My love affair with macarons began on a rainy afternoon in Paris four years ago. It was a chocolate macaron at Dalloyau that was so perfect, so dark, so rich I became obsessed. I would only eat the chocolate ones for fear of being disappointed by a lesser flavor.
When I moved back to California, I tried to substitute them with cupcakes, but quickly grew bored. I tried desperately (sometimes on a daily basis) to recreate the perfection of that chocolate macaron in my kitchen, and failed miserably every time. Now that I think about it, I really had no choice but to move back to France.
When I returned, I vowed to try every flavor. I figured that given all the macaron colors I’ve seen in Paris patisseries, it will take awhile before I get to the flavors that sound really disgusting to me (fois gras, for example)
One thing I learned quickly is that the assortment of flavors of macarons you can find in a particular village or ville is directly proportionate to the number of people who live there or visit. Vidauban, with a population of approximately 10,000 really offers a selection of six flavors: chocolate, pistachio, lemon, vanilla, coffee and strawberry. After sampling all Vidabuan has to offer, I began to travel further afield to broaden my horizons.
Once again, it’s in Paris where I’m able to rediscover that total bliss I experienced with that first chocolate macaron, not once, but twice in one day: First, by the Bon Marche food hall, La Grande Epicerie Paris (how I love that place) rhubarb and vanilla macaron…OhMyGod…and later that day by Laduree‘s caramel beurre de sale…OHMYGOD… The Laduree Cherry/almond macaron is a close third.
I’m partial to the macarons that don’t have jam fillings. I prefer something creamier like ganache, nougat or caramel. Jam seems so common, like someone grabbed a jar of Smuckers and slathered it on. Even a curd or paste will do.
A quick note toLaduree: Yes, your store is beautiful. Yes, your macarons and packaging are to die for. But why can’t I take a picture in your store? It’s not like you’re the freaking pentagon, for godsakes.
A note to places who sell very expensive macarons and yet when you buy four, they get shoved into a little prissy bag that will get your macarons crushed if you were to carry them any distance: put ‘em in a box!!!! I’m talking to you, Jean Luc Pele. Do you think these flimsy bags are going to get these macarons from Cannes to Antibes unscathed? And while we’re at it, Laduree, anybody who spends 10 euros on four macarons deserves a box, carrying case or jeweled encrusted chest with built in refrigeration.
There are two macarons vendors with excellent selections in Antibes who concoct these nifty little carrying cases from the larger casings. I want to bedazzle one, put a strap on it and carry it everywhere so I’m always prepared for an unexpected patisserie event.
So far, here are the macarons I’ve tried and a review of whether or not the flavor works for me in macaron form or not. Basically they fall into 4 categories.
- ****OMG i will spend the rest of my life trying to recreate this experience.
- ***this is really good. I’m not obsessed, but I will want to have another..
- **Good. Been there done that.
- *Ewww, this is disgusting.
***lemon (citron) I have yet to have a citron macaron I didn’t like.
***mandarine I feared it might taste like cough medicine, but it was pretty dang good. I’m not obsessed, but I’ll definitely have another.
***yuzu Very good. Citrusy with this tantalizing whiff of something good. A rare example of a slightly perfume-y flavor agreeing with my taste buds.
**bergamot Bergamot is weird. It’s a citrus, but it’s more perfumey that it is citrusy. Twice I’ve had a bergamot macaron and promptly forgot what it tasted like.
***chocolate What’s not to like?
****rhubarb vanilla: There it was behind the counter at Bon Marche epicierie. It wasn’t the brightest macaron, but something about it spoke to me. One bite and it was all over for me. Bliss. Perfect combo of sweet/tarte/creamy/crunchy. I may never see another rhubarb vanilla macaron, but I’ll always remember the brief time I had one. I’ll live my life as it never happened but deep in my heart, around every street corner, in every window a vague wish will flicker through my heart — that another rhubarb vanilla macaron will be there, waiting for me.
***chocolate noir What’s not to like?
****caramel beurre de salle I pledge thee my troth.
***coffee (cafe): Come to think of it, maybe it’s only two stars. Oh I don’t know. It just seems unsophisticated to not like the coffee flavored one. Whatevs.
**lime (citron vert): maybe it was the patisserie (Jean Luc de whatshiznosis cannes)
**mint (menthe): It’s kind of a two and a half. I’ve had one I loved and one that was okay. The one I loved will induce me to get another. I won’t take it over a beurre de salle or even ginger, but it’s not bad.
**vanilla good, but I don’t really need to have another unless someone tells me that so and so makes the most delicious one in the whole wide world. Or they add rhubard.
**strawberry (fraise) Jam filling. Need I say more?
****cherry almond (griotte amande): Oh laduree, I will put up with your slightly snippy sales girls and high prices for little miracles like this.
***pistachio (pistache) Anything pistachio is good. But when you get right down to it (and I’ve given this a great deal of thought), I’d rather have pistachio ice cream than a pistachio macaron.
**champagne Here’s the thing. It tasted more like roses than champagne. I don’t like eating flowers, so it’s not my favorite. But I wonder if he gave me the wrong one? It’s really pretty pink with a slight golden glow. May have to try again. I like champagne. I even like roses, i just don’t like eating them.
***gingerbread (pain d’epices) This is really good. Like three and a half stars good. Kind of like a pumpkin pie only better. Really, really, really good. I wonder if the store is still open….
***passionfruit chocolate I’m not sure if I like it or hate it. It’s intriguing, possibly because I both love it and hate it. I might have to try another one someday just to figure it out.
***amaretto Nice and almondy.
***bitter orange (orange amere) Much better than I expected. Delicious, in fact.
***nutella I’m not a huge nutella fan, but these are good!
***peanut (cacahuette) these will be my replacement for Reeses peanut butter cups, when I get a craving. Do you know how hard it is to find anything peanut butter related over here?
****Bitter orange ginger (orange amere gingembre) One of Laduree’s monthly specials. Definitely an eyes rolled into back of head moment. My first impulse is to go back, buy the whole stock of them and start hoarding.
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