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Parisian-style macarons/macaroons in the Triangle: A report

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So I've been on a bit of a Parisian macaron rampage lately, trying to find something as good as I've had in Paris or Singapore. No luck yet, but I keep searching. Here's what I've found so far:

- Miel Bon Bons in Carrboro sells macarons by special order only, but sometimes you can get some leftovers from a wedding order if you come in on Saturday morning. After several attempts, I finally got my hands on a few a couple weeks ago. Sadly, they were just OK. A bit too sweet, without well-defined flavor. The chocolate macaron had a brownie/cocoa-like taste that I don't like. Disappointing, since I think Miel Bon Bons makes some of the best chocolates in the Triangle.

- Lately, A Southern Season has been selling a half-dozen or so flavors of mini macaron in their pastry case. When I asked where they were from, one person said they were from Sugarland, another told me they were imported from abroad. They're pretty decent - reasonable texture, if a bit soft. Some flavors - pistachio, orange - are bright and sharp, while others, like caramel, are ill-defined or too sweet.

- Open Eye Cafe & Cafe Driade sell macarons made by a local baker, though I can't remember their name. I had a chocolate and a hazelnut. The chocolate had the aforementioned "brownie taste" and overly-moist texture (of course this could be due to the NC summer humidity), but the hazelnut was pretty good. Large.

- Amelia. The worst. Sugary, bland. Couldn't tell the lemon from the vanilla. :(

Unfortunately, neither of the Triangle's French bakeries (La Farm, Valour's) make macarons. I've been meaning to try the ones from the freezer section at Trader Joe's (not that I have high hopes!).

Does anyone have any intel on other places to look for good macarons?

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A Southern Season
201 S Estes Dr Ste 101, Chapel Hill, NC 27514

Open Eye Cafe
101 S Greensboro St, Carrboro, NC 27510

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  1. I'm right there with you emandm. I've been searching since I moved here 5 years ago. I agree that probably Southern Season has the best of the lot, but they're not totally perfect. And they're also not cheap (not that macarons ever are!). I would love to have someone tell us the perfect place. I'm at the point where I'm just about daring enough to make them myself instead, but not in this humidity. Please, someone save us from my having to do this!

    1 Reply
    1. re: LulusMom

      I can't say I'm familiar with Parisian macaroons but I ran across this article that might be of interest to anyone wishing to make some for themselves:

      http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/06/0...

    2. Guglhupf sources the goodies sold at Open Eye and Caffe Driade.

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      Caffe Driade
      1215 E Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC 27514

      Open Eye Cafe
      101 S Greensboro St, Carrboro, NC 27510

      1. Thanks for the reviews. French Macarons are my all-time favorite pastry. The ones at Driade are the best I have had, by far.

        3 Replies
        1. re: durhamois

          I am a wedding stylist and have used the macarons from Hereghty Patisserie in Raleigh (located in Glenwood Village). They import their macarons from Belgium. The rosewater ones are amazing. I recommend placing an order for them, to ensure that you are able to get them as soon as they arrive.

          1. re: elissakeno

            There's a coffee shop in Carrboro that also sells macaroons. It's on Main Street, next to a bike shop. I tried a pistachio macaroon. It was pretty good, but not transcendent. I think the key to quality quite often is freshness due to high turnover.

            1. re: Tom from Raleigh

              I had one in Open Eye (another coffee shop in Carrboro) a week or two ago. it was fine.

        2. There is a new place in Clayton called Unique Boutiques &Marketplace that sell macarons. One of the vendors there, Bake Envie, sells French bakery items. They also had some chocolate croissants and cinnamon brioche to die for. Their macarons are the traditional almond flavor.

          1. You'll get them cheaper and better (at least in these parts) by either making your own or ordering them from ETSY or elsewhere online. I think most places overcharge for them in general. It's meringue and cream or jam.

            I would not expect La Farm to have macarons because they are are more of a boulangerie as is Gugelhupf, but if they supply others than maybe that is chance. I didn't get the big whoop of macarons. I like them fine. Had two used as an ice cream sandwich recently. Unfortunately they were so cold they were hard and brittle. I like the big macaron that you get at Bouchon but we will never have one of those here. The people that handled my wedding made really good macarons.

            16 Replies
            1. re: burgeoningfoodie

              I wouldn't really trust them mail-order. I bought some in Paris and they told me "these will last maybe 2 days" and they were about right, at least at their best, that is about all. I've seen macaroon type things at Southern Season, but haven't tried them.

              1. re: LulusMom

                http://www.etsy.com/shop/SparklesMacaron From someone who really loves her macarons.. was told they were divine.

                1. re: LulusMom

                  The ones I bought in Paris didn't even last a cab ride! ;-)

                  1. re: danna

                    too funny!

                    If someone insists on trying mail order, it is worth knowing that Laduree now has a store in NYC (check http://www.laduree.fr/en/maisons/mond... for details), although I don't know if they ship or not. They're the best I've ever had, although some from Switzerland were very, very close.

                    1. re: LulusMom

                      The new place I've discovered making macrons is Daisycakes in Durham and they are ridiculous. Of course, Miel Bonbon in Carr Mill Mall has been making them for awhile now.

                      1. re: bbqme

                        The one time I tried getting them at Miel Bonbon they told me that they only do them certain days of the week (this may well have changed - it was not long after they opened) and they only do 3 flavors a day. And by the time I was there (dinner time) they were sold out, and the flavors they'd had weren't very appealing to me. I'd be more than willing to try them again if someone knows that they're doing more than that.

                    2. re: danna

                      I'm telling you that that mail order I posted above works just fine. Don't knock it until you use it. I've had the Macarons at Daisycakes and they weren't great. Large yes but crumbly. There is a video on Food52 website (one of them authored the NYT Cookbook) on making macarons and the recipe. That one is for meyer lemon in particular. If I want a large macaron I like Bouchon Bakery but that is not here.

                      Laduree outside of Herme, Payard, and maybe Maison Chocolat is probably the most well respected macaron shop in the world. Though with that recognition comes a hefty price tag usually.

                      1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                        So with the mail order I'm wondering how they keep them fresh?

                        1. re: LulusMom

                          I have shipped cake and bread across the country and it has remained fresh. You either wrap it well or if she is mass distributing.. make it airtight.

                          1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                            OK, airtight keeps the meringue portion from getting stale? Amazing. Laduree really needs to get with this technology.

                            1. re: LulusMom

                              you mean soft and gummy? I don't know. I'll order some and let you know how they are.

                        2. re: burgeoningfoodie

                          Macarons aren't supposed to be crumbly?

                          1. re: bbqme

                            BBQ like most meringues (sp?) they are suppose to be firm and crack on the shell but the inside should have a little give/chew to it (I think). When I said crumbly, I meant like the whole thing falls apart and that shouldn't be the case.

                            1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                              I suspect that is mostly due to their large size. Most macarons I've seen are made to be popped into the mouth whole rather than bitten into.

                              1. re: bbqme

                                I've had good large macarons before but yeah they are suppose to be (in my minds eye) no larger than a 1/2 dollar piece.

                                1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                  About 3 ladylike bites, I'd say. I've never seen one bigger than that.

                  2. They have macaroons at La Farm-- at least now they do. They're huge and usually chocolate or white chocolate. I am no macaroon expert, but I thought they were good. Combination of crispy, light and chewy textures and nice chocolate flavor.

                    1. I have never had macarons in any other country, but I, too have been on a macaron quest for a few years.
                      Daisycakes - largest, most reasonably-priced macaron I've found, but only came in one flavor, which I could only identify as "pink," possibly strawberry? I enjoyed it.
                      Miel Bon Bons - I also ordered a large pink macaron with a raspberry on top, it was at least $5, and I was assured of its freshness. It did not taste fresh to me, I didn't even finish it.
                      Southern Season - I recently went there and ordered one of every flavor - to my surprise they tasted fresh and the flavors were good, especially the amaretto.
                      Guglhupf - on my last trip, I was tantalized by the many different colors/flavors of macarons on a tray, but I didn't purchase any. I know they supply macarons and other baked goods all over Durham/Chapel Hill/probably other places, so it didn't surprise me that they had so many. I will make it back there!
                      I also once enjoyed a macaron-studded dessert from Open Eye in Carrboro, it was obscene but so good - I think it was a passionfruit bombe/trifle dessert with multiple pink macarons stuck to it. Very decadent!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: tamalesfordinner

                        Does SS make them themselves or is it sourced from elsewhere? I know Open Eye gets their goodies from Guglhupf.

                      2. haha - this post makes me laugh. I have been trying for several months now to make macarons à la française and am having only minimal success. My best results have come from http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2005/10/...

                        Now, here in the Triangle, I have been passively searching for francaise macarons and have only found reasonably authentic ones at A Southern Season, which I thought were pretty tasty.

                        What is this place in Clayton? I might get some on the way to White Swan BBQ... hahaha

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Tehama

                          Tamales and Tehama, thanks so much for the info about Southern Season's macarons. Wow, I will definitely give them a chance now.

                        2. Trader Joe's

                          1. I stopped by Hereghty's this afternoon to get a thank-you present for someone and saw they had macarons française with the other pastries. I didn't have time to do much more than salivate and make mental note to be sure to post to CH. http://www.hereghty.com/index.php

                            Bake Envie has a Facebook page, btw. (Thanks to the suggestion to give them a try). I'll be making a trip to Johnston Co. soon to try them out!