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Day 79: Jour du Macaron

There’s so much to tell today and I don’t know where to start. Or how to keep it short-ish. Just know that it has been a gloriously warm Sunday and I wish everyday is as wonderful as this.

Only one museum visited this morning – Chloé and I went to the Musée des Arts et Métiers where we caught live demonstrations of Pascaline calculator and Faucault’s Pendulum – before our stomach rumbled and we got very lucky to get a table at Breizh Café without reservation. A galette Breton and a sweet crepe each, yum. Sitting outside at the terrace for a bit of a tan while eating delicious brunch – bonus of the day.

That was not all. Today is Jour du Macaron as well, so we made it to Pierre Hermé’s shop near Pasteur (the queue at the shop near St Sulpice was crazy long and we didn’t even try to go there) for some treats. The flavours I picked: fig, sweetbriar and foie gras; white truffle and hazelnut; and “dépaysé” which combined matcha green tea, azuki bean, lime and ginger. Two words to describe them all – flavoursome, delectable.

As the Salon du Livre was also running this weekend, I went over to check it out. Free entry with my Paris public library card – nice! I bought a couple of books, including Dessine-moi un parisien by Olivier Magny (who keeps an entertaining blog of Stuff Parisians Like), which he also kindly autographed. I would have like to stay and chat with him for a bit, but my French was failing me…

The day was capped off with dinner at Chloé’s where the girls and I were served raclette with potato, salad and saucissons. Even though we were stuffed in the end, we incorporated a little twist to dessert, by serving roti bakar, Malaysian style.

I am having the time of my life :D

Colourful macarons

There’s macaron, and there’s macaroon. One looks like a mini sweet burger with creamy ganache as the filling, sandwiched between two smooth-shell almond-flour meringue biscuits. The other is spiky and brown from the baking of shredded coconut.

Macarons from Pierre Hermé

A great macaron bursts with flavour and melts in your mouth. It is also delicate, requires gentle handling and probably put a major dent in your wallet.

Yeah, the last part is quite the trade-off for a good quality macaron. Some of the best come from the Parisian pastry houses of Pierre Hermé and Ladurée. The macarons they sell come between €1.50 to €2.00 a piece, which is steep for ganache-sandwiched meringues of the size of a small cookie. However, as a treat goes, it’s worth every single cent paid for these babies.

I’m no macaron expert, but my friends and I have previously conducted a rather unscientific tasting after purchasing macarons from several pâtissier in Paris. Between Pierre Hermé, Gérard Mulot, Arnaud Larher, Christophe Roussel and Art Macaron of Mathieu Mandard, we had quite a macaron overload but we also came to a conclusion that the majority prefer Pierre Hermé. I do wonder though, how will it fare had we bought some from Ladurée as well that day for the taste-off?

My favourite flavour from PH’s collection is undoubtedly that of Infiniment Caramel (caramel au beurre salé), followed by Rose and Infiniment Vanille (vanilla). The most unusual flavour that I have tasted from them was that of white truffles (the fungus variety, not chocolate). I see that they have new flavour of Fragola (strawberry and balsamic vinegar), which I’m aching to try.

There are cheaper generic macarons available, but in my experience, they don’t measure up to the works of the masters. They may be equally colourful, but the flavour tends to be weak and one piece tastes the same as the next. It’s such a shame.

Ps: on a creative note, here’s a recipe that makes a combination of macaron and macaroon.

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