>Beverly Hills, California
The great thing about LA (or any major city for that matter) is the instant accessibility to anything. Walking on Rodeo, tired, needing some time to get off my feet, it was an easy two block walk to find Paulette’s. Once inside it felt as if I’d made an even longer journey directly to Paris (see earlier Pierre Hermé post).
A beautiful atmospheric space with an undulating curved counter filled with brightly colored macarons. OMG. perfect!
Paulette herself was lovely. I talked with her about macarons, Paris and Pierre Hermé. Being sheepish in comparing her work to Hermé was a polite gesture since her work spoke for itself. The award winning space styled by Viennese architect Andrea Lenardin Madden and the fresh daily macarons made by herself and master pastry chef Christophe Michalak were a world class tribute to the modern haute patisserie française. I filled a sleeve with a dozen samples and sat outside with a friend getting high on our beautiful cache;
Caramel – ooey-gooey rich and chewy
Coconut – 2 dimensional
Madagascar Vanilla – PERFECT…really…just perfect!
Passion Fruit – an explosion of clean, bright, rich flavor. Pierre Hermé could not have done better himself.
Rose – too perfumey and strong
Sweet Wedding Almond – Dragée – nice but I’ve had better
Sicilian Pistachio – Excellent
Colombian Coffee – boring. It tasted like espresso powder.
I’ve already mail ordered a sleeve of my favorites.
MACARONS…BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS
If you haven’t had a french macaron before you’re in luck…you’ll be ever chasing your first macaron high. First of all you have to get rid of the coconut stack idea of a macaroon most people associate with the name and think of a soft chewy meringue type cake cookie on either side of a confiseur filling. In essence they are tiny flat almond cakes filled with ganache. Light and delicate but bursting with flavor. The have a chew to hold onto but start melting as soon as they touch the tongue. They are the quintessential Parisian pastry and they take them very seriously.
We woke up early and made a bee-line to the St Germain de Près boutique of the French macaron master Pierre Hermé. The “jewelery shop” boutique as its referred to at 72 Rue Bonaparte is in almost direct opposition to the soft pop and candy colored decor of the rue de Vaugirard store. The small, rich, walnut paneled boutique (wait…was I just buzzed in?, no) exudes elegance and even a little Swiss restraint in design. The brilliant colors of the tartes and petite gateau, macarons and petits-fours pop like culinary gems underneath the long showcase.
The service is polite and professional. You must declare your intentions first or at least tell them which size of brightly colored box you’ll need….not being shy I of course went big. Each macaron selected was delicately pinched with silver tongs and whisked away to the staging area for packaging. Escorted to the cashier, my wrapped ribbon box was presented to me with a little apprehension and a large feeling of responsibility. So French…Gawd [rolling eyes].
Running out of the boutique with glee we settled down on the steps of St. Sulpice and delicately shared each others catches. The Arabesque of pistachio with apricot filling was so beautiful, the l’Huile d’Olive macaron started me down a future path of loving olive oil cakes, the Plentitude was a chocolate and caramel wonder and the Fleur de Sel and caramel macaron was chewy, stiff, light and gooey. My favorite was the simple one of chocolate and coffee.
I’ve heard that real Pierre Hermé fans should go to Tokyo where his macarons are all the rage and he supports them with a chocolate boutique bar, a gourmet convenience store and the largest of his four retail outlets. As they say in Japanese “Mou ii kai” – “here I come!”