Pierre Hermé :: Émotion Vanille
Despite my sometimes harsh reviews of Pierre Hermé’s work, I think he’s among the four great Parisian pastry [shop] chefs of the moment (Jacques Genin, Hugues Pouget, and Emmanuel Ryon being the others). There’s no one else who so successfully explores such a wide range of flavors that work so beautifully in concert with one another. Take for example his Constellation – cardamom, strawberry, orange, and heavily toasted almonds – not a quartet most people would come up with. Were they nonetheless amazing together? Absolutely. In fact, they were so super amazing together that the Constellation was my breakfast #1 (cause I typically ate 3 pastries before noon) for almost a month.
Even Monsieur Hermé’s humbler/classic pieces tend to be handled quite adeptly. From the exquisite croissant in his viennoisserie lineup to the delights of his recent éclair vanille and millefeuille vanille, one’s palate can be amused time-and-again. Those latter two pieces were actually part of a 6-pastry effort – The Fetish Vanille – which also included the subject of today’s review, the Émotion Vanille. So how delightsome did it prove to be? Well . . .
Overall, this was a pretty lackluster effort. Starting from the top, I found the white chocolate disc to be of a pretty nice quality and quite tasty, if a wee bit grainy. The Mascarpone crème beneath was a wonderfully vanilla’y mélange of pods of Mexican, Tahitian and Madagascan origins – though a smidge too buttery. Below all that gooey goodness, you have a rum-imbibed baba nugget that was . . . ok; the rum was of a solid quality, though by no means dazzling. And then, last – and certainly least – was the tepidly sweet, almost grey-hued Jell-O shooter base. Is it billed as a vanilla gelée? Yeah, but the rum from the baba seemed to have infiltrated, with the help of co-conspirators gravity and osmosis, and pushed any of those pacific vanilla tones aside.
The real issue here is that I had the Émotion Vanille within a couple days of experiencing Jacques Genin’s Baba, which is nothing short of a masterwork. If only for the fact that it’s perfectly bathed in a 30-year-old rum of the highest caliber, it spanks ever other baba out there. But the rest of it is so mindblowing that . . . well . . . you’ll see in a future review.
I just love the photo above, and I think the one immediately below looks like a much tastier version of the Japanese flag. It’s as if their rising sun had been turned into a glowing moon . . . of white chocolate.
I’ve been experimenting with camera angles and depth of field, cause I’m avant garde like that with my pastries . . .
So, no, I can’t recommend the Émotion Vanille. With its constituent parts ranging from good to ehh, there’s nothing in this little guy that really grabbed me and said, “This was 7.30 euros well spent.” That same cash can buy you a baba – made by Jacques Genin himself – that will change your life. I’d still pay a visit to Monsieur Hermé’s for any number of pastries and goodies, but this is just one to snub.