Jeff is traveling (his last trip! hooray!), so it's girls' night. Tara has given me a reason to more intensively explore a Parisian classic - one which we've just touched upon here: the macaron. Or rather, 12 reasons - and 12 macarons to be exact.
I know -- you're likely to mutter to yourself, "Macaroon? What's the big whoop? Coconut dipped in chocolate. We eat them at Passover every year." Ah, but you would be so, so wrong. Les macarons Parisiens are a universe away from those supersweet holiday munchies of affliction. The best are light, slightly crisp on the outside, giving way as you bite in to some delicious filling of cassis, caramel, or even something more exotic. I'll just quote David Leibovitz on the origin of the sinful little orbs made famous by Bakery-to-the-Stars (rent Marie Antoinette with Kirsten Dunst and you'll see what I mean) Ladurée:
"Ladurée gives credit to Pierre Desfontaines, a distant cousin of founder Louis Ernest Ladurée, who they claim first joined two disks of crisp macarons together with buttercream and ganache fillings in mini-sandwiches to create the now-classic Ladurée."
My first Parisian macarons were from Ladurée - I'll never forget that first bite, still standing inside the storefront on the Champs-Elysees with college (and still dear) friends Melissa and Michelle. We returned two days later for a dozen each. A lasting and fond Parisian memory is spending my last afternoon before my flight just walking up and down the Champs eating macarons. I probably mentioned in my Dalloyau post that rose is my favorite flavor. Word to the wise: you can get me to do just about anything with a rose macaron.
But Tara has not brought me macarons from Ladurée - she has brought me an eclectic selection for a chocolatier/patissier named Christophe Roussel. Thankfully, we have 2 other friends to share the interesting flavors - ginger/caramel (sweet, yet with a slight burn from the ginger in the aftertaste), chocolat-banane (very banana-ey, and not in a Wonka-candy kinda way), lavender/apricot. Each is delicious and that great combo-of-crisp-and-chewy consistency - and goes fabulously with champagne. As I continue to eat my way through the sampling I am hoping the collection includes one of his famous foie gras macarons!
Roussel is also apparently a rising star in the chocolat market - so I'll have to stop by his shop before we leave Paris...