Last night I visited the Pierre Hermé store in Covent Garden for a sneak preview of their new Fetish Infiniment Vanille collection. A select group of food bloggers huddled around the counter, peering in at the immaculate rainbow coloured macarons. But though the rose, pistachio and passionfruit all looked very appealing we were here for the showcase of one particular flavour, vanilla.
Vanilla is a Special. A spice of multiple aromas depending on where it has been grown: overtones of chocolate, butter, fruit, wood, liquorice… A gem Pierre Hermé adores. An insatiable gourmand, Pierre Hermé couldn’t use just one variety of vanilla. And so Pierre Hermé composed his interpretation of the ideal vanilla flavour. A recipe combining different varieties from Mexico, Tahiti, and Madagascar that has become the signature “house” fragrance.
After a glass of pink fizz we tasted a selection of treats from the vanilla collection. The super soft macarons sandwiched together with a creamy buttery filling. Then came shots of the warm, comforting vanilla infused green tea and a slice the white chocolate vanilla coated cake. Finally we tried vanilla scented rich dark chocolates and mouthfuls of Sablés diamant (a shortbread like vanilla biscuit). It was all delicious, and Pierre’s delicate treatment of vanilla brings out a unique warmth from this familiar flavour.
We stepped out of the sweet Parisian emporium with a new knowledge of vanilla and delightful goody bag to continue enjoying on the bus home. If this evening was proof of anything, it is that Pierre Hermé is so much more than just a master of macarons.
Discover the Fetish Infiniment Vanille collection from March 3rd to April 19th. See more here.
The French favour a cool, skinny crèpe; in the States they serve them silver-dollar style; the Irish have theirs with potato; Scots make ‘em with oats; and Japanese okonomiyaki include cabbage – however you have yours, here is a round up the most tempting Shrove Tuesday specials London has to offer.
Bread Street Kitchen Head Chef Erion Karaj’s ricotta pancakes (£7) are a staple of his breakfast menu, served daily with fresh banana and sweet honeycomb butter. If you’ve ever had a flipping disaster or batter breakdown, follow Erion’s recipe for lighter-than-light pancakes.
It’s your last chance to indulge before Lent, so pep up your crêpe with chunks of fresh lobster, earthy mushrooms and creamy, smoked garlic bisque at The Botanist on Sloane Square. This super-indulgent pancake (£32) is to be savoured rather than scoffed and is available for lunch or dinner this Shrove Tuesday. If there’s room, follow it up with deliciously sweet marshmallow pancakes with hot chocolate sauce and coconut ice-cream (£7).
Head to Jackson + Rye for an adult-only version of their signature buttermilk pancakes made with a dash of wickedly good rye whiskey. The deliciously fluffy flippers cost £5.95 for a stack of three, served with a generous helping of rye-infused whipped cream. Top with sweet ‘n’ salty maple slab bacon (£3.50) to make it extra indulgent. Available on Pancake Day at all Jackson + Rye branches: Soho, Chiswick and Richmond.
In Canary Wharf, One Canada Square will serve hot ricotta pancakes with cooling rhubarb and custard ice-cream (£6.50) on Tuesday.
Saving the best till last, the Hélène Darroze sumptuous stack of pancakes is flavoured with an assortment of alluring ingredients. Served with lemon, thyme, maple syrup, creme fraiche, banana and peanut brittle they are the ultimate indulgence before Lent begins. See the recipe here to create Hélène’s recipe at home.
The fun sweetie Swatch watches initially caught my eye in Paris, when I was browsing through the design pieces in concept heaven Colette. Here they stood out as cheap and cheerful amongst the luxuriously expensive jewellery.
Switzerland is renowned for watches, and Swatch has always been a popular brand with an accessible price mark and collections to suit all ages. When I was younger I loved my Flik Flak Swatch watches, which were available in varying endearing designs, often decorated with sparkling gems. For adults the colours and styles are endless, some are classic others very unique.
The current ‘Pastry Chefs’ special collection features 11 watches. This series is particularly nice for Spring and Summer, filled with the soft, sweet colours and illustrations of a candy shop. The designs are bright and tantalising, using favourite sweet treats like macaroons and liquorice to entice you. My favourite is the Sprinkled watch, in which the clock face and the plastic strap are covered completely in a photo of hundreds and thousands. This multi-coloured accessory will brighten up your wrist
The ‘Sprinkled’ Watch costs £44.50 and is available online here.