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Aug 11, 2008 08:08 AM

good macarons, seriously.

not to get your hopes way up too high here, but when a few day old stale and crushed laduree macarons hand carried from paris are the closest things to a good macaron in toronto... there's a serious problem. and it must be out of self loathing that i purchase a macaron at every bakery i come by with them to find out if perhaps redemption is near. but lo and behold it looks like i got my hands on a good one yesterday.

sweet escapes in the distillery district is in the former space of soma and can now be accessed through the expanded bergo as well. trying to shop in the umbra-centric section of bergo is almost torturous with the amazing scents wafting through the industrial space. to my delight and surprise the open bakery was actually filled with shells as two pastry workers were delicately filling them with creamy but light buttercream.

i am concerned about their consistency, the fresh cookies seemed a bit on the thin side and when i asked for a singular pistachio (nut flavours are my judgement basis for gelato and cookies) i noticed he wavered over the paler and less footed macarons to select one that was perfection in aesthetic. it has a thin crisp shell (that my friend considered slightly stale in taste... considering the quantities they're putting out i can't imagine they're selling all of them daily) but a great slightly dense chewy and tender cookie interior. the buttercream was perfect in quantity and held up to biting but the flavour.... not sickly sweet as is typical of macarons but certainly sweet enough and luciously naturally nutty. they're shy of laduree quality but they are the best and closest thing i have found in toronto.

you can purchase 1 for 2.05 (inclusive of tax) or 6 micro-macarons for about $3 (memory is failing me) that would be adorable topped on a simple dessert.

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  1. Darn, I was hoping this was "Macaroons" mis-spelt

    1. Thanks for the rec! Out of curiosity, where did Soma go?

      2 Replies
      1. re: littlegreenpea

        It moved into a newer, larger space just down the lane a while ago (a year? maybe two?)

        1. re: TorontoJo

          Ah, thanks. The new space is the one I'm familiar with. I just wanted to make sure that they were still there!

      2. Thanks for this, PSP. I just came came back from London where there is a Laduree in Harrod's. I bought 6 macarons (3 pistachio and 3 salted caramel) and inhaled them in about 5 mins.

        Looking forward to trying the ones at Sweet Escapes!

        11 Replies
        1. re: TorontoJo

          Thanks PSP - I saw them when I was there last time, but I was scared to try them. Have not been impressed with the selection in TO - I have had the ones in Celestin and they tasted awfully chewy, dense, artificial and were coloured neon. Ugh. Not my idea of a macaron at all (which IMO is the best type of cookie I have ever tried – thankfully not just macaroon misspelt j/k)

          TJ, the Laduree in London is nothing compared to the one in Paris. You should definitely try that one when you get the chance. The ones in London apparently are not even baked in-house and are rather shipped from Paris. They were not uniform, when I tried it, and were too crumbly in texture, possibly from not withstanding the drying out effects of air flight. They often broke in the display case, which is a big no-no for me when charging $4 for a bite. I actually did not even care for macarons too much after sampling the one in London. Of the Parisian selection, Dalloyou is the most amazing one IMO. I tried Pierre Herme, Laduree, Dalloyou, and about 4 other top-rated macarons around town, and settled on having Dalloyou’s every day while I was in Paris. The Pierre Herme was the prettiest of the bunch though. The store looked like a jewellery shop. Jean Georges in NYC also makes a very nice set of micro-macarons. Hopefully they will fill the void for me until my next trip out to Paris.

          Pierre Herme Macarons:
          Jean Georges:

          A great experiment (had about 15 macarons a day for 5 days) and I am happy with my results. I will be most ecstatic if Distillery District holds a gem of a little bakery. I tried their gelato and I found them to be a bit better than Soma even, IMO. It had a great texture – esp the wildberry.

          1. re: BokChoi

            Looking forward to hearing your report, I too cannot pass any of the shops you mentioned in Paris without getting some macarons.

            1. re: childofthestorm

              don't trust me? i'm the one willing to try them when others won't ;)

              no dalloyou on my list and herme just didn't stack up to laduree though they didn't benefit from being in japan i suppose. laduree was tops to me after a half dozen tests in paris that included fauchon. sweet escapes isn't up there with the best of the best coming out of france, but they're not incredibly far off and certainly the best i've seen and taste in toronto by far.

              1. re: pinstripeprincess

                Fauchon overall was quite a disappointment. It appeared that most of the items focused on presentation, rather than taste. Well packaged, but does not rank too highly on taste. They were easily available in the duty-free shops though!
                I will keep in mind that Toronto is not Paris, and will keep my expectations in check. Thanks for the rec, PSP.

                1. re: BokChoi

                  Ha I trust you, but I always like a second opinion. Especially considering I'm going to walk out of the Distillery 100 bucks lighter between this spot and Soma.

                  1. re: childofthestorm

                    Agreed. I always lurk around to make sure that there is more than one positive review regarding a place. Money is always a constraining factor (as is one's waist-line and time)

            2. re: BokChoi

              Mm...the pictures of the macarons from Jean Georges bring me back to my vacation. Were they lemon poppyseed, cinnamon and vanilla ones?

              1. re: pinkprimp

                LOL, to be honest, pinkprimp, my memory has failed me. I do not recall the flavours. I just remember wishing that they were larger...

                This is a picture of the damp/mushy celestin macarons:

                I would advise to avoid..unless you like super sweet, super damp macarons that are extremely dense...

                Still, nothing beats Dalloyau...sigh..the memories...

              2. re: BokChoi

                Re: Laduree in London; OK that explains a lot... while I'm not a macaron connoisseur, it was my mom that said they were horrible and definitely not worth the costly price tag. Now I can tell her we need to give the place another chance, do it justice, and have Laduree macarons in Paris! :) (any excuse to go to Paris is a good one)
                This situation reminds me of Le Pain Quotidien; the food taste doesn't preserve well. It's a shame, esp. when croissants are being shipped in from Paris.

                1. re: sugarcube

                  Laduree tell you not to keep them for more than three days.
                  I just brought back a few boxes as gifts, and even on the third day, I saw some deterioration.
                  Personally, I don't get it.... even in Paris they are currently very trendy.
                  Give me a tart tatin any time.

                  1. re: erly

                    or a tarte-aux-fruits-rouge!!

            3. I was in the Distillery District and saw these at Sweet Escapes. Of course, I thought of Chowhound. But the ones I saw didn't look very appealing. They seemed a bit hastily put together. I didn't buy any, so I can't comment on the taste.

              2 Replies
              1. re: merlot143

                i am concerned about consistency.... many of them looked just ok but the one that they gave me in the end was perfect in appearance. nicely domed yet flat topped and smooth, a ruffled foot peeking out and quite symmetrical. they picked it out for me, but in the future i will definitely point and choose the ones i'd want.

                1. re: pinstripeprincess

                  oh can this be true!? I will have to find out this weekend. I, like you, buy them everywhere with a small amount of optimism, always disappointed. The latest disappointment was at Thuet bakery in Liberty village....they looked perfect, and my hopes were raised, but they were dry, crumbly and somewhat tasteless.

                  looking forward to a taste test this weekend. thanks for the tip!

              2. UPDATE:

                dropped by this weekend and there definitely wasn't an assembly line of macarons (or french macaroons as they're calling them) out of the bakery. there was barely a plate full left in the case either. the pickings looked severely slim with many of them having under-developed foots. the ones that were left were a week stale and crumbled from their dryness. this is exactly what i was afraid of. i suggest giving them a call ahead to find out if they've got them fresh. (416) 214-2253