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Paulette Macarons (Hayes Valley), SF - anyone try it yet?

  • hhc Jan 21, 2009 07:34 PM
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This new store Paulette Macarons in Hayes Valley recently open. They are flown in from Beverly Hills, CA. A Yelpers said there's 12 flavors, $1.60 ea, $19/doz. Any reports?

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Paulette
437 Hayes St, san francisco, ca

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  1. OMG, you just made my day! I love Paulette's when I lived in LA. It's one of my favorites. I loved their Caramel and Praline flavors. I guess they are now seasonal flavors according to the website. I was not a fan of their fruit flavors since the filling was too jelly-like for me. I like my macaron filling to be more creamy, like ganache. I'm going to have to head over and try the Hayes Valley store and try it out.

    http://www.paulettemacarons.com/macar...

    1. Right now they're serving an Obamacaron (violet cassis, I think) and one with chestnut. The latter was devoured within 1/2 block of leaving the shop and is wonderful. Looks like the recession hasn't hit Hayes Valley--3 purveyors of French-style macarons (Paulette, Boulange and Miette) within 2 blocks.

      1. link

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        Paulette
        437 Hayes St, san francisco, ca

        1. I will have to trek out there to try this. I've just come back from Paris from a Macaron binge (Pierre Herme & Laduree are heavenly) and hopefully Paulette's and Miette will keep me fueled.

          BTW, I was under the impression that Boulange's macarons were from Miette? Someone please clarify.

          9 Replies
          1. re: timpoblete

            Boulange was making macarons long before Miette was selling baked goods in a farmers market parking lot.

            The owner of Boulange recently bought a part of Miette and they will be sharing baking facilities. Don't know how that will impact either business.

            1. re: rworange

              Thank you very much for that info. No wonder I was unable to find the Rum Raisin Macarons at Miette.

            2. re: timpoblete

              Does anyone make the large (normal cookie-sized) macarons you find at Laduree? Seems like all you can find here are the tiny bite-size ones.

              Are macarons the only item sold by Paulette? That must make for an interesting-looking shop.

              1. re: Agent 510

                I don't know how they compare to Laduree, but Bouchon Bakery in Yountville makes large ones about the size of moon pies ($3). I'm no expert on macarons, but I liked the pistacho I bought on Sunday, good flavor with a nice creamy center and not as bright green as most but still pretty.

                1. re: rworange

                  How does Bouchon Bakery's macarons compare to Paulettes and others (Miette, Boulange)? I skipped over them the least time I was there, but I wonder if they're worth trying.

                  1. re: timpoblete

                    Haven't tried Miette or Paulette's but I thought they compared favorably to Boulange and other macarons I've tried at Cafe St Honere and Sweet Adeline. Way better than Masse's.

                    This report from last year was by someone who hated the Bouchon macaron
                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/475222

                    I remember it because I never heard of the 'foot' before in terms of a macaron. I didn't have the same experience and there was actually a distinctive foot. Also, they weren't cold, the outside was crispy and there was a nice type of macaron chewiness. There a report where someone put the Bouchon macaron in their yearly top 10 list. So, YMMV

                    Another post from 2004 giving the macaron no love
                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/27857

                    Given the positive and negative reports over the years, I'd guess Bouchon is inconsistant. I went prime time on a Sunday afternoon when the line was snaking out the door and items were being replenished from the kitchin quickly. The staff is quite young though and I'm guessing that Bouchon is a way for people out of school to get some experience and a nice thing to add to their resume. Could be wrong, but it seemed that way.

                    Haven't tried Thorough Bread and Pastry, El Dorado Kitchen, Mee Mee, Emporio Rulli,

                    A few previous macaron threads
                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/321694
                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/32833

                    1. re: rworange

                      I did not like the Miette macaron. Flavor was find, but it didn't have the right texture - that is what makes the macaron. I seem to recall it was soft, without the outer shell and very sweet (which of course macarons are).

                      Bouchon - I really liked the pistachio I think, but disliked the other two. I reported on it, but will have to dig up my report to remember the detials - it is buried in a report of Napa. They also didn't have the perfect balance of texture and flavor, but much much better than Miette. I would definitely call it inconsistent, with the potential to be very good.

                      Excited to try Paulettes, but may have to wait a bit...

                      1. re: jsaimd

                        I agree with what you say about Miette and Bouchon. Bouchons in particular can be somewhat dense and underbaked tasting.

                        I think you will be pleasantly surprised with the Paulette one (at least I like the ones at the Beverly Hills shop, not sure how they fare after transit). They are the best I've had in the States so far.

                        1. re: choctastic

                          Yes that is exactly how I would describe Bouchon - underbaked - thank you!

                          I bet the transit will be fine. I had some Opera macarons at Andronicos and they weren't bad after transit. Not minblowing, and very small, and I have a feeling close to the expiration date because they had me pay for one and gave me several, but decent.

            3. OK, a friend and I picked up a bunch of flavors and I can share what I thought.

              Vanilla - a little overly sweet and a tad artificial, but I liked it. Though I'm biased towards anything vanilla.

              Sweet Wedding Almond - I like how they have this as a flavor - the other places don't. It was even more sweet than vanilla, but it was a hit. My only gripe: did they really need to dye it pink?

              Pistachio - This was the only one where we agreed: "I could get the same from any other place in town".

              Chestnut - I liked this one. Nice flavor, nutty and sweet in a more subtle and non-artificial way, a good alternative to pistachio.

              Caramel Pecan - different from your typical macaron, since the filling is actually pure caramel as opposed to the creamy filling usually found in the middle of these things. Even if you're a purist, give it a chance. The caramel has an interesting bitter flavor....these folks splurge for the good stuff. Yeah, I even licked the wrapper afterward.

              "Caribbean" Chocolate - also different, because it had a much softer outer shell than the others (which may throw some folks off) so it's kind of like a brownie bite, but with a really good, bitter, dark chocolate flavor.

              I'm still wondering if the above splurge was worth $9.60, especially since most people are paying that much because of the pretty boxes and colors and trendiness rather than the product itself...but I remember posting on this board back in 2004 asking if macarons reminiscent of those I had recently eaten in Paris could be had here, and it's cool to have finally found the answer 5 years later.

              1. So the GF and I decided to do a taste comparison of the Macarons from Paulette, Miette, and La Boulange. We bought every flavor from all 3 shops, tried them all and came to the following conclusions:

                Strengths of Paulettes:
                - Variety (12 flavors vs. the small selections of the other 2 shops).
                - Color (vivid greens, reds, yellows. Looks really nice in a box)
                - Shop to sit in and eat.
                - French speaking staff. Having just returned from Paris it's nice to practice my limited French.

                Weaknesses of Paulettes:
                - Staleness (as noted in previous reviews here)
                - General toughness to bite through, which is likely a result of the staleness factor. You have your initial bite into the macaron, but an additional squeeze of the jaw is needed to get through and separate the chunk from the main cookie. Also, chewy. On a sidenote regarding the staleness, I wonder if they have daily shipments from Beverly Hills or just on certain days? We did this tasting on a Friday and maybe, if these were several days old, they were extra tough.

                Our favorite of the 3 shops was Miette. Despite the bland colors and the awkward size and shape, these had a good moistness, not too chewy texture and great flavor that Miette is known for (their Vanilla is great).

                La Boulange bottomed out the 3, with bland flavors, although a better texture than Paulette. They did have one saving grace: The Rum Raisin macaron. Close to my favorite macarons of the night. This did just melt in your mouth and Rum and Raisin is a great mix.

                I'd love to taste Paulette's macarons fresh out of the oven to see if the toughness is a result of the transport from Bev. Hills to here. Anyways, it's nice to have a shop dedicated to just macarons and I will definitely be looking forward to revisiting the them.

                BTW, thanks RWORANGE for all the info.

                11 Replies
                1. re: timpoblete

                  Thanks for the comparison! It's strange that toughness was a problem with Paulette's... yeah, they're flown in, but that's only an hour flight! Plus, macarons hold up pretty well, but I mean for hours, not days. They'd definitely have to bring them in daily to compete in that neighborhood. Where did you see other reviews noting staleness?

                  1. re: Cicely

                    Apologies for the staleness comment. I had found reviews of Paulette's on another site (rhymes with shmelp) and didn't notice that staleness was not mentioned here.

                    1. re: timpoblete

                      The goods at the beverly hills store are top notch. I love the coffee. Intense.

                      However, I would expect the ones up there to be stale. After all that trouble to bring them there, they're not going to throw away the old ones... I would guess.

                      1. re: choctastic

                        I think the macarons at Paulettes are so much better -- in fact, I think they are the best we have in the bay area right now. There are many excellent flavors to choose from and on average the macarons are slightly fluffy and crispy upon first bite then soft and chewy as you get to the center.

                        I have been to Paulettes four times since they opened and am so glad they are here. But I have to be honest and say that I wish they made the macarons here instead of flying them from LA because the fact that it's not fresh can impact the texture and bite of the macarons especially if they are more than a day old. Maybe they are gauging the business first and if it's good they will make the next move and build out a kitchen up here?

                        I think the macarons at Boulange and Miette are too tough and chewy, and their flavors are not challenging to make at all. And then outside of Hayes Valley I've had the macarons at Bouchon Bakery in Yountville several times, and on each occasion I've found them to be extremely disappointing.

                        1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                          I'm a little surprised by that...nobody in the Bay Area can make a better macaron fresh than the day-old ones at Paulette? If so, that's pretty sad! (and suggests Paulette has no motivation to make them fresh up here)

                          1. re: Agent 510

                            Yeah, it kinda sucks that they aren't made fresh but then again in this economy I think it's actually kind of smart for them to get a feel for the business before making the investment (and building out a kitchen would definitely cost an arm and a leg). At the same time, if they generate good business with the current setup then they might just stick to the current business model.

                            I think most of us on Chowhound mind the difference but we probably don't represent the average customer so as long as they're able to sell to that group then they should be fine. The way they've set it up now allows them to gauge whether this is the case.

                            1. re: Agent 510

                              I haven't heard much about Patisserie Philippe in the SOMA area, SF. That bakery has macarons on their website. Anyone?

                              http://www.patisseriephilippe.com/ind...

                              -----
                              Patisserie Philippe (moving
                              )655 Townsend St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                              1. re: hhc

                                They're fine, but Patisserie Philippe has lots of marvelous things. I happen to love the fruit bread pudding, and many of the cookies.

                                1. re: hhc

                                  I am truly surprised that no one has mentioned Patisserie Philippe yet. Frankly, I think it's the best French patisserie I've tried in the Bay Area. (Yes, other places may have one or even two things that they might do a little better, but by and large, Patisserie Philippe leads the field by a neck,) Maybe I should write a dedicated post about the place since I've just been responding to inquiries.

                                  I can say that PP's are among the best by SF standards--as good as the best I've had from the Bay Bread chain. I especially like PP's rose and the pumpkin. There are no macarons in SF (maybe anywhere) that will equal the best (or even the near-best) in Paris. I've never tried Paulette's, but will make the effort. Honestly, I don't even bother to try the macarons at a lot of places because I think that I can tell just by looking which ones are not up to par. (And even when they look right, they may be stale, overly chewy, etc.)

                                  1. re: pilinut

                                    Yea, it's kind of sad that we don't have really good macarons here. I really like the ones from Paulettes, but they are clearly below the grade of the ones from Paris. I just wish we had the mass demand and appreciation here for better macarons, cuz in that situation the masters from Paris would at least consider opening a branch here. They have Pierre Herme, La Maison du Chocolat, Jean Paul Hevin, etc in Hong Kong and Tokyo (though not all of them are in both cities) because there is the demand. It's kind of crazy to think that the macarons in Asia (even though they are not made on site but flown in from Paris everyday) can be better than the ones we have here!

                                    1. re: pilinut

                                      About chewy: my one and only experience at Patisserie Philippe was the chewiest macaron I've ever had, it bore more relation to a marshmallow than a macaron, and I was so put off I haven't returned. Are they better now?

                                      As for freshness, in my experience making them at home I bake the shells until fairly dry, then the filling remoistens them, so they're actually best on day 2 with a crisp shell but moist interior, so I wouldn't hold it against Paulette that they aren't made on-site. There's no flour in a macaron, so our normal thinking about patisserie and freshness/staling doesn't relate directly to macarons, where it's more an issue of moisture content.

                                      Worldwide locations: Maison du Chocolate is in NYC, Laduree has a boutique in Harrod's in London, I assume there are other locations too. Given time, maybe SF will get an outpost, or maybe a local talented chef will get a deep-pocketed backer and take the plunge to offer 20 flavors every day of the week.

                      2. My BF is in SF right now and I'm hoping I'll be surprised with some macarons, upon his return. I realize they should be eaten within hours but hopefully they will be worth the wait!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: chispa_c

                          I tried a couple from Miette today and I'd have to give it my vote over Paulette, just based on freshness and flavor. If you're looking for an exact replica of the Parisian version, Paulette is probably a better choice, but I like Miette's variation better.

                          1. re: Agent 510

                            Miette is extremely inconsistent with the difficult to master texture of the macaron halves (not the filling). Some days when I see them at Blue Bottle, they look perfect from a texture standpoint, some days kind of off but OK, and other days they are so bad they should not be for sale.

                        2. For Valentine's Day they had a Raspberry Macaron that was heart shaped. Very cute.

                          They only had 10 out of 13 flavors when I went:

                          Sweet wedding almond - nice, lots of almonds on the outside
                          Raspberry
                          Silician Pistachio
                          Violet casis
                          Madagascar vanilla
                          lemon
                          New Orleans praline
                          Caramel pecan
                          Columbian coffee
                          Coconut - didn't buy

                          They didn't have chestnut & jasmine tea when I went. Will have to try them another time.

                          I've had the raspberry & sweet wedding almond macarons and they are tasty.

                          If you buy 12 and can't eat them all right away, keep them in the refrigerator, and when you're ready to eat them let them get to room temperature for 30 min before eating.

                          Individual $1.6
                          box of 2 pcs $4
                          box of 12 pcs - $19
                          box of 24 pcs - $36

                          Espresso $2
                          Double espresso $3.5
                          Long coffee $3
                          Macchiato $2.75
                          Cappucino $3
                          The $3

                          They take credit cards. I bought a box of 12 for $19.

                          Two tables & about 4-5 chairs inside facing the window.

                          Hrs:
                          Closed Mon
                          Tues-Sat 11-7
                          Sun 12-6

                          Address: 437 A Hayes St (@ Gough St)

                          My pics:
                          http://www.kodakgallery.com/ShareLand...

                          1. So I've revisited Macaron Alley several times since my original post and have come to the conclusion that freshness is quite a factor in the outcome of the macaron. I've had stale ones from Miette that were too chewy, a few fresh ones from Paulette that lacked any of the toughness from my initial visit (Saturday mornings seem to be good times. They receive them every 2-3 days as needed) and consistent freshness from La Boulange.

                            The same general guidelines still apply though:

                            1. La Boulange's flavors are the weakest of the 3, but they're consistently fresher than the other two. Rum Raisin has unfortunately been missing from their selection lately, which I consider their best flavor.
                            2. Miette, though limited in choices, has great taste and good texture. Vanilla still the top gun here.
                            3. Paulette's variety is welcome, although stale at times. If you get a fresh one then all is right. The Jasmine tea and the Chestnut are my favs.

                            16 Replies
                            1. re: timpoblete

                              Timpoblete, could you please try & report back Patisserie Philippe, 655 Townsend St, San Francisco, CA 94103 and then compare them to the others?

                              1. re: hhc

                                I will have to pay Patisserie Philippe a visit for the macarons, but also for the other French pastries, since it's highly recommended a few posts up. I'll report back when I get a chance to go.

                                1. re: timpoblete

                                  I went to Patisserie Philippe yesterday and had the rose macaron. It was really hard and chewy, and I actually considered tossing it half way because it was that unpleasant. The woman behind the counter said that everything was made fresh daily so I couldn't understand why it was so bad.

                                  Then earlier today, a coworker brought in some chocolate macarons from the same place. He had gotten them a couple of days ago so I was sure they were going to be even tougher than the ones I had yesterday, but to my surprise the macarons were decent. The top was thin and crispy, and the middle was soft and chewy.

                                  I can come up with several reasons for my different experiences. One, I just picked a bad macaron yesterday or my coworker just picked a really good macaron the other day. Either way, it would mean the quality is very inconsistent, which is not a good thing. Two, they really have a recipe for making macarons with chocolate but in an attempt to offer more variety they decided to use the same recipe to make macarons with other flavors. To the extent that the rose and chocolate are compositionally very different and they just substituted rose for chocolate while keeping everything the same in their recipe, they ended up making rose flavored macarons that are inferior in texture to the chocolate ones.

                                  If the latter is the case, then maybe the best way to judge macaron shops is to see whether all of their macarons have a good bite to them? Because in that case it would suggest that the shop really understands how to make a good macaron and alter the recipe and technique depending on the filling and flavor.

                                  1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                    Patisserie Philippe Macarons:

                                    Appearance: Not as smooth and clean as Paulette's, but a lot better than the ugly Miette macs.
                                    Texture: When fresh, soft with a good bite through the shell.
                                    Size: Gigantor, like Miette.
                                    Filling: Too soft. It's almost like a butter cream rather than the more solid fillings that most other macarons have. Besides that, they are flavorful.
                                    Flavors: Standards (vanilla, chocolate, pistachio, hazelnut, etc.), but mixes it up a little bit with Passionfruit.

                                    By the way, if you head out to New York (was there last weekend), good spots for macaraons:
                                    - Payard (UES)
                                    - Maison du Chocolat (UES, there's a nugget of chocolate at the center of each, besides the flavored fillings)
                                    - Madelleine Patisserie (somewhere midtown).

                                    1. re: timpoblete

                                      Timpoblete, thanks for the report back. How much are the Patisserie Philippe macarons?

                                      1. re: hhc

                                        I believe that they were $1.50 each.

                                      2. re: timpoblete

                                        Yea I've tried the macarons at both the NYC and Hong Kong locations of Maison du Chocolat and they were good.

                                        1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                          I 've had them at the Maison du Chocolat in Tokyo and they were also good.

                                        2. re: timpoblete

                                          A little closer to home, there's a Payard in Caeser's Palace in Las Vegas -- I bought some macarons there and they were delicious.

                                        3. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                          The recipes have to be different, there's no way to use the same recipe with the dryness of cocoa powder and have anything come out of the oven that looks appealing. Macarons are just extremely difficult to make, much more so than croissants or other bakery products, so I'd guess they have some consistency problems.

                                    2. re: timpoblete

                                      I went to La Boulange's Market Street location and tried their macaroons and have to say I bit into a pistacio version that was totally stale. It was tough. So after trying them, I had to give my vote to Paulette's.

                                      Still, I have to say I'm not an everyday macaron eater, but why are they so pricey? I think $1.50 to $1.60 for a tiny small cookie is really overpriced. So I don't get it.

                                      That said, I looove the chocolate macaron at Paulette. It's more substantial than the rest and it has this big chunk of chocolate in the center almost like fudge that I think is worth the money and visit.

                                      http://singleguychef.blogspot.com/200...

                                      1. re: singleguychef

                                        Macarons in NYC: $2.50 a piece at Payard, Maison du Chocolat, and Madeleine Patisserie.

                                        1. re: singleguychef

                                          why are they so pricey?

                                          Food dye is expensive?

                                          I forgot for East Bay people there is Cafe St. Honaire in Albany. I only tried one to date but it was quite excellent, though the smallest of all macarons.

                                          1. re: singleguychef

                                            why are they so pricey?

                                            Have you ever tried to make them correctly?

                                            1. re: singleguychef

                                              Each cookie has the labor of two cookies, plus a filling. The ingredients, specifically almond flour, require special handling to preserve freshness and get the right grind, which has to be fine enough not to be chunky, but not so fine that it releases the almond oil, which will ruin the meringue. When the almond flour is folded into the meringue, there's a weird textural transformation that happens and too much mixing will make a bad macaron, and too little mixing will too. They can't be made in huge batches, and they're extremely temperamental. I've made them close to ten times at home, and they turn out well about 2/3 of the time.

                                              The cookie itself requires skilled piping to get the even round shape, since the "dough" does not spread and even out when it bakes like normal cookies, and then it's extremely fragile and requires careful handling when piping on the filling and combining the two halves.

                                              Really, I'm amazed anyone can make money at $1.50 or $1.60 selling macarons, or that their pastry chefs haven't gone elsewhere for a higher wage.

                                              1. re: SteveG

                                                Thanks SteveG for the explanation. It's very informative and answers my question about why it's pricey because it sounds like it's more the labor than the ingredients. This helps me have a better appreciation of macarons.

                                          2. Stopped by too late on Sun and they were closing. Found out they are selling Mariage Freres teas (from France) in the canisters:

                                            French Breakfast $21.50
                                            Marco Polo $21.50
                                            Earl Grey $24
                                            Daarjeling Master $23
                                            Tea on the Nil $20.50
                                            Fujiyama $24
                                            Lapsang Souchong Imperial $20.50
                                            Red Tea Bourbon $18
                                            Tea Filters $8.5
                                            Tea book $19

                                            Pics attached.

                                             
                                             
                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: hhc

                                              I finally was able to try a cup of the Marco Polo at Sweet Things in Cal-Mart and did not like it, was glad I had not bought a whole can.
                                              Tried a few of the macarons, raspberry was the best but I guess I just don't "get them."

                                            2. I noticed they had a chocolate cake called Muerte de la Maya (Death of the Maya) on Sat 3/14/09 that said locally made selling for $4/slice. Anyone know where they get it and how does it taste?

                                              Pic attached

                                               
                                              1. Tried a selection of Paulette's Macarons...the verdict: good but not amazing.
                                                Caramel: extremely tough meringue texture--the toughest I've ever had, caramel flavor lacked depth or interest
                                                Violet Cassis: much better texture, contains a disk of violet-flavored chewy candy type thing. Non-traditional but not bad.
                                                Almond something or other: great almond flavor, sprinkling of chopped almond on the outside for easier identification, good texture. My favorite of the bunch.
                                                Hazelnut something or other: chopped hazelnuts on the outside, weird texture, flavor could have been much better. The filling was ground nuts in a syrupy matrix.

                                                Overall, visually these are some of the best I've seen in San Francisco, but the texture was extremely variable. Paulette's approach to fillings is somewhat non-traditional, but I don't knock them for that because there is plenty of experimentation at the top places in Paris. I do give Paulette's points for producing a variety of distinct macarones, which takes more skill than sticking to a few with similar characteristics like Miette. Bay Bread attempts a similar variety, and from what I remember they were more consistent, but Bay Bread also sticks to the more traditional flavored buttercream filling, which is more predictable in how it interacts with the texture of the meringue sandwich cookies.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: SteveG

                                                  Question: What type of texture are macarons *supposed* to have, ideally?

                                                  I've had macaron's from Miette, St. Honore Cafe, & Sweet Adeline's. The first batch I ever bought were from Miette and after biting through the thin shell they were light, airy, and just the tiniest bit chewy. I really enjoyed these and buy them whenever I happen to be at the Ferry Building. Most recently, I've bought macarons at St. Honore Cafe and Sweet Adeline's. While Sweet Adeline's were similar in texture to Miette's albeit slightly more dense and with a thicker layer of filling, St. Honore Cafe's were about the size of a .50 coin and the outer shell of the cookie was crisp bordering on hard. It actually took some effort to eat it as the shell shattered and broke into smaller pieces as you bit into it, but it wasn't quite small enough to be eaten in one bite. The very nice owner said that they were made by a local pastry chef that was originally from France, but surely that's not what a macaron is supposed to be, is it?

                                                  1. re: adrienne156

                                                    No. They shouldn't shatter. I suspect they kept that macaron too long. I saw some interesting cherry macarons at La Boulange in Strawberry Village ... a white macaron with bits of cherry in it. Wasn't in the mood for macarons tho.

                                                2. More macaron reports: I picked up some macarons from Feel Good Bakery in Alameda. They're on the expensive side ($2 each), but they're good sized. So far I've tried the raspberry, which has an added crunch from a sprinkle of red sugar crystals. The texture was perfect and the flavor was excellent -- the filling had a clean finish that was more reminiscent of whipped cream than ganache. They also had chocolate, lemon, orange and ... some other flavor. I've seen pistachio there on occasion as well.

                                                  The bakery counter at New Leaf Market in Half Moon Bay sells macarons -- they told me who made them but I've forgotten. They're the small single-bite size, but they sell them by the pound so they're very inexpensive (macarons don't weigh much to begin with). Unfortunately, they taste inexpensive, with poor quality fillings. In both cases, you get what you pay for.

                                                  -----
                                                  Feel Good Bakery
                                                  1650 Park St, Alameda, CA 94501

                                                  New Leaf Community Markets
                                                  150 San Mateo Rd, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                    For what it's worth, I just came back from nyc where I tried the macarons again from a bunch of places including La Maison du Chocolat, Kees Chocolate (plus macarons from Laduree courtesy of a friend who just got back from paris), and I have to say that even though Paulette has not yet caught up with the "masters" in terms of texture (i.e. the first bite), their flavors are really outstanding and better than all of the ones I've tried. Of course this is just the opinion of me and the people who traveled with me, but the flavors and ingredients from Paulette are fresher and more intense. It's also nice that Paulettes has a bunch of flavors where there is not a single trace of chocolate, as opposed to places like La maison and Laduree where most of the macarons start with a chocolate ganache base."

                                                    1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                                      By the way, are these things ever supposed to be made with a fluffy "whipped cream"-like filling?

                                                      Because I've encountered quite a few places that do that, including Miette and (most recently) Bette's in Berkeley.

                                                      1. re: Agent 510

                                                        Traditionally, chocolate meringues would have a chocolate ganache filling, whipped or not. Pistachio has a denser buttercream/pistachio paste combo.

                                                        Whipped cream might be too light and squeeze out the sides...if the cookie did not stay correctly proportioned from the first bite to the last, I'd say the filling is wrong.

                                                      2. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                                        The texture of the ones in L.A. were, at least on my visits, up there with L'aduree, and I actually like the flavors at Paulettes better because they're not as cloyingly sweet. That said, you can't beat the L'aduree experience. I love picking up random stuff.

                                                        I haven't had La Maison's macarons or Pierre Herme's. I would love to try them though, they look amazing.

                                                    2. Husband brought me back a variety box of everything but coffee and tea flavors. It was fun to try, as we just went on a macaron crawl in France. When my husband mentioned that the person there was quick to note they use a swiss meringue so it is a chewier produce than the Laduree from whence the owner or chef came. These don't compare with Maison du Chocolat macarons or Laduree - my favorite, but they are good. Some fresher than others, but none totally stale.

                                                      Favorites were the passion fruit and passion fruit chocolate, but those are my favorite macaron flavors. I love how the sour balances the sweet.

                                                      Lemon was too sweet and standard lemon bar tasting. Chocolate also too sweet and not so rich as those in France. Coconut flavor was great but the texture of the coconut I found distracting.

                                                      Caramel and rose were fine specimens, but i prefer a darker caramel and a stronger rose.

                                                      Other fruit flavors were strong, true and good. I surprisingly liked the vanilla.

                                                      The sweet wedding almond was intriguing. Very very good initial flavor, but mine had a bit of a funky aftertaste. But I would try again.

                                                      11 Replies
                                                      1. re: jsaimd

                                                        Hmm, not sure if I would agree. I also just came back from a two week trip to Paris where I sampled macarons everywhere, and I came to the conclusion that Paulette is not only very good but definitely comparable to what you can find there.

                                                        In order to sample the widest selection of macarons, I tried a bunch of places including Laduree, Lenotre, Pierre Herme, La Maison du Choclat, Dalloyau, and Jean Paul Hevin, and even places like Eric Kayser, Au Panetier, Toraya, and McDonalds(!) that don't really focus on macarons but happen to sell them. I visited most of these places multiple times over the course of the two weeks, and I immediately picked up a box from Paulette when I got back (focusing on the same flavors that I also tried in Paris) so that I could make a good and accurate comparison while everything was still fresh in my mind.

                                                        I thought that while Pierre Herme excelled with flavors and fillings and Laduree with texture and bite, Paulette was very comparable in both respects, with what you deem to be better or worse depending on the actual flavor of the macaron.

                                                        For instance, I thought the rose and jasmine tea flavors from Paulette were essentially identical to the ones from Pierre Herme. The visuals were stunning, the flavors were strong and intense, and the texture was perfect.

                                                        On the other hand, I thought there was a huge difference in the violet cassis macarons. Whereas the one from Pierre Herme had a truly amazing filling (I loved it so much I picked up a couple every other day--sigh), the cookie itself was so soft it always made me pause and wonder. Paulette, on the other hand, has only a mediocre violet cassis filling by comparison, but the cookie itself was much better in texture, and in that regard it was very similar to what I found at Laduree, where the violet cassis filling was not mind blowing either but the texture and bite were perfect.

                                                        And for the sake of rounding out the comparisons at the expense of sounding a little off topic, the macarons at Dalloyau were atrocious but the ones from La Maison du Chocolat were flawless as has always been in my experience. Dalloyau was particularly disappointing because they are such a famous house and La Maison particularly impressive because I've had the macarons in their New York and Hong Kong locations and they taste the same.

                                                        The macarons from Jean Paul Hevin were good and especially satisfying if you are a chocolate lover, but I don't think I'd go back especially when these other shops are right around the corner. Finally, I was very pleasantly surprised to find very good macarons from non-specialty places like Eric Kayser and even McDonalds. The fillings were average but the texture was great! Who would have guessed??

                                                        1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                                          Thanks for the thorough review there HKF. The texture and bite of Paulette's is spot on, although the flavors and fillings just aren't as spectacularly good as what you get from Pierre Herme. The thick fillings seem to melt right into the cookie's with Pierre Herme.

                                                          I also want to address a new macaron maker to the scene:
                                                          Christopher David Macarons @ the Sandbox Bakery.

                                                          http://twitter.com/CDMacaron

                                                          Sample flavors: butterscotch, chocolate, lemon, currant fig balsamic, coffee or strawberry lavender macarons

                                                          I think these were six that I was able to try and each one was great. The flavors were good, the bite was there too. Especially liked the coffee and the strawberry lavendar. I've only paid them one visit and will give them another go around, but just wanted to mention them to all the macarons folks out there.

                                                          1. re: timpoblete

                                                            Thx for the recommendation. I tried two macarons from the Sandbox Bakery this week (one strawberry lavender and one espresso) and thought the flavors were okay but the texture was completely off. Both macarons were very soft, almost to the point of being soggy, and there was no bite at all. No thin, crispy shell, no light and fluffy inside.

                                                            I also noticed the macarons were a bit cold when I first got them, so while I had one right away, I ate the other one three hours later. Unfortunately that didn't make a difference--the texture was just not there.

                                                            That said, these macarons were still much better than the horrible ones at Patisserie Phillippe. I went there this week as well and hated their macarons. Not as atrocious as the ones from Pamplemousse in San Mateo (those are still the worst ones I've ever tasted in my life) but still pretty bad. First of all, the macarons were still in a refrigerated state, which spoils the texture, and the whole thing was so chewy I thought I was biting into an American peanut/chocolate candy bar.

                                                            Paulettes is still the best in the bay area.

                                                            1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                                              Revisited Sandbox yesterday and the macarons were in fact a little on the soggy side. Maybe I had gotten an especially good batch the previous time, although I still like the flavors and the fillings.

                                                              I agree with Patisserie Philippe. They are pretty disappointing.

                                                              1. re: timpoblete

                                                                Christopher David Macarons will be at the Underground Market this weekend (March 6th). They had some storage issues at Sandbox Bakery, so it was hit or miss for a little bit.

                                                                I am excited to try them at the Underground Market...hoping they will be the best in town.

                                                                1. re: chowie_sf

                                                                  Could you provide more logistical info on the Underground Market?

                                                                  1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                                                    This is the webpage- it is in SOMA on Saturday night. The tweets from CDMacaron say they will have all of the flavors that they have made this week.
                                                                    http://foragesf.wordpress.com/2010/02...

                                                                    1. re: chowie_sf

                                                                      Gave the Christopher David macarons another try at the Underground Market, and I regret to say they were pretty bad. Flavor was okay but texture was completely off, just like my experience at the Sandbox Bakery a couple of weeks ago.

                                                                      1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                                                        Has anyone tried the new flavors at Paulette? I understand they rolled out a peach flavor and a milk chocolate & hazelnut flavor?

                                                                        1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                                                          i was there a few days ago. i saw lychee, but no peach. they had just sold out of passion fruit. we got violet cassis, lemon, raspberry, coconut, and earl grey. i really liked the earl grey and coconut, but then i went out of town for work and the SO ate the rest. he said the earl grey was his favorite, with the lemon was a close second. he promised he would get me more this week when in the area to make up for the disappeared ones. i didn't look at the chocolate ones.

                                                              2. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                                                That's exactly how I found the Patisserie Phillippe macarons, but I'm surprised they're still like that. I would compare them to having texture like home-made marshmallows, with the sugar and cooked egg white mixture being related to a correct macaron but different in rather important aspects.

                                                                I've only had one at Thorough Bread and Pastry, but it was spot on. May be worth checking out for you. I describe Thorough as being a bakery that makes the classic version of each item they sell without a specific house style of baking that unifies their products. I actually sort of appreciate that they put their ego and individuality aside and focus on just doing an excellent job with each item they make, and it also makes sense in the context of it being associated with a baking school where the students are supposed to learn the "right way" to do things before they go off on their own and modernize recipes.

                                                        2. cross linking to another big SF macaron thread:
                                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/600664