Paris has somehow made a reputation for itself as the most romantic and finest culinary city in the world. Although I am impressed with how Paris has marketed itself I am not sure I believe that these attributes are entirely true. In my opinion tourists bring their romance to Paris and it isn’t that the city exudes this romance on it its own. Regarding food, without a doubt French techniques have shaped cooking worldwide however some people seem to have the impression that whichever restaurant you step into in France you are guaranteed to enjoy an extraordinary meal. Whilst I dream of such a place in the world where each meal is prepared to absolute perfection, I am not sure this place exists and Paris is no different than any other city, some eateries are amazing and others are best avoided. Having said that there is a place where you can go for life-changing desserts.
You might be thinking that describing food as “life-changing” is an exaggeration but I beg to differ. I first discovered Pierre Hermé at the final salon for a Columbia University Creative Writing Program in Paris. Along with a selection of fine patisseries there was a baby pink cake, sat unassumingly on the long wooden table. I took a little bit of everything that was on offer but instinctively saved the pink cake for last. When I tell you that this cake literally melted in my mouth, it is no lie; I could not believe my taste buds because I had not expected such an adventure of flavour in one bite. It deserved a moment of silence, a pause to focus on what I was eating after which I found out it was a Pierre Hermé cake called Ispahan. I went up for a second slice without shame and ate it very slowly taking the time to decipher each flavour and it was after this experience that I had a new found respect for what desserts were capable of.
The following day I went looking for this Pierre Hermé cake so that I could carry it to London and share my experience with my dad so he could understand why I would need to go to culinary school to not only master savoury food but also add the pastry course to the program. To my dismay after getting lost for over an hour the Pierre Hermé boutique was closed. In London there are two boutiques but they only sell chocolate and macarons so I had to wait almost two years before I could reunite with Ispahan.
After the Paris Marathon this past April I was lucky enough to go to Pierre Hermé and get as much dessert as I could stomach. It was as though Pierre was expecting me because there were numerous passion fruit desserts to choose from. Whilst I enjoyed a selection of macarons nothing could compare to Ispahan, the floral pastry cream, with lychee and raspberries, encapsulated by the greatest macaron topped with delicate rose petals. Some ask if it was as good as I remembered it and the answer is, to this day if I had a choice what my last supper would be this would most certainly be the dessert and if I ever get married be sure that this is on the menu. No description could do this experience justice but all I can say is Ispahan by Pierre Hermé is life-changing because for that moment when the pastry begins to dissolve on your tongue you will have a new appreciation for dessert and culinary expertise that you could not have had otherwise.