By Elena del Valle
Photos by Gary Cox
Signature pastry at Pierre Herme
On a small street in the bustling Quartier Latin of Paris, France lies my favorite bakery, okay one of my favorite bakeries. While finding an outstanding bakery in Paris may not be a noteworthy feat, this particular bakery and the reason I like, no strike that, the reason I love it, is a bit special for me.
A few years ago, a close friend and macaron lover introduced several people, including me, to Pierre Hermé during a champagne reception at her home. Although my husband has never met a macaron he didn’t like, at least a little, generally speaking I’m not fond of the fluffy almond pastries that are ubiquitous in France. And so it was that I paid little attention to the Pierre Hermé goodies, at first. At my friend’s insistence I tried one. It was delicate in texture and flavor and like no other macaron I had had before.
That evening I sampled all the flavors of macarons she had. Later my husband and I visited one of the Pierre Hermé shops to purchase macarons of our own and sampled additional flavors. Ever since that fateful day I have developed a passion for Pierre Hermé macarons. As soon as I arrive in Paris I make a beeline for the small and often crowded Latin Quarter shop.
The shop counter at Pierre Herme
While I have favorite flavors every Pierre Hermé macaron I have had tasted has been superb. I have also sampled macarons at other locales, including at some very well known bakeries and restaurants, but none have even come close to matching the delicate and extraordinary flavors and texture of Pierre Hermé macarons.
In addition to the macarons Pierre Hermé shops sell chocolates, tea, and other baked goods. One particular pastry stands out as a queen among her subjects, Ispahan. It is made with macaron, litchi and rose cream and raspberry.
Wonderful macaron pastries
Macaron flavors vary during the year and for the end of the year holidays there are usually seasonal specialties which we always long to sample. Favorites we have tried include Truffe Blanche et Noisette (white truffel and hazelnut), Caramel a la Fleur de Sel (caramel and salt), Huile d’Olive et Vanille (olive oil and vanilla), Rose, and Chocolate and Foie Gras. Pierre Hermé, 72, rue Bonaparte, Paris 75006, France, +33 01 43 54 47 77, www.pierreherme.com
A table setting at Restaurant Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenee
When it comes to over the top, superlative dining experiences Alain Ducasse and his team delivered at the eponymous restaurant at the Plaza Athenee Hotel in Paris, France. There our team rediscovered the allure of this well known restaurant.
While noteworthy meals are one of the attractions of Europe’s favorite tourist city, it was the combination of exquisite dishes served with care by attentive and friendly staff in an attractive dining room in one of the city’s better hotels that once again made the Alain Ducasse restaurant a favorite. Click here for more about what Elena and Gary liked about Restaurant Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenee
Article by Elena del Valle and photos by Gary Cox
The dining room at Le Cinq
Dishes at Le Cinq were pretty to look at and eat
Ever since he arrived at Les Elysees du Vernet in Paris, France we became fans. There was passion and culinary ambition in the way he cooked and served his tasty delights at the understated restaurant steps away from the famed Champs Elysees. Every meal we had at the restaurant while he was there was a treasure so we felt a loss when he left. At the same time, we were thrilled that he was migrating to one of our favorite restaurants in the city, Le Cinq.
After lunch we enjoy hot beverages just outside the Le Cinq dining room
A few months after he arrived at the larger than life restaurant of the Paris George V Four Seasons Hotel we eagerly visited Le Cinq. As soon as the first bites arrived at our table we recognized his touch. We immediately forgot the rainy weather outside and focused on the joys of the meal. We were delighted. Every dish was pleasing. Once again Chef Eric Briffard has met and surpassed our expectations. We look forward to new dishes and repeat meals at his new venue. Click here to read more about our dining experience at Le Cinq.
Article and photo by Josette King
Hovercraft 25 inch Duffel from Eagle Creek
When it comes to packing, decades of traveling solo to have made me a minimalist: I learned early on the wisdom of lugging only what I can comfortably handle on my own. However, in recent years, my propensity for lengthy, complex itineraries coupled with the airlines’ increasingly restrictive luggage allowances have presented me with ever more difficult choices. My sturdy, tidily organized hard-sided suitcases of early times, or a light-weight, roomy but hard to pack and handle duffel bag?
The Eagle Creek Hovercraft 25 solved my dilemma. With firm, heavy gauge Cordura nylon shell, super-stable wheel base and multiple grab handles, its especially roomy interior and multiple, easily accessible compartments inside and out, it delivered the most desirable features of both hard and soft-sided luggage.
Other Eagle Creek luggage our teams have tested and liked include ORV Trunk 30, Eagle Creek ORV Gear Bag, and Eagle Creek Tarmac 22. Click here for detailed information on the many outstanding features that have made the Eagle Creek Hovercraft 25 one of my favorite long trip companions.