, sugar, and cake, layered in an often clear glass and dished out as pud to balance the joint served up at the beginning of a Sunday dinner. The next course is usually a nap.

The acidulé, as those who remember the earlier reports, is a combination of mascarpone rice pudding, roast apple slice, mint and lime gelatin, the last justifying its name -- of course gelle sounds better in French. The most startling and intriguing taste in this desert is the dry-roasted apple slice which crowns the 4-5" high glass. It is a wonderful combination of dryness and sweetness and almost makes the entire desert worth it, but as far as I am concerned rice pudding is still rice pudding, with or without mascarpone. I think a stronger spice, perhaps cardomon, maybe with a bit of clove -- cinnamon would be a disastrous cliché -- might have given this base greater interest. I am not sure it works all that well and at Euro 7.30 a shot, even this generous portion -- it can easily serve two or three different spoons several dippings -- may not be worth it.

The velouté is also crowned with a thin slice of fruit, orange, almost crystalized in its intense flavor, like an unsugared confit, a nice contrast to the coffee that dominates the trifle. The cardomon used here combined with the suffusion of coffee recreates the sweet cardomon-coffee combination that is characteristic of Turkish-Arab coffee, but the allusion is overwhelmed by the orange influenced coffee gelatine at the base.

Both deserts offer a pleasing variety of textures, but the diversity may be too overwhelming. They never gelled in my mouth.

The petits-fours were more successful. The ispahan, the chocolate (plenitude and tartelette), mont-blanc and lemon were all excellent. I can't match the description, by Cabrales, as I recall, of the combination of rose and litchi that this creation captures. I usually don't like rose-flavoring in Middle Eastern sweets, but this creation combines the tastes with subtlety and panache. The caraibes (pineapple and cream of cocoa) did not work well. The tiny slices of pineapple fell off the tarte. Though the combination works well in a daiquiri, it never connected here. We were a group of five for tea sampling nearly about 10 separate pastries (two of each flavor) so we could hardly get more than a bite or two each. The chocolate used in the plénitude and tartelette is intense and flavorful. The lemon flavor in the tartelette citron au citron is sharp and pleasing.

I had been looking forward to the two signature macarons, olive oil/vanila and caramel/fleur de sel, but they were missing from the box. The other flavors are delightful, though pistachio and coffee are not my favorite. Particularly enjoyable is the chocolate with passion fruit. The cruchiness of the meringue is well-complemented by the smooth passion fruit paste at the center.

I am sorely disappointed by the tarte aux pommes a l'orange. It is more of a crumb cake, than a classic tarte, with poppy seed dotting the sweetened orange and apple chunks and strussel crumbs on the top. This is Hermé's homage to central European strudel-poppy seed pastry, not my favorite style of baking. My wife loves the stuff. When she gets a bite, I can gage how well he has achieved that taste. At the moment she is in Prague, doubtless getting her fill of such confections.

The Surprise in texture and taste reminded me of the chocolate passion fruit macaron, definitely worth ordering again. It captures a similar sensation of cruchiness and sweetness, but with almond and vanilla assuming the role of the macaron's chocolate.

The sablé are definitely worth getting. The chocolate never made it to the plane since I left them as a dinner gift. As soon as the container was opened, the rich buttery chocolate aroma pleasingly overwhelmed the nose and palate. Chewy and smooth, each little cookie was a delight. Right now I have just opened the florentines for the first time. Stick cookies, essence of almond, carmelized sugar, and butter are overwhelming. The crunchy almonds and chewy caramel butter of each bite is a delight. The sablé make a very practical, compact, and easily traveling gift to bring home from Paris. Highly recommended.

I hope this extends coverage of the Hermé offerings. There are still enough tastes there left to explore.

Having devoted all of this effort to sampling their wares, at the end of the day I am not sure if the Emperor's new pastries are all worth it. As I indicated in a posting to the New York discussion group, I still admire the artisanally prepared offerings of classic French pastry. If given the choice, I would still love to have Bonté's cassis cream cake over any one of Hermé's delights. But Bonté is no longer in business so I will have to settle for what I have found on rue Bonaparte,

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-- Emotions Acidulee -- Riz au lait au mascarpone, pommes poeles au pain d'epices, gelee de citron vert a la menthe. An apple cross-section on top is not entirely dried. Then 7-8 tiny cubes of Christmas-cake-like material that represents the pain d'epices. The gelee is very bitter, in an appropriate way. Then a small layer of cake (sponge-like), with chunks of green apple. Then, the dense rice-containing item.  Like previous Emotions offering, this one is time-limited (the prior versions were indicaetd to be no longer available) and served in a round, fat glass.

Vivremanger -- I remember the apple slice on top as not being entirely dried, as having some suppleness (limited). That surprised me slightly.

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Re: Cabrales "the apple slice on top as not being entirely dried, as having some suppleness (limited)"

You are quite right. The slice is dry, but still supple. It has a texture between the standard dry fruit softness and the crunchiness of a sweet potato chip. I am curious how it is achieved. The same applies to the orange slice in the Veloute.

(By the way, how do you get accent marks in this mode? When I post a long message I usually compose it off-line and then cut and paste, but for a quick response I don't bother. However the result is inaccurate French orthography.)

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Re: Cabrales "the apple slice on top as not being entirely dried, as having some suppleness (limited)"

You are quite right.  The slice is dry, but still supple.  It has a texture between the standard dry fruit softness and the crunchiness of a sweet potato chip.  I am curious how it is achieved.  The same applies to the orange slice in the Veloute. 

(By the way, how do you get accent marks in this mode?  When I post a long message I usually compose it off-line and then cut and paste, but for a quick response I don't bother.  However the result is inaccurate French orthography.)

For what it's worth, I'm on a Mac and can type accent marks here just as I do in most word processors. I also have a little pull down menu that allows me to access all of the characters in any font using a mouse. I appreciate accurate French orthography, but it's often overkill in an English language message board where few people even use a spell checker. It would be nice to have correct spelling and propper accents, but Steven Shaw has also pointed out the accent marks aren't handled well by our search engine. He has recommended we don't use them. I'm left straddling the fence and my posting history will show an inconsistent pattern, but at least some of my posts are correct and others can be found.

:biggrin:


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Thanks for this post, Vivremanger. Have you been to any of JP Hevin's shops? I think he may be the new Herme.

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I don't know the JP Hevin shops at all. Please tell us more.

I am also curious about Peltier run by the patissier Philippe Conticini located at 66 rue de Sevres (7th), 01.47.83.66.12 (open daily), and 6 rue Saint-Dominique (7th), 01.47.05.50.02 (open except Sundays and Mondays).

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Jean-Paul Hevin is a Parisian chocolatier who has three shops. Addresses may be found at the following link: JP Hevin webpage

Many of Hevin's chocolates and other desserts include spicy, tart or savory flavors, which gives them a strong personality.

His truffles are the best I've had, with perfect balance between the ganache and couverture, and incredible purity of flavor.

He doesn't offer the kind of variety of baked desserts that one would find in a full-blown patisserie, but I had a "tarte aux quatre fruits rouge" there that was pretty fantastic.

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Vivremanger -- I've been to Peltier's shop in the 7th, post P.C. assumption of supervisory responsibilities. Interestingly, there are not just patisseries, but also a significant "traiteur" operation. There are, among other things, assorted terrines containing "unexpected" (for traditional French terrines) products. I sampled several, and, although their ingredient combinations sounded fine, found the taste at best average. My expectations had been rather high, and I was disappointed.

On J-P Hevin, I have never visited the shop. However, I hear there are different cheese in chocolates, and have wondered about that.

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I think Hevin has been around too long and has too solid a reputation to be thought of as the new Herme. He's more of a chocolatier than a patissier. I don't have much personal experience with Hevin's stuff but on our last visit to Paris we stumbled upon his shop just south of the Jardins du Luxembourg, and although I had no real appetite I walked in and bought a single chocolate macaron just for the experience. I am left with the desire to try everything he makes.

We should have Steve Klc in on this discussion. Then again, he's posted about Hevin, Hermes and Conticini elsewhere on the site, if not on the France board. A search would be in order for anyone wanting valuable opinion on the three.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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There is mention of Herme's white truffle/mushroom macaron from this season in an article on macarons in today's NYT Dining section. The article describes the stark competition between Lenotre and Laduree, including in connection with a square-shaped macaron and rights to a name for it called macaree. The article includes interesting history on how marketing played a key role in macarons' becoming fashionable. Interestingly, Herme once offered a ketchup macaron, but it was not well received. :hmmm:


Edited by cabrales (log)

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A recent edition of Conde Nast Traveler had a short write-up on the macaron wars, this time between Herme and Laduree (one of Herme's former employers). This was precipitated by Laduree's opening up a new branch *close* to Herme, at 21 rue Bonaparte (Herme is in the 70s on the same road). Members visiting Herme there may wish to stop by Laduree.

http://www.laduree.fr/intro_bonaparte.htm

According to Laduree's website, the current flavors are: chocolate, black chocolate, vanilla, coffee, rapsberry, praline, orange, chestnuts, pistachio, lemon, rose, caramel, *violet flavoured blackcurrant*, *Yunnan tea*, mint, almonds, toffy, coconut, lime and basil, rose, cherries amaretto, apricot ginger and muscovado. Members visiting might want to sample the square-shaped version as well.

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I thought to revisit and correct my report of a few weeks ago about sampling Herme's products.

The correction concerns price and quantity, if I may raise the matter of filthy luchre. I had ordered the 3/4 person apple-orange tarte for about 20 euros and was surprized by its size. In fact when I dug up my receipt, I realized that they had packed and correctly charged me for the small individual tarte, a size I had not noticed in their catalogue. My wife, after her return from Prague, did sample that apple orange poppy seed tarte. Her first reaction, too sweet, but she later started to enjoy it. However her pastry taste is more central European than mine. My judgment remains that it is too much of a streuseley hodgpodge.

However my devotion to the sable florentin has only held and grown more fervent. At the moment I am contemplating the last 1/4 of a stick left in the plastic container. It is a marvelous confection: in addition to the expected butter, sugar, and almond powder, et al. this version has honey, zests of orange, and Grand Marnier. It is a bit more expensive than I had first remembered, about 14 euros rather than 10. If any of you are looking for compact and convenient gifts to bring home after a Christmas trip to Paris, that is the package. While the macarons are superb, these keep better.

Speaking of macaron, why can't we get the NYTimes et al. to drop the second o when referring to the French product which, as you all so helpfully informed me, has little in common with the horrendous dry coconut-cough-inducing gullet-clogging syrupy-sweet creation many of us most readily identify with Manischevitz and matza.

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Speaking of macaron, why can't we get the NYTimes et al. to drop the second o when referring to the French product which, as you all so helpfully informed me, has little in common with the horrendous dry coconut-cough-inducing gullet-clogging syrupy-sweet creation many of us most readily identify with Manischevitz and matza.

May I assume you are referring to Kerry Shaw's In Paris, All's Fair in Love and Macaroons on December 18th? After repeatedly referring to "macaron" as "macaroon," the author finally writes "... the French for macaroon, macaron, a word that implies roundness." There's no way I can equate those two words with a similar product based on my experiences, but the Larrouse Gastronomic says "macaroon" is the English term for the French "macaron." There's no justice.

While I think Kerry Shaw and the Times are technically correct, it's misleading in the way that crescent roll does not describe croissant. Then again I've had croissants that were not deserving of the name, so we're back at square one.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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From the James Beard Foundationsite:

"Pierre Hermé has closed his Salon de Thé in the 8th arrondissement, and his pâtisserie on rue Bonaparte is expected to close this summer."

Will keep you posted.

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I think I mentioned this possibility just after Christmas but I thought it would happen in February if at all. Apparently he's drowning in debt. :sad: I was happy to hear no reports of his stores closing.

If it happens, it will be a very sad day for pastry. :sad:

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Pierre Herme will NOT be closing his patisserie on rue Bonaparte - neither this summer nor at any forseeable date - confirmed a very reliable source today. This despite the renewed false rumours.

Calm down everyone. Back to your olive oil and white truffle macarons. There's nothing to see here. :smile:

I was fretting about this all morning as I hope to be staging there during this coming Christmas/New Year's/Epiphany season.

PH did amazing chocolate African masks for Easter this year. They may still be in the window so try to see them if you're in town.

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According to gayot.com, Pierre Hermé is "launching an ice cream collection" at his rue Bonaparte shop this summer. Of course this is the site that earlier brought the incorrect news that the shop was closing. So we need verification from those of you in Paris.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I just got off the phone with them, and it's true. Apparently he does two different types of confection, individual ice-cream sandwiches, covered in a sort of biscuit coating (flavors:satin,ispahan,chocolate,strawberry,caramel) and also (!) 1 liter containers of more "classic" ice-cream (flavors:satin,ispahan,lemon,caramel,apricot). The ice-cream reproduces the same themes and flavors as in his pastry.


Anti-alcoholics are unfortunates in the grip of water, that terrible poison, so corrosive that out of all substances it has been chosen for washing and scouring, and a drop of water added to a clear liquid like Absinthe, muddles it." ALFRED JARRY

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And I'm going for a tasting very soon. Will also tell you about the new Fall Collection. Will keep you posted ...

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If we can get to Paris this fall, I think I'm going to skip a dinner and sit in the place St. Sulpice with a liter of glace caramel. If I'm still hungry, I'll have an ice cream sandwich for dessert. :laugh:


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Bux, I'll join you! But start with the ice cream sandwiches - called Miss Gla'Gla; no I'm not kidding, for "glaces" French for ice cream - since they're only available through September. The ice creams are available year round - second year this year. I'm going Tuesday - I sooo cannot wait.

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So are these "glaces" better than the famed Berthillon?

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