New in the Shoppe: Ras El Hanout

New in the Shoppe: Ras El Hanout
New in the shoppe: Ras El Hanout Moroccan spice blend. The name of this legendary spice mix literally means "Head of the Shoppe", and is traditionally made by from the top-shelf spices available to the spice vendor's disposal, and more often than not the blender improvises it, rather than carefully following a recipe. With that being said, some ingredients are a staple, including: cardamom, nutmeg, mace, cinnamon, allspice, black pepper, ginger and cloves. Other common additions include chilli, turmeric, galangal, cubebs, coriander, grains of paradise, lavender buds, rose petals, saffron, orris root and even controversial animal components such as Spanish flies and grains of musk…
This particular Ras El Hanout is vegan, and is created in-house by yours truly, from 24 exotic spices, freshly ground including orris root, Iranian saffron strands, Rugosa rose petals, French lavender buds, and much more which I would rather keep a secret!
This exotic spice mix is both floral and just hot enough and is a perfect luxurious addition to savoury dishes such as couscous stews, mograbieh & legume salads, and also a unique flavour for desserts such as brownies and dark truffles. A tiny pinch goes a long way.
If you love that scent, you should give "Storm Among the Palm Trees" AKA Oasis Nerikoh a try! 

Paris Day IV - St. Germain & Pierre Herme

Today I mostly wanted to visit St. Germain des Pres, where Boris Vian used to live and work and play his jazz trumpet; and where now Pierre Hermé established his legendary patisserie. We were also planning to go to the Louvre after dinner but that never happened. I think my boyfriend is going to spend the entire day there tomorrow (and this way I can get away from the task and go sneak into Pierre Hermé again!)

We first headed out to Le Marais, an old neighbourdhood with narrow streets and Jewish population. My boyfriend insisted on showing me the falafel stands even though it would be the last place for me to eat while in Paris (I had to keep reminding him I am here for the macarons!). The falafel places were pretty close to the Israeli version, ran by loud Israelis of course who know how to make fast food fast. It was pretty good but I just tasted a little bit because I really do prefer the falafel back home and I can wait until than to have it. One thing to be said to their credit – they do use the proper pita bread (in Vancouver the pita bread is so think it’s ridiculous – the so-called “pita” is rolled like a wrap and everybody is suppose to pretend it’s ok). Le Marais is filled with little Jewish bakeries and on Friday the window displays are full of breaded Challas and the air was full of caramel-scent. After another mundane mission was accomplished (I had to buy a bag after the one I brought with me broke, sadly), we took the metro to St. Germain des Pres metro station.

It was again one of those terrible weather days when the weather couldn’t make up it’s mind. It repeated endless cycles of sunny-rainy-sunny-rainy etc. I was wearing l’Ecume des Jours and feeling particularly moody. Searching for Pierre Hermé we stumbled upon another Laduree location on Rue Bonaparte, where I bought some macaroons for later (the train ride to Grasse) and also some guimauve for my daughter. I was a bit disappointed – though not surprised - to learn that macaroons don’t travel well; but since she loves marshmallows, I think the guimauve will be perfect – especially when they come not only in white (orange blossom) but also in purple (violet) and pink (rose). I guess I will have to learn how to make flavoured macaroons until I’m able to take her with me to Paris again!

Pierre Hermé is a tiny little patisserie and everything there just looks spectacular. For some reason, I was particularly attracted to a vanilla tart and also wanted to try a few macaroons: Pink Grapefruit, Mint, Jasmine, Cassis, Pistachio with a clove-soaked redcurrant in the middle, Rose, Passionfruit-Chocolate. We walked to the nearby square to sit and eat our newly found treasures. The macaroons were hopelessly amazing. We just had two to start with: the mint – a flavour I would have never picked, and that was actually spearmint (with the leaves ground or chopped very thinly into the filling) and it was really delicious with the jasmine macaroon (which was obviously pure happiness).

And than came the vanilla tart. I’m afraid I’m unable to describe this without being profane, so I will just let you stare at this picture and imagine to yourself tasting something that is more creamy and vanilla than vanilla every thought it could be. It was like biting into a piece of cloud and a few minutes later I felt happy again.

We walked aroud a little bit more and went to Café Deux Magots where they serve Ispahan, a large rose macaroon with rose cream and lytchee fruit in the middle and rapberries all around. On top there was a rose petal with a dot of honey, which looked like a dew drop. It was perfect.

We than walked to Luxemburg Gardens, watched the people playing speed chess than walked towards the tennis courts and sat in lounge chairs to munch on the rest of the macaroons (the other flavours were unabashedly amazing – but what else to expect from Pierre Hermé?).

In the evening we went to the Morrocan restaurant l’Atlas on St. Germain for a couscous dinner. The restaurant was very pretty and the staff very friendly and hospitable. The chef even came out to check on the guests and see how they enjoy the food. The appetizer-salads we very flavourful and suprising – for example, sweet tomatoes with cinnamon and anise. We had Morrocan tea before we left, which is gunpowder green tea with fresh sprigs and leaves of spearmint, and sprinkled with orange flower water. A good way to end the day!

Back to the top