Where do I even begin? Sigh.
If heaven was a food, it would be embodied by these hand crafted Pierre Hermé (PH) macarons.
A basic macaron consists of a delicate cookie shell with some sort of filling in between. The cookie shell should be very delicate, crumbly, and fall apart in your mouth. Each half of the shell is a shiny round flat cap, followed by the “foot” or base. The two halves can be filled with just about any filling, though the most common tend to be whipped ganache types.
On this visit to the Aoyama PH (THE original), I was greeted by a lovely display of confections on the first floor of the shop. But what drew my attention the most was the macaron counter – a vast array of rainbow colored cookies in all sort of interesting flavors – Mogador? Ispahan? Rose? The clerk explained to me that like any major house of couture design, PH macarons come in seasonal collections. The current Spring Collection featured creative flavors like Isaphan (lychee, rose, and raspberry) and Mogador (milk chocolate and passion fruit). With so many choices, I just HAD to get a box – of 6 – for myself. Going at about 220 Yen, that’s about $12-14 USD for macarons. Oops. I then proceeded upstairs to the Chocolate Bar to enjoy more of the infamous PH desserts.
My first thoughts were – Hello cute waiter! My initial impressions of the PH chocolate salon were disrupted by the presence of a very tall, polite, multilingual Cantonese boy who offered to take my umbrella and shopping bags. After seating me at the counter overlooking the busy shopping street below, he offered me a menu as well as the dessert tray. Being completely in awe of the fact I was at PH (and him – ahem), I was tongue tied but did manage to ask for an explanation of EVERYTHING on the dessert tray. And it was fantastic.
Like I said, where does one even begin? I deliberated for a looong time and finally decided on the trio dessert sampler that featured the seasonal sorbet flavors. Fabulous. While I waited, cute Cantonese boy [with the popular Hong Kong shag hair cut, angled jaw line, ivory skin] entertained me with convivial conversation. He’s a foreign exchange business student, just a few years my senior, working part-time at PH. He offered sound advice about traveling through Japan as well as help with directions and other tips. Any way, I digress. This is a PH Review NOT a cute boy review. Sorry!
So my seasonal sorbet trio included: Lemon sorbet + whipped cream topped with ginger candy lace; Rose sorbet + lychee fruit + whipped cream; Caramel & chocolate sorbet with candied hazelnut and biscotti cookie. The Lemon sorbet was tarty but paired so well with the sweet and light-as-air whipped cream. The ginger lace was sweet and delicate, melted right in your mouth. Of the 3, this was the most delicate in flavor and least complicated in texture.
The Rose and lychee Sorbet (Isaphan) was a complete surprise! How does one pair rose, lychee and raspberry? The rose sorbet was very subtle, much more subtle than the Ici flavored
Rose flavor, and in my opinion MORE delicious. The floral fragrance and sweet lychee made for an olfactory orgasm. The raspberry added the tart, the lychee the sweet, and the rose the fragrance. Essentially, a feast for the senses – my favorite flavor.
The last one I tried was the caramel and chocolate sorbet – very robust and full-bodied flavors. The chocolate sorbet was NOT as good as Ici’s, as it was too bitter on its own. However, with a bit of the sweet and salty caramel, the combination was delectable. I really appreciate contrast in flavors, and I love it when ALL flavors are allowed to star together. The nuttiness from the hazelnut and biscotti was additional texture, and helped round out the overall sweetness of the dessert.
In addition to 3 sorbets, I HAD HAD HAD To try at least one of my macarons, and the Cantonese server happily put one on a plate for me. The Mogador – milk chocolate and passion fruit – was delectable! The flaky, delicate, soft, moist cookie was absolutely perfect for the passion fruit chocolate filling – the slightly tangy passion fruit flavor helped cut through what would have otherwise been a cloyingly sweet and dull palette of flavors.
So, I spent something like $35 on dessert alone. Wow. It was fabulous, and I have never spent a better $35 (ok well maybe…), but the experience was incredible! I am soo inspired to go home and make them – too bad the PH Macaron book is only written in French 😦 But I am so glad I tried these. I can now say my life is complete.