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Posts Tagged ‘macarons’

First, I waxed lyrical over my dinner with Helen of Grab Your Fork.

Then, I rhapsodised over the bag of goodies she bequeathed to me.

Now, it’s time to showcase the macarons that came alongside said bag of goodies. I think I should let the treats speak for themselves.

(You can see where this is going, can’t you?)

Chocolate Ganache Macaron Grab Your Fork

Chocolate Ganache Macaron: I’m fairly certain I’m the bee’s knees. Just look at me! I look a bit like a cheeseburger, except instead of being filled with icky meat and sprinkled with sesame seeds, my insides are chocolate and I’m adorned with GOLD FLAKES. Oh, and did I mention that Helen made me?

Salted Caramel Macaron Grab Your Fork

Salted Caramel Macaron: So what? Helen made me too, I also am adorned with gold dust, and I taste AMAZING. Better than you. In fact, I made Hannah realise just how amazing butter can be, simply through my divine, silky, salty-caramel-please-never-end flavourful goodness.

Rosewater Macaron Grab Your Fork

Rosewater Macaron: I know I was everyone’s least favourite, but it’s not my fault. I wasn’t made by Helen, so how could you expect me to taste as good? Plus, being the least-loved macaron in a conglomeration of delightful macarons is hardly the worst label in the world, is it? I mean, I still taste better than tripe.

Chocolate Ganache Macaron Grab Your Fork

Chocolate Ganache Macaron:  I defy you both! I Am Chocolate, Hear Me Roar! Plus, the Housemate really liked me. So there.

Salted Caramel Macaron Grab Your Fork

Salted Caramel Macaron: Yeah, but I also come with chocolate cookie crumbs that make me look like a witch with growths on my face. BEAT THAT.

Chocolate Ganache Macaron Grab Your Fork

Chocolate Ganache Macaron: I will beat that. See how my rich, chocolatey ganache is enveloped by sweet almond meringue biscuit? And how my assertive ganache firmness plays off the delicate crumb of the meringues?

Salted Caramel Macaron Grab Your Fork

Salted Caramel Macaron: That’s all well and good, but each of the four people who were lucky enough to try we macarons thought that I was, by far, the tastiest. I WIN FOREVER.

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Almost two weeks ago, I had dinner with the splendiferous, blogosphere-famous, and intrepid[-eater] Helen of Grab Your Fork. On that night, Helen brought me a gift bag brimming with edible delights. I still feel a bit giddy thinking about the moment when she handed me that bag. Because you know what Helen had done? She’d gone back through the myriad comments I’d left on her blog in recent months and had made a note of what I’d mentioned wanting to try/not being able to access in Canberra.

And then she did her best to track such items down for me.

I know, right? Crazy-amazing-kind-generous-amazing. And because I’m thrilled by what Helen so carefully picked out for me, I simply must share it with you all. Are you ready? I think you should probably be ready for some envy. See, if I were you, living out there in Internet-world, looking at what had been given to me… I’d be envious. Just sayin’.

And we’re off!

Assam Laksa Paste and Dosai mix

For years, I’ve wanted to try the sour-spicy-tamarind-pineapple Penang-style assam laksa which, unlike the more well-known Malaysian laksa, doesn’t use coconut milk. To start off with a really clear example of Helen’s amazingness of spirit, she mentioned in an email to me weeks ago that she wanted to bring me assam laksa paste. However, she couldn’t find any in Sydney, so you know what she did? She gave me one of the packets that she’d brought back for herself from Malaysia. I was/am speechless.

Also, she remembered that I’ve never tried dosai, so she gave me a packet mix for that, too. Even more excitingly, it’s gluten-free and vegan!

Pho and Bakuteh mix

Every now and again in my life I go through a Pho phase, during which time the only thing I want to eat at restaurants are big steaming bowls of broth and noodles into which I merrily throw enormous handfuls of herbs, beansprouts, and chilli. Lots of chilli. Now I can have that complex broth at home without having to boil icky bones for a squillion hours first. Hooray!

However, I will have to boil icky bones – wait, no, I mean ribs – for authentic Bakuteh. Methinks this is Grab Your Fork trying to sneakily make me a fan of meat so that she can order crispy pork belly for me when we rendezvous in Sydney in the hopefully-not-too-distant future. She’s a wily one.

Grass Jelly mix, Chai tea, foodie guide to sydney

Vegan grass jelly mix! Super excited about this one. Helen recommends having it with ice cream, which I can definitely see being a winner. If only So Good hadn’t got rid of almost all its different “frozen dessert” flavours in recent years…

Next we have an awesome, authentic chai blend that you add to super strong black tea, and alongside that the guide to Sydney’s Chinatown and Haymarket areas that Helen wrote all the food reviews for. If you’re in Sydney, I recommend picking one of these free guides up. Helen’s got your food-lovin’ back.

Schoc Frankincense chocolate, lotte chocolate

Then, of course, there was chocolate. Japanese chocolate, which is always fun, and also Schoc chocolate! Helen said she didn’t know that I’d recently talked to Vaala on this blog about wanting to try Schoc chocolate, but I think she was simply trying to hide her geniusness.

The last thing I pulled out of the bag had me a hair’s breadth away from hyperventilating. Honestly, I think I blanked out for a second at the restaurant and went to a giggly-squealing happy place. All I can hope is that such a reaction gratified, rather than scared, Helen. Behold!

Kaya

KAYA. Kaya kaya kaya. The coconut pandan custard spread that Malaysians eat for breakfast on toasted white bread with slabs of butter. Helen and I discussed this One True Way of eating kaya, but I’ve since admitted that I may well end up eating it on porridge, because that’s how I roll.

Thing is, I’m so excited by the kaya that I haven’t let myself open it. Mostly, I’m just doing this:

Y’know. Just staring at it lovingly. Sometimes stroking it. (Apologies for the crazy hair)

Oh, and before I go, there was one other AMAZING thing that Helen gave me, but it deserves a post of its own. Still, I can’t help teasing you with it…

Macarons salted caramel ganache rosewater

Oh yes.

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Well lookee here! I’ve scrounged up a few more photos from travel days that have already been covered in some form or ‘nother on this blog. Plus, I’ve still got another Paris post and all of Italy to chat about, so we haven’t hit the bottom of the travel well yet. Hurrah!

Carvings at Notre Dame, Paris

Don’t it always seem to go / that you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone? (Notre Dame, Paris)

Penis Pasta

I might have expected to see this at a store selling Bacholerette Party paraphernalia, but no. This was in a Wimbledon toy store, just a metre or so down the shelf from the plastic baguette and kitchen appliance toy sets. Either For Shame, London... or Bravo, London. I haven’t quite made up my mind.

Paris building

I love Paris' architecture.

Statue, Berlin

The left hand says “I’m modest”, and yet the right hand says... the opposite. (Berlin)

Statue, Berlin

While this dude is all about the confident “look at me!” free-wheeling. (Berlin)

Shoes, Galeries LaFayette

Torture is wandering around the Galeries Lafayette shoe department when you have a bandaged toe and can’t try anything on. Funnily enough, I took a photo of these because they struck me as bad-interesting... but now I think they’re badtastic and I think I might love them. (I do have some brilliant heels from my previous US visit, which I could show y’all at some point if anyone's interested?)

Shoes, Galeries LaFayette

These shoes, however, remain utterly Le Stupid.

Dalloyau macarons, Galeries LaFayette

They really do love macarons in Paris. These were at the Dalloyau counter at the Galeries LaFayette.

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And so, at last, we come to the end of the macaron saga*. I’ve so far covered nine flavours from Monoprix but only four from Picard, so it’s only fair that these next come from the cavernous and ever-intriguing freezer aisles of the latter.

Picard

I don’t know if I can countenance paying through the nose for prunes wrapped in bacon, as that seems to me a fairly easy-to-execute concept... but the rest of these canapés look more complex and worth buying, maybe.

Entirely for your pleasure, I remembered to take photos of these macarons in my Paris hostel room, in the sunlight, before descending to the hostel’s dark “Chill-Out Room”. You know what that means, don’t you? You’re looking at Parisian macarons dappled by the Parisian sun. If that doesn’t make you want to fly to France**, I don’t know what will.

Picard Macarons Once More

Picard Macarons

Which flavour would you most like to try?

Abricot:

From the get-go, Picard’s abricot macaron had a strong and clear apricot aroma. Yet once I nibbled through its super-soft shell,I became discombobulated. The macaron tasted utterly of something from my childhood, and yet I couldn’t pinpoint what that “something” was. All I knew was that it reminded me of primary school, of a time when I loved The Spice Girls, Green Day, and Dawson’s Creek… but that was as far as my mind got.

It wasn’t until I’d tried every other flavour and circled back to the abricot that I figured it out: this macaron tasted exactly like an Uncle Toby’s Chewy Apricot Muesli Bar. That is to say, like syrupy oat snacks with multiple tiny apricot pieces scattered throughout and a layer of yogurt icing on top. Not exactly my favourite taste in the world (the muesli bar or the macaron), but I appreciated the trip down memory lane.

Picard Abricot Macaron

Sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows everywhere...

Pain d’Épice-Figue:

I was pretty excited about this macaron, having fallen head over heels for Pain d’Épice in Antwerp and having subsequently scouted out loaves of it in Amsterdam and Paris alike. Moreover, fresh figs were my most-craved for fruit during my travels (a craving yet to be sated, mind you), so yes. Excitement.

Calling upon my food language translation skills, I fig-ured (oh, chortle) out that the spices in this macaron were cinnamon, star anise, ginger, cardamom, and mace. Mostly, though, the macaron tasted like gingerbread, which is a little less complex in spice-flavour than true pain d’épice. I liked it, though.

The fig filling I remain ambivalent about. It looked delightfully gooey, and as you can see below there’s a plethora of seeds indicating the use of real figs, but sadly the flavour reminded me of fig newtons. I say “sadly” because there’s a citrus-peel-esque flavour in fig newtons that I simply can’t embrace, and that tainted this macaron filling for me. I didn’t hate the macaron by any stretch, but I came out wishing it had used a simple buttercream filling instead of fruity fig squishiness.

Picard Macaron

This is perhaps the macaron that most reminds me of Pac-Man.

Griotte-Pistache:

It’s lucky that the second flavour component of this macaron was pistachio, because all I could think of upon seeing the word “Griotte” was “grot”. I don’t know about you, but that’s not something I like to put in my mouth.

Turns out “griotte” is morello cherry, so I needn’t have worried.

This macaron, like the abricot before it, took me on a roller-coaster ride down memory lane. The tangy but very sweet fruitiness of this macaron threw me back to earlier than Green Day and primary school; I found myself pre-double digits, swinging my too-short legs at a restaurant booth, reaching for the big glass of fizzy pink fizz in front of me.

Yep, this macaron tasted exactly like how I remember Shirley Temples tasting. (The drink, people. I don’t eat petite child stars.) I can’t remember the last time I saw one of these on a restaurant menu, but I’m hoping at least some of you know what I’m talkin’ bout. Unfortunately, I got no distinct pistachio from this macaron. There was a slight undercurrent of nuttiness to the flavour, but mostly this macaron equalled drinking Shirley Temples to me. Oh, and it equalled prettiness.

Picard Macaron

Don't you just want to take this sweetie home and snuggle?

Praliné:

Firstly, this macaron had nothing on Camille’s praliné chocolates. No other praliné treat could, really. Setting that fact aside, this macaron had a pleasantly rich and sweet nuttiness, although the overwhelming flavour was of brown sugar and honey.

The most exciting nibble was the one in which I ate the biscuit part and then the thick filling on its own, as the filling reminded me a little of sweetened chestnut puree.

And once more, the macaron was pretty darn attractive.

Picard Macaron

Let There Be Light!

*Well, the end of the supermarket macaron saga. There is, in fact, one more macaron to come, which alone cost more than a box of twelve supermarket macarons. But all in good time, my friends. All in good time.

** Volcanic ash permitting. Did I mention how incredibly grateful I am to have left Italy a week before that chaos hit?

Lastly, a shout-out thank you to Peggy Entwhistle for her lovely company this morning and the simultaneous commiseration and giggling over my house-sitting house. Cheers (and I’m still glad that gardener didn’t chop off his own foot when we scared him with our existence).

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Hello from Australia’s National Capital and my home city, Canberra. 

And before I forget… for any Americans out there, we pronounce it more like “Can-bra” than “Can-BEAR-ah”. And Melbourne is more like “Mel-bahn” than “Mel-that-guy-played-by-Matt-Damon-when-he-had-amazing-biceps-but-I-wish-they-hadn’t-killed-off-Franka-Potente-because-I-like-Run-Lola-Run-and-that-was-the-first-DVD-my-family-owned-wait-where-was-I-oh-yes-macarons”. 

Picard Macarons the First

A few weeks back I showcased the many macarons available at France’s Monoprix supermarkets. Today, I bring you macarons from the freezer aisle of Monoprix’s swankier cousin, Picard – Le Mecca of pre-prepared goodness. 

For all your frozen foie gras needs. Because foie gras has NEEDS, yo.

But no one came here for savouries, did they? At least not today. So let’s get macaron-cracking with my first box of macarons from Picard (the second box will come later, promise).

I do like the colour of Picard's packaging more than Monoprix's.

 1. Fruit de la Passion 

This flavour was the Picard version of Monoprix’s Mangue-Passion, which was my least favourite of the Monoprix bunch. Luckily, Picard’s mango and passionfruit macaron was far nicer, simply because the flavour tasted real rather than fake. The mango was stronger than the passionfruit, particularly when one split the macaron and ate the thick, soft filling first. (Those Oreo ads have clearly had some influence in my life.) 

Picard Macarons

No prizes for picking the fruit de la passion macarons.

2. Cassis-Violette 

This, in contrast, was a flavour combination utterly unlike those found in the Monoprix freezer aisles. Blackcurrant and violet? It sounds… pretty. Now, I must admit I wasn’t certain what “cassis” was before tasting this. However, as soon as I placed it in my mouth I was back in my Grandma Mickey’s kitchen, drinking blackcurrant cordial and watching her stir spoonfuls of caster sugar into a grated granny smith apple, just for me. 

So I can clearly affirm that this macaron encapsulates the flavour of blackcurrant, while also conveying the slightly deeper, darker, yet still delicately-floral taste of violet. Quite a rich and intense experience, all up. 

Picard Macaron

Jam jam jam jam jam. (Anyone a Black Books' fan?)

3. Pistache 

How did Picard’s pistachio macaron stack up against Monoprix’s version? Well, Picard’s was softer, as was the case with all of its flavours. It was also prettier, what with the pistachio crumbly bits dotted over the shell. Taste-wise? Winner winner! This had a strong and true pistachio flavour that reminded me of Vestri’s divine pistachio white chocolate. Unlike the vague nuttiness of Monoprix’s Gout Pistache, this was pistachio all the way. Yay, Picard. (Oooh, I just had an urge to do the Vulcan Salute.) (Also, I had to google “star trek hand signal” in order to find out that it’s called the Vulcan Salute. Just so you know.) 

Hello again Mr. Blurry, I knew you couldn't have gone far.

4. Réglisse 

This was the real surprise of the box – the licorice macaron. I detested licorice as a child, yet am starting to think that it’s time to give the real deal another try. I’ve found myself enjoying anise-flavoured and licorice-flavoured chocolates, and I really liked this macaron. The licorice flavour was subtle and the buttercream filling smooth, nutty, and sweet, with just a hint of herbal, smoky licorice. Definitely my favourite of this first Picard collection. 

Looks like the licorice has been smooching the pistachio... naughty macarons.

I shall end here for the night, I think. I slept quite well yesterday but am flagging a bit now, which is partly to do with jetlag and partly to do with being a bit cranky at my toe. 

See, first thing this morning I visited my doctor, and despite beginning to hope that antibiotics alone could cure the toe, such is not to be. In fact, not only do I need surgery again, but I need slightly more of it. Don’t get me wrong, I know that it is very minor surgery, and I’m hugely grateful that I managed to make it through four months of travelling. In addition, I recognise that having to sit in a chair watching movies and eating my travel souvenirs is hardly a tragedy. Still, it’s a bit frustratingly tedious to get stuck in non-moving-non-job-hunting-non-getting-on-with-life for the next little while. At least this time around, I have not only my Canberra buddies and family to keep me entertained but all of you and this blog, right?

Cheers, and thanks!

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A few days ago in blog-time, or a few weeks ago in real time, I snickered at the macarons I saw in a Parisian McDonalds.

I think, however, I snickered too soon. See, my own macaron-lovin’ in Paris was perhaps not as sophisticated as it could have been. I might even have been tempted to obfuscate (love that word) the reality of my macaron purchases, but for the fact that the incredibly-creative Lorraine admitted to enjoying a supermarket banoffee tart.

So I’m going to be honest with you all, and share my dirty little macaron secrets.

1. In two weeks in Paris, I ate 66 macarons.

(Oh dear heavens, I didn’t realise that until I counted, just then. Excuse me for a minute while I giggle hysterically.)

2. Every single one of these came from the freezer aisle of food stores – some from Monoprix, some from the fancy-schmancy frozen mecca Picard.

3. The macarons were highly enjoyable, and conformed in texture and taste to all the ravings about macarons I’ve read on the blogosphere.

(And, might I add, buying macarons thusly was cheaper than purchasing 66 of the blighters from patisseries.)

Tonight, I bring you the first half of my macaron thoughts.

Monoprix Macarons

Monoprix Gourmet Macarons
Look! It says “Monoprix Gourmet”. Gourmet! I have been validated.

1. Caramel

My very first experience with macarons, and what an experience it was. I expected the shells to be crispy, like meringues, but they were precisely the opposite. Delicate and soft, these dissolved in my mouth to showcase the silky caramel filling, which similarly dissipated into a gentle puff of sweetness.

Monoprix Caramel Macarons

Do you hear the pitter-patter of little feet?

After my success with the (relatively) little box of six caramel macarons, I moved onto the first box of assorted flavours…

2. Caramel au Beurre Salé

While not exactly noticeably salty, this caramel with salted butter macaron was exactly noticeably better than the plain caramel flavour. The flavour was just that little bit deeper, caramellier – a bit like a Werthers Original in taste, but with an almond component. In addition, the filling was more solid. Whereas the plain caramel’s filling became like liquid in the mouth, this was more like buttercream.

Monoprix Caramel au Beurre Sale Macaron

Wait, that doesn't look like buttercream. It looks like gooey caramel goo. In the good goo way.

3. Mangue-Passion

As the cleverest amongst you can surely guess, the next was mango and passionfruit. In the spirit of keeping this post not too insufferably long, I’ll say that I didn’t enjoy this very much. It tasted like tropical juice, which I’ve never been a fan of. (Tomato juice? Yes.)

Monoprix Mangue-Passion Macaron

Pac-Man, anyone?

4. Fruits Rouge

At first, this “red fruits” flavour just tasted sweet. This turned out to be because the filling is a tiny drop of jam in the centre, so it wasn’t until I hit this little jam drop that I realised this tasted like jam drop cookies. You know, the butter cookies where you make a little thumbprint/indent in the middle and put in a tiny bit of jam? And bake it? Thereby creating jam drop cookies? I don’t much care for those cookies, but the trip down memory lane was nice. Food dissection photo ahead!

Monoprix Macarons

Please excuse the colour/lighting. The Chill-Out Room in my Paris hostel had awful lighting.

5. Vanille

This was the simplest of the flavours so far and, surprisingly, one of my favourites. There were speckles of vanilla bean seeds in the buttercream filling, which is always good, and the shell was a little bit more dense and nutty in flavour than any of the others. The whole thing reminded me a little of nougat.

Monoprix Macaron

Gah! Stupid lighting! This was far more white and pretty in reality, I promise.

Gosh, this is taking longer than I thought! Just as well I opted out of covering the Picard macarons in this post too… Now, the second assorted flavour box. Also know as my favourite Monoprix box, the box I bought twice.

6. Goût Pistache

The first thing of note about each of the following macarons is that the biscuit shells were a little bit chewier than the previous ones. I don’t know if this is technically good or not, but I liked the bit of resistance in the bite.  The pistachio macarons were lovely in a rounded, buttery, nutty and rich way, but suffered from the fate of not having a strong pistachio flavour. Still, I liked them for their subtle nuttiness.

Monoprix Macarons

My mountain of macarons, on a classy black plastic base.

7. Framboise

Unlike the previous Fruits Rouge flavour (which had raspberry, blackcurrant, and blueberry, apparently), this tasted definitively of raspberry. Win! There was also more filling, and this filling was softer and more luxurious than the stingy jam drop disc, and the biscuit shells had a nice almond taste.

Monoprix Macarons

And see? Real seeds in the filling!

8. Chocolat

I’ve mentioned my non-love of chocolate treats that aren’t a block of chocolate, so it might interest you to know these constituted a metaphorical slap in the face. I liked them. They weren’t amazingly chocolatey, but the filling was a firm ganache, and on the whole they tasted pleasantly of the brownies I used to make so often that I knew the recipe by heart. In fact, eating these brought to mind the 20x20cm square cake tin that is synonymous with those brownies in my head.

Monoprix Macarons

Mmm, chewy macaron-brownie, you are the mutt of the treat world that I would like to adopt.

9. Cappuccino

Last but not least, the cappuccino macaron. When I first bit into this, I was disappointed in the lack of coffee flavour, but once I realised it was focused in the rich, silky, buttercream filling, I was a happy girl. I came to love the subtle blend of sweet/coffee/almond/creamy/biscuit, and it provided a nice contrast to the other flavours in the box.

Monoprix Macarons

End scene.

Holy smokes, I started this as a quick post to write and a short post to read, but it’s turned into a monster of a macaron post. Whoops! Free passes given to anyone who didn’t make it through the whole post… I know detailed macaron reviewing is not everyone’s cuppa…

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