Macarons are the little gemstones of the pastry world. They come in every color and flavor, and are highly sought-after. Some of them are even come covered in sparkles! A stale one is so sad– you hold it delicately and take a tentative bite, then the cookie collapses into shards and dust, and you must console yourself with the tiny bit of filling that’s inside. But a fresh one is a glorious contrast in textures, with meringue-almond cookies that are crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. Then there’s the delicious filling, sometimes a cream base, sometimes more a fruit jelly base.
My favorite place in NYC to find a good macaron is Almondine, with locations in D.U.M.B.O. and Park Slope. I found that French pâtisseries offer so many more interesting flavors than just your average chocolate or strawberry. I saw mandarin orange, lychee, zucchini-mint, salted caramel, white peach-saffron, grapefruit, Earl Grey tea, green lemon-ginger, cola, rum-raisin, and marshmallow, to name a few. Perhaps French pastry chefs like to experiment as much with macarons as their American counterparts do with ice cream.
Here are a few samples from different places in Lyon:
I also learned about the existence of both savory macarons, like black olive, gorgonzola-sesame, and tomato-basil, and sweet and savory hybrids, like duck foie gras with apple-spice, pimento-pepper, and carrot-cumin. Maybe they would have been nice to try for anthropological reasons, but I had valuable stomach space to preserve!