Foodie Beauty Bonanza
I love the Rachael Ray Every Day test kitchen. Dearly. Not only are the staffers tireless in their pursuit of recipe perfection, they'll magically appear with food—like so many lunch fairies—if they even suspect you might be trapped and hungry at your desk.
One thing our test kitchen doesn't have, however, is a view of Paris. So when I encountered another that did, I couldn't help but be seduced. And I'm here to confess my fling.
It began not in the kitchen itself, but on a staircase landing I hit en route, where I fell under the hypnotic spell of a pink macaron whirligig.
Why the installation? It signals that you're on the doorstep of the macaron maestro himself: one Pierre Hermé, also known as Paris's "Picasso of Pastry" and general dessert deity about town.
Baussan, left; Hermé, right
Among Hermé's biggest fans is L'Occitane founder Olivier Baussan. And their new holiday collaboration is the reason I—and several other reporters—wound up in that test kitchen. Where better, thought Hermé and Baussan, to celebrate some of the foodiest beauty products in history? (I should note that the November attacks hadn't yet happened, so everyone was feeling more festive.)
As Hermé's staffers gave us macaron-making lessons—don't overmix your batter, or it'll be too runny to hold a nice shape—we talked ingredient combos that work as well on your skin as in patisserie. Take rhubarb, clove, nutmeg and grapefruit—a super-fresh foursome you'll find in the Pamplemousse Rhubarbe Body Lotion, among other products. Or honey-crystallized mandarin, which scents the heavenly Miel Mandarine Hand Cream.
Then there was bitter orange blossom, jasmine and Immortelle flower—a trio I couldn't get enough of, whether in perfume or pastry form. (Hermé makes tons of floral desserts, as I'd already discovered through careful recon at one of his ice cream outposts.)
Violet-flavored ice cream and candy mixed with other deliciousness
"Many of the ingredients in L'Occitane's holiday collection have appeared in my pastry," he noted during the launch. "But while I normally work with my mouth, this time I was working with my nose." (Lest you miss the pâtissier's imprint on each scent, the perfume bottles are even shaped like abstract macarons.)
After a bit more chitchat, my dalliance with the dessert demigod ended.
I've since returned to the loving embrace of our own test kitchen—with the bonus pounds to prove it (I came back just in time for holiday treat testing). Still, monsieur Hermé, we'll always have Paris.