P. Hermé's Kougelhopf
During my years in Beijing, my boss, who was old school, used to tell me that every expat has to get to Hong Kong at least three times a year. For that reason, he would always find me a reason to go down to the Hong Kong office. Bless him. It was in Hong Kong where I learned just what a global city is. I remember the first time I rode in, by taxi, and I was hit in the gut with dreams of science fiction and the history of the oldest culture known to man, at the same time. It was one of those moments when your soul expands to take something in - thousands of glittering glass panes, the moon, the neon, changing and calling, a soulful helipad where you could hit the ground running. There are only a few international cities in the world that perform as magnets of glitz and culture. Like Hong Kong is to Asia, Paris is to Europe. This is the city where I spent the day on Saturday.
Lyon is a wonderful city, it is a great place to live, community, full of history and all that. But Paris - It's like Lyon is just one quartier, and Paris is multiplied by 20. The world comes to Paris. I feel like I'm going to another country when I go there. I thought of the wonderful weekend Merrick and I enjoyed in Paris last June. I am so glad that she had her ideas all organized and was quite firm with me about having a mission. I could just wander forever without any goal in Paris, which usually leads to blistered feet and leaves me precariously dependent on luck. For that reason, I realize it's best for me to set an itinerary and to set a few appointments with people to keep me from drifting like a leaf on the wind forever. For my one day, I set the anchor of a lunch meeting with two friends also visiting Paris from London.
After lunch with Maggie and her friend Enrico, in a restaurant where I had a piece of wood in my salad and the waiter gave me a chocolate to compensate for it, we headed to the Pierre Hermé boutique to pick out a pastry. The boutique itself was rather a minimal operation and not too glitzy, and they didn't have a tea room or anything, but they are very famous. I chose something simple. We headed to where they were staying, Enrico made some tea, and we enjoyed our pastries.
I had a mini kougelhopf (photo above). One bite began my search,and my mind turned over and over and churned for some time, and then I was left dangling there because I could not think of anywhere else I had ever had such a paragon of what I was trying to classify as brioche, but with a depth and certainty of something else.
I wish I had taken notes, because tasting that kougelhopf took me on a real journey. At the time I definitively stated that I would do a survey of the best patissieres in hopes of finding something that doesn't pale in comparison in Lyon. Now however, it doesn't seem like such a reasonable mission considering my altogether plan to live a healthier life. But it was nice to dream. I was glad to have a pastry that made me dream that way.
This is Maggie's pastry:
I brought Loïc some macarons. They had been knocked around a bit but survived.
Labels: Winter 05-06