Friday, April 29, 2005

Pierre Herme: Emotion Ludic & Inca

You thought you weren’t going to hear anything on Pierre Herme until I’m back in Tokyo, didn’t you? (Whoever this hypothetical “you” that is holding your breath waiting for the next edition of the PH series is.) Did you think I’d abandon you like that? Oh no, I’m way ahead of you! The week before I flew back to the States, knowing that my only choice of store bought dessert would be Dunkin donuts and Cheesecake factory cheesecakes for the next month, I treated myself to, not one, but two PH creations. Watch and weep, my friends, watch and weep.

Emotion Ludic

The first item that caught my eye was Emotion Ludic. It must be a new spring release item as this was the first time I have seen it. Like everything in the Emotion range, Ludic is a study of layered flavors. While I still remember, here are the layers from top to bottom: strawberry marshmallows, strawberry mousse with mascarpone cheese and poppy syrup, strawberry and beets cooked in strawberry juice, and finally, strawberry compote. Did you notice the beets? Yes, beets with strawberries. Besides the color, I never would’ve thought these two could go together, but went they did. It broke the monotony of a pure strawberry dessert, which would’ve been perfectly fine, but the beets brought it to a whole different level. Playful? Definitely!

The next item I chose was quite unusual. I was trying to decide whether or not to get the millefeuille, but you know how millefeuilles are: a pleasure to behold, but a pain to eat. (What is the best way to eat one anyway, without completely butchering the delicate layers that someone so tenderly positioned and aligned into perfection?) At that moment, I noticed a little dome pale yellow in color, encircled in a thin wall of white chocolate, with a curl of dark chocolate perched crookedly on top.

Its name is Inca. Why Inca, I wonder. Did PH conceptualize the shape based on an Incan fortress? It takes some leaps of imagination, but what other reasons to name a dessert after an ancient civilization? Certainly the ingredients don’t seem to have any relationship to the Incans. To provide you with a better idea, here is a cross section: hazelnut pastry and a thin layer of chocolate ganache provides the base for this dome of avocado and banana cream topped with grapefruit confit.

The shop girl assured me that the taste is very “grown-up” when I asked her to confirm the presence of avocado. Hmmm, my taste buds must be lagging behind in aging then, as I didn’t quite enjoy this combo. Jason said he tasted something metallic, but I was more bothered by the slightly bitter after taste. But look at how cute it is!

Urrrgh, I wasn’t going to say anything, I really wasn’t. I know this entry is about food, pastry to be exact, but would you look at the pictures? Look at how dull they seem, and believe you me, the Inca is not this shade of unhealthy grayish jaundiced yellow. Did you think I would have picked it out of the line-up over PH’s famous millefeuilles if this was the real color? And Emotion Ludic! Can you even tell the strawberries and beets apart? I wish I had my Nikon D70 to take these pictures. Now that I am used to the depth and range of colors the D70 produces, I can never look back on my Olympus 3040 or Sony T1. Here’s an analogy: the images produced by the D70 are like Hermes screened silk scarves, and the ones that came out of the T1 are like Salvatore Ferragamo scarves. If you’d never seen an Hermes scarf, you might think the Ferragamo ones are pretty good. Once you've laid eyes on a square of silk that underwent Hermes’ painstaking process of weaving, engraving (as many as 36 screens for one scarf), printing, cutting, and hand-stitching, however, you will never want to look at another Ferragamo scarf, ever. There aren’t enough colors to start with, and whatever there is, all seem so dull when compared to Hermes. The camera is the same. I won’t bore you with the technical details of why D70 produces much more vibrant colors, lest I be taken as a geek, but suffice it to say that I do have scientific evidence.

Sorry, now that I got that off my chest, back to Pierre Herme. As I said, we didn’t like the Inca too much, but Emotion Ludic we loved. Jason was wowed for the first time by “those over-priced cakes that even you could make” (his words). After we almost licked the glass of the Emotion Ludic, I asked how my strawberry mousse cake measures up. “Oh, there’s no comparison. This is sooo much better, not in the same league,” he said without hesitation. For once I am not the least bit insulted.

Other Pierre Herme entries:


Emotion Ispahan


Hsin said...

You are indeed a dedicated PH fan. My tastebuds aren't so refined - I thought their desserts were good, but not anything that special. Anyway, your photos really make them look fantastic. I was somewhat disappointed when I walked into the PH shop and looked at the Emotion Ispahan - it looked so... ordinary! If you decide that food will not be your next career, perhaps photography should be it.

Santos said...

hi lynn--i was once told that the proper way to eat a millefeuille is to turn it on its side and use and fork and knife to cut through all the layers, to get the proper cream+pastry ratio, with less of a mess. not that i've ever tried that. also, i have no idea if a pierre herme millefeuille is shaped in a way that it can be turned on its side.

i finally tried your mame daifuku recipe this weekend, the shiratama mochi flour makes such a difference, it was wonderful. thanks!

keiko said...

Hi Lynn, I hope you're having a great time with your D70 (I'm jealous) and thanks for not abandon me :) They look very him, although I have to agree that the combo of Inca doesn't sound very tempting...

Lynn said...

Hsin, I do find that sometimes things look better singled out. When you look at too many things, nothing seems special.

Santos, I'm glad you were able to find shiratamako. And thanks for the tip. Yes, his definitely can be turned onto its side. I will try it with your method.

Keiko, I think from now on I will stay away from anything that claims to have "otona no aji." ;oP Have you decided which camera to get yet?

Anonymous said...

Hi Lynn, I am a big big fan of Pierre Herme and I've been looking foward every week for your latest post in the site. I think I agree with you that the combination of Inca is a bit weird and I also read some other reviews regarding this cake saying that the candied grapefruit indeed overpowered the other components.
I have to agree with hsin that your photos looked like the ones used in cookbooks they look so wonderful.Anyway I haven't tried any of PH creation but I think if Iam given the chance I will try the Le Cerise Sur Le Gateau, have you tried it? thanks

Lynn said...

Hi Anonymous, glad I could be of your service =o) I haven't tried the Le Cerise Sur Le Gateau yet, but I will do that and let you know.

I just got back to Tokyo a couple of days ago but I saw some really nice looking new Emotion (lemony in color) when I biked past the PH store yesterday. I will have to try it as soon as I get my act together =o)

Anonymous said...

Hi Lynn, thank you for replying to me and I am really happy to join you in this site. Actually I am a pure chinese and my name is Cathy. I am sorry that I didn't get to post my name the last time coz I don't have an account on this site yet, but as soon as possible I will try to have one. I think you are right that there are indeed new cakes of Pierre Herme out now, I saw it on the chezpim website and they look really really cute. One of the latest product is the Sensation Ispahan and the Pistachio Arabique Macaron as well as the cake on stick. I also tried a plaisir sucre similar to the ones of PH in Singapore, it is a shop owned by one of his student named bakerzin. The cake is really really good so I think the original Le Cerise Sur Le Gateau will be mind blowing. Thank you for sharing your PH experience with us and hope to see your post soon.

Anonymous said...

recipe-wise...u should try this site: