The Ispahan By Pierre Hermé

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Made of a macaron biscuit that unites the acidity of raspberry with the smooth taste of rose, the Ispahan is held together by the flowery flavor of litchi. The enrapturing exoticism that it exudes is reinforced by a crunchy meringue. In the early 90s, Pierre Hermé launched the cake that would later spawn the Ispahan, the Paradis. It wasn’t exactly a huge success, no doubt due to the taste of rose that had never before been used in pastries. And yet it would be this same flavor that would give the Ispahan its strength, just a few years later. Born into the fourth generation of a long line of pastry-makers, Pierre Hermé was destined to follow the same path as his ancestors. He dreamed of such a career ever since he was nine years old, and would leave his family kitchen to refine his taste buds with the greatest of the greats: Lenôtre, Fauchon, Ladurée… In 1998, the “magician of flavors” would open his first boutique in Japan, whose artistic and culinary culture had always inspired him.

Owing his international renown to his extraordinary talent, Pierre Hermé has been able to unite worldliness and exoticism with a delicate association of flavors, always surprising the finest mouths in the four corners of the earth. His Ispahan was thus a rapid success, and it’s still going just as strong today. Borrowing its name from the capital of the ancient Persian empire under the Safavides, just a few hundred kilometers south of Tehran, Ispahan is a voyage for the taste buds. Recalling the skies of the Middle East at dawn with its rosy colors, it would be called “an invitation to travel, suave like a kiss” by actress Isabelle Carré. This most famous of pastries was actually honored in an eponymous book published in 2013, collecting personal memoirs of notable personalities on the subject as well as culinary releases fashioned around the flavors that compose it. In this very book, Pierre Hermé divulges the secret for the 42 recipes that surround the Ispahan, from cocktail tart to waffle, chocolate, or mille-feuille.

The Ispahan marks the birth of a new kind of pastry, placing itself at the heart of a line of luxurious products. Worthy of having real estate alongside great fashion houses like Saint Laurent or Dior, Pierre Hermé’s pastries are inspire by the fashion world, from “presentations” and “seasons”, “collections” and “launches”. Adapting select codes to the world of sugary delights, with chic marketing, minute communication right down to the millimeter, and a confection that is nothing short of excellent, this pastry-maker has been able to make his name a luxury mainstay. His art has become “haute patisserie” first and foremost thanks to a desire that has carried through his entire career: “Pâtissier is an artisanal career, but one that possesses an artistic dimension. It’s the same thing at Chanel; you have the artisans that make the dresses and Karl Lagerfeld is the artist. What allows me to bring these things closer to each other is the fact that they belong to the same universe: luxury.” With a desire to perfect the Ispahan’s success, Pierre Hermé signed a collaboration with Japanese designer Kenya Hara in 2013 in which the latter designed airy and purified wrappers for the elegant macaron. An emblem of success itself, the Ispahan is inseparable from the Pierre Hermé brand and can be found in their growing number of boutiques throughout the world. And its triumph continues to be affirmed today: “When someone talks to me about my cakes, half of the time it’s about the Ispahan.”

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