Monday, August 25, 2008

Popping my macaron: Madeleine Patisserie, Bouchon Bakery

I'd never had a French macaron before, but had been reading about them forever. People seemed to be nuts for these airy, pastel-colored sweets, but I still had no idea what they tasted like. It's not that I didn't have access to macarons; they're sold in many places, but I wanted my first experience to be…perfect. So unless I was in a bakery where I knew someone else had deemed them worthy, I always passed them by.

However, when I met GQ for coffee at Madeleine Patisserie one afternoon and she started exclaiming over the macaron display, I gave in. They looked tasty for sure, winking up from the display case in their jewel-like glory. She chose crème de cassis, I chose pistachio, and we took them outside with our cups of coffee and settled ourselves on a bench to dig in.
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And they were delicious. I know I'm just a newbie, but without anything to compare them to, these were some damn fine macarons. Each bite of the light, chewy cookies gave way to a buttery-soft creme filling. They were moist and dense and just sweet enough. The only quibble I'd have is with the flavoring: while I could taste the floral, nutty flavor of almonds, I couldn't taste much pistachio or blackberry. Really though, I didn't even care—I liked them just fine.
Several weeks later I was with TL in the Time Warner Center, and I dropped in at Bouchon Bakery to check out their macarons. Theirs are ones that I have heard about, and after sampling Madeleine Patisserie's, I was eager to see how my first ones had compared.
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I bought two for us to share, but for various reasons TL and I didn't get to sample them until a day or two later (so they could have been a bit stale, though they seemed okay). I wasn't as into the "Fruits of the Forest" flavor, which had a hard, jellyish filling that seemed to detract from the sensation of biting into soft cookie with soft filling. But the other one was divine—and unfortunately I can't remember what flavor it was! I do remember a sweet, jammy filling; I want to say passionfruit but I don't want to mislead anyone. But yeah. If you see that macaron above: get it.

Now I know the allure of the macaron…and how some have been driven to obsession over them. Overall I think I liked Madeleine Patisserie's macaron's better, but I wonder if it was also the magic of my initial taste. Because you know, there's just nothing like the first time….

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