I like to say I was born with a stainless steel thumb - my culinary equivalent of the green thumb - and that's a lucky thing for me since my passion in life is food and cooking, and everything that comes a long with it.
What do I do with my life? I dream food, think food, look at food, read about food, work in the food business, travel via food, talk about food, use food as my artistic muse, teach others about food, and clearly, cook, play with and EAT food!
Food is my compass.
What looked to most as a hideous, depressing, nevermind freezing and rainy day to the average New Yorker turned out to be a gloriously exciting day for the mamacita and I! We traipsed along through East Village, LES, Union Square, Madison Square, Chelsea, and back in a full circle - why not?! We had rain boots and umbrellas, so there was clearly no reason not to. We stopped in at Russ & Daughters for some smoked whitefish spread to take away, and headed to Frankie's 17 for a delicious, quick lunch. Rustic, true-to-ingredients food and delicious. Not to mention one of the owner's is from no other place than Cross Village, MI and a friend of the family! It's a small world, especially in the food business. We zig-zagged around, through the markets, bake shops, and everywhere and ended up at wd~50 for a quick dinner. Also delicious! But I'll get into these places later because the GEM of the day was stumbling across Bisous, Ciao Macarons on Stanton street! Oh how I love macarons. I've been dying to make them but haven't gotten the time to do so. To make macaron is like the devil - there are so many "secrets" and steps that need to be executed to create the perfect macaron - such as separating eggs and keeping the whites a few days ahead because it's better for the macaron - I need some serious planning action to have them come out how I want them. This encounter, fortunately for my palate, also followed a sad day at Mr. Francois Payard's new Houston bakery - only two flavors of macaron! Sad day. But to be walking on a grey, gloomy day, with an umbrella blocking most of your vision, and seeing a brightly lit store with a rainbow of macarons was a little slice of heaven.
from rain comes sunshine.
The first time I had a macaron was at Laduree in Paris - the home to the macaron - and I've been in love ever since. I've had them from Pierre Herme, Fauchon, and various imposters as well. These honestly are little confections of perfection - if you've never had one, think the most amazing, light, crispy and delicate meringue made with almond flour, in outstanding colors, and ANY range of flavors with a jam, buttercream, or whatever you'd like kind of filling sandwiched on the inside. Stunning, both visually and to the palate. The tell-tale sign to a perfect macaron? Le pied! When a macaron is made and cooked properly, a crunchy exterior shell forms, with a cakey, moist interior that melts in your mouth, and the half spheres puff up, creating le pied on the bottom. As a confection, without this, you cannot even come close to calling yourself a macaron.
Bisous, Ciao Macarons were created by a lady named Tanya Ngangan - she went to France to study fashion and design, but was sucked into the world of pastries (oh mon dieu!). She enrolled in the French Culinary Institute and perfected the macaron, eventually opening up her own shop on the Lower East Side. With her design background, she created a beautiful, simple store - a great, simple color scheme - black, white, and pink, with interior design and packaging to really showcase the product.
The colors were vibrant and the flavors were well chosen - not too exotic, but utilizing the best of the best ingredients. Masala chai, violet, rose, orange blossom, and pistachio to name a few. We purchased a few to try, and I will most definitely be going back for more! A lot of times, macarons are a let down. These, I must say, were not. The violet macaron had a beautiful, vibrant purple hue and an amazing violet flavor - not too intense or fake as many violet foods can taste (sometimes, it even reminds me of Mr. Bubble - seriously) - and it had little sugared violet petals on top as well.
Pistachio was just the same - a strong Iranian, salted pistachio flavor really came through, with just the right amount of salt.
I think this is a sign that I need to start making macarons! I already have the almond flour...so it looks like I have a mission in store for myself for sometime next week. This store had to be shared with everyone! They have been open only a month, and they REALLY make a good macaron. So, make your way down to the Lower East Side and grab yourself a six pack or so - it'll be worth your while!