Thursday, January 17, 2008
If I am right, it all started at the now famous La Duree tearoom, on the rue Royale around 1860, created in part to give a place for women to sit, have a cup of coffe or tea with a little pastry and not be harassed. My mother swore that in her day, if a woman went in a cafe alone, she was looking for IT, and might even be considered a slut ! or something...So,to the tearoom it was, conveniently located close to the luxurious rue Saint Honore,the Place de la Concorde and all the big departement stores It became a destination to a few in the know back then. As a child, I have very warm memories of stopping there with my mom on the way home after some big shopping spree, and entering a very small wood paneled and carpeted room, women in furs, waitresses in uniforms,carrying on silver trays the macaroons already sought by some. Back then, the rich chocolate ganache envelopped by the two crispy almond cookies was the best in Paris.I remember three flavors:chocolate, coffee and vanilla. It was ,in a busy and tumultous world, an affordable luxury, a nostalgic voyage into a time of leisure, pleasure, decadence,and privilege. Then, a pastry chef named Pierre Herme started working for them and changed it forever, they opened 2 new outposts ( in the most touristy neighboorhoods) and expanded the flavors of the macaroons , creating a mosaic of colors and tastes.Soon, it was on all tour guides and Pierre Herme left to start his own boutiques and finally garner the sucess that he deserved.
I went on this trip to the Saint Germain outpost with my Parisian friend F.The upstairs room was dark and cosy, but a single harsh light was right in F's eyes.The server bringing tea in similar silver teapots, got the order wrong, and we had to plead for sugar, milk and my mini macarron "red diva" which was I have to say divine.( you can see displays of them in the original laDure window, couture red with bay fruits, chocolate and winter spices...
Then on to try some Herme creations for the season: white truffle and hazelnut, salted caramel. I was uterly seduced by the melting earthy buttercream with the hidden roasted crunchy hazelnut in the center. Always a play of textures and suprises in the mouth.To make it even more special, a dusting of silver adorn.