The Macaron Party

The Macaron Party

January 3, 2014  |  featured, food & drink, san francisco  |  10 Comments

Les Macarons – these delicious, mouthwatering French cookies – are sold everywhere these days. You can find them even at Whole Foods… as a version of macarons but not the real thing. Our palettes must be evolving towards refined treats, and the trends are definitely keeping up. So, I organized a Christmas Macaron Party to enjoy, savor, compare and indulge in the art of culinary fun. I went to San Francisco and bought macarons from Chantal Guillon, La Boulange, Miette and Le Marais Bakery. There are many more stores that sell macarons, but I couldn’t go to every one, so I had to choose. Macaron party I have to admit I love macarons. I can easily finish a box of 6 in a total of 2 minutes. I would keep going if it weren’t for my higher self reminding me that I’d better control my emotions and my gluttony and think about my waist line. Well, I could always use a corset to give the illusion that I am slimmer than I am. But – I have to admit – I love myself more than I love macarons. Macarons are made with eggs, almond flour, sugar and (usually) food coloring. For the most part, they are gluten free, which makes them ultra popular. They are also beautiful, delicate, dreamy, and come in interesting flavors. This blog link has a good recipe for a green tea macaron.

The round melting meringue-based confection is reported to have been introduced to France by Catherine de Medici’s private Italian chefs when she married Henri II de France. But nowadays the macaron is known as a French creation. It was brought back to fame in the early 20th century by the Parisian pastry shop Ladurée.

At our party, we found that Miette makes great macarons with the right balance of texture, taste, and sweetness. Miette uses only organic ingredients and no food coloring. Their macarons have natural colors and a short shelf life (up to 3 days). We tasted the rose macaron, which smelled like rose water. The flavor was present and consistent in the shell and the taste. The chocolate mousse was crunchy but firm, with balanced sugar and texture. The orange macaron had a hint of orange, with a fine and subtle taste. Miette macarons Miette Store La Boulange is a pioneer in making macarons famous in San Francisco. We liked the texture of their macarons and their strong aromas. The rum raisin macaron was firm, crunchy, and flavorful. You could easily smell the rum. The Nutella had the taste of hazelnuts (as it should), was thick, textured and not too sweet. The Pistachio is one of my favorites. It tasted like vanilla, frangipani, and it tasted sweeter than the others.

La Boulange

Chantal Guillon’s lovely store is located on Hayes Street and is entirely devoted to the art of macarons. Her macarons are beautifully presented and packaged. We tasted her green tea macaron, which was delicate and soft. It had a subtle taste, but it didn’t taste like green tea. The Persian rose had a very strong rose flavor, but the macaron itself didn’t have the aroma of a rose. We found both macarons to be very sweet, and a sweet aftertaste lingered on our palettes. The caramel was pretty and tasted good. The aftertaste was saltier, which we enjoyed.

Chantal Guillon macarons Chantal Guillon store When I went to Le Marais on Chestnut Street to buy some macarons, it was the end of the day and they only had three left. So I bought the chocolate caramel. The macaron had a very distinctive texture. It was crumbly, a little chewy, with a strong caramel flavor. The feeling was smooth and gooey. We enjoyed it very much and regretted that we couldn’t taste any other flavors. According to staff, they only make a few flavors at a time, including chocolate mint. Caramel Le Marais Le Marais Bakery The delicacy of the macarons invites you to savor them one by one. We enjoyed every bite we took and had a lot of fun comparing and admiring them. If you have tasted other macarons in The City or beyond, leave us a comment. We would like to know about your experience.

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La Fable, Berkeley

La Fable, Berkeley

December 9, 2013  |  featured, food & drink, san francisco  |  No Comments

I love the name of this charming and unpretentious French bistro in the heart of the gourmet ghetto in Berkeley. It is located on Walnut Street, one block from Shattuck, in the crossroads of counter-culture (how can you escape it really in Berkeley?) and Alice Waters food aficionados. I met a friend there on a Sunday, and I enjoyed the French flair and the casual feel of the place. The servers spoke French, and the owners are French as well.

The food is simple and authentic. The breakfast menu looks impressive with all sorts of omelets. The dinner menu lists simple and hearty dishes like boeuf bourguignon (French beef stew served on top of mashed potatoes), filet mignon and an interesting choice of assiettes (plates of cheese, ham, sausages). I found the prices moderate – under $20 for a meat dish (plat principal) – not bad at all. I love that they offer 6 seafood dishes, from crabe sauce blanche (crab gratin with sautéed leeks in a creamy béchamel sauce) to Saint Jacques au caviar de choux fleur (seared scallops with garlic, coriander and tomato sauce served with cauliflower caviar). All seafood lovers would find these French recipes intriguing enough to try. Doesn’t it smell like La Bretagne to you?

La Fable is open all day from breakfast to dinner (closed tuesday) and even sells croissants, pains au chocolat, and macarons for desert. As you guessed from the picture, that is exactly what I had!

La Fable | 1508 Walnut Street, Berkeley | (510) 849-9995

 

 

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The Krama phenomenon arrives in the US

The Krama phenomenon arrives in the US

October 27, 2013  |  featured, inspiration  |  No Comments

 

Recently I’ve been in awe and wonder about all the creations in the world and all the ideas that make it a more beautiful world, and I came across the story of Krama Heritage. This young company from France is bringing to the US the Krama phenomenon. It is sweeping Paris as I am writing this article, and I’ll tell you why.

Krama Héritage HéritiersDo you know what a Krama is? I sure didn’t. The Krama is the traditional garment of the Khmer people. It is used as a scarf or a bandana to cover the face or carry infants. The Krama is also so beautiful and elegant that Raphael and Alexandru decided to make it a part of Parisian chic with a social twist.

When traveling in Cambodia, the two founders felt a deep empathy and connection to the country and their people. They also saw the aesthetic value of the Krama and thought that it could easily become a Parisian fashion accessory as well as making the people wearing it proud to contribute to a better world. Today while wondering in Paris, Raphael told me you can see people from all ages and walks of life wearing the stylish Krama and embracing the spirit of the company. “Wearing it is transmitting of the hope of the Khmer people.”

The company gives 10 percent of its revenue to a non-profit called “Pour un sourire d’enfant” (For a child’s smile), specializing in schooling and training kids in Phnom Penh. Or, as Raphael explained to me in a communication, Krama Heritage’s raison d’être is the support of social causes in Cambodia with the goal of helping people rebuild their country after a dark past. More social projects will be added as the company expands.

The Kramas are woven in Phnom Penh in small workshops. They come in beautiful colors. I love all the colors, but my favorite is rose. Soon they will be available in the US through retailers, but you can order yours now through the company’s website. It looks like they will arrive in the US within two weeks.

Through the symbolic thread of a scarf, cultures are woven together and the world is better off for it. Let’s support this company’s making an impact while staying Always in French Style.

Krama Heritage - Meatpacking - Photograph by Erfu Wang

Krama Heritage - Times Square - Photograph by Erfu Wang

 

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