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Pierre Hermé is one of the best, if not THE best, purveyors of macarons in Paris today. And on March 20, he opened his boutiques on rue Bonaparte and rue de Vaugirard for the Jour du Macaron to offer his delectable pastries to the public in support of the Fédération des Maladies Orphelines (the Federation of Orphan Diseases).
I visited the boutique on rue Bonaparte – Hermé’s signature store – and found it filled entirely with macarons. The tarts, petits-fours, “Emotions” (layered desserts presented in small glasses) and chocolates that are normally present had all been cleared from the shelves and display case to make way for 30 varieties of pastel wonders, some of which were dusted in gold. Hermé’s imagination knows no bounds – while he makes wonderful classical macarons, he also creates fanciful versions with ingredients that one would never imagine using in a dessert.
The white truffle and hazelnut (truffe blanche & noisette) macaron is one example. The flavor of truffle is so sharp (I’ve even heard it described as “violent”) that one almost forgets that he is eating pastry! Then the crunch of the hazelnut manifests itself and voilà – you have a sublime taste and texture sensation. The foie gras and chocolate macaron is another uncommon marriage of flavors – the blend of these two ingredients makes an incredibly rich filling for the deep-red macaron biscuits that envelope it.
The names of several macarons also evoke fantasy and whimsy. “Azur” is the name of a macaron composed of chocolate biscuits and chocolate and yuzu ganache. (In case you didn’t know, yuzu is a Japanese citrus fruit.) The “Inca” contains a compote of avocado and banana with a chocolate ganache. A macaron made from pistachio biscuit, apricot-flavored cream, semi-dried apricot and a pistachio praline is called “Arabesque”. And “Eden” is a delectable combination of peach-flavored cream and saffron studded with apricot in a light macaron shell.
But the most important macaron of the day was the “macaron rouge” – a chocolate and raspberry concoction that melted in the mouth. It was the macaron designed to call attention to the national solidarity campaign of the Federation des Maladies Orphelines, which uses a red clown nose as its symbol. Its mission is to support victims of orphan (rare) diseases by raising money to support research for treatments and by increasing public awareness of these diseases. Hermé’s boutique placed a large box on a shelf opposite the cash register to collect donations for the Federation’s cause.
This Jour du Macaron is the second that has been celebrated by Pierre Hermé in support of the Federation – the first was on March 20, 2006. Let’s hope that it won’t be the last!
72, rue Bonaparte
185, rue de Vaugirard
Monique Y. Wells is co-founder of Discover Paris! – Personalized Itineraries for Independent Travelers. Please visit the Discover Paris! web site for information about its self-guided gourmet itineraries and its gourmet à la carte activities.