For the following two weeks, while I am in France, I am going to try a new pastry. Every. Single. Day.
In case you haven’t memorized your multiplication tables yet (don’t worry, I haven’t either), that’s fourteen pastries. Is that a lot? Honestly, I would be eating that many pastries—or more—anyway, so I might as well get something out of it besides an empty wallet and a gourmet French dessert baby kicking at my stomach.
So what is culturally significant about fourteen variations of dark, rich, chocolate, flaky dough, and vanilla beans? I plan on finding out, one bite at a time.
Read the entire series here.
I have eaten many pastries. I have experienced many new things. But no pastry was as unique an experience as the Ispahan.
And it has a unique history, too, since the Ispahan is the only Daily Pastry so far that was invented by a still-living pastry chef, Pierre Hermé, called by Vogue the modern “Picasso of Patissiers.”
I truly loved my Ispahan, and I might even go so far as to say that it is my favorite pastry (until the next new pastry, anyway). As mine was not made by Hermé himself, or from the famous macaron brand Ladurée where they first appeared, there are some slight differences from the original recipe.
The Ispahan is basically two raspberry (framboise in French) macarons, the size of tea saucers, fitted around cream custard and a crown of fresh raspberries. The custard was also framboise in my Ispahan, and it was decorated with a dainty blueberry (a major rarity in France). Originally, the custard was rose buttercream and there was also a lychee berry in the middle of the raspberries. The colors were magnificently beautiful and vivid, and I couldn’t stop taking different shots of it:
So, Pierre Hermé, you genius. How did you do it?! It’s so amazing to think of a modern chef revolutionizing an already incredible and extensive pastry tradition in France. It’s like how people say everything that can be said has already been said but, because of Hermé, I simply cannot believe that’s true.
The heir to four generations of a bakery in Alsace, France, Hermé got his start at fourteen as the apprentice to famed pastry chef Gaston Lenôtre. Lenôtre is apparently one of the main inspirations for the character Gusteau in the 2007 Pixar film Ratatouille (Gusteau is the jolly chef who the main character, Linguini, looked up to, but who also died from the heartbreak of a bad review).
The only thing I couldn't find out is why it's called Ispahan. It seems like an interesting choice, since Ispahan (or Isfahan) is actually the capital of a province in Iran. Hmm. I guess this mystery will remain unsolved. For now.
Hermé invented a world of new tastes, sensations, and combinations. He was also the youngest person ever to be named France’s Pastry Chef of the Year. And I ate something he created! Wow! Stark-struck!
But seriously. This is a very, very good thing. I want to eat a lot. More. I want to eat a lot more.