Friday, September 21, 2007
French Macaroons S'il Vous Plaît
As you can tell from the last entry, I adore French food. Some favorite items include:
• Poulet frites (crispy roast chicken with so tasty frites) and steak frites
• Real almond croissants (you know, not from Starbucks)
• Pan-seared foie gras (Oh boo, I'm an evil foie gras eater! Well I hardly eat this anyway, just once in a long while)
• Grande salade – A southwestern France specialty in a giant 2-quart salad bowl: salad greens tossed with walnuts, radishes, ham, and small chunks of pancetta tossed with cream dressing, with a molten-yolk fried egg on top, covered with a layer of roasted potato slices on top of the whole thing. Yes it is a salad FEAST!
• Kir Royale – Because it's a part of the very civilized tradition in which restaurant hosts offer waiting guests an apéritif of Champagne mixed with crème de cassis.
• The delectable French macaroon. No, do not confuse this delightful nugget o' love with the hefty coconut Matterhorn-looking things sometimes dipped in chocolate (which are good in their own right but see just talking about them now I'm yawning).
The best and most fun macaroon is the French sort. Here is a definition:
"A small cookie classically made of almond paste or ground almonds (or both) mixed with sugar and egg whites. Almond macaroons can be chewy, crunchy or a combined texture with the outside crisp and the inside chewy. Note: There is also a coconut macaroon, which substitutes coconut for the almonds. Macaroons can be flavored with various ingredients such as chocolate, maraschino cherries or orange peel."
(Now chop off the last two sentences of that definition and we're all set. NO maraschino cherries, no orange peel please! :)In Paris, the famous spot to pick up macaroons is Ladurée (they do have lovely macaroon animation on their website btw). However when I last visited that city of lights over yonder my feet walked me straight past there and up the street to the confectionery of famed French pastry chef Pierre Hermé. Beyond magnificent pastries, the majority of the counter at PH is dedicated to macaroons of all kinds, lined up in rows bursting with color.
Flavors include but are not limited to the chocolate, strawberry, coffee, pistachio and lemon. Then Hermé went wild and turned out flavors of apricot, rose, olive oil, and the “oh-he’s-a-genius” chocolate passion fruit (in the photo above, it is the yellow with brown specks). Note for yourself: if you haven’t tried the combo of chocolate & passion fruit together, put it on your "to do" list right now.
To buy these babies in LA go to Boule (see link @ right). In NY, their transported version of Fauchon sells them but I heard a rumor that placed closed. And even though the best French bakery in Brooklyn, Almondine, sells a pre-packed box of 5 standard mixed flavors, that hardly compares to peering over a long glass counter at all those bursting colors and deciding, for $2 a pop, in how many macaroon flavors should I invest my money today?
In conclusion, trust me, if you haven't had a French macaroon yet, one is waiting for you as we speak. Well, it's waiting for you at the store, if you go over and buy one. (Actually, one isn't enough, I'd say buy at least two.) And if I ever decide to try out a chocolate macaroon recipe in Ktown, if you're real nice to me I may let you know.