Monday, 19 March 2012

Macaron Hunting Abroad.

This weekend I took a mini-vacca and decided to turn it into a French Macaron-hunt as well. In a city of nearly a million people, you'd think that finding a bakery with French Macarons would be easy. After being instructed by our waitress on how to walk to a nearby bakery and nearly giving up when the directions turned out to be poor, we came upon BeeBell bakery. There we found what they called a French Tart. It was a lovely looking little tart-sized frosting dome that turned out to taste like nothing more than a dry cake with a butter patty on top. "It's as if a pie and a cake had a baby" said my friend....a dry and buttery baby. A man on the corner where we ate our pastries must of had a sixth sense that mine claimed to be French 'cause he started his unsolicited advice for us with "Sacre-bleu!". His advice was that we should be smoking weed with our pastries. Maybe that would of made my tart tastier. I should probably look into this and see what these alleged French Tarts are about. But I digress, this isn't about French Tarts.
I came across an Italian pastry counter  and thought I could settle for an Italian Maccherone being that they are similar. As I approached the counter, I started to feel hopeful. I could see a plate with what looked like tiny, brown macarons. To my dismay, they were just biscotti cookies held together by some kind of filling. I wonder though, if the look of the cookie was inspired by the look of an Italian Maccherone being that they are popular confections in Italy as well. In fact, it is widely believed that the origin of the macaron is Italalian. It is said that in 1533, along with her Italian chefs, Catherine de'Medici brought the macaron to France from Italy when she married Henry II. The word macaron itself comes from the Italian word maccherone or macaroni which in turn came from a Greek word meaning kneading or cooking. What's important to remember is that I didn't find what I was looking for at the Italian pastry counter. Instead I ate salad.
Just as the trip was coming to close, I found the second best thing to actually finding a macaron: The Bible. Well, the French Macaron bible anyway. Les Petits Macarons has everything a person could ever want to know what making the little darlings. How-to, trouble shooting, flavor ideas (including savory recipes such as Chevre Rosemary and Duck Confit with Port and Fig), glossy photos and more fill the 270 pages of bliss. I'm on page 23 and among other things, I've learned that a million things can go wrong and no two pastry chefs agree on a single method for making macarons. All this has confirmed that my Adventures in Macaron Land might be even more challenging than I anticipated....

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