Monday, December 5, 2011

The Beauty of a Macaron - Courtesy of NYC Food Crawl

As many dutiful foodies in this city, I like to involve myself in all sorts of food activities and social media groups.  One of those is the NYC Food Crawl group on Facebook, and I joined with the intention of attending these meetups, but unfortunately have never got around to it.  

My determination to go to these events is of course influenced by the subject we're exploring, and this month's theme got my curiosity in a bunch.  Macarons! Those wonderful little meringue cookies that come in all colors of the rainbow and are stuffed with the most inventive fillings - ranging from chocolate, passion fruit, espresso, green tea, caramel, bacon and much more.

Food Crawl Format
The rules are simple and clear - learn about the crawl on Facebook, RSVP, show up, form a group and then go!  Really, it wasn't very complicated and that's why I think it worked so well.

We showed up at the given meeting point, the Southwest Corner in Washington Square Park, to meet our organizer Amanda.  I loved that she was friendly and welcoming and did a good job of introducing us around.  While some people showed up with friends, others (including me) came solo.  I thought Amanda did a great job of fostering conversation and camaraderie and she asked everyone their names and paired people off into small groups of about 5 people.  I met two nice guys, and they expected two other friends to join, so there went our group of five.

It was recommended to appoint one group leader to collect money and order for everyone, but we opted for handling that individually, which made things easier and didn't weigh heavily on one person's shoulders.  
We each received a map of the crawl locations and set off for a sweet adventure.

My Fellow Crawlers
As I already mentioned, my fellow crawlers were a nice group.  We had two guys and three girls, including me.  Everyone was really open-minded and into sweets, which was nice.  I especially bonded with a new friend, Hayon who seemed to love chocolate and gourmet treats as much as me.  Coincidence had it that she's an LICer, so I of course told her all about my food favorites there and in Astoria. 

Overall, I think this crawl presented a great platform to meet new people with similar interests.  Everyone was open minded and intelligent and easy to get along with. I would happily mix and mingle with this group again.

The best part of this evening though were of course the macarons.  Macarons galore!  We hit four different locations in the Soho/West Village/Greenwich Village areas including:

Francois Payard - Boasting a beautiful macaron pyramid that you see above, we ooh'd and ahh'd as soon as we saw it.  They had many classic as well as unusual flavors, and I ended up choosing the oreo macaron.  The filling was delectable and rich, tasting like the famous nostalgic cookie, but the actual meringe was hard and dry, and not my favorite.  I also ended up getting a ham and brie baguette to tide me over, which was also just OK.  Not fantastic.  116 West Houston Street, New York NY 10012.  212.995.0888

Kee's Chocolates - Our second location looked promising.  While it was a small storefront, the goods found inside were beautifully crafted.  The macarons looked gorgeously substantial and colorful, and I immediately went for the lavender cookie with a chocolate filling.  I adore lavender and have previously incorporated it into desserts.  Taking a bite, I had high hopes, but similarly to the Payard macaron, this one also didn't measure up.  The filling was too chilled and the meringue was too dry and caused a gap between the outer and inner layer.  80 Thompson Street, New York NY 10012.  212.332.3284

Mille Feuille - A relatively new cafe in Greenwich Village, I didn't know what to expect.  The employees of this place stayed open an hour later just for us, so that right away showed they were in it for the right reasons - the people!  There were a few varieties of macarons (about a dozen) and I chose the chocolate praline that I ate on the spot and also a salted caramel macaron for Dan.  As soon as I took a bite, I smiled.  This was the real deal - not unlike the deliciousness I tasted in Paris just two months ago.  The meringue was soft and chewy and blended beautifully with the rich, room temperature filling.  It was simply awesome and a clear winner of the night.  Dan affirmed this when he took a bite out of the salted caramel macaron later that night.  552 Laguardia Place, New York NY 10012.  212.533.4698

Bosie Tea Parlor - The last place we hit that night, I think it was the most unique.  It was a cute sit down place that seemed like a nice place to come to with a date or a small group of girlfriends.  Specialty teas decked the walls and it smelled divine.  We found the macarons at the front counter and my eye right away zeroed in on the maple bacon.  The latter ingredient sets my heart aflutter pretty much on command and I of course got this macaron for myself and for Dan too.  Its texture was also very good and the filling was smoky and sweet, just like maple glazed bacon.  Although I liked it a lot, it still wasn't better than the purely perfect one at Mille Feuille.  10 Morton Street, New York NY 10014.  212.352.9900

I had such a great time at the NYC Macaron Crawl that I'll definitely consider doing something like this again.  Can't wait to find out what December will bring.

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