I’ve been out of Paris for too many weeks now. The longing has set in. I can’t wait to resume my daily routine of coffee, pastries, walks along the Seine, and other bon vivant pastimes. Though, truth be told, I will be cutting way back on my pastry intake. Spending months putting on a kilo-a-week, followed by months of taking off a kilo-a-week are too grueling. At my thinnest, people always remark how shockingly skinny I am, while at my most rotund, someone invariably points out that I have indeed become fat. I’m now at a happy, healthy, well-exercised mid-point. So indulging in 5 pastries every day is likely to be scaled back to one that I force myself to walk across town to get, sans the aid of the metro.
Helping me keep the pudge at bay will be my new apartment, “conveniently” located nowhere near any of the finer pastry shops. Technically, yeah, it’s directly between Café Pouchkine and Jacques Genin, but the to-and-fro jaunt to either of them can burn half an éclair. And the full walk down to Pierre Hermé Bonaparte, the most dangerous of all the shops – if only because of the discount and freebies, should incinerate the caloric load of a whole Croissant Ispahan. At least that’s what I tell myself. My best intentions might degrade as soon as I step off the plane. Weeks later, I’ll be chasing a breakfast vanilla tarte with a bag of salted caramel pralines and a Surprise Envie, the subject of today’s review.
Any of Monsieur Hermé’s Surprise variants are never the most exciting for you guys, I know, as the superficial aesthetic is a moonrock-like dome of crusty meringue. But it’s so tasty! Unwrapped from its purple cellophane, you just cradle the little guy in your hand and jam it into your face. As your teeth cleave through the soft almond biscuit base and disintegratingly sugary frame, a gush of vanilla-violet mousseline gracefully oozes its way onto your palate, only to give way to a pleasantly sour blast of cassis compote. The flavors rollick – nay, frolic – exciting and delighting you, second-after-second, bite-after-bite, until you’re licking the last crumbs of meringue from your sticky paw and realizing you’ve somehow already made it halfway back to Monsieur Hermé’s shop, ready to buy another.
Really, just look at this. It’s so wrong that it’s right . . .
Even if Monsieur Hermé’s Montebello was my daily go-to pastry, I’d get a Surprise at least 2 or 3 times each week. He’s always got some variant of it going on, and I’ve yet to meet one I didn’t enjoy.
So, yes, make sure to grab yourself a Surprise Envie, once it returns. I believe it will be back in the case in the spring. So, for the next six or seven months, you might have to content yourself with his Tarte Vanille, macarons, assorted croissants, millefeuilles, and other gems. Not a bad way to bide your time, obviously.
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