mardi 11 janvier 2011

Paris Macaron Marathon = Macarathon


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My Macarathon in Paris (les meilleurs macarons à Paris)

What is a macarathon I hear you ask? Well, it's my own made up word for a macaron marathon :)

Over the Christmas break I was in Paris for 3 days. During this time I wanted to sample the so called "best" macarons in Paris. Even though I love these things, I hadn't actually tried that many and have never been to Ladurée or Pierre Hermé in Paris.

The Story (L'histoire):
Why am I so obsessed with macarons? It all started in 2007 when I was living in Shanghai and frequenting Paul Bakery. I used to buy various breads and pastries and sw these beautiful wonderful creations (which I found out were called macarons) but I could never justify the price (now I don't care! :P ) so I left the city/country without ever trying a single one :( Then in Sydney they were always at the back of my mind and then whilst watching Masterchef (the only tv show I watched at the time) my interest for them was re-awakened and I tried to find them in Sydney only to realise there were very very few places that sold them! The first place I tried them was in Lindt Café and I remember thinking that they were too sickly sweet. However, in hindsight perhaps they're not but I do remember not liking them as much as the ones from Baroque. I have not tried Adriano Zumbo's though (who is probably the most famous macaron maker in Sydney) to compare.

Once in France I was over the moon when I realised they were literally everywhere (at almost any pâtisserie/boulangerie) and even in the supermarket (yes I tried those too... the shells were fine but the filling was not good) and cost 1/3 or 1/2 the price of the ones in Australia. I've tried a lot of other macarons in various places (and cities!) but this review is just about the main ones in Paris (plus one in Lyon).

Disclaimer (Démenti): I don't claim to be any sort of actual food critic or reviewer and there are probably tonnes of other blogs out there with better (or different) reviews and photos but these are just my personal experiences... :)

Prices (Les prix): I unfortunately didn't note down all the prices but they were usually sold by weight (around 70-80 euros per kilogram) and the cost ranged between 0,60 and 1,80 euros each from memory. However it's hard to use price to compare since the macarons are not all the same size!

Taste test (Test de goûts): For the taste testing I did not eat any of them straight away but a few days later to test how well they would keep. Most of them stood the test of time but the shells become hard and crunchy after a while (except the Pierre Hermé ones which seemed to become softer and more fragile!)


The review is organised like this (La revue s'organise comme ça):


• Name of Pâtisserie (La Pâtisserie)
Address (L'Adresse)
Service (Le Service)
Packaging (L'Emballage)
Prices (Les Prix)
Flavours (Les Saveurs)
Comments (Les Commentaires)
Rating 1-4 macarons (Les Cotes 1-4 macarons)


Pierre Hermé

Address: 
72, Rue Bonaparte, 75006 Paris
(other locations too)
Service:
Polite and professional like in a hotel but I wouldn't say overly friendly
Packaging:
Clear plastic bag with mini brochure inside and enclosed with a sticker
Price:
Did not note but around 1,60-1,80 € ea from memory
Bigger/Puffier/more 3D than others (but also the most expensive I believe).
Flavours: 
Rose (Rose et Pétale de Rose) (Rose and Rose petals)
Dépaysé (Thé Vert Matcha, Haricot Rouge Azuki, Citron Vert et Gingembre (Green Matcha Tea, Red Azuki beans, Green Lemon and Ginger)
Truffe Blanche et Noisette (Truffe Blanche et Éclats de Noisettes du Piémont Grillées) (White truffles and Hazelnut pieces - until 23 janvier)
Coing et Rose (Quince and Rose)
Mogador (Chocolat au Lait et Fruit de la Passion) (Milk Chocolate and Passionfruit)
Huile d'Olive et Mandarine (Olive Oil and Mandarin)
Marron et Thé Vert Matcha (Chestnut and Green Matcha Tea)
Infiniment Chocolat (Chocolat Pure Origine Venezuela Porcelana) (Pure Venezuelan Chocolate)
Métissé (Carotte, Orange et Cannelle) (Carrot, Orange and Cinnamon - from 24 January)
Menthe Fraîche (Fresh Mint - from 24 January)
Crème Brûlée (Vanilles et Éclats de Caramel) (Vanilla and Caramel pieces)
Chuao (Chocolat Pure Origine Chuao, Cassis et Baies de Cassis) (Pure Chuao Chocolate, Blackcurrant and Blackcurrant Berries)
Infiniment Caramel (Caramel au Beurre Saleé) (Caramel Salted Butter)
Arabella (Chocolate au Lait, Banane, Fruit de la Pssion et Gingembre Confit) (Milk Chocolate, Banana, Passionfruit and Ginger - from 22 November)

A lot of them were 'out of stock' when I arrived on the afternoon of 23 December so I only had about 5-6 flavours to choose from (a little annoying).

Reviews:
Crème Brûlée - Delicious. LOTS of creamy delicious filling with a tiny hint of coffee flavour? but shell is way too soft and fragile (crumbled easily)
Infiniment Caramel - Caramel au Beurre Saleé (caramel) - LOTS of creamy filling, orgasmic. Can I say that? ;)
Arabella - Chocolate au Lait, Banane, Fruit de la Pssion et Gingembre Confit - nice but not overly exciting. The aroma of the ginger was nice as was the taste of both the ginger and banana, and chocolate but could not taste any passionfruit at all. Aftertaste of ginger.

Rating: 



Dalloyau

Address: 
Place Edmond Rostand, 75006 Paris
(other locations too)
Shop has absolutely gorgeous displays 
Service:
Average. You had to pay at a separate counter which I found annoying
Packaging:
White paper bag with logo
Price:
Approx 0,80€ ea (by weight they are 76€/kg) (they are much smaller than the others though)
Flavours: 
Caramel au beurre salé (Salted Butter Caramel)
Pistache (Pistachio)
Marron/Cassis (Chestnut/Blackcurrant)
Framboise (Raspberry)
Confiture de Lait (la douceur du caramel de l'enfance) (Sweetened Condensed Milk)
Praline (Hazelnut praline)
Chocolat (Chocolate)
Café (Coffee)
Vanille (Vanilla)
+ more!

Reviews:
Chestnut/Blackcurrant - filling is nice and jammy but there is not much of it
Pistachio - only a hint of pistachio taste. otherwise too 'fake' tasting
• Sweetened Condensed Milk - nice but fairly ordinary. Had a subtle nice milky aroma/flavour.

Rating:



Ladurée

Address: 
21, Rue Bonaparte, 75006 Paris
(other locations too)
There is also a tea salon (busy) decorated in a Chinese-style and gift shop selling kawaii (cute) Japanese-style gift. I bought an adorable macaron and Eiffel Tower keychain as my Christmas gift to me :)
Service:
Professional and friendly
Packaging:
Pale green paper bag imprinted with logo
Price:
1,60€ ea (or 80€/kg)
Flavours:
Epices et Fruits Moelleux (Spices and soft Fruits)
Fruits Rouges (Red Berries)
Chocolat - Pure Origine Madagascar (Pure Dark Madagascan Chocolate)
Pétale de Rose Gingembre (Rose Petal/Ginger)
Citron (Lemon)
Réglisse (Licore)
Fleur d'Oranger (Orange Blossom)
Café (Coffee)
Pomme Verte (Green Apple)
Chocolat (Chocolate)
Praliné Noisettes (Hazelnut Praline)
Cassis Violette (Blackcurrant/Violet)
Vanille (Vanilla)
Marron (Chestnut)
Orange et Passion (Orange and Passionfruit)
Caramel à la fleur de sel (Salted Caramel)
Pistache (Pistachio)
Framboise (Raspberry)

Reviews:
•  Salted Caramel - amazing. Hard to decide between this one and PH's one.
•  Vanilla - didn't like it. Tasted kind of artificial.
•  Rose Petal/Ginger - love it! First tried it in Ladurée Lausanne. The fragrance of the rose combined with the gingerbready taste is just fabulous.

Rating: 



Lenôtre

Address: 
36, Avenue de la Motte-Picquet, Paris
(other locations too)
Packaging:
White paper bag with dark purple circumflex logo
Price:
(Didn't note)
Service:
Average
Did not allow me to take photos in their store! Because they annoyed me I only bought 2 instead of the 3-4 I normally buy.
Flavours: 
Café (Coffee)
Vanille (Vanilla)
Chocolat (Chocolate)
Pistache (Pistachio)
Caramel (Caramel)
Framboise (Raspberry)
Pruneau/kumquat (Prune/Kumquat)
Abricot/Pistache (Apricot/Pistachio)
Figue/Noix (Fig/Nut)
+ more!

Reviews:
Shells are very firm/tough and not brittle like some of the others.
Pistachio - nice aroma and flavour, but not enough filling, not satisfying enough.
Caramel - nice creamy filling but not enough of it.


Rating: 



Les Caneles Lemoine
NB: This is not a popular place for macarons but I passed the gorgeous looking shop and couldn't resist going inside for a sneak peek (and taste)!

Address: 
74, Rue Saint Dominique, 75007 Paris
Packaging:
Clear plastic bag with black "L" cursive script sticker
Price:
(Didn't note)
Service:
Polite, helpful and as friendly as you can get for Paris ;)
Flavours: 
Café (Coffee)
Vanille (Vanilla)
Chocolat (Chocolate)
Chocolat amer (Bitter Chocolate)
Citron (Lemon)
Menthe Chocolate (Choc Mint)
Coco (Coconut)
Gingembre (Ginger)
Cassis (Blackcurrant)
Framboise (Raspberry)
Rose (Rose)
Passion (Passionfruit)
Cassis (Blackcurrant)
Violette (Violet)
Pistache (Pistachio)
Abricot (Apricot)
Praliné (Praline)
Caramel  (Caramel)
Caramel à la fleur de sel (Salted Caramel)
Foie Gras/Figues (Foie Gras/Fig)
Foie Gras/Chocolat (Foie Gras/Chocolate)
Marron Glace (Chestnut Icecream)
Nutella (Nutella)

Reviews:
Violet - nice
Salted Caramel - nice - creamy filling, not very thick like Pierre Hermé though
Choc mint - nice, reminds me of choc mint ice cream
Foie gras/Fig - tasted mushroomy. Too 'exotic' and 'weird' a taste for me to be in a macaron!

Rating:




Gérard Mulot

Address: 
 93, Rue Glacière 75013 Paris
(another one at 76, Rue de Seine 75006 Paris)
Shop has absolutely gorgeous displays
Service:
Professional and polite like you'd get in a hotel
Packaging:
Paper bag imprinted with logo
Price:
(Didn't note)
Flavours: 
October-March: Réglisse/Fruits rouges (Licorice/Red Berries)
Cassis/Violette (Blackcurrant/Violet)
Orange/Cannelle (Orange/Cinnamon)
Noisette (Hazelnut)
Marron (Chestnut)
March-October: Ananas/Gingembre (Pineapple/Ginger)
Mûre (Blackberry)
Feuille de menthe (Mint Leaf)
Cerise griotte (Morello Cherry)
Fraise/Coquelicot (Strawberry/Poppy)
All year round: Passion/Basilic (Passionfruit/Basil)
Amande (Almond)
Framboise (Raspberry)
Citron (Lemon)
Pistache (Pistachio)
Café (Coffee)
Nougat (Nougat)
Chocolat (Chocolate)
Caramel au beurre salé (Salted Butter Caramel)
Noix de coco (Coconut)

Reviews:
His just look amazing! Everything in the shop looks amazing in fact. They are round and puffy and very solid. Nicest shape/size.
Passionfruit/Basil (yellow with dark brown specks and yellow filling)- freaking amazing, jam/gel type filling. Very tasty.
Orange/Cinnamon (with brown specks and yellow filling) - tastes like custard, lots of crreamy filling. not too sweet.
Almond (cream with brown specks and cream filling) - tasted like vanilla. OK, pretty average tasting.
Combaves? (green shell with pistachio bits on it) - nice shell but filling tasted artificial.

Rating:




Paul

Address: 
(various all over the country)
Service:
Friendly
Packaging:
Brown paper bag imprinted with logo
Price:
0,60€ ea
Flavours: 
Caramel (Caramel)
Chocolat (Chocolate)
Coco (Coconut)
Pistache (Pistachio)
Framboise (Raspberry)
Figue (Fig)
Mangue (Mango)
Citron (Lemon)
Citron vert (Green Lemon)
Lychee (Lychee)
Mandarine (Mandarin)
Banane (Banana)
Vanille (Vanilla)
Praliné (Praline)
Café (Coffee)
Rose (Rose)

Reviews:
Pistachio (green) - lots of filling, strong flavoured.
Rose (pink) with something else - nice combination. perfect flavour.
Lemon (yellow) - centre kind of chewy. Nice flavour, not too sweet, nice aroma.

Rating: 



To review next time I'm in Paris:

• Aoki Sadaharu
Fauchon
• Jean-Paul Hevin




Honorable mention:
Although not in Paris, these macarons absolutely blew me away with their fruit flavoured filling. I have not tasted macarons like these anywhere in Paris. They are from Sève Maître Chocolatier et Pâtissier in Lyon. They are just impeccable! Their appearance, colour, aroma and flavour. Maybe even better than the king and queen of macarons (IMHO), Pierre Hermé and Ladurée. Bonus points for innovative packaging.

Address:
Lyon Centre – Presqu’île
29 Quai Saint Antoine 69002 Lyon
(Other locations in Lyon too)
Service:
Professional
Packaging: 
Glossy full colour cardboard tetrapak shaped bag
Price:
(can't remember but around 1,50 or 1,60 ea I think)

Check out the great flavours:
Caramel au Beurre salé (Caramel Salted Butter)
Cassis - Violette (Blackcurrant/Violet)
Chocolat (Chocolate)
Chocolat - Figue (Chocolate/Fig)
Citron (Lemon)
Fraise Gariguette (Gariguette Strawberry)
Framboise (Raspberry)
Malaga (rhum-raisin) (Rum and Raisin)
Marron glacé (Frozen Chestnut)
Moka (café) (Coffee)
Pêche (Peach)
Pétale de rose (Rose Petal)
Pistache (Pistachio)
Pomme Tatin (Apple Tatin)
Praliné noisette (Hazelnut Praline)
Réglisse (Licorice)
Sève Cola (Cola)
Vanille (Vanilla)
Verveine (Verbena)

Rating: 



Final Comments (and complaints):


Winner:
I'd have to say that Pierre Hermé's were truly the best and Ladurée's second. Both their salted caramel ones were awesome. I just wish PH's shells were not so soft and fragile, then they'd be a clear winner.

Packaging:

The thing that annoys me the most is that they don't provide boxes unless you spend like $15 or $20 which means by the time you get them home they are squashed (and my photos of them are crap). I mean even a cheap crappy white cardboard box or clear plastic thing (that pastries come in in the supermarkets) will do, it doesn't have to be fancy.

Menu:
In the places that tend to be crowded I wish they'd have the board of flavours to choose from for you to see while you are waiting. Pierre Hermé was probably the worst. The shop is so small and the queue was longish and when it was my turn to be served I couldn't really see them properly to choose. Plus to save time I could've have looked at it before whilst waiting in the queue (if they had a 'menu' closer to the front door). In Ladurée they had a board with the flavours but I had to actually pick it up and move it closer to me to look at it.

Prices:
Regarding the price, I wished they'd just have a set price. Doing it by weight seems too fiddly to me (and also wastes time). Sure they are all slightly different sizes but who cares?! Just make a price for each and stick to it. I don't really use price to judge though.

Photos:
I'm always nervous about taking photos, just waiting for the moment that I'll get told off. I did eventually get told off in Ladurée but if it wasn't so busy/crowded I'm sure they would've told me to stop much earlier. I find this annoying because I just want to share the photos with my friends and family (and my blog readers). What's the harm in that? They get free advertising so it kind of gives me a bad impression of a place when they don't allow photos. Dalloyau also told me to stop taking photos after a while and Lenôtre stopped me altogether. Don't they realise that people can still take photos of their window displays? What are they going to do? Hire someone to stand there 24/7 to stop them taking photos? Ridiculous!!

Taste:
I prefer the ones that taste as natural as possible. I dislike the ones that taste artificial and are too sickly sweet. I like the fancy gold dust or sprinkles of pieces on the top as decoration as it looks pretty as well as adding texture :) It really depends on which flavour you choose as some are good and some are not so good (from the same store).

Appearance/Size:
Since I've tried making macarons a few times (and never truly succeeded) and read some macaron cookbooks (in both French and English) I know what they are supposed to look like. They are supposed to be flattish but with a slightly rounded look and rounded edges and with the frilly 'feet' (pieds-which should not protrude out too much). There should not be a 'nipple' in the centre of the exterior of the macaron shell. This is caused by the mixture not 'settling' before it hardens (it is probably too thick and not watery enough or the pastry chef did not tap the tray hard against the benchtop to settle it). The filling should be just visible (I don't like the appearance of the ones without the filling visible enough). Each macaron should be roughly the same size/shape as all the others. There should not be a variation in size. There does not seem to be a standard size as Pierre Hermé's and Gérard Mulot's were very chunky and Dalloyau's were tiny and the rest were in between. All the ones I tried were fairly uniform in appearance. Some things to keep in mind if you are wanting to try them. Winner would have to be Gérard Mulot's. I just wanted to buy them all when I saw them!

Locations:
If you're short of time you can try a bunch of them in the food hall of Galeries Lafayette in Paris. I kind of wished I knew this sooner as I wasted so much time criss-crossing Paris on the métro to get to them all... I also wish I knew that there was a Gérard Mulot in the 6th arrondissement instead of me going all the way to the 13th!

PS - talk about a marathon. Typing up this post (and finding and collating all the information, editing the photos, watermarking them, creating the custom Google map and embedding it, uploading the photos to Facebook, etc etc) was a marathon ;) but it was worth it so  Enjoy! :D


Facebook album of photos

4 comments:

notjustanothermilla.com a dit…

Wow! My macaron knowledge has been put to shame!!! Excellent post, excellent blog! A real find.

La Petite Blogueuse a dit…

Thanks notjustanother milla :) It took me a while to compile all the info but it was fun doing it... all in the name of 'research' of course! :)

Anonyme a dit…

PH's macaron is having too much butter-thick filling, taste likes a gateau !
Laduree is definitely better.

accessoires moto a dit…

Merci pour ces adresses, je m'y rendrais quand je serais à Paris.

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