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Jour du Macaron – Macaron Day in Paris, 20 March 2012

Macaron Day may be over in Paris but it’s time to relive the experience now that the last macaron is finished today from le loot bag.

Our sunny Paris macaronathon started out at Pierre Hermé’s boutique at Opéra, with talented artist, Carol Gillott and clever ‘Bear’ of Paris Breakfasts fame. Where was the queue at 10h opening? There wasn’t even time to wait in line and think about what first flavour to choose. Pressure. Many other boutiques were taking part in the Paris Jour du Macaron but as time was limited, we didn’t manage to do all of them. However, we did well.  Really well.

A donation for a macaron

This was the deal with participating macaron boutiques: give a donation to Autistes sans Frontières and pick a macaron of your choice. Hermé had 25 enticing flavours. My first choice was the classic Ispahan (rose, litchi & raspberry) with Hermé’s characteristic spots of metallic food colouring. Don’t ask me how it happened, but we didn’t eat them when we came out. It was for saving until later. Since we were across the road, a quick stop was needed at the Japanese Supermarket, Kioko, as I’m craving yuzu powder for some pastries to make at home. Forget it. A kilo bag for over €120? Back to the macaron hunt.

On to Galeries Lafayette. Where were the queues? The sudden rush of excitement came at Jean-Paul Hévin: with one donation you could choose THREE of his chocolate-something macarons. The sugar rush was on. Quick, next on the list was Dalloyau just in macaron crumb distance. The server took one pitiful look at us as she explained they were certainly not participating in the event. Why do I never get it? After 20 years experience of living here, I should have just shown her The List in black & white. But when in Paris, you must remember that the client is the lowest form of being.

Already with 4 macarons, how could we transport our macarons without the inevitable crushing in a handbag? Time to look for boxes. Could we buy a pâtisserie box or bag, s’il vous plaît, Madame? But of course not. What do you think this is? A charity or something?  You have to buy boxes with macarons in them. But why would we do that on the Fête du Macaron?  You just don’t get it.

The delightful ladies at Sadaharu Aoki understood. Mon Dieu. They were selling macaron shells: macaron à la rusk. What a great idea! As the prized yuzu macaron was delicately placed in its perfect pochette, our loot was looking good stacked in a shiny bag. We still had room in there for more. The macaronivores in us crescendoed as we sped downstairs to Pierre Hermé like kids in a giant sweet shop. Then upstairs to Pierre Hermé. Hm. They know we’re fans, as they stick little stickers on your coat.  I wonder if that’s secret code for Triple Greedy PH Macaronivores?

Americano Pamplemousse; Rosehip, Fig & Foie Gras. Top: Hévin’s chocolate combos.

Another quick stop. But at €1.50 to spend a penny we decided to give the throne room at Galeries Lafayette a miss. We didn’t really need a posh seat, you know – even if we were holding an Aoki Paris pâtisserie bag.

It was time to get out of the store and the 9th Arrondissement. Carol had a great idea: back to Hévin for 3 more in the 7th – metro stop  Ecole Militaire. I have a soft spot for this area, since Antoine and I had a doll’s house apartment here for 5 years. Was it the stickers on my coat? The loot bag? Not enough thudding sound in the donation box? I somehow got flashed le look from Madame as I left with yet another three macs…

My favourite from Hévin was this Chocolate-Yuzu

…then another three from the Hévin boutique in rue Saint Honoré in the 1st Arrondissement. Final stop was Hermé again in rue Cambon. This time the most exquisite dark chocolates were offered as a tasting at the door, as the charming ladies smiled at our greedy PH stickers. So thoughtful for people like us who weren’t actually tasting our macarons sur place. Until later.

It was time to return home since the piano students would be waiting. It’s just as well they practised this week otherwise they’d have to donate a macaron for every wrong note. If you’re reading this, take note for future lessons.

Not bad, she said. Smugly. Tea and tasting time!

Hévin’s macarons are delicious but they generally lack the depth of flavour that you get from Hermé, although they are lighter and ‘easier to eat’. My personal favourite was his Chocolate-Yuzu. Fabulous. The plain Yuzu macaron of Aoki certainly hit the spot with a perfect bite. Hermé’s Ispahan is incredible, but it does have the impression of eating into butter: it’s so rich and sweet.

The fois gras, fig and rosehip was incredibly original: the foie gras notes were pronounced and the macaron was distinctly sweet. It’s meant as a dessert, so the foie gras was kind of strange. You couldn’t really serve it as an apéritif. Today I opened the chocolate-foie gras and the whole thing had turned to mush after 2 days. Boohoo.

Today I tasted Hermé’s new additions and loved them: Americano Pamplemousse for its bitter-sweet (reminded me of hibiscus-Campari-blood orange) and slightly more crunch to the shell, plus my favourite: his new Infiniment Jasmin, as part of his 2012 collection, “Les Jardins”. The jasmine was slightly lighter than the others and packed full of flavour of the flower and jasmine tea – plus with Pierre Hermé’s distinct metallic food colouring hue.

Infiniment Jasmin de Pierre Hermé

Have a wonderful week and don’t worry: macaron day may be over but Spring is here and macaron day continues in my book. Won’t you join me?

Update: Macaron Day Paris info 2013

Celebrating the Fête du Macaron with a Giveaway.

 

Stopping for a macaron in Paris…

Happy Fête du Macaron to you all!

How could we let Macaron Day in Paris go by without doing something special?  Well, my friends, Waverley Books are offering a copy of “Mad About Macarons!” to FIVE lucky winners!

Before I mention how to enter, just a wee word.  My passion is macarons and it can be frustrating to hear people say, “Oh no.  Macarons look too difficult: I could never even attempt to make them…“.  But making macarons is not difficult AND it’s fun.  They can even be addictive to make.  We want to pass on this message to as many people who WANT to make macarons but are afraid to do so.  So, if you can find the best way to spread the word about the book amongst your friends or macaronivore friends, then that’s great.  I’ll leave YOU to be creative.

Here’s how to enter:

Sorry, this Giveaway is now closed.

The giveaway will run from Sunday 20th to Sunday 27th March 2011.

I will announce the FIVE winners on my weekly Thursday post on 31st March 2011.

To enter, I’m not saying, “Buy the Book Now!” (after all, you’re entering to get one :-))
Either “Like” Mad About Macarons on Facebook and if you’re already following, suggest the page to friends who you think would be interested.

If you’re not on Facebook I’m going to leave the creativity up to YOU.  Here’s an example: if you have the book (and are happy with it! ;-)), then you could tell your bookshop that you’re happy with it, or post a short review…

Don’t forget to leave me a comment letting me know what you did.  That way I can contact you by email if you are one of the winners.

Bonne chance et Bonne Fête!

Eiffel Tower Parisian Macarons

Happy Macaron Day!

Macarons Going Green and a Sham that Rocks

This past week we’ve seen many green posts in the bloggosphere for St Patrick’s Day.  As last week we went yellow with mimosa, then why not green this week to celebrate St Patrick’s Day and the continuation of Spring?  After all, the buds are now on the trees so greens are gradually popping out just as the locals are coming out of winter hibernation like les Champignons de Paris.

St Patrick is to Ireland what St Andrew is to Scotland.  Yet the St P green is so much more popular: St Andrews is better known as a golf course (there are greens there, too.) 😉 So here’s a piped round-up of the greener macarons:

From a pistachio macaron classic to pistachio and dark chocolate macarons

pistachio chocolate macarons

Pistachio-chocolate macarons, brushed with melted dark chocolate

…to a pistachio macaron with a surprisingly different twist: pistachio, white chocolate and wasabi.  This is my daughter, Julie’s favourite and I have to admit, I also find this one rather addictive with a pot of green tea.

pistachio wasabi macarons

Pistachio, white chocolate & wasabi macarons

In a couple of editorial reviews, ParisPatisseries commented, …”Thai Green Curry Macaron, anyone? There are some so adventurous that even Pierre Hermé’s wilder creations would seem tame by comparison.”  On the other hand, Elizabeth Luard from Scotsman Living.com loved the others but mentioned, “Thai green curry might be a bit too Blumenthal for me.”  It’s like music: totally subjective but I personally LOVE it.  The spicier the better!

The Thai Green Curry Macaron is rather adventurous and definitely something different with a Gin & Tonic for an apéritif.  Sorry, I should say Guinness here to keep on the Irish theme, but it honestly wouldn’t go as well as with a G&T or a glass of chilled Gewürtzraminer.  Try an Irish lager, though. 😉

macaron shamrock

Macaron shamrock? More like a sham but it rocks! Green thai curry macarons are HOT…

All the above are included in the book.  If you’re getting sick of seeing green, then don’t forget that there’s an Irish Coffee macaron, too. 😉

But here’s another of my latest experiments with flavours. We had some fun with this one on Facebook yesterday! Don’t scream, please don’t run away.

This is actually delicious.  It works.  I got the idea from a recent trip to South Africa, where I discovered Rooibos Tea.  I now drink this so much since it’s not just tasty but caffeine free, a great antioxidant and you can even add a dash of milk to it like the normal stuff.  Talking about it to a lovely South African lady,  she explained that her mother used to give her a popular infusion of rooibos with rosemary anytime she was down and needed a lift.  Now THAT needed investigation.  With an enormous rosemary bush in my herb garden, I set about preparing rosemary macaron shells…

rosemary macaron shells

Rosemary macaron shells

Hmm.  Don’t ask me why I added the chocolate, but I just felt like it.  Perhaps it was one of these moments when my system was shouting, “Gimme magnesium!  Gimme chocolate and LOTS of it.  RIGHT NOW!” So I infused the rooibos tea into the ganache cream to add a wonderfully slightly earthy, smoky taste of the tea to the dark chocolate.  The rosemary was also infused into the cream: just a sprig but enough to give a hint of it without being overpowering.  Now I understand that bit about this concoction being a pick-me-up!  So, here are Rosemary, Rooibos and Dark Chocolate Macarons

rosemary, rooibos chocolate

Rosemary, rooibos & chocolate macarons

Before you go, just a quick reminder about the Booksigning Event this weekend.  If anyone is in Paris on Saturday 19 March, please do pop in to say bonjour at Brentano’s American Bookstore between 15h-17h (address details are on the Event page).  It would be great to see you!

STAY TUNED for Sunday 20th March, when I’ll be posting something special for the Fête du Macaron!

Japan macaron flag

Our thoughts are with Japan…

This past week it has been devastating to watch all that has been going on in Japan.  It almost seemed silly to write a blog post this week, but it was ready to roll for St Patrick’s Day today so please excuse my normal weekly banter.

Thanks to some food blogger friends, such as  Manu from Manu’s Menu and Visda from Eat, Drink and Just Be!, here are some sites where you can donate to the Japan crisis:

International Salvation Army

Médecins sans frontières

Amercian Red Cross

British Red Cross

Stand with Japan.org (Direct Relief International)