Tag Archive for soirette

Macaron-Making Workshop at Simply French Cafe

You may have guessed that I’m kind of obsessed with macarons right now. It’s in my nature to obsess about kinds of food. I make it and make it until I get happy with it, then I move on to conquer something else.

So, a couple months back, I bought a Social Shopper workshop at Simply French Cafe in Kits to learn how to make macarons. Monday night Jen and I attended, and the main thing I learned was a deeper appreciation for people who make these delicate fantasies.

The subtitle of this blog is Culinary Experimentation. That should be a hint to you that I’m not exactly Ms. Precise when I’m following recipes. Maybe the first time I’ll follow it to the letter, but then the tinkering begins, until I feel like I get it to how I want it to be.

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You can’t do that with macarons. The entire process was complex, precise and finnicky. First of all, you need a scale to measure out all the ingredients to the gram (I only own measuring cups). Things have to be specific temperatures, and need to be beaten for exact amounts of time. Except for when it’s humid or sunny or snowing. Then all bets are off. Then you have to adjust beating/drying/baking/cooling times.

Making the cookies themselves was also a interesting study in dichotomies. There were times when you really needed to be firm with the batter, but there were other times when you had to be incredibly gentle with it.

I know how to make them, now. But will I ever? Probably not. Especially seeing as Soirette is less than a block from where I live.

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The Parisian Invasion (the Macarons are coming!)

Quick! When I say “Favorite French Food” what’s the first thing that comes to mind?

  • Tarte Tatain?
  • Baguette?
  • Croissant?
  • Croque Monsieur?
  • Cassoulet?
  • Big, stinky cheese?
  • All of the above?

Yes.

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.

theirryMy 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.bfb870544eb911e1abb01231381b65e3_7

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!