Monday, 6 April 2015

My macaron tour of new york

In January, my husband and I honeymooned in Barbados followed by New York. It was fabulous. During the New York leg of the honeymoon I thought it would be only wise and fitting to do a sort of macaron tour, tasting as many of the wonderful city's macarons as possible

While this list is by no means exhaustive - I had shopping to do in amongst the macaron scoffing, here I review some of the truly scrumptious macarons I sampled in New York.

The Plaza
I'm not sure these should really be counted in the post as they were complementary treats provided by the hotel when we arrived, they were nestled next to chocolate covered strawberries (which by the way kind of deserve there own, albeit rather limited, blog post tribute) and they were milk chocolate passion fruit macarons. And anyone who has read my milk chocolate passion fruit post, knows how I feel about this particular macaron flavour.

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Bouchon bakery

Next stop was the Bouchon bakery, which I know they have here there and everywhere in the U.S., but they don't have them in the UK and so that fit in nicely with my objective of sampling as many different macarons as possible in New York. Bouchon bakery does two different sizes of macaron, so naturally I went with the larger size - would have been rude not to! I chose pistachio, being another one of my favourite macaron flavours.

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These macarons look perfect on the outside and they certainly didn't disappoint. The filling seemed to be a pistachio Swiss meringue buttercream concoction which was delicious, and the macaron was extremely chewy but in the best possible way.

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The only problem with these macarons was they were ever-so-slightly hollow, but the flavour and overall texture was so good I feel this can be forgiven. And it just goes to show that all we non-professional, or indeed professional, bakers struggling to get hollow-less macarons are not in it alone and ultimately, it's all about the flavour. We visited Bouchon bakery again to try out another one of their macaron flavours, we tried the Orange but it was so hard and crunchy I couldn't finish it - it was a total waste of calories. But to the everlasting credit of the staff they accepted that the macaron was not as it's best and let me have another one :-)

Macaron parlour

This was somewhat of a trek from our hotel, but we were determined to walk everywhere following our laziness and overindulging in Barbados. Besides, we went to the macaron parlour on a nice and sunny (but oh so cold!) day in New York and so it was satisfying to stroll through Central Park on the hunt for more macarons. Macaron Parlour is situated on 560 Columbus Ave, between 87th & 88th Street, and behind its pretty shop front is a bright spacious shop with its macarons staring intently out from behind the counter. Macaron shops are to nightmare of the indecisives of this world, and I seem to fall into that category. After much deliberation we decided on the following macarons: matcha green tea, creme brulee, and smores.

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I was keen to try a matcha green tea macaron as I have never come across one before and they seem very popular on the macaron blogosphere and on Instagram. These matcha macarons didn't taste of a great deal. I drink green tea but I've never had matcha green tea before so perhaps that was why I was unable to pick out a specific flavour. The creme brulee macaron delicious, the filling was creamy and custard-like and the macaron shells were bronzed to provided the 'brulee'. However ' my favourite from the Macaron Parlour was the smores macaron. Smores aren't really a thing in Britian, not something I'd be bothered to make or get excited about eating. In my mind, what could be so special about marshmallow and chocolate together? Well, I can safely say I'm a convert - chocolate and marshmallow go gloriously together and whilst eating it I immediately added 'smores macarons' to my phone's list of macarons that I need to make (who doesn't have such a list...right?).

Macaron cafe

This cafe was secretly lurking on 59th Street between Madison and Park Avenues - a mere 0.2 miles away from the hotel we were staying in - we'd walked past it several times without realising; I didn't think that would be possible seeing as I'm always keeping my eyes peeled for macarons! Macaron cafe is a long but narrow shop with a small area (enough space for around 8 people) to sit down at the far end to sip coffee and nibble on macarons. There was a huge variety of macarons - I'd guess around 20 flavours, all gleaming like jewels from behind the display cabinet.

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We shared 3 macarons between us: matcha green tea (thought I'd give it one more go), pistachio, and peanut butter and jelly. We also ordered coffee. To our pleasant surprise we were asked to take a seat and they brought over two cups of coffee - literally cups, with saucers and everything! I'm obviously easily pleased but coffee tastes so much better out of crockery as opposed to paper cups! This, I felt was a nice touch, as if to say 'you can take you macarons and dash if you like, but you're also very welcome to stay and enjoy your coffee and macarons with us'.

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Anyway, on to the macarons - all were delicious, all had full fluffy shells and a lovely chewy texture. The peanut butter and jam macaron was my favourite flavour sampled at Macaron Cafe. I was pleased to finally get my hands on a matcha green tea macaron that tasted of something - I really liked the balance between the bitterness of the matcha filling and the sweetness of the shells.

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The pistachio macarons were also yummy but the Bouchon Bakery pistachio macarons were a tough act to follow and the pistachio flavour was not as intense as I would have hoped. Just as an aside, Macaron Cafe did the best coffee we tried in New York!

Francois Payard bakery

This was our last stop on our macaron tour, we'd done well - eaten a combined 9 macarons over 3 days. Overall, I was least impressed with the Francois Payard bakery's macarons, We ordered raspberry lycée and cassis macarons which were unfortunately crunchy, like they hadn't matured enough, and didn't really taste of anything.

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This illustrates how it's not only important to have pretty looking shells, but the flavour must not disappoint. Relative to the shells, the proportion of filling is actually quite low. It's almost like you need to intensify the flavour of the filling to ensure it comes through. There are positive reviews of this bakery on the internet, so perhaps this was just a bad batch but quality control was definitely missed somewhere along the way with these macarons. To add insult to injury, the coffee was burnt and undrinkable, sigh. We promptly left and made our way to Bouchon for a pistachio macaron.

We had a great time trying out all the different macarons that New York had to offer. If I were to rank the macaron shops we tried it would go something like this:

1. Macaron parlour
2. Bouchon
3. Macaron cafe
4. Francois Payard bakery

And if I were to rank the macarons it would go:

1. Smores
2. Pistachio (BB)
3. Creme brulee
4. Peanut butter and jelly
5. Pistachio (MC)
6. Matcha green tea (MC)
7. Matcha green tea (MP)
8. Raspberry lycée
9. Cassis

Now I'm back home, I want to go hunting for macarons in London. We usually go to Laduree but this has inspired me to seek out some of the less established macaron shops! So watch out for my macaron tour of London coming soon Smile