Have you ever been asked whether or not your a sweet or savory person? You know, what do you prefer as a treat, a salty pretzel or a piece of chocolate? I hate that question. It depends. It always depends. I don’t like hard pretzels – they remind me of being an idiot teenager who knew squat about what “carbs” were and ate dry, brittle pretzels by the bag to lose weight. And I like chocolate, but it has to be dark chocolate (ideally around 70%) and it can’t have the words “milk,” “white,” or “Hersey’s” anywhere near it. Not interested. I’ll take the pretzel if it’s that or white chocolate. Oh, but if you dip that pretzel in some form of dark chocolate, or maybe a jar of nutella, then you have a snack that’s pretty tempting (and you also have what I religiously ate as a train snack while backpacking through Europe).
Today, though… This day that gave me hope… If you asked me that question today… I would say that I was a sweet person (obviously meaning that I want something sweet as that word and my demeanor have NOTHING to do with each other). Today, I walked into work and my friend, Kim, offered me a salted caramel macaron from her friend’s soon-to-open shop, bisousciao.
Little did she know that I have a small OBSESSION with macarons and have been on a hunt to find ones as delicate and ethereal as those of Ladurée. Bouchon, Payard, La Maison du Chocolat and even Kee’s all left something to be desired. They were fragile, but each and every one of them was overly sweet and made me instantly thirst for bubbly water to get rid of the clawing syrupy feeling that you get at the very back and top of your mouth where that little hangy thing is. You feel like you have to swallow a thousand times to try and get rid of it. And I’m not sure that Bouchon’s macarons even count as macarons since they’re the size of frisbees.
I picked up the pale, cream-colored macarons and was delighted by how light the meringue felt in contrast to the dense salted caramel pressed between each cookie. I love when the filling contrasts in both color and flavor to the that of its meringue cookie. My first bite gently cracked through the delicate crust of the meringue before slowly pushing through the chewiness of the softened meringue and the salted caramel. The nutty meringue and perfectly savory caramel were not overly sweet at all, but perfectly balanced – just sweet enough to be complimented by a cup of tea, but not too sweet to beg for a strong espresso. Kim offered me another one and before she could finish her sentence, I dove in and retrieved a vivid yellow, lemon macaron. This would be the test. Lemon macarons are tricky. Too often, they taste like they’ve been bombed by lemon essence and sugar cubes, like sucking on a lemon drop. This lemon macaron, though, was unlike any that I’d EVER tried before. This is perhaps the BEST lemon macaron that I have ever had. The lemon cream, made with fresh lemon juice and zest, TASTED like actual lemons, not like what lemons are “supposed” to taste like. They had an organic, natural taste that was actually refreshing. This macaron tasted as light and refreshing as sweet spring air.
At the moment, bisousciao. has an online business where Tanya, the owner, will ship (deliver within NYC) these memories-in-the-making macarons to you. I never would have ordered because I hate ordering any food in the mail that I’ve never tasted before. You can’t return it if you hate it and I have that whole thing where once I order food, my body expects it, and I’m ruined until that food is actually infront of me, ready to be consumed. If that happens at a table in Chinatown in the 2-3 minutes it takes before your first dish flies out of the kitchen and is dropped (sometimes literally) on your table, then can you imagine the nightmare that I would be for my husband if I had to wait 3-5 business days to receive my food-package??? I bet he’s shuddering as he reads this at the thought.
Yet depending on how long it takes for bisousciao. to open a storefront this Fall (hopefully!), I may have to cave in and buy these incomparable macarons to share with my macaron-obsessed friend, Angie. In fact, these macarons are so dainty and opulent that I am tempted to throw a tea party or the like centered around these magnificent little treats. I love to live in jeans, t-shirts, sneakers, flip-flops, and basically anything that doesn’t require dry-cleaning, ironing, or hang-drying. These macarons, dainty and just-crisped on the outside but chewy on the inside, are so sweetly colored that I instantly feel the urge to don my frilliest dress, my most colorful and ornate pair of heels, and lounge in someone’s parlor whilst taking gentle nibbles of just-kissed-with-sweetness macarons… pinky in the air, of course.
How good are these macarons? Well, Kim had given the rest of the macaron box to our friend, Sabena, for a party she was going to later. When I asked Sabena if I could take a few pictures, she eventually said yes, but insisted on first counting the number of macarons in the box to make sure that I didn’t steal any in the process of picture-taking. While I was taking the pictures, she came by to then make sure that I was not “man-handling” them and told me that she would chase me all the way to China if I tried to take one… Yup, they’re that good.