Macaron Day NYC 2011!
March 23rd, 2011 by plumpdumpling

I missed Macaron Day NYC last year and had to read about it after the fact, so you can bet I was on top of it this year, watching the website and following the planner of the big day, @francoispayard, on Twitter.

When the website revealed the date, it happened to be the very weekend my boyfriend and #1 dining partner would be out of town, celebrating Persian New Year in California with his family. I was distraught! He encouraged me to go with someone else, but I couldn’t think of anyone who’d be able to keep up with me for an entire afternoon of meringue-chowing.

A few hours later, though, my good friend Ash’s chat status changed to “I want French macarons!” It turns out she hadn’t even heard about Macaron Day but was just feeling the craving. How serendipitous! We consulted the map and decided to hit the four stores just below Central Park.

Sunday afternoon at 1, we met in front of the Time Warner Center to sample the fares at Bouchon Bakery. As it’s owned by Thomas Keller of Per Se and The French Laundry fame, we had both been wanting to check it out, anyway. And from all I can tell on the website, it does function as a bakery somehow, but when we approached, all we could see was a café area full of people and a line outside waiting to get in. There was a coffee bar, but that didn’t appear to have any bakery items, either. So call us cowards, but time was a-wastin’, and we left without hesitation.

The FC Chocolate Bar at The Plaza Hotel was a completely different story. When we came down the escalator into the concourse, there was a table set up outside the café where a woman was handing out macarons to everyone who passed. It was super-orderly and impossible to miss.

Macaron Day NYC 2011

I got a cranberry macaron that was so delicate it started falling apart in my hands and actually did fall apart upon first bite. The veeeeery outside of the cookie was crusty, but everything farther in was moist and slightly chewy. The filling was creamy and helped hold the cookie together once it decided it wanted to crumble all over my plate, and the flavor was intense without being bitter.

Basically, for me, this is the ideal French macaron.

Macaron Day NYC 2011

While there, I also decided to sample their George V, a baseball-sized disk of dark chocolate and vanilla mousse, filled with caramel and peanuts and covered in even darker chocolate. I took it for a three-bite dessert at first glance, but it was so rich it demanded grandma-sized bites (not the size of grandma but the size grandma would take). All of the textures–the creaminess of the mousse, the stickiness of the outer shell, the crunch of the peanuts–and the different chocolates made it a pleasure to eat. At $6.50, it was half the price of most of the desserts I’ve had lately and twice as delicious.

Plus, we got to see François Payard himself there! He came in with his motorcycle helmet, shook hands with the employees, and made trips back and forth from the counter to the kitchen. Not that we were, like, creepily watching his every move or anything.

Macaron Day NYC 2011

Next, we were excited to try Macaron Café to experience an all-macaron restaurant. And it was glorious! Rows and rows of macarons in every color and flavor filled a display case, and friendly employees lined up to offer suggestions. I ordered the three above–pumpkin on the bottom, grapefruit in the middle, and pineapple on top–and chose the almond one to the right from their selection of smaller Macaron Day giveaways.

I absolutely loved all of the flavor choices (that was one thing lacking at FC Chocolate Bar), but the macaron texture was a little less successful for me. Ash had told me that in her experience, French macarons in France are very chewy and firm and not so moist. If that’s the case, Macaron Café is making authentic macarons, but I guess I’m not as much of a fan of authenticity. I like my macarons to melt in my mouth.

Macaron Day NYC 2011

However, the decor at Macaron Café was very cute, as modeled by Ash here. The high-backed leather booths and marble café tables reminded me of dinner at Serendipity 3.

Next, we walked one block to the Park Avenue Mad Mac, but try as we might, we couldn’t find it. We had the building number and Google Maps on our phones, but even after walking all the way around the block and trying various locked doors, we never located it.

Instead, we decided to walk down to Rockefeller Center amidst the throngs of tourists and try the Jacques Torres in the lower concourse of 30 Rock. But they had run out of macarons! So I ate a super-melty chocolate chip cookie warmed on their burner, and Ash bought a bar of chocolate creme brulée she said was fantastic, and we were plenty happy.

Macaron Day NYC 2011 wasn’t quite as successful as we’d hoped between the confusion at Bouchon and not even being able to locate Mad Mac, but hopefully the kinks will be worked out before next year’s. And hey, five French macarons and a mound of mousse isn’t bad for an afternoon.

17 Responses  
  • Dishy writes:
    March 23rd, 201112:02 pmat

    Hmm. Macarons look pretty but that big chocolate stuffed with mousse and topped with peanuts – NOW YOU’RE TALKING TO ME!!!!!!

    Macarons sounds like Whoopie Pies here in Maine. In every color and flavor of the rainbow. I will stick to my wild whoopies. They are just *so* good. Did I mention they have frosting inside? And they make your fingers sticky, so you have to lick them? I like that.

    Macarons look too sedate for my taste. But they are yummy I am sure.

    • plumpdumpling writes:
      March 23rd, 20112:49 pmat

      I love whoopie pies! I’m sure there are places to get them around here, but I can’t remember ever seeing them. Instead, I wait until October and go to the Circleville Pumpkin Show just minutes from my hometown in Ohio and gorge on pumpkin whoopie pies for five days straight.

      Seriously, though, I totally disregarded macarons until just recently, when I happened to get one on a plate of cookies at a restaurant when the kitchen gave me for my birthday. They are SO FLAVORFUL. The fact that they’re mostly meringue means they’re not as hearty as, say, a chocolate chip cookie, but that just means you can eat more. And knowing that they’re so hard to make makes me appreciate them all the more.

      • Dishy writes:
        March 23rd, 20112:59 pmat

        Ooh Katie – I did pumpkin whoopie pies on The Daily Dish — make some, they are SO GOOD!!!

        PS: use the same amt regular baking powder, but only 1/2 t. regular baking soda. (sodium free baking soda has to be double b/c it’s less effective)


        • plumpdumpling writes:
          March 23rd, 20113:34 pmat

          I dooooooo have pumpkin puree I have no idea what to do with. Hmm. Maybe this would be a good thing to christen my new kitchen with! (And by “new”, I mean “I’ve lived in my apartment for three months now and still have never touched the stove.”) The filling itself sounds so good that I kind of just want to whip that up and spoonfeed myself.

          Either way, I’m using that recipe! Thanks!

          • Dishy writes:
            March 23rd, 20115:02 pmat


  • Dishy writes:
    March 23rd, 201112:04 pmat

    PS: Your friend Ash looks so cute – like she is wearing a gold party hat – and it even matches her outfit! A+

    • plumpdumpling writes:
      March 23rd, 20112:53 pmat

      I thought she looked adorable, too! How lucky I was to happen to find a friend who likes to chow with abandon. She’s introduced me to all kinds of neat Filipino food I would’ve never had the guts to try, too, like halo halo. Check out the pictures of that stuff! I think you’d appreciate it.

      • Dishy writes:
        March 23rd, 20112:57 pmat

        OH MY GOODNESS!! Edible day glo playdough!!!! Scary y-u-m~!

  • Jessica R. writes:
    March 23rd, 201112:14 pmat

    Macaroon day AND a whole restaurant dedicated to them exclusively?! Seriously, I need to spend some time in NYC.

    • plumpdumpling writes:
      March 23rd, 20113:12 pmat

      Multiple restaurants dedicated to them exclusively! (Only we couldn’t find one of them, which complicates things.) One of the best places to get them here is apparently quite close to my office, but I’m afraid to go and find out how good they are.

      We don’t have the, um, crawdad availability that you guys do, though.

  • Heesa Phadie writes:
    March 23rd, 201112:17 pmat

    I hate you! :P Ugghhh…so jealous. I can’t get passed that George V. I think I’ve mentioned it but I’ve never had a macaron…only coconut macarrons.

    I don’t recall your Serendipity 3 meal (and I’m being too lazy right now), did you write a review for it?

    • plumpdumpling writes:
      March 23rd, 20113:17 pmat

      The George V was very, very impressive. I’m officially a Payard fan. But GET YOURSELF A MACARON!

      Here‘s the Serendipity 3 review. It’s not very in-depth–just my favourite things to get there. We actually have a reservation there for this Saturday so I can meet one of my longtime blog friends for dinner. Maybe I’ll try to order something different for once! (But probably not.)

  • Tessa writes:
    March 23rd, 20111:34 pmat

    My roomie has made macarons, and they’re yummy and stuff and things.

    Except she calls it a “French macaroon” — and I almost don’t like them because of this.

    • plumpdumpling writes:
      March 23rd, 20113:25 pmat

      I think pretty much everyone in the U.S. says “macaroon”, because we’re all used to those coconut cookies. I think the pronunciation in French is similar, though, right? I took Spanish, but it seems like I always hear people who actually know French saying it like “mack-uh-roo”.

      Did your “roomie” have a hard time with them? It seems like everyone who writes about them goes on about how difficult they are to make. It’s so weird to me that the little rough “foot” around the edge of the cookie is so desirable and supposedly hard to achieve, because it looks unfinished to me. What a fickle little food.

  • dbdtron writes:
    March 24th, 20113:33 pmat

    So, Bouchon Bakery is one of my fave bakeries in NY. Here’s the story. The cafe you saw was Bouchon–a bistro. The coffee bar around the corner is the Bakery. Probably by the time you got there, they might have been out of a lot of stuff.

    I do suggest you go back. Post haste. In the morning.

    Their macarons are fine, but I go for Keller’s version of the Nutter butter cookie. It’s insane. Certifiable. Amazing. Basically two giant pliable peanut butter cookies with a delicately textured, but full-flavored pb mousse piped in between.

    Also notable: pain aux trois chocolats, TKO (cheff-y oreo), stickybun, chocolate almond croissant, and anything else, pretty much.

  • Ash writes:
    March 24th, 20113:48 pmat

    Hey Katie,

    I just want you to know that you take great pictures, and this entry makes me want to eat more macarons… Also I’m stealing that picture of me for my profile kthnx…

    Payard! We have to go back so I can try more of his delicious cakes. And of course for more macarons! I wanna try that dessert that looked like it was the George V but turned out it wasn’t.

  • Mrs. Bachelor Girl writes:
    March 25th, 201111:31 amat

    You truly live in a magical place.

    The next time I get an audience with the mayor, I’m going to tell him that the number one way we can improve Shreveport is to declare some sort of Cookie Day, that I have seen it done in New York City and IT WORKS.

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