04 Jun2009

mac1

With such a wide variety of superb goodies on offer in Paris, we decided to have a theme to our food escapades in order to narrow it down. So this time around, we all agreed to focus on macarons and it was our goal to taste as many of the “top-rated” macarons in Paris as possible on a four day trip. We managed to do a reasonable sampling of 6 top purveyors. It was a most pleasant exercise, albeit highly calorific. Macarons are these stunningly good meringue and almond flour wafers or cookies with flavored cream or ganache or filling in between. They are at once crisp, soft, sweet, flavorful and altogether much better than the sum of their ingredients. They seem most amazing only in France, and while many have made them successfully elsewhere, I like to keep the romance of eating them mainly in France, and Paris, in particular. Several years ago, we visited the large Laduree shop on the Champs-Elysees and what struck me most about the visit was not the incredibly ornate room and the beautiful people who were impeccably dressed having tea in the restaurant… it was the occasional Parisian businessman, dressed in suit and tie, who came through the doors of the shop, paused at the display of macarons, then deliberated, carefully selected one or at most two pieces, and after paying, clearly savored the treat, and were soon on their way to complete the rest of their day’s business. It was a scene I would observe several times more, at the fabulous La Maison du Chocolat on Rue Faubourg St. Honore, where men and women would buy one or two pieces of exquisite chocolate and then it was back to the daily grind. How incredibly sophisticated is that? Forget chowing down on half a box of See’s chocolates, or a giant pack of Doritos. I believe, they nailed the quality (and ultimately, lower calorie count) over quantity argument good. This is the way the French have their cake, eat it too, and remain slim as a reed.

mac7

We got to Fauchon so early in the day, they were just putting out the morning’s supply of macarons, some made less than an hour before. We selected 7 pieces to sample, a pistachio, chocolate, 2 caramel, cafe, vanilla and an unusual looking but classic pairing of orange and chocolate. We would go on to specialize with my favorites being pistachio and blackberry or cassis, Mrs. MM just loving the salted caramels and an occasional cafe or chocolate, and the Teen voraciously consuming just about anything, but she wanted a “Masters” in chocolate and all its variations… :) Later in the day I am sure there would have been another 8+ flavors on offer but that’s okay, 7 was enough and it wasn’t even 10am yet! We took our little treasure and crossed the street to enjoy the macarons while watching the cars drive by on a perfect spring day, with the flower stalls behind us. But what you have above, captured on camera, is that split second feeling similar to “sitting down on a toilet and realizing the seat is up but it’s too late so your rear end makes contact with cold porcelain”, but in this case the fear was that Mrs. MM and the Teen might be sitting on pigeon poop. Hahaha. :)

mac2

The classic black and white Fauchon shopping bags have for some reason morphed into gold and white (perhaps just for the take out section?) and the boxes have that distinct pink/fuschia color…

mac3

…and inside, our first 7 macarons of the trip! We each had a taste of all of the flavors, but focused on the ones we loved. The size of these were medium relative to all the others we had tried, but they were incredibly fresh. I have to think any macaron less than 3 hours old has to have an advantage on an older specimen. They were sweet but not cloyingly so, a little crisp but not hard, and a very pliable interior with sufficient filling. The surprise hit was the orange and chocolate one, though all were competent. Very good overall. I had this sinking feeling that few would deign to sell macarons in Paris unless they had a pretty good product. Fauchon’s was a good 8.5-9.0 out of 10, but that is my personal opinion, others might be looking for other attributes.

mac4

A cafe flavored macaron and a salted caramel in the distance.

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The orange and chocolate filled macaron.

mac6

A big bite out of the salted caramel macaron. A superb balance sweet and a touch of saltiness. Round #1 done. :)

 

COMMENTS:

  1. suzette says:

    OM Gosh!!! i want one… NOW!!!

    Jun 4, 2009 | 2:48 pm

     
  2. Aji says:

    OMG. The “medium”-sized macarons are quite big for my standard (relative to Bizu’s macarons).

    I’m drooling right now. And the salted caramel! Oh my!

    I envy you guys a lot!

    Jun 4, 2009 | 2:49 pm

     
  3. viva says:

    The Laduree shop brings me good memories.

    Jun 4, 2009 | 3:26 pm

     
  4. terrey says:

    ive been going back and forth to see if there’s a new post, and yessss here it is. looking forward for more!

    Jun 4, 2009 | 3:43 pm

     
  5. rose aka sofia says:

    Aw Europe. *sigh* mapupuntuhan ko rin yan. =)

    Jun 4, 2009 | 3:52 pm

     
  6. jannahdomingo says:

    i am so envious and now hungry just looking at the pictures.

    Jun 4, 2009 | 4:06 pm

     
  7. Peach says:

    How do these compare with the locally made ones, say in Bizu? For some stupid reason, I didn’t think of sampling any when I was in France. I did obsess over those lavender honey and almond nougats that were being sold in most of the patisseries! Yum!

    Jun 4, 2009 | 4:18 pm

     
  8. Emily says:

    Yum!
    There are a surprising number of pastry shops that sell mediocre macarons in Paris, actually – it seems most of them are willing to take a stab at it, not always with resounding success.

    I like the ones that experiment with unusual combinations, but still tend to go for the classic flavors.

    So, MM and family, did you visit the “most beautiful public toilets in the world” while you were there? Looking at your picture in front of the Madeleine flower stalls, you were literally a stone’s throw away! (It’s at the corner, near the front of the church, across the street from the Maille mustard shop.)

    Jun 4, 2009 | 4:55 pm

     
  9. pudgee says:

    i’m drooling right now for the salted caramel macaron! looks really yummy!!!

    Jun 4, 2009 | 5:01 pm

     
  10. Jane Amora says:

    OMG! can’t wait to go back to Paris. I’m craving for a salted caramel macaron (my favorite) right now! can’t wait to read your next posts. :)

    Jun 4, 2009 | 5:08 pm

     
  11. shootfirsteatlater says:

    Oooh I need to try that orange and chocolate macaron!Now I know what to ask my friend who’s a flight attendant what to buy when she goes to Paris again. That’s my favorite combination of flavors. I even have a collection of dark chocolate with orange. http://www.shootfirsteatlater.com/2009/02/orange-chocolate.html

    I wish Bizu would make an orange and chocolate macaron.

    Jun 4, 2009 | 5:41 pm

     
  12. Bubut says:

    thanks for sharing to us this lovely post. i think i want to go to bizu to have some macarons.

    Jun 4, 2009 | 5:58 pm

     
  13. Teresa says:

    I hope you also tried out macaroons from Laduree. This is my favorite pastry shop in paris :) !!!! Luv luv luv Laduree. And so so so lovely Laduree boxes too!!!

    Jun 4, 2009 | 6:11 pm

     
  14. chrisb says:

    The orange macaron is remarkably kwek kwek-esque in hue and brightness haha. Maybe they should have opted for a lighter tangerine color =)

    This may be getting ahead of your posts MM, but did you try Pierre Herme’s ispahan?

    Jun 4, 2009 | 6:12 pm

     
  15. Marketman says:

    chrisb, yes, I was wondering about food coloring, but wait till you see the other shops’ macarons! As for Herme, I didn’t get to the ispahan, I don’t think they had any, but we did get some macarons. Teresa, yes we did Laduree too. Emily, no didn’t hit those public toilets, nor the more plebeian everything gets spraywashed after you use them version. Peach, I am thrilled that Bizu has macarons locally, but I have to say, they pale in comparison to the Parisian ones… maybe a 5/10… arrgh, and I know the owners of Bizu… but sometimes things just taste better in their home towns. Aji, Bizu’s are a bit on the smaller side.

    Jun 4, 2009 | 6:22 pm

     
  16. alicia says:

    Orange and Chocolate,Caramel and Salt- divine I’m sure. So envious.
    Let me see if I can guess the 6- Fauchon (given),- would they be Laduree and Pierre Herme, (I am pretty sure)- and wild cards, , Arnaud Larher , Jean Paul Hevin, La Maison duC and Lenotre? Hmm based on recent post Sadaharu Aoki might be in there too? Or Gerard Mulot?
    Just have to wait and see I guess!

    Jun 4, 2009 | 6:37 pm

     
  17. Gerry says:

    Six posts dedicated only to the Macaron? You must have been terribly smitten with this french treat. I’ve actually tasted these and they were quite good, though I probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between Fauchon and the best made macarons here. Taste would probably be influenced by things other than flavor – and being in one of the loveliest cities in the world probably gives these french macarons a leg up over their local counterparts.

    Jun 4, 2009 | 6:44 pm

     
  18. Cecilia says:

    M-mmm, orange and chocolate. Yummy.

    Jun 4, 2009 | 6:59 pm

     
  19. cheeseheadeatsushi says:

    Yum! I noticed there are macaron lovers in Japan who have likewise rated French macarons in Tokyo. And the quality of salted caramel seems to be the benchmark. Are they hard to make?

    Jun 4, 2009 | 8:11 pm

     
  20. Marketman says:

    cheeseheaeatshushi, I always felt good macarons were hard to make at home, and in particular, harder to make in humid Manila. Others say it is pretty easy but I am not one of them. It’s a delicacy I would rather buy at a good source than make myself. In the same manner that I would rather buy Osang’s broas from Baclayon in Bohol than try and replicate them myself. :) Gerry, I have loved macarons for many many years. If you put one Fauchon macaron side by side and tasted them, you could probably tell the difference. The problem is, even if you fly a french one home, the 15 hour flight in dry cabin conditions would affect them somewhat…

    Jun 4, 2009 | 8:28 pm

     
  21. marissewalangkaparis says:

    Mmmmmm..looks so good. Makes you drool for some… …..

    Jun 4, 2009 | 8:41 pm

     
  22. mrs lavendula says:

    wow! that last photo of the salted caramel macaron looks so yummy! *envious*

    Jun 4, 2009 | 8:48 pm

     
  23. Marketfan says:

    macaron is to France as gelato is to Italy…so many colors and flavors to choose from

    Jun 4, 2009 | 9:58 pm

     
  24. paulo says:

    drool…I’m in the office and I can’t do anything.T.T

    Jun 4, 2009 | 10:48 pm

     
  25. Martin L. says:

    The pistachio and the chocolate are the best!! If you come to NYC the macaron’s at the Waldorf Astoria also rocks!

    Jun 4, 2009 | 11:59 pm

     
  26. KennyT says:

    Hahahahaha, I like the idea that Mrs MM and the Teen are hiding their faces from the camera.

    Jun 5, 2009 | 12:23 am

     
  27. andi says:

    those look soooo yummy! i do love me some macarons but sadly they are in short supply in washington, dc. i’ve made some raspberry with chocolate filling ones but they did not turn out as well as the fauchon ones.

    Jun 5, 2009 | 2:25 am

     
  28. betty q. says:

    Hey Maria Clara and Ted: you know the caramel-pecan filling I shared with you guys a while back…use that same filling for macaron…..haaaaayyy!!! I used it and it is sooooooooooo maaaaaasarAP!!! Remember? My friends couldn’t quite discern what was my secret ingredients! I have to quit making macaron for now or my knee replacement will complain!

    Jun 5, 2009 | 3:54 am

     
  29. Lilibeth says:

    cheeseheadeatsushi: I thought they were hard to make at first and I did fail in the first try but after getting tips from Marketmanila readers and checking out tartelette website (thanks to Maria Clara), I followed Helen’s recipe and read her Macarons 101. Here is the link to her website http://tartelette.blogspot.com/2009/03/recipe-violet-macarons-with-violet-and.html and you will also find a link here to Macarons 101. She is the queen of macarons. Maria Clara was right – no need for the italian meringue method (or sucre cuit method) which some people say is foolproof. I was ready to try it in case the french meringue method failed again the 2nd time since I am familiar with it anyway with my buttercream frosting but why go through all the trouble when it can be done through the simpler french meringue method following Helen of Tartelette’s very precise (very much like Marketman’s) instructions? She explains it so well (just like Marketman that is why I like his recipes) which really helped me succeed. The secret is actually in the macronage process where you fold the almond mixture to the meringue and Helen says you should not go over 50 strokes and I followed that and I was amazed with my macarons – beautiful lovely feet (high and parallel to the crusted top, a spread out feet that goes out of the crusted top is a no-no), nice thin crust, and delicate soft center! And the taste – exquisite! My favorite fillings, which I have already done are – rose buttercream, vanilla buttercream and caramel fleur de sel. The fleur de sel costs an arm and a leg though and available at Whole Foods for anyone out there in Los Angeles. You may also want to try Helen’s latest Creme Brulee Macaron which I plan to make soon. Have you tried it, Maria Clara? BTW, Marketman, tried your Creme Brulee recipe last weekend, it was excellent, exactly the way I wanted – not too sweet and oh so creamy! One more thing, you have to make sure that after piping the macarons, you need to to let it sit and form a crust on top before baking and it also helps to use an insulated cookie sheet to prevent burning and don’t forget the parchment paper or silpat even if your cookie sheet is non-stick. If you want a quick macaron fix though and you’re in LA, Paulette’s in Beverly Hills is the place to go but I encourage everyone to try making it and don’t give up until you succeed. Some people think it is for advanced bakers but I believe anyone can do it, including Marketman, if you follow the instructions to the letter and once you get the hang of it, it is very easy. Now I understand why I failed the first time – I was not careful in folding and overmixed it because I did not research enough on the process thinking I was a very experienced baker. For me, it became an obsession to make the perfect macaron and by God’s grace, I did it on the 2nd try. Then seeing those perfectly looking macarons (I compared mine with those in Laduree’s website and it looked exactly the same) same size as the one Marketman posted, I had a definite feeling of euphoria and after filling it with rose buttercream and biting into it, I was in macaron nirvana! Sorry for this long comment but I just wanted to encourage people to try and make it and have the same experience of accomplishment I had since I really thought that macaron making was something only professional chefs can do. Why, I can also do it and so can you! Goodness, Marketman, you got me on Macaron mode again.

    Jun 5, 2009 | 4:15 am

     
  30. mgr says:

    Wow! Nice pics! Macarons have evolved since my husband and I did this same trip (in search for the best macaron) many years ago. For one, many more people are familiar with this in the Philippines than a decade ago. We concluded that the macarons at Dalloyau were the best in Paris. They have a store on St. Honore. We can’t wait to see your postings. Keep writing!

    Jun 5, 2009 | 9:09 am

     
  31. Marketman says:

    Lilibeth, you are most certainly tempting me to try baking macarons at home again… :)

    Jun 5, 2009 | 10:25 am

     
  32. Lilibeth says:

    You can do it Marketman, I know you can!

    Jun 5, 2009 | 10:51 am

     
  33. Laura says:

    I admit I’m one of the obsessed macaron lovers out there, like Lilibeth, who followed many other foodbloggers in trying to make them at home. I did a lot of research as well and read almost all the foodblogs which featured them. There’s a special entry and an entire forum about them in EG Forums, which I read from start to finish. I learned so many tips from the comments in that website. I failed on the 1st try but the 2nd attempt was a success. For me, it helped that I’ve been baking chiffon cakes for many years but it still took a lot of practice before I was able to do the correct macaron folding technique, to achieve the right consistency and to know when to stop folding. I like using the Italian boiled sugar technique though, which I personally find easier to handle. I order the almond and hazelnut flour from the Baker’s Catalogue or King Arthur online store. I think their baking supplies are always fresh and of good quality. MM, I guess it’s about time for your macaron chronicles :)

    Jun 5, 2009 | 12:08 pm

     
  34. Lilibeth says:

    Congratulations Laura! Nice to know you’re part of the obsessed macaron lovers’ bandwagon. Hope Marketman joins us soon :)

    Jun 5, 2009 | 12:54 pm

     
  35. Vyanski says:

    WOW!!! If not for such bad weather in Manila, I would have traveled all the way to Bizu Makati just to get my hands on some macarons. Looking forward to the next macaron post MM! :) Good job!

    Jun 5, 2009 | 3:08 pm

     
  36. cheeseheadeatsushi says:

    Thanks Lilibeth for the info! I might just muster up the courage to try making macarons.

    Jun 5, 2009 | 5:50 pm

     
  37. GayeN says:

    Yum! My mouth is watering while reading this post. Can’t wait for part 2-6. =)

    Jun 5, 2009 | 8:52 pm

     
  38. me says:

    fauchon’s macarons is nice, but laduree is the bee’s knees!

    Jun 6, 2009 | 1:48 am

     
  39. Lilibeth says:

    Good luck cheeseheadeatsushi! Believe in yourself, and you can do it!

    Jun 6, 2009 | 4:19 am

     
  40. Ted says:

    I must admit, i have not tried a macaron yet in my life, so becaue of this delectable post, i’ve decided to google the closest one that sells them, and i found that Bouchon Bakery in Yountville, CA,,,one of Thomas Keller’s (French Laundry fame) have them. But before i go there (about 25miles away from my place) has anyone from the Bay area tried their macaron’s? How does it compare with the one’s from Paris?

    Jun 6, 2009 | 7:12 am

     
  41. artisan chocolatier says:

    Ted…yes, comparable to what you get in france. Give them a call first to find out when they will make it, so you can get them as fresh as possible.

    Jun 6, 2009 | 10:43 am

     
  42. corrine says:

    Hay, naku! I love macarons. I bought one piece of macaron yesterday from Bizu. The inside was makunat. :(

    Jun 6, 2009 | 1:04 pm

     
  43. woogie82 says:

    sadly, manila doesn’t have any decent macaroons. currently, i think only Bizu has them. i hope a good pastry chef will be able to create some soon…we’re really lagging behind when it comes to international desserts…can’t wait for your next post on this! :)

    Jun 6, 2009 | 9:01 pm

     
  44. Ally says:

    Woodie82, Bizu is not the only one who sells macaroons. I have seen them served during high tea at the Peninsula hotel and I know the Diamond hotel also makes them. It is just that the Bizu were the first to offer them in public. I know several housewives know how to make them. Vicki Villanueva of Heny Sison’s cooking school taught it in her class many times. I attended one and they are actually quite easy to make once you have learned the technique. Almond flour can be locally purchased already.

    Jun 6, 2009 | 10:19 pm

     
  45. Vyanski says:

    Hi Ally – Hyatt Manila offers macarons too but not on a regular basis. What I am pretty sure is their vanilla/almond macarons are included in the pretty christmas pastry boxes :) For Diamond, are the macarons part of Ko Hi Kan or there is another shop inside the hotel which sells them?

    Jun 7, 2009 | 12:46 am

     
  46. leahpuyat says:

    dear macaron lovers in metro manila, buddy trinidad of park avenue desserts makes wonderful macarons!!! it’s all by special order, though, but if you have the occasion, and the craving, then it’s so worth it. sorry, i’ve lost his contact nos, but i’m sure you could google him. as for the macarons in paris, my votes go to la maison de chocolat and sadaharu aoki.

    Jun 8, 2009 | 2:05 am

     
  47. betty q. says:

    Leahpuyat: Is Buddy Trinidad from Batanggas?

    Jun 8, 2009 | 9:54 am

     
  48. woogie82 says:

    Ally, thanks for that info. i’ll make a note of that. i think that manila has been starting to open up to new ingredients, because i think i don’t see almond flour being sold before. btw, david lebovitz has experimented on how to make the perfect macaroons. it will be interesting to try it out for interested readers. cheers!

    Jun 8, 2009 | 11:02 am

     
  49. Vyanski says:

    Hi LeahPuyat, thanks for the tip! I saw his site already and the macarons are pretty much affordable. For those interested, here’s the link –> http://www.parkavenuedesserts.com/desserts.html

    Jun 8, 2009 | 3:59 pm

     
  50. Nina says:

    My all time fav is Pierre Herme’s macarons at 72 Rue Bonaparte. I happened to stay at the hotel in front of it and every time I look at the window there’s always a long line. My fav flavors are huile d’olive et vanille (macaron biscuit with a creamy olive oil & vanilla filling, and a bit of green olive tucked in the center), ispahan (maracon biscuit with a litchi-rose cream center and raspberry jam). This is the flavor combination that cemented Pierre Hermé’s fame, chocolat (chocolate macaron biscuit with a bitter chocolate ganache center)and macaron rouge. The box itself is elegant and they wrap it as if they’re pcs. of jewelry. Why is it in France, even the simplest thing you buy, they wrapped so very carefully and tenderly, always with a touch of class? Notice even the way they display their fruits and vegetables? Not haphazardly but artfully and with a touch of loving care.

    Jun 9, 2009 | 1:17 pm

     
  51. leahpuyat says:

    hello, betty Q! sorry, i don’t know what province buddy trinidad is from!

    Jun 10, 2009 | 2:25 am

     
  52. leahpuyat says:

    and vyanski, you’re most welcome! hope you enjoy buddy’s macarons. some friends and i threw a tea party, and the macarons were a big hit, but it would also make a lovely solitary treat. a true luxury!

    Jun 10, 2009 | 2:27 am

     
  53. Farrah says:

    Where can i buy almond flour here in manila?

    Aug 6, 2009 | 10:21 am

     
  54. Marketman says:

    Farrah, I haven’t seen any almond flour for sale here in manila. Just buy shelled or de-skinned almonds, the white ones, or sliced skinless almonds and blitz them in a good food processor until fine. But be careful not to overblitz them. Sometimes the addition of a little powdered sugar helps in the blitzing process.

    Aug 6, 2009 | 1:34 pm

     
  55. sugnspice says:

    Hey has anyone tried the macarons at Baker’s Dozen in Rockwell? I think they’re called Empire? I bought a box just yesterday and wow! Divine! So much better than Bizu’s, not matigas and quite generous with the filling:) I love the ‘marbled’ look in a couple of flavors, never saw that before. I wonder how this one fares compared to Laduree’s.

    Sep 7, 2009 | 2:00 am

     
  56. janai says:

    Are there any stores here in the Philippines that sell those?

    Nov 26, 2010 | 1:16 pm

     
 

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