The macaron hunt

I know what you’re thinking. So overdone. So poser. I don’t care though. Who could resist these delectable treats? Besides the fact that macarons are one of the most aesthetically appealing food/dessert items in the world, they have this foreignness to them that I really appreciate. It is an extremely delicate dessert to make as well as to eat, yet it is overwhelmingly filling and hardy. Light and crispy, yet moist and dense.

As you can see from the picture from seriouseats.com it’s a science people. I kind of like macarons just for what they are, but I’m trying to culture my taste, so that I can be more critical.

On to the photographs.

Ideally I would like a taste of the best, the original, you know, the realio dealio.

As that option is not the most economically practical, my first exposure to macarons was from the fakest of the fake–Koryodang. They weren’t bad, but they weren’t good. In actuality, Koryodang isn’t really fake because I think they have headquarters somewhere in the US meaning that the macarons were probably made somewhere in the region. Really off-putting is macarons from Paris Baguette because those macarons are imported from Korea. Just think about that for a moment. How many steps is that removed from France?

These are the flavors rasberry, almond, and “green and yellow” but to be honest, I think they were all the same flavor with different food dye.

Sometime in the winter, I traveled to the lower east side to eat Thai food from a restaurant that my friend recommended. I was in the mood for macaroons so I did a google search for reputable macaron places in the lower east and luckily enough, I found a close place that ultimately spurred the macaron obsession.

 These are macarons from Dessert Club Chikalicious, a really really really small bakery in an alley somewhere in the lower east side. The flavors are green tea, salted caramel, strawberry, and chocolate. Perhaps because it was first exposure to fresh macarons, these were really amazing. My friend and I took a few bites of each one and they were all really easy and enjoyable to eat. You’re probably asking easy? What’s so hard about eating? After eating several types of macarons, I realized that they are very heavy desserts for their small size. I cannot even eat one full macaron with the diameter of 1.2 inches, but I was able to comfortably eat the macarons from chikalicious. So far, they are the lightest and fluffiest macarons I have had. The texture once you bite it is chewier than most macarons, which I actually prefer. Also, the taste and flavor comes soley from the filling; the shells are all the same, as is apparent from the photographs. If I had to rank the flavors I think I would say green tea, salted caramel, strawberry, and then chocolate. I wasn’t a big fan of chocolate because generally chocolate flavored things aren’t so great compared to chocolate itself. Like why eat a chocolate macaron when you could just eat a chocolate bar that tastes better.

Then today, I went to Manhattan to eat macarons with the same macaron obsessed friend. We had both been craving macarons, so we went on impulse after taking our finals. I’m super happy about the macaron adventure, even though the money was not well spent. A train ride to Manhattan is $14.50 and subway fare is $4.50. Plus macarons are generally anywhere from $2.50 to $3.50 per macaron. If you do the math properly and have a critical mind, we basically spent over thirty dollars on little french pastries.

After lunch, which was pho, we started walking down 1st Ave toward the nearest macaron shop on these lists: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/02/dining/reviews/airy-macarons-nyc-review.html and http://www.themacarondiaries.com/2012/05/new-york-city-macaron-expedition.html.

On the way to bisousciao this solicitor accosted me. Just playing. A nice girl was giving out coupons to this new cafe that had just opened. I don’t understand why everyone did not take the coupon because it was a coupon for any small drink, hot or cold, for $1. It was on the way, so I got an iced chai latte for $1 and it was surprisingly really good. The cafe had faux laduree macarons which made my friend really excited so she bought one for $2.75. It looked exactly like the cassis violette. I honestly don’t remember the taste that well, but I remember it was really dense and we could barely finish it. It had an interesting fragrance that reminded my friend of Indian desserts.

Then we resumed walking toward bisousciao, another really small macaron shop, although it looked more modern and refined than chikalicious.

I was so full from pho that we had to walk around the block a few times before we could actually enter. When faced with the difficult decision of choosing four types of macarons, my friend and I were obviously overwhelmed, but the girl working there was super helpful and nice.

We ended up getting salted caramel, pistachio, rasberry, and wasabi mandarin chocolate. Ranking is wasabi mandarin chocolate, salted caramel, pistachio, and last is rasberry. I liked the consistency and texture although my friend and I were really thrown off by our first bite. The girl told us to eat salted caramel last because it tasted best when the caramel melted and got a little gooey, but she should have warned us that all of them had been chilled. Pistachio was a disappointment because the cream inside was very cold and hard. It also tasted exactly like the pistachio ice cream from Carvel which is inferior to the pistachio almond ice cream at Baskin Robbins. Next we ate salted caramel because the caramel started oozing all over after we sat in the sun for a few minutes. I really enjoyed that one. The filling was not caramel flavored or caramel infused cream. It was real caramel with salt in it. It was honestly delightful. We were still really full and we wanted the fillings to melt more so we took the subway back to the train station and ate the last two in a different bakery. The wasabi mandarin was our riskiest macaron, but I was really excited. The wafery part was wasabi flavored (but not spicy) and the filling was chocolate ganache infused with mandarin. It was delicious. The balance of flavors was amazing. I couldn’t really taste the wasabi until the after taste, but that’s generally when you taste wasabi, so I didn’t mind. The biggest disappointment was rasberry. We expected it to be a very safe choice that would cleanse our palettes and be the best at tying up this chapter of our macaron hunt. Plus it was pink and I wanted to buy a pink macaron to create a balanced color palette of macarons. Unfortunately the consistency was really gooey to the point where the jelly filling and wafer macaron were not disguishable and it had a flowery perfume smell and taste that was a little too pungent.

Before returning to boring old suburbia, I wanted to buy a few macarons from ktown for my little sister, but it turns out Koryodang closed and it will be transformed into a Tous les Jours. It looks like Ktown is slowly becoming faux Parisville.

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