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Margaret Pilgrim

Macarons in Paris [MERGED TOPIC]

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The Montorguiel thread made me reflect on macarons we had sampled. Chocolate are my favorite; nothing subtle there. One year we overdosed on samples from Hermes, Hevin, Maison du Chocolat, Ladurie and Paul. Frankly, I thought that the flavor was cleanest in the least expensive ones at Paul. Several others actually tasted stale or had off-flavors. Prices range from around $3 to $5 a piece, although there are large differences in size. Pauls', the cheapest, are also the largest. I did notice on our last trip that Ladurie was featuring a new flavor: very dark chocolate. Because I liked theirs among the least, I didn't bother to try this interesting variation at that time.

What are your favorites?


eGullet member #80.

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Margaret, I just wolfed down three big chocolate macarons at lunch today - they're my favourite too - but lots of subtlties there.

My favourite chocolate macarons were made by one of my pastry chefs at Cordon Bleu - he used to be the chef de patisserie at La Tour d'Argent. He made his with an unsweetened, dark, bitter, cocoa buttercream filling - he explained that since the macaron pastry is inherently sweet, that it's better with an unsweetened filling. In fact he made a standard sweetened filling version for comparison - the difference was startling. He had us try the unsweetened fillings on their own - he also made lemon buttercream, vanilla, etc. - and they were quite unappetizing on their own - but married with the pastry - a revelation.

I've been to all the places you mentioned - and had tried all the macarons from Pierre Herme, Jean-Paul Hevin, and Laduree - chocolates but not macarons from Maison du Chocolat and pastry and sandwiches from Paul, but again no macs. Of the above I like the ones at chez Hevin the best - most beautiful and I felt like best understanding of the chocolate.

Of macarons available to the public - though not really a retail outlet - the ones we make at the Plaza Athenee - for tea - are outstanding. And the ones we serve at ADPA - even better.

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I don't know that I've had enough to make any king of definitive comparison, but a trip or two ago I recall having a superb chcocolate macaron from Hevin. It would be remarkable to find a better one. A salt butter caramel macaron from Hermé was also memorable, but I'm a sucker for salt butter caramel.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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MDC and Laduree are the best I've had, but that's not particularly current knowledge. I think, for example, the last time I was at Laduree, Pierre Herme was still there. And I agree that ADPA makes outrageously good ones, as does ADNY -- without question the two best examples of restaurant macarons I've had. (Although, the last time I was at ADNY, half the macarons were clearly overbaked -- which wasn't that big a deal because I just asked for more of the ones that weren't defective.)

To take a step back, what makes a macaron good? For me the major distinguishing factors between excellent and best are 1) the texture of the pastry, and 2) the quality of the fillings. Obviously, there are bad macarons out there where we could start getting into exactly what's fucked up about the pastry, but among the group we're discussing here there aren't likely to be any major defects of that nature.

The reason I liked the Laduree macarons so much (and again we're talking about the Herme era) was that the pastry consistently achieved that cloudlike texture -- there was virtually no resistance. Once a macaron develops even a little bit of "crispness" I start to like it a lot less.

The reason I always go back to MDC macarons -- aside from the fact that I can get them in New York -- is that the quality of their chocolate is so superb. The pastry is quite good as well, though not on par with the best I've had. Still, on balance the quality of the chocolate makes these a favorite.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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There are several sources of ethinic pastries in Paris that are truly exceptional.

The best Macaroons i've ever eaten were from three different Jewish Bakeries located in Paris.

They also prepared excellent variations all superior of items like Strudel, Hummatashen, Crossiants, Chalah, Ruggelah and other treats that were so good that my wife used to order care packages shipped by air to Hong Kong during the holidays when we lived there. Theres no place that bakes even close located in Isreal.

I also required care packs from both Dremels and Sacher in Vienna on the excuse that I wanted to keep my pastry Bakers on there toes or whatever rationale provided a excuse.

Irwin


I don't say that I do. But don't let it get around that I don't.

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Hi Irwin, are you talking about the typically coconut pastry macaroons? We always have this confusion. Margaret's talking about the traditional French pastry macarons - basically a delicate cookie sandwich - here's Laduree for example.

And Steven, what I'm saying is that the macarons we make at the Plaza are far better than the one's I've had at any patisserie - and the ones for ADPA, even beyond that. I have friends who've slaved over the macarons at Pierre Herme - the highest status ones by Parisian standards - we've compared notes - and macarons - and we agree that ours are better. And of course I should note that they should be - the small scale production we do has far more quality control than their volume operation.

Overbaked and defective macarons at ADNY? I'm really horrified. Macaron duty was one of my first jobs in gastro pastry - perfection is taken very, very seriously. You would not believe the number of pastries that never make it to the filling stage - I'd thumbprint them to make sure they didn't make it through - that is crush the top with my thumb. And even after my obsessive-compulsive eye, the chef would still find some that were just not perfect enough.

What makes a macaron good? Interesting that you ask - because I've had this discussion many, many times with my various pastry chefs. The first and foremost consideration in French pastry - beauty - it must be perfect and appealing to the eye. Is the colour good? Shape round? Top smooth? Edges even? Pairs matched? Then you consider the filling - texture, taste, colour - then you can perhaps start to fill. But when you flip the macaron is it flat - or has it stuck a bit, so it's concave? You have to consider the filling and the pastry because you may need to slighly cave in the flipside - so that you can barely see the filling - you want equal amounts - and just enough but not too much. Then comes pairing and finally storing - after all that hard work you still get some waste because inevitably some macarons will get a little crushed from crowding.

What I like in a good chocolate macaron is exactly what I like in a good brownie - eggshell-crisp crust, slightly chewy pastry, strong bitter chocolate filling - to contrast with the sweetness of the pastry.

OK I guess I've come to the realization that my favourite macarons in Paris are the ones I make myself!

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From the Laduree link above, one can see the macaron in all different colors--and they describe all the different flavors they have.

Is the almond dough typically flavored in some of the variants or is the given 'flavor' of the cookie all in the filling?

From photos and descriptions, it seems that there is at lease a chocolate version (with chocolate added to actual almond dough...).

Thanks


"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Typically with macarons flavouring is not added to the batter - but in the case of chocolate - cocoa powder will be added - and coffee - Treblit/coffee-flavoured/coloured extract.

Hey did you see the new Black Licorice flavour? I'm going to try that one next week.

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Typically with macarons flavouring is not added to the batter - but in the case of chocolate - cocoa powder will be added - and coffee - Treblit/coffee-flavoured/coloured extract.

Thanks; that's what I figured, although I questioned that when I saw all the different colors. I guess that must be food coloring...


"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Now I feel duped. I always thought there was flavoring in both the filling and the "cookie." Come to think of it, I'm sure I've had examples where the filling didn't match, but complemented the flavor of the dough. Could I be wrong, not that this would be earth shaking news again?

One of the reasons we continue to have confusion between macaron and macaroon, is that the latter is the official translation for the former. Eveyone I know uses macaron, with the single "o" in English, but if you look at Ladurée's web page, they use "macaroon" as if that word didn't already bring to mind a totally different pasty to most English speakers.

I also find most macarons overpowered by the ganache or buttercream filling.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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But typically doesn't mean always - some houses do flavour the batter too - like chez Herme for example - some of their pastries are flavoured differently than their fillings of macarons. I have friends who own the amazing Amoretti - sounds like a good name for a magician, and I guess they are when it comes to pastry products - they sponsored Albert Adria of El Bulli at the World Pastry Forum in Vegas - and they make a showstopping range of flavourings. I cannot wait to experiment more with their products - especially when it comes to a delicate, concentrated pastry experience like macarons/macaroons.

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Has anyone tried macarons flavoured with ginger and lime and with raspberry flayour in between? It is amazing.


When my glass is full, I empty it; when it is empty, I fill it.

Gastroville - the blog

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Hi Irwin, are you talking about the typically coconut pastry macaroons? We always have this confusion. Margaret's talking about the traditional French pastry macarons - basically a delicate cookie sandwich - here's Laduree for example.

And Steven, what I'm saying is that the macarons we make at the Plaza are far better than the one's I've had at any patisserie - and the ones for ADPA, even beyond that. I have friends who've slaved over the macarons at Pierre Herme - the highest status ones by Parisian standards - we've compared notes - and macarons - and we agree that ours are better. And of course I should note that they should be - the small scale production we do has far more quality control than their volume operation.

Overbaked and defective macarons at ADNY? I'm really horrified. Macaron duty was one of my first jobs in gastro pastry - perfection is taken very, very seriously. You would not believe the number of pastries that never make it to the filling stage - I'd thumbprint them to make sure they didn't make it through - that is crush the top with my thumb. And even after my obsessive-compulsive eye, the chef would still find some that were just not perfect enough.

What makes a macaron good? Interesting that you ask - because I've had this discussion many, many times with my various pastry chefs. The first and foremost consideration in French pastry - beauty - it must be perfect and appealing to the eye. Is the colour good? Shape round? Top smooth? Edges even? Pairs matched? Then you consider the filling - texture, taste, colour - then you can perhaps start to fill. But when you flip the macaron is it flat - or has it stuck a bit, so it's concave? You have to consider the filling and the pastry because you may need to slighly cave in the flipside - so that you can barely see the filling - you want equal amounts - and just enough but not too much. Then comes pairing and finally storing - after all that hard work you still get some waste because inevitably some macarons will get a little crushed from crowding.

What I like in a good chocolate macaron is exactly what I like in a good brownie - eggshell-crisp crust, slightly chewy pastry, strong bitter chocolate filling - to contrast with the sweetness of the pastry.

OK I guess I've come to the realization that my favourite macarons in Paris are the ones I make myself!

Louisa: I'm familiar with the differences of both types of Macaroons.

Laduree's are picture perfect, elegant and delicious. Our evolved American Variations are most of the time at best mediocre, sometimes interesting but except for the few pastry shops capable of making the authentic types rarely available.

My ideal "Macaroon", is what was available in Paris at the Jewish Bakeries, they offered both the French Style and a adaptation that to me was more satisfying and better tasting then what was prepared anywhere else in Europe.

For some reason the Jewish Bakeries were more interested in what tastes good then in the elegance or appearence. It seemed during my infrequent visits, none recently. That they were to busy turning out the merchandise for lined up customers then contriving to seem special.

I haven't been back personally since one of the Bakeries had the misfortune of being located where there was a bombing several years ago, but i understand they've rebuilt and reopened.

Please take the time to check these Bakeries out, and please post your impressions as they've been in business successfully for many years in a very competative market with very little publicity or promotion just doing their thing.

Irwin


I don't say that I do. But don't let it get around that I don't.

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The first and foremost consideration in French pastry - beauty - it must be perfect and appealing to the eye. Is the colour good? Shape round? Top smooth? Edges even? Pairs matched?

I've got to say, I couldn't care less about any of these factors. They don't affect taste, and they don't affect my experience of the product. Not that I mind if they're beautiful so long as that doesn't detract from actual flavor, but if I could have ugly ones that tasted the same for half price, there's no question how I'd spend my money. Indeed, I'd buy the ugly ones if they were 1% cheaper!


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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OK - here we go - you may not think they affect taste, but crois-moi mon cher Gros Mec, they do affect your experience. I offer myself up as evidence. I can't tell you how many times I've pulled an I Love Lucy - surreptitiously stuffing my face with reject macs - and it's quite different than sitting down to a nice tea in the Plaza's Gallerie.

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I offer myself up as evidence: if I can get "factory seconds" of candies or pastries at a discount, I enjoy them significantly more than the flawless ones. I don't believe they taste any different yet I enjoy them more.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Indeed, I worked at a place that was less than a mile from a tiny candy factory that makes loads of yummy stuff, and has a "seconds" table with half-price things.

There was never anything wrong with those seconds that affected our enjoyment.

We always said that if God hadn't meant us to go there and load up on our lunch hour, he wouldn't have put that candy factory within driving distance.

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When I first dined at the really top restaurants in NY or France, I was following my interest in food. I rather resented the fact that I couldn't get that food without having to pay for the service and all the other things that went into the price of my meal. I won't say the food and the service are inseparable, but I can say that I now understand the art of fine dining and that while the food in another setting might taste the same, the total experience is also one I've come to appreciate.

The French have long been obsessed with appearance, sometimes to the detriment of substance, though I think striving for the perfect macaron is a matter of stylistic perfection without any loss of substance. It's never been a surprise to learn a Japanese artist or esthete preferred French culture to that of other European nations, nor is is surprising see the French fascinated with Japanese arts. The Japanese have developed a form of dining, kaiseki, that may truly be one where visual impression is more important than taste. Then again, I can only offer that opinion as an outsider who doesn't understand and is not qualified to instruct. One is always free to care only about what one chooses. I'm not sure however that one can offer up one's self as evidence of anything other than one's own opinions.

I know that I'd want to understand what drives an artist or craftsman and that I'd expect a food writer to enlighten me in such a way as to eventually allow me to form my opinions. If Louisa posts from a French pastry chef's understanding of macarons, it's far more interesting to me than if a hundred people post their opinion that what drives the chef is not something that's important to them. I think we've covered the aspect of diminishing returns so often that no one would need to mention that value at the extreme high end of the culinary world is not proportionate to cost. We already have enough people in and out of eGullet who will tell us that haute cuisine food is not worth the money charged and who need only offer up proof that they can get more food for less money. I'd go so far as to add they can get more food that tastes good enough to eat and which provides full enjoyment. That's the same argument used here to say seconds are better value because they cost less.

I won't argue the added value inherent in a perfectly round macaron, but there should be no disagreement that a connoisseur of macarons would appreciate the difference. There's a difference between being a cheap bastard, something I'll readily admit to being, and dismissing the ultimate effort and achievement of a craftsman.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I really believe we shold keep religion out of this discussion, but I've been told that god is in the details, at least once. If that's true, all other things being equal, the perfectly round macaron is the most heavenly. :biggrin:


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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We already have enough people in and out of eGullet who will tell us that haute cuisine food is not worth the money charged and who need only offer up proof that they can get more food for less money. I'd go so far as to add they can get more food that tastes good enough to eat and which provides full enjoyment. That's the same argument used here to say seconds are better value because they cost less.

Because they cost less and taste exactly the same, I think you mean.

We are commenting on the statement, "The first and foremost consideration in French pastry - beauty - it must be perfect and appealing to the eye. Is the colour good? Shape round? Top smooth? Edges even? Pairs matched?"

Nobody here is saying people don't have a right to pay for whatever they want to pay for. Nor is anybody saying beautiful pastries are objectionable in any way. However, if the number one priority of French pastry is beauty then I think French pastry doesn't have its priorities straight. The number one priority should be flavor. One does not have to be an ignoramus or reverse snob to believe that. Indeed, I would be very interested to hear the argument for prioritizing beauty ahead of flavor.

I agree, Bux, that "The French have long been obsessed with appearance, sometimes to the detriment of substance." Whether or not this is such a case is an open question. Of course, if all elements are perfect, there is no need to choose between flavor and beauty. However, if 100 items are being inspected for perfection and 50 must be discarded, I advocate keeping the 50 that are likely to taste the best rather than the 50 that are the most perfect in form.

Cheap bastards of the world, unite!


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I really believe we shold keep religion out of this discussion, but I've been told that god is in the details, at least once. If that's true, all other things being equal, the perfectly round macaron is the most heavenly. :biggrin:

:biggrin::wink::raz:

The Chinese have a expression that seems so perfect for your application.

To do this correctly you must rub two fingers up and down your cheek.

Next elevate your head slightly.

Finally state clearly with feeling "BIG NOSE".

Then quickly enjoy some "giggling".

While this is taking place i'll be grabing up all the Macaroons that didn't make first place.

So while you get to only eat "THE ONE", i'll enjoy all the other ones.

Irwin


I don't say that I do. But don't let it get around that I don't.

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Picture of macarons we took at one of Paul locations in Paris in December

Thank you for that picture. Oh do I ever miss Paul's macarons, and just Paul's in general.

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The Montorguiel thread made me reflect on macarons we had sampled. Chocolate are my favorite; nothing subtle there. One year we overdosed on samples from Hermes, Hevin, Maison du Chocolat, Ladurie and Paul. Frankly, I thought that the flavor was cleanest in the least expensive ones at Paul. Several others actually tasted stale or had off-flavors. Prices range from around $3 to $5 a piece, although there are large differences in size. Pauls', the cheapest, are also the largest. I did notice on our last trip that Ladurie was featuring a new flavor: very dark chocolate. Because I liked theirs among the least, I didn't bother to try this interesting variation at that time.

What are your favorites?

My favorites macarrons can be found in

Yamazaki 6 chaussée de la muette 75016 paris.

I love their macaroons with saffron.

Really very tasty!


Philippe raynaud

Les d�lices du Net

Les D�lices de Daubenton-Paris

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