Tuesday, June 14, 2011

PARIS Part II: Les Macarons

The fact that I am writing an entire post devoted to the macarons I had in Paris needs no introduction if you've been following The Culinary Librarian blog, Facebook page or Twitter for the past year. I did my best to try the top-rated macs in Paris during my trip this spring. I did pretty well and tried a variety of flavors- even a very surprising savory macaron. 

I have listed each macaron shop with the address in Paris. The city is divided into 20 neighborhoods, called arrondissements. Each zip code will tell you what neighborhood the address is located in based on the last two numbers. For example, the first boulangerie ends in "05" telling you it is located in the 5th arrondissementEnjoy! I certainly did. . .  

Le Premier
Daniel Pouphary (La Parisienne)
28 Rue Monge, 75005
Jocelin and I enjoyed pistachio and raspberry flavors for our first macarons. La Parisienne is the boulangerie I mentioned in my first Paris post. I always stopped by this place on early Monday mornings when I had my French literature course. Those little pain au chooclat helped keep me awake through the two hour long lecture. 
It is very common to see macarons in the neighborhood boulangerie. Typical flavors include raspberry, pistachio, vanilla and coffee, a limited selection compared to shops that specialize in the beloved treat. Macarons are all over the city and are rarely poorly made. Next time you're in Paris don't hesitate to pick up a mac with your daily baguette! These two below were some of the best I tried my whole trip. 

Le Deuxième

Galeries Lafayette 
40 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009
A few days after I arrived in Paris, Jocelin's husband, Eddie, came over for vacation, too. He would prove to be a good macaron eating mate while Jocelin was in class. Together the three of us set out exploring the city, happening upon Karl Lagerfeld out shopping, and showing Eddie Paris on his first visit. We stopped into Galeries Lafayette, the majestic department store by the Opera Garnier, and picked up some of Pierre Hermé's creatively flavored macarons. 
Fortunately, we arrived in Paris just as PH was releasing their "Les Incontournables de Paris" boxes. Laetitia of French Twist D.C. actually wrote a post about these boxes the day I arrived in the city. My favorites were the rose and creme brulée. The mint was pretty insane. A refreshing smooth filling with fresh mint leaves gave an odd cooling sensation. Better than a breath mint!
In order of left to right: Infinitement (infinite) Rose, Coing (Quince) & Rose, Infinitement Caramel, Chuao (fine chocolate and blackcurrant flavor and berries), Mandarine (Mandarin) & Huile d'Olive (Olive oil), Infinitement Menthe Fraîche (Infinite fresh mint), Crème Brúlée

Foie Gras Macaron
Le Troisième
32 Rue Bourgogne, 75007
An unexpected stop to this pâtisserie came en route to the Musée Rodin. When we first passed by it seemed closed and we didn't stop, but on the way back we were able to go in and found the most surprising macaron flavor of the whole trip! Remember when I posted a photo of a mystery macaron flavor on my Facebook page? It was foie gras mousse with aspic! It came from here, Rollet Pradier. I didn't enjoy the foie mac, but Eddie, a former chef and true lover of everything foie gras, finished off the one he got for himself and the one Jocelin and I bought to share but couldn't stomach. 
The two more traditional macaron flavors we got were coquelicot (poppy flower, the bright red one below) and réglisse (licorice, the dark mac). I completely loved the poppy with its delicate shell and strong but not over powering floral taste. Licorice isn't my cup of tea in general, but the macaron was well made though I didn't enjoy the flavor. When I go back to Paris I will seek out the coquelicot again.

Le Quatirième
40 Boulevard Raspail, 75007 
Hugo & Victor is a favorite of Adam of Paris Pâtisseries. The shop is set up more like an accessories boutique than a pâtisserie. Modern design has macarons and their ingredients displayed in large plexiglass cylinders, a good way to show the sandwich cookies in full. This was the first stop on the day Eddie and I were out without Jocelin for macs and Parisian sightseeing. I had a divine blueberry macaron and I don't remember just what Eddie chose but I think it was vanilla or chocolate- a classic macaron flavor for sure. As you may have noticed, I tend to enjoy florals and less sweet macarons. The true fruit flavors tend to be far too sugary for me to enjoy; blueberries balance sweet without becoming cloying.

Le Cinquième
Pierre Hermé (part deux)
72 Rue Bonaparte, 75006
After hitting Hugo et Victor, Eddie and I headed to the most important street in Paris for macarons: Rue Bonaparte. The street is home to one of the Ladurée boutiques and the first Paris-based Pierre Hermé. Since we had tried seven different PH flavors the other night, we opted to try two new macarons: Arabella (milk chocolate, banana, passion fruit, crystallized ginger) and Métissé (meaning mixed: carrot, orange and cinnamon). Both were a little strange, but the Métissé in particular with chunks of carrot and a paste-like filling. I'm not wild for the PH macarons. I find they have too much filling with too dense a texture. An airy, superbly flavored filling and a crisp but tender shell are what make a perfect macaron for me. PH seems to get too caught up in outlandish flavors and forgets to keep a strong balance of filling to shell.

Le Sixième
21 Rue Bonaparte, 75006
Just down the street from Pierre Hermé in the 6th is the macaron motherland in Paris: Ladurée. Pierre Hermé may be a top competitor, but Hermé himself worked at Ladurée before opening his own macaron shop. With the balance of breath-taking salons, inventive flavors and a perfectly executed treat, Laudrée gives its patrons the complete Parisien macaron experience. 
Eddie and I shared Rose and Green Apple macarons. The rose was perfect... but the green apple was a flavor explosion of fresh, tart green apple. Like that Pierre Hermé fresh mint macaron, this little sandwich delivered refreshing sweetness that is unparalleled. Another one I will make sure to revisit, should it be offered again. So delicious I may even try to make my own version at home. If I am really lucky the Ladurée opening on Madison Avenue this July will offer the pomme verte macarons!

Le Septième
30 Avenue de Friedland, 75008
Our last stop of the day was discovered once we stopped searching for macs and began looking for a bar to partake in Happy Hours up beyond the Arc de Triomphe. We stumbled upon Liébaux, saw they had macarons in the window and went in for a taste. A light buttercream between two crisp moist halves gave way to seriously perfect macarons. We chose violette (violet) and caramel beurre salé (salted butter caramel) and were again surprised to find that this was the only place we visited who sold their macarons by weight not per piece. I think that this would be a great movement for macarons, especially since the whole make-macs-at-home trend comes from the little pastries being generally expensive due to their time consuming nature. I will certainly try to get back here in the future.

As you can tell, I enjoyed my Paris macaron tour as much as I enjoyed the stateside Macaron Day in NYC in March. I can't wait to get back to Paris and try more flavors and shops I missed on this trip. This summer I plan to work on perfecting how to make my own macarons at home. So far I have made 3 attempts with 2 of them being successful. Ironically, whilst on vacation I won a copy of Mad About Macarons! by Jill Colonna. Jill has great tips for how to get your macarons just right every time. I plan on using her recipes the moment I finally buy a kitchen scale! I also purchased a book en françis called Le Macaron that I plan to bake from as well.

To see all these photos and more check out the album on my Facebook Page: Macarons de Paris.

And keep your eye out for my third and final Paris post this week: Déjeuner et Dîner.


Princess Joce said...

Although my macaron experience isn't as fully developed as yours (nor as scientific!), I still think Ladurée is the best.

Ann said...

They all look amazing! Nice job w/ the pics! I think the ones I want to try the most are poppy flower and green apple!

FrenchTwistDC said...

I didn't like the apple macarons - the alice in wonderland mac ;-) but rose is my fgavourite at laduree. They had rose ginger for a while, and that was my ultimate favourite. Great picks! Great post!

Jill@MadAboutMacarons said...

What a super post with a great round-up of the pâtisseries in one place. Still can't believe the colour of that foie gras aspic macaron! Look forward to hearing how you get on making them. You'll get hooked ;-)

parisbreakfast said...

Fun to walk around with you to so many macaron places. I love the corner neighborhood boulangeries best too for their little macs.
All patisseries sell their macarons by weight.
You will almost always see signs for 'by the kilo'. Laduree is probably responsible for putting more value on the box rather than the contents.

Paris Pâtisseries said...

I deeply appreciate you criticizing PH macarons ;) I barely even consider them macarons. They're more like sugar goo sandwiches. And nice pick at H&V. I had already planned to review the blueberry this week, and I too thought it was super.

The Culinary Librarian said...

I appreciate your comment Adam! I was sorely disappointed to see that macs so talked about could be so poorly executed. I'll keep an eye out for your Blueberry review.