visit to the macaron king

Paris is definitely a food lover’s city, with a restaurant, cafe, bistro, brasserie, boulangerie, patisserie, or a combination of the above on every block. Unfortunately, my inadequate knowledge of the language meant definite surprises when attempting to order off the French menu.  Feeling a bit apprehensive towards the fact that I would unwittingly be presented with a plate of sheep’s feet, stuffed hare, or calf’s brain (which I actually saw at the farmer’s market… they’re about the size of my fist), which were indeed tastes I had yet to acquire, I decided to first tackle my sweet tooth and explore the numerous boulangeries and patisseries in my neighborhood in the 15eme.

Luckily for me, two world-renown brand names with flagship stores in the 6eme have decided to open up secondary stores in the 15eme, one a baker named Lionel Poilane and the other a pastry chef named Pierre Herme. Many consider Poilane’s crusty, two-kilogram round sourdough country bread to be the masterpiece of the baker’s art, but the apple turnovers and petite butter cookies called Punitions (”punishments”) are simply irresistible. A basket full of Punitions sits on the counter where you can to help yourself to a cookie or two… or three… a good exercise for self-restraint indeed.

And now for the gourmet tour de force from the “The Picasso of Pastry,” an innovator and fashion designer in the world of dessert, delivering a simple taste of heaven… Macrons de Pierre Herme. The French macaron (not to be confused with coconut macaroons) is a ganache or buttercream-filled sandwich cookie made from almond powder, egg whites, and sugar, which deceivingly seems common enough, but just one bite can transport you to instant nirvana. A French macaron in its truest form will fill your soul with pure bliss and have you on your knees at the mercy of the suitably dubbed Macaron King. I used to think the macarons from Paulette in Beverly Hills were divine, but Pierre Herme’s sweet concoctions are truly a taste of heaven!

Between the delicate flavors of pistachio, the alluring fragrance of jasmine blossoms, the smooth and silky texture of blackberry with creme de cassis, and the lush aroma of pink roses, it was definitely love at first bite!

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