We're kind of in love with our new flavour, Apricot Pistachio. First of all, a pistachio fact: remains of the Atlantic pistachio and pistachio seed, along with nut-cracking tools, have been discovered in the Middle East and dated by archaeologists to 78,000 years ago! The ones we use are somewhat more fresh. But one of our favourite things about macarons is how infinitely versatile they are, for such small, simple things. Not only are there endless flavour possibilities, but there's so much you can do with colour and decoration. We obviously went the marbling route with our Pistachio Apricot macarons, and we are really happy with the results. Marbling techniques might not be as old as pistachios, but they do date back over a 1000 years!
We are very committed to Macarons. This doesn’t mean we don’t have the deepest appreciation and respect for other pastries—particularly French ones! Invented sometime in the 1800s from a pastry that originated sometime in the 1500s, a Religieuse is… kind of like a snowman made out of profiteroles? It consists of two round choux pastries in different sizes, with the smaller one stacked on top of the larger. Each section is piped full of flavoured crème pâtissière, covered with ganache, and decorated with ornately piped buttercream frosting. ‘Religeuse’ actually means ‘nun’. The shape of the pastry is not meant to look like nuns, though, (that would be scandalous!) but rather a Pope’s Mitre (or, ahem, ‘hat’.) If you’d like to try your hand at them, The Guardian has a detailed recipe with photos for every step!
And if you’d like to kick things up (or down?) a notch, you could attempt a Courtesan au Chocolat: the fictional pastry from Mendl’s in Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel. A parody of the Religieuse, it has an extra choux-ball, making for a three tiered treat! Probably unsurprisingly, there are actually recipes/guides online. This one from Betty’s Magazine looks amazing.
Go on and channel your inner Agatha.
*In case* you missed the exciting news, French producers are launching a new television series about the reign of Louis XIV, aka, the Sun King. It's called 'Versailles' and it's meant to be France's answer to shows like The Tudors, or The Borgias—you can read more about it on Salon.
Apparently it cost around $30 million to produce, the most ever spent on a French TV show. So. There’s no excuse for the pastries in it to not be up to the standards set by Sophia Coppola in Marie Antoinette. (Marie Antoinette, for reference, married the Sun King’s great-great-great-grandson.)
We're daydreaming again :) This time we're off to the city of Bordeaux and the surrounding Aquitane countryside, via more wonderful homes on AirBnB. World famous for fabulous wine, the Bordeaux region is also the source of Lillet—which we blogged about earlier—and it lays claim to none other than the macaron. The Ursuline Convent in Saint-Emilion is said to be the birthplace of our favourite confection! We'll tell you more about that in a future post, but for now, enjoy picturing yourself and your loved ones in these incredible places in and around Bordeaux. From a tree house overlooking vineyards, to a renovated water mill, we had a *really* hard time choosing only one image for each. It's definitely worth looking through the full listings!
Homes in Bordeaux
"Outstanding, in the heart of Bordeaux, world heritage of UNESCO, my home is a 100m² apartment with 200m² of beautiful garden combining charm, beauty and calm."
"In the evening, find your wine bar for a drink unless you opt for a private terrace sheltered from the nighthustle of rue des Bahutiers, from which the view will delight you."
"This flat with characteristic white stone is great for a journey in Bordeaux for 1 or 2. It is in the city center between Victoire square and Capucins market. The street is quiet, the neighborhood is full of life, now you have to come to discover it!"
And beyond Bordeaux!
"Two superb huts on stilts equipped for comfort, perched at 4 and 5 meters high to the treetops, offering a panoramic view of the vineyards of the great Saint-Emilion and its forest."
"This delightful mill has been beautifully restored and sits on a small island in the river Drop on the south western borders of the Dordogne region. A secluded, peaceful, romantic situation with stunning views of the river."
"Haven of peace and authenticity for this property 430m ² on 8000m park in a quiet village with shops, right bank of Bordeaux with 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 110 m² reception, swimming pool, pool house with fireplace, summer kitchen. Former cloister: seventeenth and nineteenth century."
"Many walks and visits available to you. Heritage lovers, why not start with Church of Saint Germain River or the wonderful Chateau River nearby? For hikers, many paths through the vineyards of Fronsac will delight you."
You might not be heading to Charles de Gaulle airport in the immediate future, but to help you escape the mid-week slump, may we direct your attention to these incredible AirBnB apartments in Paris. From grand to tiny, each one is a perfect setting for enjoying a box of fresh macarons! On the nibbling note, the AirBnB bloggers have picked their 10 Perfect Food Experiences in Paris. Happy dreaming!
"This apartment is exceptional in many respects, both in terms of its former occupants, writers, artists, as of its intérior architecture: many murals, master bedroom with wood "art-déco", ceiling heights of interest ( 16 feet)."
"...overlooking a wooded courtyard, very quiet. Bath of light provided by 4 velux and a window, beautiful view on the roof of Paris!"
"Centrally located in the chic neighbourhood of Paris, near the Champs Elysées, our spacious penthouse apartment can host 7 people (3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms). High comfort and equipment with Napoleon style architectural details."
"It's located rue st Lazare in a very trendy area in the center of Paris (9th arrondissement), near rue des Martyrs which is full of food and flower shops, boutiques and restaurants."
"This unique apartment enchants guests with spectacular views, vintage details, and a dream situation in the medieval heart of Paris. It has incredible views from almost every window and is filled with light and great energy!"
"The apartment is located on the second floor of an ancient 17th century building, where we keep all the charm of the era with its stairs and railings original wood."
We promise we're not being sponsored by Lillet. We just think it's a fantastic beverage that isn't necessarily all that well known over on this side of the Atltantic. Dreamed up in a tiny village south of Bordeaux in 1872, it's a blend of Bordeaux wine and liquors made of fruits and barks sourced from Spain, Haiti and Peru. Head over to the Lillet website for more info, and for some really nice looking cocktail—and dessert—recipes. We've copied a few of the most simple and tasty-looking below, and have paired them with bon macaron flavours!
In the serving glass, place
5cl of Lillet Blanc
10cl of sparkling water
1 slice of lime
Glass: Highball Decoration: Fresh strawberries, mint leaves Preparation: Pour 5cl of Lillet Blanc into a glass full of ice. Add the sparkling water and a slice of lime. Decorate with a few strawberries and mint leaves.
We'd pair this with our Pineapple Basil macaron.
La Vie en Rose
In the serving glass, place
5cl of Lillet Blanc
10 cl of rose flavoured lemonade
Glass: Highball Decoration: Rose petals Preparation: Pour 5cl of Lillet Blanc into a glass full of ice. Add 10cl of lemonade. Decorate with a few rose petals.
Pair with Rose macarons, of course!
Pears in Lillet Rouge
For 6 people
75 cl of LILLET Rouge
6 large pears
50g of sugar
1 stick of cinnamon
peel of ½ an orange, in thin strips
peel of ½ a lemon, in thin strips
5 pepper corns
juice of ½ a lemon
Carefully peel the pears, leaving the stalks on, and sprinkle with lemon. Place them in a deep saucepan and sprinkle with 2 soupspoons of sugar. Add the orange and lemon peel, pepper corns, cloves and cinnamon. Pour the LILLET over the fruit, add the remaining sugar and cook on a low heat for 10 mins. Transfer the pears to a serving dish. Strain the syrup and reduce it by half then pour over the pears. Chill before serving, if possible overnight.
Some simple Vanilla macarons would be perfect with this.