Without a doubt, these were the family favorite on this recent trip to Paris. I know some folks feel Pierre Herme is overrated, and to some degree overpriced. But maybe we just nailed the timing right (early, within an hour of opening) or the pastry chef was in a good mood the night before… but these macarons were outstanding. Located on Rue Bonaparte, in the sixth arrondisement, it is a terrific neighborhood to go window shopping and explore smaller streets and squares. We started the morning with a trip to the market on Rue Raspail (subject of a separate post) and walked around until we hit Herme. A relatively recent phenomenon, Pierre Herme apprenticed in the kitchens of that legendary patisserie, Lenotre. If I had known that when we were in Paris, I would have taken extra steps to circle back to the neighborhood were Lenotre was located. Lenotre is the only macaron purveyor that I really wanted to sample that we didn’t manage to get to on our recent trip. But never mind, back to macarons of Herme.
We purchased ten different macarons at Herme, and our taste-testing panel had expanded to 5, which included my other sister (yes, I have two!) and her daughter, who had joined us in Paris for a few days. These were the “plumpest” and freshest looking macarons we had sampled during the trip. Just look at the photos and you will know what I mean. If these were flowers, they would look like they had just been cut, kept in lots of water and under ideal temperature/humidity conditions. We had a pamplemousse (grapefruit), passionfruit, salted caramel, rose, mint, jasmine, chocolate, pistachio, apricot and cassis.
Some of the flavors were unusual, but they were all executed superbly. Those that stick out in my mind are the slightly bizarre experiments, for which Herme is known… the mint was delicious, but odd with bits of fresh mint leaves in the filling. The jasmine was unusual and yet the flavor and fragrance of jasmine was unmistakable and a pleasure to behold. The grapefruit or pamplemousse, besides its wonderful name in french, was a joy to eat. All were totally top-notch. All the classic flavors were also delicious, and taken one step higher with an incredible attention to the balance of filling to meringue. The textures were soft but not overly mushy. The sweetness balanced by real flavor. Totally yum.
The Teen and Mrs. MM actually picked out the macarons while I tried to get some photos of the shop which I will include in a separate post. Biting into one of these delicacies was just a wonderful experience overall. No frou-frou dainty pastel colored versions here. NO neon/acidic looks like Mulot. These were substantial… almost like mini-mini-burgers (think White Castle in France…). Compare these photos in earlier macaron posts to see what I mean.
We managed to eat all of the 10 macarons right there on the sidewalk opposite the Herme shop, watching a steady stream of customers line up to load up on their sugar fix for the day!
But if there was one macaron that made me swoon, it would have to be this cassis flavored one at Pierre Herme. At first I mistook it for blackberry, but I realized it simply included whole bits of black currant preserves in the filling and this was SUPERB. The flavor was intense yet not overwhelming. Definitely my favorite macaron of the recent trip. Pierre Herme overall would rate a solid 9.50/10.0 in our book based on this one visit. The best of the 6 shops, and roughly 60 macarons that we tried in a whirlwind four-day visit to Paris, under the guise of “research” for this blog’s readers. Heehee. If you find yourself in Paris, this shop is not to be missed.