Thursday, February 6, 2014

The One Year Later Post: France and the Great Macaroon Journey

Aside from the food, the best thing about Paris is being able to look up and see the Eiffel Tower everywhere.
Continuing my series of posts I should have made a year ago, it's time to relive the glory that was blowing all of my money on food in Paris. 

Boudin ball making expert Maconda was spending a semester studying architecture in Paris and trying to better understand her French husband, so I had the perfect excuse to expand my cultural and (more importantly) culinary horizons. But how was I ever going to fit all the amazingness of Parisian living in to just one week?
Food goal number 1: Eat as many snails as I've seen before in my life. Success.
The plan was simple. While horribly jet-lagged, I would cram all the touristy things into the first four days with appropriate stops at fooderies for croissants, escargot, confit de canard and baguettes when I needed the energy to continue seeing the most beautiful art and buildings in the world. This would leave me with 3 days to live like the Parisian artist I always knew I could be (minus the actual creative talent but with the same propensity for berets).
Food goal number 2: Eat super fancy pretty things like this langoustine. 
Beyond my stereotypical ideas of walking around Paris eating an entire baguette while reading poetry in a striped shirt, there was one adventure my baking heart desired above all others. I wanted to spend the day walking the city in search of the best macaroons it had to offer. My journey would take me through over five arrondissements and hundreds of grams of sugar, and it will forever remain one of the greatest experiences of my life.

The Apértif:

The 6th (arrondissement)

Larnicol had by far the best airiness of all the macaroons I ate, and proper texture is absolutely key for true pastry enjoyment. These were solid macaroons to start me off before my actual walking expedition (Yes, my macaroon eating occurred on pretty much every day I was there. I just wanted to show proper French patriotism.), but I will really remember the fantastic shawarma we had before finding this bakery.

The Journey Proper:

The 8th

I got goosebumps before entering
It only seemed fitting to begin my day long macaroon trek here. The world famous Ladurée had some truly amazing macaroons, the biggest selection available and an incredibly efficient macaroon packaging system, but they weren't the best. I went in expecting to be absolutely blown away, but found myself merely whelmed.

Probably the prettiest overall

Grégory Renard
The 7th

At those prices, how could I not buy so many?
Grégory Renard was a tiny little bakery with great macaroons at very affordable prices. Plus it had an Eiffel Tower of macaroons! Originally, this was not on my list of places to stop, but, what can I say, giant edible window displays are truly the way to my heart (they're like my tasty shiny objects).

Hugo & Victor
The 7th

Pineapple, mango and vanilla bean-all absolutely unbelievably delicious
Hugo & Victor was the prized jewel of the macaroon journey. They really knew how to incorporate spices into the macaroons, and their mango was by far the best one I've ever had. Even the standard flavors you could find anywhere shined the brightest here. This is the place I went back to before leaving, so I could smuggle some into the U.S..

Pierre Hermé
The 6th

I think I finished only one of these, but, hey, at least I got the experience.
Pierre Hermé is the master of the weird combination. If you want an interesting macaroon to talk about go here, but be warned the chocolate foie gras is just as disgusting as it sounds, although the white truffle was surprisingly tasty. I was also heavily amused by them throwing away 3 macaroons that they deemed unworthy from a structural standpoint before finally approving one for me.

Un Dimanche Á Paris
The 6th

Silly disappointing pistachio
Un Dimanche Á Paris was extremely difficult to find, but had some tasty macaroons. The filling had more of a jelly consistency, which worked great for the fruit variety but not so well for the pistachio (While searching for the address just now I was pleased to find that even David Lebowitz found fault with their Pistachio, or at least its color, proving that I have super fancy sophisticated tastes.).

The Digestif:

Jean-Paul Hévin
The 1st

The Louvre and a strawberry-pistachio macaroon in the same day. Oh, to be that fortunate again.
Master Chocolatier Jean-Paul Hévin was fantastic at mixing up flavors like the strawberry pistachio on the far left (a clear top five macaroon), but the real reason to go there is for the amazing hot chocolates from the brilliant raspberry (or frambroise, one of the few words I learned how to say) to the very acquired taste of the oyster version. Maconda and I had previously gone there specifically for their supposed hot chocolate supremacy, and I was so enamored with them (I had the raspberry the first time) that I had to come back and see what they had to offer the macaroon game (and to test my food snobbery with the oyster chocolate mix). It's a short walk from The Louvre, so I highly recommend planning a stop if you happen to be in the neighborhood.
Yes, that is the oyster version. If you can get past the smell and the taste you are in for a hot drink...Stick with the classics, kids.
I highly recommend taking a day like this seeking out whatever it is that your belly-heart desires from macaroons to baguettes, hot chocolate, crepes, croissants or really any other mouth-watering French specialty. I felt like despite seeing all the brilliant monuments and art on other days, this was the day where I truly got to experience the city. Now I cannot wait to go back and explore Paris during summertime and create yet another cherished food memory.
I told you. That shizz is everywhere.

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