Wednesday, 29 August 2012

You don't always know what you want or All That Glitters...

Ever since I saw pictures of French Macaron on flickr I have been desirous of getting my teeth around some.
The pretty colours and possibilities of flavours made them look so beautiful.

I made enquiries.
The North west of England is a Macaron desert.
Even Selfridges deli in Manchester were macaron-devoid.

I once had a glimpse of one on a tea stand in Betty's in Harrogate but alas...it was the last one.

 I watched Lorraine Pascale pipe beautiful dollops onto silicone paper and knew it was beyond me. Piping bags turn themselves upside down in my hands. Its squirts out the top.
My dear friend Margaret bought me a recipe book for my birthday. I read it and my fears were confirmed.

We were due to go for a long weekend to Paris. At last, I thought..I will be able to hunt 'macaron' on their own ground.
But we had to cancel.
The pretty pretty discs of almondy deliciousness were never to be in my grasp.The perfect cake for a person who loves colour were just a dream. I especially wanted pistachio flavour.

 THEN

On the journey to Dorset we stopped on the M6 at M&S simply food and there....could I believe my eyes?..there was a box of mini macaroons..and I seized them.

Oh they were pretty. Pink, brown and cream. (No pistachio sadly)
By the  time we got to the M5 I was feeling sick. Stuffed. But....

WHAT A DISAPPOINTMENT.
 I had eaten the vanilla ones..quite nice . Then I had a chocolate one...bleurrgh. The raspberry ones Yuk.
I am released.
 I don't really like macaroons.

Just because a cake looks pretty doesn't mean it tastes good.
Look at the humble Eccles cake.
An underwhelming blob of brown pastry.
Packed full of the utmost deliciousness thats hard to beat.
My favourite.
And they sell them at the Village store.

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28 comments:

Heather said...

Such disappointment but I know just what you mean. You can't judge a book by it's cover or a cake/pastry by it's pretty colours. I am reminded of meeting my mother for coffee many years ago and ordering a slice of chocolate gateau - awful, and a big mistake. It looked so wonderful but that was all.

Gigibird said...

Now a good old fashion English macaroon with rice paper on the bottom and an almond as it's only decoration is my kind of macaroon and surprisingly easy to make.
I have learnt over the years that the dull looking cakes are always the tastiest.
Those French ones are far too sweet and I don't believe the French eat them themselves....

Su said...

What a shame, but at least you know now. I have to admit I don't think I've had one, so I wouldn't know if I like them or not!

marigold jam said...

How true! I love the look and the artistry involved in some patisserie shop pastries but give me a Chelsea bun any day. I bought some of those M&S macaroons for my daughter having tried unsuccessfully to make some and they were so sweet and horrid I thought. Now next time I am in Paris I am going to try one from Ladure and see if the real McCoy is actually any better!!

Maggi said...

I think they are overrated too. Now Eccles cakes - a joy.

Maneki said...

I keep looking at those pretty macaroons (especially the ones in different shapes) and read about interesting flavour, but on the other hand I just know I'd be disappointed if ever trying one. Your story confirmed my belief.

On the other hand I love a swedish classic that's sometimes referred to as a macaroon in english: chokladbiskiver and sarah bernhardtbakelser (let's see if I can come up with a translation... chocolate macaroons and Sarah Bernhardt pastries). The difference between the two being that the latter are always filled with chocolate truffles while the former usually have a buttercream filling (with or without chocolate).

Now I'm off to google Eccles cakes.

Kit Lang said...

Before I got to the end of the story, I was getting ready to post "But they're kind of bland-o-rama so don't worry."

COCOUNT macaroons on the other hand...(or the chocolate dipped coconut macaroon)... I die.

The French ones sure are pretty though. :)

purplesusie said...

who doesn't love an eccles cake ???
it is our treat with a cuppa ;-)

Mary Ann said...

I love Eccles cakes. I used to buy them at M&S when they still had store here but alas I haven't been able to get any decent ones in eons:(

lazyhill said...

I must admit I never cared for eccles cakes (I know, Iknow) until I made my own - and then, oh dear, another addiction began.
When we were in a French market last year, we bought some cakes that were not quite macarons and not quite macaroons and they were unbelievably good - we had to go back and get more. I have been trying to reproduce them ever since but never quite getting them perfect - sigh.

Whitney-Anne Baker said...

They do look like they'd taste of sawdust - still a girl has got to try.

Rachel said...

I must admit, Eccles Cakes do it for me. Macaroons are just a bit dull!

silverpebble said...

*whispers* I agree! Rather chewy with a crisp shell:good. Sickly sweet: not good. I brought two back from a teaching trip in that London. My little ones DON'T LIKE THEM. This is unprecedented. I should offer them eccles cakes instead.

Venus de Hilo said...

I still want to try a REAL macaron, but Hawaii is too far from Paris for that to happen. Would try baking my own, but experience shows that any form of merinque is impossible in this climate. No idea what Eccles cake is, but am off to Google it...

Textile Art Showcase said...

Hi Jackie
I once had a go at making them and they were a complete disaster. We went for a mini break to Paris a couple of years ago - it was blowing a howling gale whole and was freezing cold. I looked in many a patisserie at the lovely macaroons but couldn't bring myself to part with a euro for a single one. We did however have 1 each with coffee in an cafe near to the Palace of Versailles. However best of all was the once I got when we upgraded on a trip to China on Air France and the one that appeared on the lovely cake stand when our youngest son took me for afternoon tea at the Connaught in June. I am over them now too!!!

Robin Mac said...

Love your story - I suspect our macaroons are different again, but they are not my favourite food and they don't even have the pretty colours you talked about! I do love eccles cakes though! Cheers

Gina said...

Mmmmm... I agree too. But they do look so pretty.

opusanglicanum said...

in all honesty the m and s ones are absolute rubbish (too small to go properly gooey in the middle and I noticed they had wheat flour in, which is a massive nono), and betty's aren't much better(they wimp out big time on the filling which should pack more punch, also they dont let them go soft enough in the middle) - maison du chocoalt opposite fortnums do the best bought ones

If I had any idea how to pack them to post I'd send you one of mine, which the nieghbours tend to fight over. part of the problem with many bought one is that they hvae limp fillings and dont leave them to mature so you get the right balance of crunch and squidge

they're a complete bitch to make though, the books only tell half the story

Elizabeth Armstrong said...

Hi Jackie
ours in Australia are gorgeous - but you have to know where to get them. There is a magnificent Lindt cafe near us and they are the best!

BUT When I was in England last year Mum and I fell in love with English teacakes with real butter ,and Fat Rascals!
You cannot buy either here for love nor money. So sad...........

But you can get Eccles cakes - so when you come by the studio I will have them ready for you!

Golly I wish I was back over there
(sniff)



menopausalmusing said...

I love macarons (although I haven't tried M & S ones). I also love Eccles cakes, but then I am just a greedy gal..........

Lorraine said...

you cant beat proper eccles cakes with a nice cup of yorkshire tea:)

chocolatefrog said...

Living in a Betty's town, it's only the silly price that's kept me from temptation. Now it'll be easier to walk past the pastel pretties, thank you!

Aileen Clarke Crafts said...

They do look so pretty all piled up in various photo shoots on Flickr. Never tasted them either but I'll know now not to get over excited about them! Scottish Macaroon's, now there's a treat. A bit on the sweet side but basically a fondant centre coated in chocolate and desiccated coconut. Mmmmm

Annie @ knitsofacto said...

Hello, pleased to meet you, just wandered in via Silver Pebble, and what a treat!

Before I hotfoot it to your Etsy shop for a proper look-see I just wanted to say that I don't like macaroons either, but shh, don't tell, aren't all bloggers supposed to love them ;)

LOVE STITCHING RED said...

lol

LOVE STITCHING RED said...

ps. glad I don't have to do the robot thing over here. Late at night with sagging eyeballs I turn into a robot on everyone's blogs ;o)

Anna said...

This made me smile - I too adore eccles cakes - the best ones I've found are from M and S (even my local bakery ones aren't as good.

Shoshi said...

I really enjoyed your journey of discovery into macaroon country, Jackie! So funny! I really like them. I've had almond ones but not pistachio.

Thanks for your lovely comment on my blog. I'm a sucker for mixing and matching lots of different materials and adore mixed media! I love messing about with things and seeing how well different materials work together. We are living at the best time ever for creativity, with the range of amazing materials and equipment avaiable to us.

Shoshi

PS She loved it! You were right.



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