November 21, 2013

Ispahan, mon amour

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My love affair with Pierre Hermé - his creations, not the man himself! - began more than four years ago, when I first stepped foot into one of his Parisien boutiques.  I was staying around Saint Germain and it was an easy walk to get there.  While I got to taste his macarons and experienced the magic for the first time, that visit was a little disappointing.  Why?  They didn't have Ispahan, as it was "not in season".  Ispahan, of course, is one of the Fat One's most famous creations.  I left Paris that day with a certain sense of regret…

I was too busy on my next trip to France - which came mere weeks after - to hit any shops for macarons.  So my next run-in with PH came the following year on a trip to Tokyo.  I made a beeline for the PH corner inside Mitsukoshi honten, and just grabbed anything I could.  Once again, they didn't stock any Ispahan in the "regular/petit" size.  Sigh…  But I did manage to pick up lots of other variations of Ispahan: a big macaron with a bunch of raspberries, a jelly emotion, a small tub of ice cream as well as a Miss Gla Ga.  I was pretty happy, but the sense of regret remained.

Later that year I was back in France, and made sure to stop by the PH boutique on rue de Vaugirard.  Nope, no Ispahan macarons that day, either.  But I managed to pick up jars of Ispahan confiture made by Christine Ferber, and tasted PH's truffe blanche et noisette macaron for the first time.

Another year later, and another trip to France.  The PH boutique on rue Cambon didn't stock any Ispahan macarons, but I did pick up more Ispahan confitures and white truffle macarons

Then something wonderful happened.  The Fat One opened up an outlet here in Hong Kong!  Surprise, surprise!  No Ispahan macarons during the opening season…

I've been on diet for more than 3 months, so any sort of snack and dessert was out of the question.  I didn't bother to stop by the PH boutique anymore, and put the idea of trying out new, seasonal macaron flavors out of my mind…

…until a few days ago.  Some dude posted pics of PH macarons on Instagram and there it was, Ispahan!  In Hong Kong!  I went to the PH boutique the very next day, resolved to break my 3-month ban on snacks because I didn't know when I would see the holy grail again next time.

Ispahan - finally!  The flavors were all there: rose, raspberries and lychee.  I was a little surprised by the bits of raspberries in the ganache, but I should have expected it… given my experience with the olive macarons.

Infiniment Jasmin - jasmin was one of the flavors which blew me away when I first had macarons from the Fat One.  I still love this… the beautiful fragrance of the flower came through.  Soft savory notes in the ganache.

Infiniment Chocolat Porcelana - I ain't no chocoholic or connoisseur, but even I know that Porcelana from Venezuela is just too damn good to pass up!  I've never really cared for chocolate macarons - until now.  Instead of just using plain old chocolate ganache, there were actually little solid bits inside the soft ganache.  It makes for amazing texture in the mouth that was just so much more rich and satisfying.  Definitely my favorite chocolate macaron.  Period.

Jardin dans les Nuages - interesting combination of chocolate and smoked salt.  The smokiness was definitely front of and center, and reminded me of the smoked Bordier butter…  Pretty good.

I was glad to find that they had come up with a specific box just for Hong Kong.  I've always loved the box from Paris, but now we've got one with our very own landmarks!

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