Quick! When I say “Favorite French Food” what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
- Tarte Tatain?
- Croque Monsieur?
- Big, stinky cheese?
- All of the above?
I’m reading a book called Lunch in Paris, part love story, part American-Girl-in-Paris, part cookbook. I have yet to enjoy a cafe au lait or a glass of wine in sight of the Eiffel Tower, but it is high on my list of priorities.
In the mean time, Vancouver is being invaded by a French treat, which, up until a few months ago, I had never experienced. Macarons.
Now, I love macaroons. You know, those pillowy stacks of coconut, made with egg whites. But these macarons (spelled with just one “o”) are a slightly different confection.
More like a sandwich cookie, or a whoopie pie, the macaron is two meringue cookies with a filling in between. While the macaroon is pretty much the same across the board (I’ve seen varieties dipped in chocolate, but that’s about it), the macaron seems to be an blank canvas upon which endless flavors can be painted–both in the cookies and in the filling.
My introduction to these two bites of goodness came last fall. I was meeting my girlfriend, Lili, for coffee, and she said “meet me at Thierry on Alberni. Just trust me. You will love it.” And I did. Thierry is a french patisserie owned by the Top Table group, whose restaurants include Araxi in Whistler, The Blue Water Cafe, West, and Cin Cin. Under the glass counter is a rainbow of macarons and other treats, and every single time I’ve been back, the place is packed to the rafters. For good reason. The treats are incredible. Macaron flavors include the standards, like vanilla and chocolate and coffee, as well as chocolate pistachio, lime, lychee, and pink praline.
A couple months ago, a new macaron place opened up, conveniently close to where I live. Soirette does nothing but macarons, and their varieties are even more experimental. They include a matcha macaron, pink peppercorn, violette, and my favorite, the salted caramel. Try them with the vanilla green tea or a proper french cafe au lait. Chef Shobna has created a beautiful white cafe where you will want to linger, but it’s quite small and it’s sometimes hard to get a seat.
Macarons cost about $2 each, but I’m in love, and they are my current favorite special treat. Go check them out for yourself!
UPDATE: I just learned that March 20 is Jour du Macaron in Vancouver!