Macaron Madness

I have a bold confession to make: I am not the biggest macaron fan.

I understand that I should be thrown out of France immediately for this.

All I mean to say is, in the land of so many pleasing pastries, the macaron has never been the sweet I crave. In fact (and prepare yourself for further blasphemy), I’m actually an ice cream fanatic and gelato will always win the day (I know, wrong country, though you’d be surprised how many great places you can pick up this delicious treat in Paris).

I, however, am an open-minded girl. When the delightful Amy Thomas of God, I Love Paris invited me to an “American Smackdown” where macarons from Pierre Herme and Laduree would be pitted head to head last Monday, I jumped at the chance. Maybe I had simply been eating the wrong macarons!

Amy also has an adorable cat: Milo

Amy’s flat is one of those cute, I-would-kill-for-an-apartment-like-this kind of places in the 2nd arrondissement. She does contend with a sixth floor walk-up sans elevator, which conveniently helps lower the jealousy factor in others, but only just by a tad.

It was soon clear that I was the official macaron newbie of the crowd. Most of the invited guests knew just by looking which macarons came from which house. I was thrilled to learn that among the guests we even had a top-notch pastry chef, Rachel Khoo. She definitely helped set the stage for how the tasting should go down.

The table set for battle

The amateur plays an important role, however. No prejudices, no preconceived notions. I was there to simply eat and state my peace. No previous political affiliations, so to speak.

Well, let me just say, I kind of like macarons now. Yes! Maybe splurging for the good stuff really does make a difference (I’ve been in Paris, what, four years, and I’m still struggling to absorb this into my philosophy?)

I suggest you hop on over to Amy’s blog for the full round-up of the competition results. I mean, she is officially the ‘Sweet Freak’ and quite the expert.

But I’ll give you the newbie’s opinion: you can’t go wrong with either. Each house was remarkably different. I wasn’t expecting such divergence. But when two things are both so good, it’s hard to pick a winner. Eh, they’re different. Now pass me another one, I say.

People – other than me – have strong feelings one way or the other. What do you think? Pierre Herme or Laduree? Also, wouldn’t every Monday be better if it featured a dessert dual? Delectable!

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20 Responses to “Macaron Madness”

  1. 1 Lindsey August 23, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    I’m like you, macaroons don’t enthrall me and if put in front of a table full of chocolate, macaroons and ice cream, I’d likely jump for the ice cream then throw myself over the edge with some chocolate. La vraie gourmandise, tu vois. And just remember – it’s really their color and perfect shape (credit there given to a machine) that people ogle over. They’re like cupcakes – pretty and elegant but nauseating after awhile!


    • 2 paris (im)perfect August 23, 2010 at 9:26 pm

      Hey Lindsey. Oh cool, I’m not the only one. I agree with your order – ice cream, chocolate, macaroons 🙂 (By the way, I see both macaron and macaroons. Which one is right?)

      One little point, though. One main difference between Laduree and Pierre Herme is that the former gets their uniform shape from machine, but Pierre Herme is still hand-made. Yep!


  2. 3 Paris Paul P August 23, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    I’m not a big macaroon fan either. Instead of the chocolate, I’d throw myself on the wine! Karin did say she had a wonderful time, though her food allergies caught up with her the next day!


  3. 5 LostNCheeseland August 24, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    Macaron is French and macaroon is English!


  4. 7 Sweet Freak August 24, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    Salut Sion! I, of course, was thrilled to have your “newbie” palate at the Smackdown. You are absolutely right: we needed fair and unbiased judging. And an excuse for champagne and macarons? Come ON! Already plotting the next one… I’m doing serious recon in NYC right now to come up with the right contenders… stay tuned!

    (Oh, brought the crappy cool grey weather to NYC with me, too. Awesome.) xo


    • 8 paris (im)perfect August 24, 2010 at 5:22 pm

      Salut Amy! Yes! I am so glad to hear there’s another smackdown in the pipeline. Sounds like a good recon mission. Sucks that NYC is crappy weather for you. Still loads to do, though, even in the rain. Have a good time! Give the Big Apple a big kiss for me.


  5. 9 Adam August 24, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    I’m not a major fan either, and a bit surprised at the praise given to Ladurée macarons seeing as they are part of the Paul boulangerie group. However, I would certainly eat a macaron over a cupcake anytime. Why is it that they have suddenly become popular here? It’s just sickly butter cream on top of bland sponge.

    If you’re a fan of ice cream, have you ever been to Raimo’s in the 12th? Definitely my favourite place in the city.


    • 10 paris (im)perfect August 25, 2010 at 4:48 pm

      Hey Adam. Now just a minute there. I too am confused by the cupcake craze. However, I have been known to really, *really* enjoy cupcakes. Then again, I’m American. Comfort food, you know? (Plus, it does *not* have to be bland sponge!)

      Thanks for the tip on Raimo’s! I will definitely check it out! The 12th is right next door….


  6. 11 Rebecca August 25, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    A couple years ago my boyfriend’s boss brought us some Laduree macarons from Switzerland. I fell in love with them then… I have to say that by having such a delectable first macaron, I have probably ruined the possibility of liking anything less…


  7. 13 Kat August 25, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    Stopped at Ladurée yesterday for my first introduction to a proper French macaron – must admit I was more impressed by the packaging! Great blog.


  8. 15 PigletinFrance August 26, 2010 at 9:21 am

    I’m not a major fan either but then again I have never had the opportunity to taste either of the “maisons” you tasted here, only Seve which is probably the best we get in Lyon. They’re okay, I do like them but I won’t rave on about them and can only manage one or two at a time. Actually, that’s a really good thing, maybe they should become my dessert of choice, much better for the waistline!


  9. 17 pretemoiparis August 29, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    You sooooo need to come to have ice cream at Raimo near Daumesnil. My FAVE place b/c they have excellently creamy sorbets! (and it’s super good quality).


  10. 19 Satin October 4, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    I don’t like so much macaron but I tink they Are so fashion…i love all their colours. I prefer caffè macaron


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paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on – no exaggerating – a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

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