Recharging the Christmas Batteries for 2011

Just back from a last-minute Christmas shop at Les Grands Magasins across the road from the Opéra Garnier in Paris. So pretty and festive but downright exhausting. En route, stopped by a stand to buy a couple of Santa hats for the children, just to get in the Christmas mood. Of course they wanted to wear them to post their letter to Santa but we’ve just discovered that the groovy flashing 2011 lights don’t work. Should have known better and checked the batteries first, but what do you expect for one euro and when you’re balancing shopping bags of stuff you never dreamed you’d buy?

Next time I’m going to simply ask everyone to give me their list for Père Noël. Mine is simple. A Christmas sans stresset toi?

Courrier du Pere Noel

You should have seen the chaos at the hypermarket, Carrefour, yesterday. It seemed like all of les Yvelines decided to grocery shop in between snowfalls. Let’s face it, the snow and icy weather haven’t helped us prepare as much in advance.

Two weeks ago I was upset at cancelling a macaron demo for Scottish Television. Although frustrating, I’m glad I did after seeing the alarming conditions in Scotland on French TV afterwards. Motorists were stuck during the night on the same motorway I was supposed to take to get to the studio.

Spicy Christmas Orange Blossom Macarons by Jill

Instead, we ended up eating some of the TV demo’s spiced orange blossom macarons and kept a few behind for the tasting & signing event at WHSmith Paris a few days later. I’d made 300 macarons for the occasion plus another 100 mini curry Tikka Mac’Sala macarons from the “Mad Macs” chapter (see p 100 of the book) to go with Stoeffler’s 2009 Gewürtzraminer from Alsace.


There’s nothing quite like some spicy heat when it’s snowing, n’est-ce pas?

Tikka Macsala Macarons in the Snow

Although there were some cancellations due to the snow, it was wonderful to see so many macaronivores turn out at the English bookstore in Paris, just a snowball’s throw away from Pierre Hermé’s shop in rue Cambon.

WHSmith Paris Macarons Tasting

I loved meeting and chatting macarons with so many cheery people living in Paris from Australia, India, US, UK (including people like myself who married a Frenchman!) and the French: who would have thought that they love the idea of improving their language skills through a macaron book in English! Next time you’re in Paris, say hello to Hannah for me – she put on a great event.

Mad About Macarons in Croissy

The last book-signing for this year was at Didier’s bookshop in Croissy, Le Presse Book. Imagine turning up to a live band playing Christmas carols! By this time the snow had disappeared, but gosh they were brave to play for so long in that icy wind. Even Didier’s mulled wine wasn’t enough to thaw out their fingers in the end. A huge thank you to Didier and his family for such an amazing event and to L’Harmonie du Vésinet (Yves, Martial, Barbara, Xavier, Isabelle, Etienne & Sandra) for putting on a super musical ambience. I felt so proud to be a part of it all.

Xmas macaron display

It was interesting to hear that some macaronivores had already made them but wanted to give the different recipes and flavours a try. Others hadn’t made macarons before and were inspired to finally give them a go – or inspired to get their friends to try. Yay! I’m dying to hear from them via the website’s Readers’ Forum, such as Nicky, Christine, Trudy, Sheila, Rashmi, Loresa, Audrey, Domenica, Leshia, Kendra, Lakshmi, Tania, Nicolas, Thelma, Julie & Philippe (a chess author inspired by a photo on p.75 😉 ) to name just a few…. oh, and Laura who has become obsessed about making her own macarons ever since watching Masterchef Australia. Way to go, Laura! You show ‘em it’s not difficult.

It’s been rather sad that the events are now finished for the year. It doesn’t stop me from making macarons, though. With the snow falling how else could I be inspired? Here are some mini Thai Red Curry Macarons, all spiced and ready to go to a Christmas party this weekend.

Thai red christmas curry macarons by Jill

Now that I have my grocery stocks refilled, I’m quite happy to be snowed in for a few days. On second thoughts, perhaps not. We’re going to the middle of Corsica for a family Christmas!

So how else can I remain zen this Christmas? For a start, I’m NOT replacing the batteries on Rudolf. He’s been continuously played for the last SIX seasons and he is finally driving me mad – the kids, too! See Drunken Macaron-loving Rudolf (click on the link because I don’t know how else to put up a video!)

Instead, it’s time for us all to recharge our own batteries, enjoy the season with family and friends and look forward to a healthy 2011.

Happy macaron holidays to you all!

This blog post was published before the site was made into a blog in the  Spring 2011.  Nobody could comment.  Not even Mum.
Then again, not even Mum knew I had a blog.
If you’d like to leave a comment, it’s not too late – show me that someone read it, at least!

It’s a Small, Small World in Paris

You think I’m referring to the fantasy boat trip in Disneyland, Paris? Listen to the music once and thereafter it constantly gnaws at your brain. Instead, I’m simply stunned that in a city of over 2 million people, somebody in Paris managed to track me down simply through my macaron madness. Le monde est petit.

Eiffel Tower view from rue Alboni, Paris

When I was taking photos for the book earlier this year, it became an obsession to find an Eiffel Tower that didn’t have a candle or pencil sharpener in it found on countless tourist stalls. I wanted something classy that resembled those found in chic Parisian Pâtisserie windows, looking like chocolate and that could be adorned with macarons. Hm. It was a tall order.

Then one glorious day in May with the real Eiffel Tower urging me in the distance, I found it on the way to my dentist. Just out of the metro station at Passy (one of the few airy metro stops that are above ground) up rue de l’Alboni, this stunning chocolately-looking Eiffel Tower just beckoned me through the window of a magasin de décoration. Frustratingly the shop was shut for lunch. So one root canal treatment later I returned for the Tour Eiffel, bumping en route into a distinguished gentleman coming out of his apartment, clutching a Pierre Hermé bag as if it was from Hermès. Well, this is the 16th.

Eiffel Tower Parisian Macarons

The Tower’s owner, Stéphane, was charmant since he was discretely trying to decipher my newly found overflowing French accent with a half-numbed mouth that was apparently having severe problems keeping up with appearances. Neither one of us noticed, however, that my credit card didn’t go through correctly.  He was too busy trying to work out what I was saying.

Content with my newly found tower for the book, the dentist must have numbed part of my brain, too.  I was totally oblivious that the tower wasn’t paid for – until recently.

A neighbour was taking a stroll in the 16th arrondissement, and of all places she stumbled on the same wee shop. She was drawn in by a doormat adorned with macarons. My friend would just love this, she told Stéphane, she’s writing a book on macarons in English, she’s Scottish….

Et voilà. Easy! Instantly pinned down like a macaronivore Corsican wife hiding out in les banlieues de Paris. One reconciled cheque, scores of Eiffel macaron photos for the book and a few dental appointments later, I have a new friend. Thankfully, he doesn’t see me as a Scot trying to avoid paying, but simply as a mad Scottish lass each time en route to the dentist who has obviously been testing a few macaron ganaches too many! Le monde est vraiment petit.

Oh, and here’s “that tune, just in case you’ve forgotten it. 🙂

This blog post was published before the site was made into a blog in the  Spring 2011.  Nobody could comment.  Not even Mum.
Then again, not even Mum knew I had a blog. I didn’t really understand what a blog was.
If you’d like to leave a comment, it’s not too late – show me that someone read it, at least! Jill xo