Anyone who knows me well, knows I have a soft spot for Pierre Herme. He was the Parisian pastry chef that got me back into baking when I was 18. I had baked ever since I was a very young but it was a visit to Paris when I had just started University that reignited my passion. I visited the city, using my student loan to fund a trip with friends from America. A visit to one of Herme’s boutiques blew me away, I was so inspired by the patisserie on offer and it was also the first time I ever tried a macaron – I became obsessed. Over the years Pierre has become one of my favourite chefs and his boutiques are always on my list to visit when I’m in Paris. So when I was given the opportunity to meet and interview the man himself I jumped at the chance and back in December I found myself in central London at the launch of Pierre Herme’s new Macaron range.
Where do you find inspiration for your recipes because you never seem to run out of ideas?
Very different sources, there is no rule for this. If we take different macarons I can explain. In some Japanese savoury cooking they use cherry blossom with salt, but I hate it – so I decided to create my own cherry blossom taste with morello cherries, lemon zest and tonka bean and when you eat you should feel this inspiration. For another macaron I discovered a fabulous olive oil made with mandarin where the olives are pressed with the mandarin, which means the oil has a very pure, authentic flavour which gave me the idea to use it in different ways.
Have you ever tried to come up with a flavour combination that you haven’t been able to get right? As you are known for really interesting combinations.
No because when I imagine a flavour I have in my mind what it should be and I know what I want. Sometimes it takes time and sometimes it is very spontaneous but really it depends on the flavour. I have worked a lot with vanilla and one of the ways to enhance the vanilla flavour is to put a little bit of rum, just a bit and also use a little infusion of cedar to add a rounded flavour.
Is there a flavour you like working with more than anything else?
Not really. For now Im working on a lot of coffee, its my temporary favourite ingredient.
Do you remember what recipe you first developed when opening your boutique in Paris?
The first macaron I created when we opened was the white truffle and hazelnut.
Im travelling to Paris tomorrow and wondered if you have a favourite spot or place that you love?
There is a very nice and unknown museum called Musée Bourdelle in the 14th. He was a sculptor who lived in the same period as Rodin and is probably as talented as Rodin but not known.
Will you ever open a full patisserie in London? (London shops currently only sell macarons and chocolate)
You never know, maybe one day.
Les Jardins Macarons
The reason I got the meet Monsieur Herme was because he was in town launching his new 2013 macaron range. Each month this year one special flavour will be available and trust me these are special macarons, the full line up of macarons is listed below but from the ones I tried there was a few favourites for me including Jardin Japonais made with morello cherries, lemon and tonka bean and the Jardin Merveilleux made with mandarin olive oil and cucumber water.
Les Jardin Collection
Available from Pierre Herme (13 Lowndes Street, London, SW1X 9EX) and the Selfridges Food Hall (Ground floor, 400 Oxford Street, London W1A 1AB)
January – Jardin Pamplemousse – Grapefruit, Cloves and Candied Grapefruit
February – Jardin Sucre - Caramel and Rose
March - Jardin du Maquis - Chocolate and Honey
April - Jardin Japonais - Morello Cherry, Lemon and Tonka Bean
May - Jardin d’Ambre - Rose and Ambergris
June - Jardin Potager - Apple, Mint, Cucumber and Arugula
July - Jardin Fruite - Lime and Red Berries
August - Jardin Andalou – Mandarin Orange Olive Oil and Red Berries
September - Jardin Merveilleux – Mandarin Orange Olive Oil and Cucumber Water
October - Jardin dans les Nuages – Chocolate and Smoked Salt
November - Jardin dans les Bois – Vanilla, Rum and Cedar Wood
December – Complete Collection