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May 1, 2009

Not to be confused with macaroons. Or macaroni. Macarons.

Macarons, by Michel Patisserie

Macarons, by Michel Patisserie

In French, pronounced “mack-ah-rhonh,” with that funny “rh” sound you make in the back of your throat, in English (as far as I can tell) pronounced “mack-ah-rone” or “mack-ah-ron.” These little guys, with their bright colors and surprising texture, have been haunting me for weeks. I’ve read about them in the C&Z archives, read about how these sweet little puffs have taken off in trendy bakeries in NYC (looks like the cupcake empire has been replaced), Googled them, and finally decided last week that it was time to meet them in person.

These French pastries (which originally came from Italy, it seems) are nothing whatsoever like their chewy coconut counterparts in the states, the macaroon. In trying to understand what these cookies would taste like, I wikipedia’d them, to somewhat disconcerting results. On paper at least, the ingredients list looks suspiciously similar to that of marzipan, a candy I hate with the burning passion of a thousand suns. I was highly skeptical of this almond powder because of its resemblance (at least in my head) to the almond meal in marzipan, but in the spirit of giving everyone a chance I decided it was worth it to risk a marzipan taste for the possibility of finding my new favorite dessert.

Bag O' Macarons

Bag O' Macarons

I searched for some options in the always-a-few-steps-behind-New York DC, and found Michel Patisserie. This guy worked at Ladurée in Paris, the fine pastry shop which INVENTED the modern-day Parisian macaron. Michel’s macarons are available for pickup (if you order ahead online) or at the ACKC stores in Alexandria and at Logan Circle.

I ordered a grab bag of all the flavors (pictured below), and was presented with (in my own words and guesses about the flavors, because there was no roadmap) coffee, orange crème, french vanilla, chocolate, pistachio, and his April seasonal, cherry blossom. The cherry blossom was PHENOMENAL – fruity, light, like eating cherry pie, if the cherry pie was made of clouds and sunbeams, instead of syrup and pastry. The pistachio was OK, the coffee was really good (surprised me), the orange one tasted like a dreamcicle, the french vanilla was exactly as advertised, and I’ve heard the chocolate was amazing (I gave it to an officemate – I couldn’t afford allllll those calories).


Green = pistachio, orange = orange creme, pink = cherry blossom, light tan = french vanilla, dark tan = coffee.

All in all, I have to say, I will rave about these babies for a good long while – I loved them SO much, I actually emailed Michel himself, to say thank you for opening my eyes to the beauty of the macaron. And what did he do? In the finest customer service I’ve seen in a long time, he emailed me back, saying there was a small box of assorted macarons waiting for me at their pickup location, which just happens to be 0.5 miles from my house out in Arlington. Of course, this was to my work email address, and thanks to my pig-headed refusal to check work email on the weekends, I totally missed out, but the thought was beautiful, and I’m definitely hooked for life. The May seasonal flavor is set to be praline – I will definitely be buying some!

Coffee, orange, and french vanilla.

Coffee, orange, and french vanilla.

To order for pickup, visit

To see the many flavors of Michel’s macarons, visit

And Jenny, there will be closer-up shots of the macarons on here soon, I just don’t happen to have them on me right now.

Tip of the Day: Paper or Plastic?

As Earth Day was last week, it’s really got me to thinking (and got the food blog community to blogging) about my impact on the environment. I already own 2 giant reusable shopping bags for groceries, plus another insulated one for cold purchases, but on a more every-day basis, I wanted to make sure I’m doing the best I can. So, what’s my tip for you today? Do the following:

1. Buy a Flip & Tumble reusable, fold-upable, carry-in-your-pursable (or workbagable, if you’re a dude) bag. They’re small enough to fit in a purse, in your workbag, or in your glovebox/console box (for my Texas friends who still drive to work) so that when you inevitably decide you *must* visit the grocery store on your way home, or go by a bookstore, or the pharmacy, or whatever, you’ll always have a reusable bag with you on your person (or in your car, if your car is part of your outfit). They’re dead useful for carrying all kinds of things, they’re fashionable, and they’re opaque, in case you want to hide any embarrassing purchases (i.e. 18 lbs. of junk food, trashy celeb magazines, a copy of the cinematic blockbuster Twilight, all of which are things that have happened to me), as opposed to those plastic bags, through which Robert Pattinson’s face shines, in all his glory, for the other 30 to 40-something-year-old riders on the Metro to see (I promise I’m not still in high school, really).

“But Lisa, I use my plastic bags from the store for [lunch sacks, trash bags, to wear as a hat when it’s raining, whatever].”

Well, see point #2 about lunch bags, but here’s my request – if you claim you “reuse” the plastic bags you get from the store, I want you to do me a favor: walk to the place in your home where you store said plastic bags, open whatever container you’re using to hold them, and count the number of plastic bags you have. If this seems like a daunting task, you have too many plastic bags. You can stop storing them up. Buy a reusable one, and wait until you use the ones you have.

2. Buy a lunch bag. Like this one. Or, if you’re too cheap (like me), you can go to Target and get the $7 black and purple-print Thermos insulated cooler with ziptop and side pocket (they’re not online for some reason). Even if you’re using plastic bags for your lunch, the bottom line is, you’re going to throw the bag away, eventually. And then it’ll end up here, where baby albatrosses will eat it and die. Painfully. (This is actually true – the plastic breaks down into small pieces which resemble phytoplankton and various sea creatures including jellyfish eat it, after which birds and the like eat the jellyfish, and then die because of these tiny bits of plastic that look like phytoplankton. Yuck. Or as Melissa says, Yeck.)

This way, with an insulated lunch tote, you

A. don’t pollute, which is great,

B. can keep your lunch cold (and if you’re bringing leftovers, that’s uber-important for hygenic reasons),

C. can use glass containers for transporting food (like this one, which is good for portion control and better for you in the microwave) and

D. won’t be walking around carrying a ratty old plastic sack with your food sliding all over the place in it!

The bottom line is, waste is not a good thing, no matter where it’s coming from or going to – resources on the planet, whether you’re a greenie or not, are finite, and whatever we can do to limit our use of them means our kids will have a better chance, and their kids, and their kids, and so on. So make a small change – bring a lunch tote, buy a reusable bag, something that’s both convenient and stylish, so you’ll feel good about it, and then pat yourself on the back for accidentally doing something good for the environment.

Plus, at Whole Foods, you get a discount for bringing your own bags. Just FYI. And you can use your post-lunch tote and ice for carrying meat products or dairy home from the grocery store (provided you give it a once-over with a mildly soapy sponge when you get home if you’ve been carrying raw meat). Everybody wins, and albatrosses get to live. Yay.

***Band du jour*** Peter, Bjorn and John. Their stuff was sampled for some Kanye tunes, and their album “Writer’s Block” is awesome.

Band du jour will change tomorrow in honor of my inaugural (and probably final) trip to NASCAR from Peter, Bjorn and John to good ole American CCR. And that’s Credence, for those of you weirdos who think CCR could stand for anything involving the word “Canadian.”

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Sarah permalink
    May 1, 2009 11:22 am

    Oh my gosh those sound so good (thanks Wikipedia!) and they are so pretty. I feel like I am living in the freaking backwoods here in Fayetteville.

    • lisam permalink
      May 1, 2009 11:27 am

      Hey now, don’t knock Fayetteville! I bet you could order some online for a special occasion anyway. 🙂 Glad to see you made it to the blog!

  2. Sarah permalink
    May 1, 2009 10:44 pm

    Haha yeah, because I don’t already spend enough money shopping online…but perhaps I can scope it out if we head up the east coast this summer. I hope everything is well!

  3. Jane permalink
    May 4, 2009 4:25 pm

    I couldn’t resist checking out your updated blog via your Grandpa’s email. I try to keep up to date on foodie stuff, but didn’t know about the latest and greatest “Macarons”. Here’s a blog that you may wish to check out and I think it may even originate in The Great State — — she usually has a food item on Sunday, but it appears all week this week will be food.
    Her friend is cohosting.

  4. Victoria permalink
    May 5, 2009 8:00 am

    thanks for the lunch tote link. I think i will defintely be getting one soon! but, miss cupcake, if i get rid of my plastic bags, what will i use for a mini trash can liner in my bath and room?


  1. NASCAR…the Post. « A Cupcake in Paris

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