Sunday, March 20, 2011

Macaron Day NYC

So today (Sunday 3/20) was Macaron Day NYC. You could plot your way across Manhattan and Brooklyn, stopping at lots of participating vendors and pop in and get a free macaron! Now, I had never had a real macaron before today, largely because I'd never had one, and at $2 - $4 for such a small fancy cookie, I couldn't imagine it was worth the risk. However, wandering around Manhattan on a bright sunny Sunday afternoon to pick up free macarons to sample? Totally worth it.

So, I obviously couldn't go to all the shops, but I did visit 4. I got a different flavor at each place, then brought them all home with their business cards and proceeded to have a very intricate taste test to analyze each macaron and how each was different, not so much in flavor, but in consistency, texture, size, filling to cookie ratio, etc. I even took pictures!

So, we shall list them in order visited. First, I stopped at Macaron Cafe at 485 7th Ave (entrance on 36th St) and got a simple chocolate macaron. This shop seemed the most authentic and definitely French; even the counter girls all had very thick accents. It was a very pretty thing, seemed to even had the shimmer of gold dust in the meringue top. It didn't have much of an aroma, and when next to the others seemed small and thin. However, it was delightful to eat! It was more chewy than brittle with a slightly moist feeling to the interior, it was soft, almost no toothsomeness to the "shell" or "skin" of the meringue, and the center had a more fudge-y type of texture and flavor than a ganache or nougat. Very lovely! The flavor variety was almost overwhelming. Would definitely go back and try other flavors! They are $2.25 a piece, or $13 for 6, $25 for 12 or $49 for 25. So, even when buying en masse, you still barely beat the $2.00 a piece spread. That is a little steep for such a small cookie, even a very nice one.

Next I went to Cours La Reine who has a small popup shop inside the Eva Scrivo Salon at 50 Bond St on Fridays and Saturdays 12:30 - 7:30. There I got the cassis and violet. Roughly the same size as the macaron at Macaron Cafe, maybe slightly bigger, with a very slightly smaller selection of flavors, but what interesting flavors! I think she definitely had the most unique assortment. I kind of wish I would have tried the Citron and Yuzu instead. When I bit into this one, there was a definite barely perceivable soft "crack" as the "skin/shell" of the meringue broke and gave way to a light and airy, yet moist interior. It had the most amazing mouth feel. Lush is the only word I could think of as I ate it. My only complaint was that the cassis and violet, which is a very intense dark purple, obviously requires a great deal of food coloring. This has created a fairly unpleasant bitter/synthetic aftertaste. I will note, I AM a super taster, so statistically, a good 2/3rds of the population might not even be able to taste what to me was a jarring and disappointing finish to an otherwise superb epicurean creation. I might be willing to try other flavors that might not have such high pigment contents. And yes, I am aware of the flavor difference between the bitter note that can accompany cassis vs. what I tasted here. Also, there is no price list on her website and I neglected to notate it on her card.
Next I made my way to Bisous Ciao, at 101 Stanton St near Ludlow Ave. They had mad a special macaron just for today, a salted caramel and dark chocolate marked with a kiss print on top. They had a small neat snop with a bit less variety of flavors, but the flavors looked so appealing! I might have gone for the sour cherry had I been given a choice. This macaron is definitely larger than the other two, not so much by diameter, but by thickness. They really put a good amount of filling in there! At first bite there is definitely a thicker and more toothsome shell to the macaron than the previous two. The filling was smooth and silky, and the chocolate part of it was more like a proper ganache than a fudge or chocolate cream. The surprise was the hidden pocket of salty-sweet gooey caramel tucked in the very center of the chocolate filling. The salty/sweet combo with the lightness of the meringue and smoothness of the filling all balanced very well together. They sell for $2.25 a piece, 6 for $13 or a dozen for $25. Pity. I am curious about that sour cherry jam macaron. EDIT: I went back today (3/22) and bought a dozen assorted box. Not through them all yet, but the Sour Cherry and Raspberry jam filled ones are amazingly light and moist and very fruity and OM NOM NOM!!!

Last, but not least, I made my way to the Desert Truck Works at 6 Clinton St just south of Houston. They didn't have much of a selection at the time, and a lot of their flavors were things I'd be a bit suspicious of (butternut squash? banana?) so I went with the strawberry buttercream. I'm sure from the photos above you notice first off the size difference. The DTW macaron is easily 50% bigger in diameter and thickness. However, it wasn't really my favorite. There was no crack or thin crisp skin when I first bit in. it was exceptionally gummy and chewy more than light or moist. The pink peppercorn topping was a nice contrast to what might have otherwise been too innocuous of a flavor. I really expected more fresh strawberry flavor, and this was more strawberry confection flavor, which, yes, it is a confection, but the lush cassis filling in my other fruit based macaron above had me hoping for something similar here, and it just wasn't there. It was a perfectly fine little macaroon, however, and the blog seems to list them at $2.00 each, so it seems they may be the bargain in these four shops, getting the biggest macaron for the least amount of money. But still, at $2.00 a cookie, wouldn't you want something a bit more exceptional?

So there's my say on those four and my first Macaron Day in NYC.


So, when I first started this blog I promised I'd never make a post without plugging an etsy seller. I haven't broken it yet! Obviously, I cannot give a review like above for an etsy seller selling macarons I have never tasted. However, I can read through, and see who I think might have the best options from what I can tell online.

I will state up front that one of the problems that comes from buying food off etsy, though it is sometimes worth it (I have bought and loved some edibles from etsy sellers!) is that the cost of shipping can make the per unit price slightly problematic. However, we often pay a premium to support hand made, small batch crafted goods on etsy. Also, obviously you can't really just order one macaron from a shop, nor probably would you. If you're a novice like me, I favor sampling sets that let you pick out the flavors you'd like to try.

My choice today has come down to The Whimsical Spoon. Her macarons look absolutely lovely, though there is one thing I am going to write a brief note about. The sampler box listing says to list the flavors you want to sample. . . but provides no list of flavor options. Listed in the shop are white chocolate raspberry (looks Delicious!), blueberry, cinnamon, dark chocolate, vanilla bean and pistachio. I would hope other flavor options are available and just as it's a new shop (just moved from an old name) that it is a soon to be corrected oversight. That said, I did find to celebrate her new name and new shop she is also running a coupon code for 15% off at checkout! "And right now, use coupon code TWS15 and receive 15% off your order!" which, even after factoring in S&H to the reduced price of the 24 piece sampler set, you end up with a per unit price less than $1.50 each! Woot! Cheaper than the DessertTruck and delivered right to your door! Now that's something to look into!


Eric Manila Blog said...

Is Macaron different from Macaroons? looking at the images here in your post, there is a similarity.

Izile said...

I think it's mostly a spelling thing, some favoring the single "o" for a more French spelling over the English "oo," though, also, the "macaroon" can refer to the haystack looking pile of sweetened and baked shredded coconut ( ) which are obviously different.

Eric Manila Blog said...

thanks for confirming it, Izile. How I wish we have Macaron Day here also. ;)