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.
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. :)
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…
…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.
A cafe flavored macaron and a salted caramel in the distance.
The orange and chocolate filled macaron.
A big bite out of the salted caramel macaron. A superb balance sweet and a touch of saltiness. Round #1 done. :)