Pierre Herme – Tokyo

when life gives you lemons and unnaturally good pastry skills


As I’m not likely to be heading to Paris any time soon, Tokyo would be as convenient a place as any to try the wares of the highly rated Pierre Herme. Pierre Herme is a pastry chef that brings delight to more discerning women than any other, additionally and not entirely unrelated he is also the patron saint of large hairy men who hope to attract the avid attentions of large numbers of women. The shop is in Aoyama, by coincidence, a five minute walk from where I was handily going to pick up a wad of cash. Off I went, found it, and waited 20 minutes out the front anxiously trying not look like somebody waiting for the pub to open so they could have their first pony of sherry for the day (see also clinic, methadone).

I’m not sure what I was expecting, given the praise heaped upon his macaroons I would have been disappointed with anything less than the sensation of a thousand angels brushing their sugar dusted nipples across my tongue in ecstatic unison. Discretely, for such a moment, I was fortunate enough, in lieu of a booth, to have the second floor cafe all to myself. One small potentially embarrassing situation was with the menu with a set containing three items and I wasn’t sure whether I just ordered the set and got all three and looked like a glutton or asked for one and seemed unusually parsimonious. I settled for saying signature set and them mumbling mousse with an airy hand wave that could suggest etcetera if need be.

espresso-herme


First to present itself was a small spongy treat accompanying my espresso. Me and the waitress managed to communicate that it was fig and that was the filling with cinnamon of a raspberry sponge thing. The sponge thing actually had the same texture of an extremely fresh licorice allsort and was much enjoyed for it.

The signature set arrived and it was three glasses which could be described as three ways of making desserty chocolate and then putting something on top. The first was coconut milk, tapioca, and passionfruit. The next was coffee ice-cream. And the last was mascarpone with cubes of pain d’epices on top (can’t catch me, Je suis le pain d’epices homme!). This was the best I could distill from the friendly waitress pre-espresso, fig was hard work enough. Mind you not friendly enough to turn a blind eye and let me snap away with my indiscreetly large camera.

And yes it was nice. Since I don’t sensorially respond strongly to desserts and I don’t make enough to appreciate from a technical perspective. It’s like showing the innards of an F1 engine to someone who only knows they’re the things that go broom. Undeniably it was charming, the mousse part begged to be dissassociated with hair volumisers, the other chocolate part was chewy like toffee without being chewy like toffee, and the ganache had the buttery sensual import not seen since…well…I won’t go there again.

pierre herme interior

As I absentmindedly pecked away, trying to get the spoon to fit that not quite distance to the bottom of the choccy shot glass, in the flicker of light from the leafy mirror I imagined Pierre himself appear in front me. ‘What did you think?’ he asks. ‘Well it was nice’ … ‘like grandma’s biscuits’ we say in unison. I suggest he use some meat or fish and maybe instead of ice-cream he could have a nice rich gravy or perhaps a tasty hollandaise…it would at least make you a little less unsavoury. And as I look up to see the response to my imagined tremendous joke he has vanished and I was back to pecking at my glass under the watchful gaze of the third attendant in the cafe to watch over me.

I pay. It was around $25, not a ridiculous amount by any stretch but I then go and spend a similar amount downstairs on three macaroons, a couple of chocolates and a Pierre Herme tattoo sheet, hoping perhaps, his charms might rub off on me.

macaroons

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13 comments

  1. pixelkitty’s avatar

    I cannot wait to get there in September. Counting down the days to wonderfully diverse experiences in Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto.

    Eating french macaroons in Tokyo doesn’t seem at all perverse to me :)

  2. Reid’s avatar

    Anthony,

    Never had a macaron, let alone one from Pierre Herme. Do let me know how they were as I am quite interested in your opinion.

  3. Santos’s avatar

    that window display is completely awesome, but suggests a different sort of experience that i would rather have than the one you had. although that fig thing sounds good. as does that mascarpone pain d’epice thingo.

    wow, could you actually get a pierre herme tattoo sheet? there needs to be like, pierre herme car dealerships. all toughy toughy lemon sour on the outside, and pleasingly fluffy microcars on the inside going broooom broooom.

  4. Anthony’s avatar

    Natalie
    It depends how you eat them but no there’s not much they don’t have in Tokyo

    Reid
    Like Santos said, toughy outside yet pleasingly fluffy on the inside without going broooom broooom. Tasty to be sure, everything seemed to being doing what it was supposed to be doing very well. Expensive habit I’d imagine though.

    Santos
    It’s nice and cheeky isn’t it? The inside is more like a watch shop than a choccy and biscuit shop.

    Yes indeed a tattoo sheet, nothing I’d get inked in though and they tasted crap. There are any number of Japanese candiates for the microcar with the fluffy things inside – I swear I saw one called a Latte

  5. Santos’s avatar

    the daihatsu move latte, the very definition of the kawaii car!

  6. Anthony’s avatar

    Kawaiiiiiiiiiiii. Makes you wonder how big the Daihatsu Move Macchiato must be.

    Speaking of Japanese, I’ve got a certain person who eats here at the moment.

  7. tokyo goat’s avatar

    almost have to do the banana shake color

  8. Santos’s avatar

    did you and she eat?

    i’m with you, tg, the banana shake colour all the way

  9. Anthony’s avatar

    Thirded on banana shake, not an option you’d see in a Hummer catralogue.

    She ate, has eaten and continues to eat, all with exhaustive digital accounting. We had dinner at Chez Moi on Thursday – never realised what an effective heat insulating device banana leaves are.

  10. Santos’s avatar

    you are not a child of the tropics.

  11. Anthony’s avatar

    so true, where we were we didn’t so much have banana leaves as bananas packed up and left for somwhere with a bit of moisture.

  12. Jeanne’s avatar

    Aaaah, so now we have yet a new topic for endless e-mail discussion – comparative analysis of Pierre Herme macarons! Looks to me as if you have the passion fruit, the salted butter caramel and the rose flavours there? DO tell…

    I have been to the Paris store twice and I must say I just adore it. The staff are not nearly as snooty as their Frenchness and rareified place of emplyment might suggest, and the photo opportunities are great. Definitely more jewellery store than pastry shop! Haven’t tried anything except macarons (all of them, repeatedly), the famous Isphahan and some nutty tuilles, but all were fantastic. I’ll be back in July and have vowed to try something exorbitantly priced in a glass ;-)

  13. Anthony’s avatar

    Erk ermm. yellowy one, greeny one, and pinky one. I’m pretty sure the greeny one was matcha.And i should add I managed to share them with the person I was staying with.

    Very good though, tasted like what creamy biscuity treats should taste like if they don’t have any crap in them. And yeah the staff was really nice here too. The guy at the cash register looked genuinely pleased when I said I enjoyed my desserts.You should try them – good value I thought.

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