One of my favorite gifts this year was from my Paris pal, Philippe. A fellow “amateur du chocolat” (“chocolate lover” – but it sounds better in French, doesn’t it?), he found this block of actual postage stamps made to look like a chocolate bar, complete with trompe l’oeil crumpled foil.
The images on each stamp tell the chronological story of chocolate – from New World plant, to its 1609 arrival in Bayonne, to production, to hot chocolate and bars.
How could you top that? The stamps are also chocolate-scented! Ohh, la-la! I hope the USPS takes a hint from La Poste!
“I feel like I’m having sex on the street!” one of my friends admitted while eating a macaron just outside the Pierre Hermé shop on rue Bonaparte in Paris. Yes, these little pastries (not to be confused with American macaroons) are just that good.
Every holiday season Hermé comes out with new creations. This year, he’s debuting a black truffle (fungus, not chocolate) macaron and a balsamic vinegar macaron. If this sounds strange, you should know that Hermé often deftly combines sweet and savory (he also sells two macarons with foie gras and one with white truffle and hazelnuts). At 8 euros, these might be one of the best ways to spend your shrinking dollar.
But Hermé’s holiday piece de resistance has to be his new Bûche de Noel, as described in the patisserie’s holiday brochure:
“Extremely pure in taste, this Yule log cake, La Bûche à la truffe noire, is composed of a cake base with roasted almonds accompanied by a mascarpone cream with black truffle. In an ultimate touch of refinement, it comes with its own fresh black truffle (15g) and special grater. To the astonishment and pleasure of each guest, each slice of cake is served with freshly grated truffle.”
Oh, please, invite me! Each bûche serves six to eight people and costs 245 euros – at the current exchange rate, that’s $343 – or $43 apiece for eight VERY good friends. It may be the best – and most expensive – holiday dessert ever.
For the less-adventurous or less-wealthy, Hermé also makes heavenly macarons in rose, chocolate, fleur de sel caramel and other devastating flavors.