Recently I've been on a macaron kick. It was never really something I'd gotten before, I've had a few grocery store macarons & maybe even one or two 'meh' restaurant ones, so I wasn't passionate about them. I did know, however, that there must be something to them considering how many people flip their wigs over a box.
My first port of call was Laduree near my flat, and I really enjoyed it - take a look at that Laduree review for more info. From there, my interest in macarons was kindled, so I went peeping around to try and find the best of the best in London!
...it's a short list. Apparently, even though the proximity to Paris would suggest otherwise, French patisserie is in a bit of short supply here. Because, you know, British people hate sweet & creamy treats. It's not like there as an entire traditional meal built around biscuits, cakes, and cream. So...wouldn't be a success here, I guess.
You can find macarons in lots of places, to be fair, but in terms of the best it's all basically "Get on a Eurostar, or Laduree (done) or Pierre Herme." Correct me if I'm wrong - because I'd love to try some more good ones!
Anyway, we went to Pierre Herme over the weekend to finish up our sampling of the best of the best in London. I wish it would've taken a bit longer to finish, haha.
It's in a fancy area that I rarely go to, but it's a very nice & accessible looking cafe - hardly too ritzy for the average t-shirt & sneakers wearing Creamy Steaks.
There were chocolates available, boxed tea, some sweets (jellies and the like) and a couple bagged biscuits - of course, also macarons. I had already been forewarned that this boutique doesn't stock any of Pierre Herme's amazing looking pastries, but I was still disappointed to find out that yes, it was true. A couple of loaf cakes, and that's it. I have no idea why the patisserie element of this shop isn't being utilized - to be fair, this is a very small space so I know nothing could be made fresh in that specific location. However, I don't get why they're not being made...somewhere in Britain.
I know that creamy cakes couldn't withstand being shipped from France. But surely British people would be interested in some fine patisserie from Pierre Herme, in addition to the macarons and chocolate? Frankly, I'd nix the chocolate and add patisserie. That's the USP - lots of nice chocolate by well known chocolatiers to be had here in the UK, but choux, saint honore, and all manner of well-crafted pastries is kind of a French thing, and the good stuff is hard to find here. I just think they're missing a trick not offering stuff like this...It can be done, as Patisserie des Reves & Laduree shows, and William Curley has an amazing selection of patisserie as well. So why not here? No idea. Maybe in the future, I can hope upon hope. I actually had a crazy idea that the French Tourism board discourages patisseries from opening up overseas, to maintain the amount of food tourism France currently receives. Hey, it makes sense kinda!
So, after much ado: the flavors we chose were Infiniment Vanilla, Passionfruit & Milk Chocolate (Mogador), Matcha & Black Sesame (Imagine), Honey & Meadowsweet (Jardins des Pres), Olive Oil & Mandarin Orange, and Pistachio, Cinnamon, & Cherry (Mosaic).
Infiniment Vanilla is a special blend of three vanillas: Madagascan, Tahitian, and Mexican. Some of the toppest-class vanillas in town, I might add. The ganache filling was cooling & buttery with a ton of vanilla flavor: it reminded me of a vanilla bean ice cream. I really enjoyed it, and it definitely was more special than a regular 'vanilla' flavored anything. It's a shame I'm not describing it very well at all: if you like vanilla, you'll enjoy this even more. I've had a perfume before, Comptoir Sud Pacifique, that smelled a lot like how this tasted. It was 'gourmand' in the same way a vanilla perfume would be - but don't worry, it wasn't at all sharp or alcoholic - just the fact that there seemed to be notes to it, that's the similarity.
The macaron 'shell' was crispy & chewy, slightly less chewy than Laduree. This was the same for all of the following flavors, as well.
Mogador is Passionfruit & Milk Chocolate, emphasis on the passionfruit. This one was my husband's favorite, very tangy with a very light & creamy milk chocolate. I'd say that the ganache was like that of a firm truffle filling, infused with passionfruit of course. This one was a bit more firm inside than the rest, probably do to the inclusion of chocolate.
Imagine is Matcha & Black Sesame, one of them that I chose. Slightly bitter & earthy matcha matched with nutty black sesame. The inside of this one had a black sesame 'crisp', in addition to the cream being infused with the two flavors mentioned. One of my favorites, but really only for green tea/matcha fans, as it was quite strong. For me, this was a really good thing. For others, might be a bit too much.
Jardin des Pres was Honey & Meadowsweet. Meadowsweet is apparently a type of herb - it looks like the sort of thing that would make me feel water-y eyed & sneezy, but it tasted delicious. It was incredibly sweet, but had the soft & ever so slightly herbaceous or flowery quality of a fancy honey. This one came in 1st place for me. It was also quite attractive, with a natural color & a cute clover stamp to remind you of meadows.
Olive Oil & Mandarin Orange is a unique flavor, but funny enough it's actually part of one of my favorite shower gels of all time, Lush's Olive Branch. I really presumed I wouldn't taste any olive oil, but I did. It was just a bare hint, but the savory & 'umami' olive flavor did come through just the tiniest bit to contrast to the tangy & sweet mandarin. This one was nice, but honestly not super memorable, I do seem to recollect that the center had a bit of jelly rather than just straight ganache.
Mosaic was an intriguing combination of cherry, pistachio, and cinnamon. Flavors that I love separately, but couldn't really picture together. It did work quite well. It was mostly cherry & cinnamon, and I think the pistachio really blended in with the cherry in the same way a nutty almond flavor will taste vaguely of cherry. This one was unique, but very approachable. Well balanced between tart, spicy, and sweet.
All they need to do is start bringing over some of those delicious creamy pastries over, and Pierre Herme would be an amazing addition to the sweet scene in London.