Pierre Herme is a genius in the art of pastry making my French friends tell me. They line up around the block outside his St Germain shop for exquisite pastries. I've tried the Isfahan and the Plenitude (rose scented and salted/caramel respectively). They are worth the wait. So when I saw a new shop just off the Rue de Rivoli around the corner from the Ritz I headed in. But they only sell macaroons. Not a cake in sight - just macaroons and some very expensive chocolates. This seemed just too precious for words - not to mention pretentious. I went in and started to say as much to the delightful woman behind the counter. She didn't argue. "It's a silly fad," I declared. "Paris has got macaroon-madness." She smiled her agreement. "People are fascinated by all the flavours we come up with".
Among those flavours are "white truffle and hazelnut," "salted caramel", "wasabi and grapefruit," "chocolate and foie gras."
I tried the white truffle and a salted caramel. They looked like precious jewels in their display case and at $1.50 for something hardly bigger than a 2 Euro piece they are about as expensive. But that is the man's marketing genius. Sell them for 50 centimes and they would still be relatively expensive but not nearly so desirable. They are, by the way, sublime. The white truffle has a true taste of truffle. As for the salted caramel, I read somewhere that salted caramels are one of Obama's few weaknesses. If Sarkozy has any sense he'll be sure to place a couple of these macaroons on the pillows in the Elysee Palace when the Presidential couple first drop by. In the meantime, I'm heading back over to Herme's to sample the chocolate and foie gras.