Archive for the ‘macarons’ tag
Add: 72 rue Bonaparte 75006 Paris
Tel: +33 (0)1 43 54 47 77
Hours: 10am~7pm (7:30pm on Thu-Fri, 8pm on Sat)
Price: €4.50~7.30/individual dessert
Visited on: 2012-08
“Les macarons n’ont que quelques grammes pour mettre nos sens en émoi. Des yeux, on les dévore déjà. Les doigts effleurent leur surface, les arômes sont doucement humés. Lorsque l’on croque leur fine enveloppe croustillante, les oreilles en sont tout émoustillées. Alors vient en bouche une grâce délicate…”
- Pierre Hermé
I’m not yet ready to say which pastry shop is my favorite in Paris, but when it comes to macarons, Pierre Hermé is definitely my man. It’s almost impossible for me to pass his boutique without buying a bag of these smooth-skinned, soft, delicate rounds that come in all sorts of fascinating colors and flavor combinations. Green asparagus with hazelnut oil? Lemon with caramelized fennel? Wasabi with candied grapefruit? Raspberry with espelette pepper? Or…fresh mint with sweet peas?
Of course, there are also the classic all-time favorites. Here’s what I got on this particular visit, from the top down: Réglisse & Violette (licorice and violet), Infiniment Chocolat Porcelana (pure chocolate from Venezuela & porcelana), Infiniment Caramel (caramel with salted butter), Truffe Blanche & Noisette (white truffle and hazelnuts), Mogador (milk chocolate and passion fruit), Jardin Oriental (orange flower, rose, and ginger), Infiniment Citron (lemon).
La Renaissance Café Pâtisserie
Add: 47 Argyle Street The Rocks Sydney NSW 2000
Tel: +61 2 9241 4878
Price: 15~25 AUD/person
Visited on: 2012-04
La Renaissance wasn’t really on my list until someone casually mentioned that it’s got Sydney’s best macarons. Uh, did you just say “best macarons”?
So there I was, the very next morning, lining up behind the crowd for a taste of La Renaissance’s pastries. This small cafe has a cozy courtyard in the back, which would be lovely on any sunny day.
Ordering at La Renaissance is one of those hectic experience where you try to eye everything on display before deciding which of these good-looking things you want on your plate, and you don’t want to take too long either because the customer next to you is growing impatient.
Pâtisserie Sadaharu Aoki Paris 青木定治
Address: B2 Bella Vita, 28 Song Ren Rd., Taipei 台北市信義區松仁路28號B2樓
Tel: (02) 8729 2867
Price: [Cakes] 180~200 NTD, [Macarons] 80 NTD
If a pastry chef is ranked up there with such great figures as Pierre Herme, Jean Millet and Gaston Lenotre, you know for sure that he’s got something. Sadaharu Aoki is known for beautifully infusing Japanese ingredients and sensibilities into French confections, creating pastries, breads, and desserts that are a feast for both the eyes and the taste buds. But as I sat myself down and dug into these alluring cakes and macarons at his new outpost in Taipei, I was disappointed.
But to start, the gorgeous display of macarons had me staring and drooling for quite a while.
I first tried bamboo, Aoki’s green tea rendition of the classic opéra. The biscuit and buttercream are infused with matcha powder so that the opéra becomes a stack of alternating green tea cake, chocolate ganache, and matcha buttercream. Not too shabby at all, but clearly not as stellar as what I would expect from a masterpiece that has garnered much fervent acclaim from food lovers in Paris and Tokyo. Surely it was a matter of quality consistency at the Taipei branch…?
Bamboo (Opéra au thé vert) 綠竹蛋糕, 190 NTD
Bamboo (Opéra au thé vert) 綠竹蛋糕
I then tried Valencia. A dramatic crown of candied kumquat sealed in a crystalized sugar web is immediately eye-catching. Beneath it is a citrus mousse with orange zest, a layer of chocolate cake, a milk chocolate mousse, a caramel-hazelnut praline, all on top of a crunchy almond crust. It’s a nice contrast of flavors and textures and is admittedly very beautiful. Still, I was not blown away.
Valencia 瓦倫西亞, 200 NTD
Cassis. Not much to say about this.
Cassis 黑醋栗蛋糕, 190 NTD
Lastly the macarons. The two I tried, raspberry and genmaicha, weren’t as good as the ones from Salon de The de Joël Robuchon right upstairs in the same building. The ganache was hard and its texture didn’t quite blend in with the shells, which were rather dry.
Front: raspberry macaron, back: genmai tea macaron
Am I about to equate Sadaharu Aoki with mediocrity? Of course not. I still have high hopes for his pastries in Paris and Tokyo, and am also willing to give the Taipei outpost another try perhaps a few more months later after it’s more established…
Chez Shibata Pâtisserie Salon de Thé Chocolatier
Address: 24 Ziyun Lu, near Zunyi Lu / 紫云路24号, 近遵义路
Price: Desserts 20~45 RMB, Drinks 23~38 RMB
I love Japanese-French pastries. The alluring colors, fancy garnishes, and flavors that are out of the ordinary – it seems like the Japanese, with their obsession over anything French, has brought many of the most famed French pastries to their culinary pinnacle. It just so happens that Chez Shibata, the only patisserie in Shanghai serving such irresistibly beautiful pastries, is a mere 5 minutes away from one of my offices. I must have done a lot of good deeds in my previous life.
Update: during my more recent visits, it seems like the quality at Chez Shibata has gone downhill. Messy presentation, mediocre flavors. Let’s hope it’ll pick up again.
The pastry chef, Takeshi Shibata
Small seating area
Standing in front of the Chez Shibata cake display is an utterly disorienting experience. I never know which one to pick. To make matters worse, the desserts have been given names like “Cœur des Bois” and “Dôme Jaune”, which don’t tell you much about the ingredients. Fortunately, the waitstaff is quite patient in explaining each dessert, as long as you ask.
The cute heart shape and the flamboyant red are bound to attract the girly girls. Long story short, the Cœur des Bois consists of raspberry jelly nestled inside creamy vanilla bavarois, which is made with a Creme Anglaise base, aerated with whipped cream, then set in the refrigerator with gelatin. Rich, creamy texture, heavier than mousse but lighter than panna cotta, the vanilla bavarois offers a good contrast with the freshly sour raspberry jelly.