Macaron Fillings: XL or Dainty?

Do you recognise this photo taken while making macaron shells with the MacShapes parchment paper recently?  Well, I’m intrigued and would love to hear your opinion on the subject of filling size.

baked macaron shells with perfect feet, ready to be filled

Press me to the limit?

At this stage some macaronivores push their thumb into the centre of each macaron shell in order to be able to use the maximum amount of filling.

Do you prefer a normal big scoosh of filling inside or are you into XL portions?

Imagine this is a green tea, pistachio and wasabi macaron from the book.  Would you want the absolute maximum sky’s the limit amount of white chocolate flavoured ganache inside?  Like, bigger than the macaron shell?

Go on.  Be honest.  Tell all.  Would  you thumb each base shell or not?

 

 

Le Touquet – where France meets England over Macarons

It’s more likely to be in the Eurotunnel or over a football match.  But this weekend – birthday partying in between – as most normal people were drawn to cafés and bars to watch the World Cup on big screens, I was drawn instead to this pâtisserie window. Well, wouldn’t you if you’re mad about macarons?

macaron window display at Serge's in Le Touquay, Normandy, France

England is closer to Le Touquet than us ‘southerners’ in Paris.  This swanky coastal resort, known as Le Touquet-Paris-Plage in the Pas-de Calais, is only a straight 2.5 hour drive on the A16 from Paris yet it’s next door to Calais to jump on the Eurostar to London, and even closer a drive along the coastal road to Belgium.  So, when Serge Leveau decided to change direction from restaurants and open his own pâtisserie, Arts Gourmands on one of the main streets in Le Touquet, he picked a great location.

macaron vase display patisserie window Le Touquay Normandy France

This may sound weird, but do you also love stacking up macarons, one by one, until it’s in the dangerous falling zone? He manages an impressive macaron tower of 11 or 12! Forget the flowers, this is a lovely decor idea: macarons in a giant vase.

choice of designer eclairs by Serge in Le Touquay, Normandy France

Serge Leveau is also an éclair genius. His lovely wife tempts you with gleaming fondant-coated varieties such as pistachio, Mars, Bounty, Twix, Saffron, Lagavulin (och, who can resist that one, Jimmy?), cherry, Strumph, chocolate, espresso and Madagascar Vanilla.  Incidentally, I also bought the fattest, juiciest looking Tahitian vanilla pods/beans. Tahitian are much subtler in flavour than Madagascan – I can’t wait to try them out at home, even if I do prefer more up-front flavours. 

Guimauves - artisanal marshmallows by Serge, Le Touquay, Normandy

Eyeing the pastel-shade guimauves, I hauled myself away just with éclairs for tea-time and would get the rest tomorrow (well, I was supposed to be celebrating a special dinner so no need to over-do it!). 4 o’clock. On the dot. Goûter time with our éclair picnic on the windy beach. Without the cup of tea. I wish he had a tea salon.

picnic on le Touquay Normandy Beach, France

 As it’s right in the midst of cherry season, I had to pounce on this beauty with its cherry melting on to the brilliant fondant.

Serge’s fillings are generous, light, creamy and flavours extremely subtle. For chocolate fans, his éclairs have a film of either white or dark chocolate as a base.

pistachio eclair filling

Sunday I popped back to the shop to stock up on the macarons, whose flavours were calling.  Check out this packaging for a box of 12 macarons.  La Classe.

Creative macaron packaging for 12

Carried away (why does that always happen in pastry shops?) I bought more than I ‘needed’.  Well, I had to taste the espresso macarons, the violet, speculoos, apricot, rhubarb and one of my personal favourites, coquelicot: French poppy. What would you choose?

apricot macarons by Serge, Le Touquay

Starting with the subtle and sweet apricot and rhubarb, the French poppy had more fragrance as I prefer. Who loves speculoos? I’m saving that until last.

When I asked Serge if he made his macarons using French or Italian meringue, his cheeky, smiling answer was “My own way.”
Well. Then.

apricot macarons and pistachio by Serge, Le Touquay, Normandy, France

I was seriously contemplating attacking these fresh cherry guimauve marshmallows with my café-crème and croissant breakfast but luckily, Serge let me taste a little beforehand so self restraint ruled.  I also bought a whopping 85% chocolate spread – this one is for the adult squirrel corner and well away from any of the kids’ sweet Nutella!

cherry marshmallows handmade in Le Touquay, Normandy

Four éclairs for er, three of us.  To be honest (ok, I’m lying), I forgot that our eldest is on a German exchange and it was reflex, Sir. Honest it was.  Caribbean 66% chocolate (which was very low on sugar for the chocolate to shine through), Poppy, Espresso (this was our winner as it was slightly stronger in flavour than the others) and Lagavulin.

gourmet eclairs

And this is how the sweet weekend ended on Father’s Day: a Lagavulin Whisky éclair with its extra syringe of Scottish Malt (a double whisky?).  Ah, the Auld Alliance!  Where France meets Scotland over an éclair.  For a Franco-Scottish macaron, don’t forget I have a MacClair (Coffee and Whisky) macaron recipe in the book on page 84.

A touch of Lagavulin Whisky eclair by Serge in Le Touquay Normandy

Cheers!

Let’s just say I may just need another dose from Le Touquet-Paris-Plage. There’s still a chocolate factory and the Tarte au Sucre to discover next time…

Arts Gourmands
80 rue de Metz
62520 Le Touquet-Paris-Plage

street pianist playing in Le Touquet, Pas-de-Calais, France

Have a tuneful week!

Les Enfants Rouges Restaurant & Wine Bar, Paris

I didn’t think this meal would happen finally.  Hubby announced he was running late, just as I arrived at the restaurant/wine bar. It’s normal.  He usually works late on a Friday night (he’s not your average Corsican). So I waited.

Ping. Text from daughter. Papa came home and panicked. Er, date night? He acted quick and took the car. The car? Let me explain: Les Enfants Rouges is in the heart of the Marais (centre east) in Paris; we live in the suburbs, nearer Versailles (south-west). Parking around this part of the Marais is not a piece of cake, either. Nearest is at République.

Les Enfants Rouges Restaurant wine bar Paris

With nothing to read except the menu card and wine list – plus my phone unable to capture any signal except for texts – I mentally altered my choices of intriguing bistro fare over a glass of Juraçon sec.  No nibbles. This is the kind of place you just get stuck in to the menu. As people arrived and were tucking in, the decibels in the room escalated.  The decor is simple and the chairs hard, so if you do have back problems and your date is prone to being late, take a cushion.

glass of jurancon sec at les enfants rouges wine bar Paris

All the emphasis is on the cooking.  Chef Shinozuka is Japanese – an exciting ingredient added to typical French fare which drew me here in the first place, along that he previously worked next to Yves Camdeborde at his famous Le Comptoir du Relais in St Germain-des-Prés. This was our occasional hangout before Camdeborde became a French MasterChef judge. Hence Les Enfants Rouges is a promising Paris bistro address I’ve been meaning to visit ever since it opened last year.

Chef Shinozuka’s smiling, welcoming wife works in the dining room. We immediately recognised her (and the waitress) from Le Comptoir.  We already felt at home.

menu and wine list at les enfants rouges restaurant paris

A surprise amuse-bouche arrived: a potato soup with bacon mousse that announced classic, or surprises to come?

My entrée was impeccable.  It doesn’t look much from here in that little black pan but the combined flavours of the fried egg, pleurette mushrooms and exploding vinegar pearls surprised the tastebuds. The egg was perfection: bursting into a creamy pool of sunshine for the mushrooms. Antoine’s foaming herring caviar with Provençal asparagus was good, but I wasn’t sharing much of mine. Heaven.

starter courses of asparagus and mushroom egg, les enfants rouges Paris

It’s hard to believe I was vegetarian when I arrived in Paris over 20 years ago. Think what I could have missed here!  The beef cheeks (joues de boeuf) with green spring vegetables was where Chef Shinozuka strutted his stuff, twisting this bistro classic with the exotic. The sauce was more like a bouillon, with distinct notes of citronella lemon grass and a slight spicy heat.

cheeky dish of beef and lemongrass

What would you have ordered from the dessert menu?

The Corsican grapefruit with vanilla ice cream; or mint pannacotta with bitter chocolate and black pepper; or soup of fromage blanc with strawberries and speculoos biscuits?  Or perhaps you would go for the classic Baba au Rhum served with a side of Chantilly cream (this needs to be ordered at the start of the meal)?  I’d already made my mind up since the beginning.

I don’t know why I’m even telling you about this place, as I want to ensure I have a table easily here and wish I lived close enough to make it my canteen. But, because you’re mad about macarons, I’m sharing the bistro love… Les Enfants Rouges is excellent value for money and at 35 euros for the evening menu, I’m returning soon. Even with Antoine.

Les Enfants Rouge

9 rue de Beauce
75003 Paris

Metros:  Temple, Filles du Calvaire, Arts-et-Métiers or Saint Sébastien-Froissart

Open for lunch and dinner every day except Tuesday.

Reservations recommended.
Tel: 01  48 87 80 61