March 21, 2011

{Sweet Treats} Macaron Tour of NYC

Blue skies, bright sunshine, and free macarons - for me, there was no better way to tour the city than by enjoying my own macaron crawl courtesy of Macaron Day NYC 2011.  Macaron Day (or Le Jour du Macaron) was started six years ago in Paris by la Maison Pierre Hermé in association with the Relais Desserts.  People received complimentary macarons and were encouraged to donate to the specified charity.  Here in NYC, Macaron Day was started last year by Chef Francois Payard to coincide with the French event.  This year, there are 16 participating bakeries (with 12 in Manhattan), with many donating a percentage of the day's macaron sales to City Harvest.

Last year, I dragged my husband around to try macarons from 7 participating bakeries.  This year, I wanted to try some new locations in the city.  I was on my own for most of the trip as my husband declined to accompany me on my madwoman macaron tour of 10 bakeries.  Armed with a bottle of water, my Metrocard, and a couple of reusable shopping bags (for the boxes of macarons I was planning on buying!), I trekked around the city to try  these delicate pastries.

Though I couldn't convince my husband to run around the city with me, he did promise to check out the Jacques Torres on the UWS right after his workout. He got there around 10:30 am, but heard from the salespeople that customers were lining up outside the store before it even opened at 10am.  They were almost finished with their second tray of macarons when he got his complimentary taste.  He chose to try the Coffee macaron, which he liked because it wasn't too sweet.
While my hubby was at Jacques Torres on the UWS, I arrived at Butterfield Market on the UES around the same time.  Coincidentally, I also chose what the salesgirl told me was a Coffee macaron (usually $2.25) - though, to me, all I tasted was citrusy yuzu.  I still liked the flavor (despite it not tasting too much like coffee to me) and enjoyed the creamy filling.  Butterfield Market was the first of 3 Francois Payard macaron locations.
Afterward, I took the 6 train and headed down to midtown...
By 11am, I was at Macaron Cafe (entrance on 59th St) and saw pastry chef Cecile (who I met last year at the first Macaron Cafe location).  I tried the Raspberry macaron (usually $2.25 each),which was fruity and jammy.  Cecile also showed me her new Macarons recipe book, which contains tips and instructions for making macarons like the ones at the cafe.  This place is one of my favorites in the city, so I'm eager to see if this book can actually teach me to make their macarons!
I like fun flavor combinations, so I bought a Box of 6 ($13). After all, 10% of the proceeds were going toward City Harvest. I chose Creme Brulee, Dark Chocolate, Matcha Chestnut, Mocha Cappuccino, Cassis Violette, and Mango.  I love how some of the macarons contain two flavors in one!  The almond meringues also held up well - not one of them cracked when I got home.  I definitely preferred the more creamy fillings over the jam filling in the Raspberry flavor and especially liked the Creme Brulee flavor. 
My third stop was at the ritzy and iconic Plaza hotel.  I bypassed the well-dressed crowd heading to brunch in the hotel and walked downstairs to FC Chocolate bar around 11:15am.  This was the second Francois Payard stop, so I decided to try the Cranberry macaron (usually $2.25).  I loved it - the macaron wasn't too sweet with a nice creamy filling.
The next stop was Rockefeller Center...
By 11:40am, I made it downstairs to the concourse level of 30 Rock and found the newest Jacques Torres Chocolate store (they opened last month for Valentine's Day).  I got a lemon macaron to go (I needed to take a sugary break).  I chatted with the friendly salesgirls and found out that sadly, the macarons aren't offered all the time.  They're only sold for special events (like Macaron Day), occasions, or holidays.  For Macaron Day, they were offering a tray of 12 macarons for $18 - one of the more affordable macaron collections in the city.
Since La Maison du Chocolat didn't open until noon, I went outside to take a break, soak up the sun, and drink some water to cleanse my palette.  I love the traditional flavors offered by La Maison du Chocolat (one of the best macaron places in the city) so I waited until they opened.  Like last year, the store offered hazelnut macarons (usually $2.50 - and like last year, this was the most expensive macaron amongst the bakeries I visited).
I headed downtown to check out a few more bakeries.
By 12:30 pm, I got to Francois Payard Bakery in Greenwich Village.  It was a casual bakery (looking similar to Le Pain Quotidien) with sandwiches and delectable-looking French pastries.  I chose a Passion Fruit macaron to go (usually $2.25) and decided to have something that wasn't sweet to eat for lunch.  I sat down for a nice hot pressed panini with melted mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, and basil pesto ($8).  It was simple, but just what I needed to balance out all off the macaron sweetness.  
By 1:00 pm, I was ready to check out the Eva Scrivo hair salon for more macarons.  Yes, that's right - a pop-up macaron store inside a hair salon!  Taryn Garcia, the chef/owner behind Cours la Reine, is based in Brooklyn, but learned about making macarons while living in France.  It was hard to choose which macaron to try - I ended up choosing the Passion Fruit macaron to go (usually $2 each)
I was so entranced by the vibrant colors and exotic flavor combinations that I had to buy a Box of 6 ($12) and chose: Pomegranate + Pur Caraibe Dark, Citron + Japanese Yuzu, Cherry Blossom + Green Tea, Blueberry and Verbana, Black Périgord Truffle + Chestnut, and Cafe + Grand Marnier.  My only criticism is that the box was too big for 6 macarons (7 or 8 could fit), which sadly meant that most were crushed by the time I got home.

Taryn sources all of her ingredients (except the almond flour which is from California) from France and has so many creative flavors.  If you're in the New York area, you can contact her to special order macarons or check out her pop-up store (at the salon on Fridays and Saturdays).
It was about 1:30pm when I got to Bisous Ciao, a fairly new bakery exclusively featuring macarons (conveniently near the Meatball Shop, so I could probably convince my husband to come here).  They made a special macaron for the day:  the "Macaron Day" macaron with chocolate and salted caramel.  I actually liked the surprising gooey caramel center.  The kiss print on top of the macaron was also cute as it represented the store's name (Bisous means "kiss" in French).  I'd definitely return to try the other flavors (usually $2.25/each).
I walked a little bit to one of my favorite dessert places in the city, DT Works, which opened by 2pm.  When I got there, I couldn't eat another macaron, so I got a box of 6 to go (usually $2 each or $12/box of 6).  I loved their inventive flavors which consisted of Apple Pie, Butternut Squash and Maple Caramel, Banana Caramel, Salted Caramel, Praline butter cream with a hint of candied Meijer lemon, Strawberry buttercream and Pink peppercorn.  (Later that night, my husband and I shared the Apple Pie macaron and couldn't believe how much it reminded us of a comforting apple crumble).  DT Works also offer popular macaron making workshops which I've been thinking of taking so I can attempt to master making these difficult desserts.
I finally headed home, on a bit of a sugar high, and went for a much needed walk with my husband.  Despite all of the macarons I tried, I couldn't resist dropping into nearby Georgia's Cafe for a couple more complimentary macarons.  We got there just before 5pm and happily they still had some macarons available.  We tried the Sorel Mint (left) and Oreo macarons.  Our favorite of the two was the fresh minty Sorel Mint macaron (usually $1.65 each.  Like last year, Georgia's Cafe carried the cheapest macarons amongst the bakeries we visited).  It was a nice way to end my Macaron tour of the city.

Did you attend Macaron Day NYC 2011? Where is your favorite place for macarons? (in NYC or anywhere else in the world)

Jacques Torres Chocolate on UrbanspoonButterfield Market on Urbanspoon

FC Chocolate Bar on UrbanspoonLa Maison Du Chocolat on Urbanspoon

François Payard Bakery on UrbanspoonBisous Ciao on Urbanspoon

Dessert Truck Works on UrbanspoonJacques Torres Chocolat on Urbanspoon

Macaron Cafe on UrbanspoonCours La Reine on Urbanspoon

Entrance on 59th St b/n Madison & Park   Pop-up shop in Eva Scrivo Salon (Fri & Sat)

4 comments:

  1. christinefreshlocalandbestMarch 22, 2011 at 8:03 PM

    Wow! I don't know how you did it. You certainly lived it up for Macaron Day!

    ReplyDelete
  2. jentinyurbankitchenMarch 23, 2011 at 8:00 PM

    Andrea, you are crazy! I cannot believe you went around and tried so many macarons! I would have totally had the same sugar high! :) Looks like a lot of fun, and those macarons are indeed gorgeous. I especially think the banana shaped one is really cute (even though I don't like bananas!)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow, look at all those different and amazing macarons, how fun!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh my goodness - I was following you on Twitter on Sunday and was very envious. I totally need to try to get to NYC next year for Macaron Day and come along with you. What a fabulous fabulous post. I *almost* felt like I was there!

    ReplyDelete

We love reading your comments! Don't worry if you don't have a Google account or website - just select Name/URL.