Friday, March 25, 2011
What A Difference An O Makes
This wonderful photograph: Copyright - The New York Times
Monday, March 21, 2011
I missed out. Yesterday, in Manhattan, as in Paris, according to the New York Times, macarons were given out free. Macarons, not macaroons. We all know macaroons, especially as Passover comes into view. Macaroons are possibly the only reward for your stomach after trekking across the desert for 40 years. However, it’s dubious whether they actually offset eight days and nights and days and nights of eating matzohs.
Macarons, according to the newspaper of record, are "crisp shells of almond flour enveloping dollops of flavored cream or chocolate ganache." Wikipedia says: "It is meringue-based: made from a mixture of egg whites, almond flour, and both granulated and confectionery sugar." The unashamed use of food color is a notable characteristic.
When I read the paper I realized that America’s Favorite Epidemiologist had ordered a pistachio macaron at Bouchon Bakery in Yountsville, Calfornia, last month, which I sampled and found fabulous (see February 22, 2011). For a rough comparison, a macaron resembles an Oreo on steriods or a shrunken moon pie.
With the macaroon/macaron issue squarely in my lap (soon on my waist), I had research to do.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
This morning, on the way from the subway, I stopped at RBC NYC, 71 Worth Street, a very serious coffee shop "featuring multiple brewing methods and seasonal coffees by a variety of micro roasters." I learned from correspondence with my friend Warren Cohen that his son Danny was in the macaroon business, www.dannymacaroons.com, and that RBC claimed to carry Danny’s macaroons, not macarons. Once before I stopped in, but a visual inspection turned up no macaroons, so, being a guy, I left without asking. Today, I asked, even in the absence of visual evidence, and, sure enough, a chocolate-covered macaroon (what more can you ask?) was parked in the refrigerator. I bought it and scurried off to my office.
With officemate Michael on vacation, I had the space and the macaroon entirely to myself. But, I paused about one hour before getting a cup of coffee from the little man standing in front of the jury waiting-around-going-nuts-because-you-forgot-to-bring-something-to-read room on the fourth floor. Danny’s macaroon is a real macaroon, very good, very coconutty, very chewy, but more chocolate-topped than chocolate-covered. Note that Danny himself calls it chocolate-dipped; the coffee wench called it chocolate-covered. In all, I had a fine coffee break, although at $2 each, these macaroons serve as an appetite suppressant.
Super Taste Restaurant, 26N Eldridge Street, is a small, busy place. Its seven tables held about 15 people keeping the four cooks in the open kitchen occupying the back half of the space pretty busy. I had Mount Qi beef noodle ($5.75), a bowl of peppery soup crowded with chewy cubes of beef, cilantro, peas, green onions, carrots, egg, mushrooms and lo-mein-type noodles. I only wished it was more wintery outside to really appreciate the warmth that spread over and in me as I ate, drank, chewed, slurped this dish.
I wasn’t finished with macaroons/macarons today yet. Not only did I remember fondly the taste at Bouchon Bakery, but I thought that I had seen macarons closer to home. I had walked in and out of Tribeca Treats, 94 Reade Street, several times over the years, but I think I only made one purchase shortly after it opened. It’s just too precious for my taste, looking like it belongs in a more heavily-trafficked tourist area, such as Carmel, California or Alexandria, Virginia. It sells gifts and greeting cards along with its chocolates, cupcakes and cookies. I was sure I had seen (what I now can identify as) macarons there, so I stopped in on my way home. Taste results tomorrow.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Well, it turned out that Tribeca Treats’ treats are not macarons, but handmade sandwich cookies, a form of (excuse me trademark lawyers) designer Oreos. While appearing attractive in their combination of chocolate cookie and vanilla or chocolate filling, they don’t fit the New York Times prescription, or display the vivid color palette of macarons. So, I walked out of Tribeca Treats empty handed again.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
83 Kien Tuong Restaurant, 83 Chrystie Street, is Vietnamese/Chinese. Its 8 or 9 tables ran down one side of the restaurant, an open kitchen faced them. I ordered Kien Tuong chow fun ($5.50). It contained shrimp, chicken, American broccoli, pork, and bean sprouts. The dish was carefully prepared but thoroughly bland. As in any Vietnamese restaurant, there were jars and bottles of hot, hotter and hottest sauces on the table. However, I want my chow fun to have that edgy, oily, near-burnt, near metallic taste that I know and love. Kien Tuong needed more than hot sauce.
The New Yorker magazine this week was not as obsessed as I was about macarons and macaroons. In an article about a lady who makes underwear, it describes her attendance at a benefit in Atlanta. "'Go for it, love'" she says to her husband "spying an array of pastel macaroons"!!! Dear Fact Checker, Macaroons are brown, beige, tan. If chocolate-covered, they are chocolate brown. Macarons are pastel-colored. Yours truly, Grandpa Alan.