Goodbye Manor, Hello Avenue – Bidding Farewell to La Bamboche on Manor Road

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Right at this moment I don’t even care that I found out about this almost a month after the fact.  The sad truth is that La Bamboche was forced to close down their beloved Manor Road location last month at the end of April because of lease renewal issues and while all of our love and support will be redirected to their Avenue Road shop, I am still heartbroken over the news and quite frankly, stunned.  I know nothing is forever, but you just never think that one of your favourite spots will leave you and as a foodie, news like this hits you hard right the heart.

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Fellow Macaron Ambassador, Bonnie, told me the news the other day and I was gobsmacked when I read her e-mail relaying the sad news.  I think I speak on behalf of all us when I say that La Bamboche’s Manor shop will be so missed.  I know many of us had some of our very first macarons in the city at Manor and boy did many of us go macaron crazy on Macaron Day, treating Manor like our unofficial headquarters.  In this post I’m saying goodbye to Manor with a heavy heart, moving forward with future sweet treat plans at Avenue, and sharing the very last photos of macarons that I took from Manor at the beginning of April.

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La Bamboche is located at 1712 Avenue Road, north of Lawrence Ave. West at the corner of Fairlawn Ave.  You can visit their website, their Facebook page (have you liked them yet?!), follow them on Twitter @labambocheTO, and check out all of Ate by Ate’s La Bamboche’s posts and photos!

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A Day of New Macaron Flavours at La Bamboche! The Macaron Day TO 2013 Wrap-Up

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It’s crazy to think that it’s been almost two years since my very first visit to La Bamboche.  Two years since I sunk my teeth into two amazing, delicious macarons that melted in my mouth and made my heart happy with their beautiful fresh flavours.  Two years since that fateful first visit, a visit that would eventually lead me through a joyous macaron journey, learning about them, tasting them, and loving them to the point where I would crave them every week and get my family just as hooked and amoured by them!  I remember that day well.  It was a warm summer day in June 2011.  I was walking north on Yonge Street toward Eglinton when a flash of black and white caught my attention from the corner of my eye underneath the brim of my bucket hat.  I walked in, took in the delicate pastels of their pretty macaron towers and dove into my very first La Bamboche macarons: the bright and sunny citrus Yuzu and the fruity matcha taste of their Green Tea Mango!

And now here we are, nearly two years later, celebrating the success of Macaron Day TO for the 2nd year in a row, my first as a Macaron Day Ambassador, and watching our macaron love grow with each passing day.  And has it ever grown!  I’ve gone from wanting them in my belly once in awhile to wanting them ALL.THE.TIME!  My dad shows me articles on macarons in his Chinese newspapers, I’m thisclose to starting a little macaron memorabilia collection (I’m really only one mouse click away from buying me a macaron charm necklace and macaron stationery set on Etsy), I keep track of all my favourites, and I keep up with seasonal flavours the same way I keep up with cupcakes.  Truthfully, it’s been tough splitting my myself between cupcakes and macarons but I suppose there could be much worse things in life, no?

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I can’t believe I have so many favourites from all the places I’ve tried in the city.  Every spot has their own unique way of making macarons – some are a little thicker in meringue cookie and filling, some are a little bigger in a diameter, and some just go kooky-crazy on the flavours – Butter Avenue dished out a popcorn flavoured one just for the Macaron Day festivities!  Even though I didn’t get to Butter Avenue for their one-of-a-kind popcorn one, I did skip on over to La Bamboche that morning (c’mon, what would a Macaron Day be without a stop to the event’s organizing patisserie?) and got myself a delighted look and taste of a slew of flavours that I had never tried before!  Blood Orange Yuzu!  Hazelnut Praline!  Green Tea White Sesame!  In addition to their special edition one for the day (Raspberry Vinegar!) and my FAVOURITE, Strawberry Champagne, I got myself one of each of those 3 new flavours for me and ate all 3 before the end of the day.

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God do I love them like crazy!  They’re each so wonderful and delicious in their own way.  Their was such a delicate nuttiness and toastiness to the Green Tea White Sesame, combined with the earthiness of the matcha green tea and the slight bit of crunch from the sesame seeds.  This one truly surprised me the most because I think out of the 3, this one has the most complex notes to it.  You don’t expect that subtle toastiness to be so yummy but that’s what makes this macaron.  I know I mentioned buying one earlier in March, but I had saved that one for my family so this was the first time trying it myself.

The Blood Orange Yuzu had such a deep, juicy flavour to it with a complex flavour profile of an orange married with a grapefruit and a pillow-soft white cream filling.  The filling is the same as their regular yellow Yuzu.  It’s the meringue shells that make the yuzus different.  And the Hazelnut Praline?  HOLY MOTHER OF PEARL.  Think Nutella.  Multiple that by 100.  Then add the airy texture of nutty meringue shells and super thick, fudgy praline filling and you have yourself the Hazelnut Praline.  FAN-FREAKIN’-TASTIC.  These 3 flavours are truly standouts and I’m so happy I got to try them.  I had their Blood Orange Yuzu and their Green Tea White Sesame again just the other day!

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It’s been a wonderful, fun journey into the world of macarons and I feel really lucky to have Michel and Stephen at La Bamboche welcome me into their patisserie and I can only see things growing more fun and delicious as the year goes on.  Next time?  Maybe I’ll get to show you all their fabulous green tea croissants and petit gateaux!

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La Bamboche serves two locations in Toronto.  One is located at 4 Manor Rd. E., off Yonge St. south of Eglinton Ave. and the other location is at 1712 Avenue Rd., north of Lawrence Ave. East at the corner of Avenue and Fairlawn.

The Macaron Day Toronto Adventures! A Journey Through Rahier, La Bamboche, Yorkville Espresso Bar & More!

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Happy Easter, everyone!  Ah, the celebration of all things pastel, and the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of spring.  Even if you don’t celebrate Easter religiously, I hope everyone was able to enjoy the long weekend with some yummy eats and adorable Easter themed things like chocolate, marshmallow, bunny, or Easter egg desserts!  Or in my case, Easter themed macarons.  OH. MY.GOD.  Macarons decorated like baby chicks and Easter eggs with lemon and custard filling!  Check out Ate by Ate’s Facebook page and you’ll know exactly what I mean.  They’re one of the most adorable things I’ve ever seen (and so yummy), courtesy of Daniel et Daniel in Cabbagetown just for Easter.  And speaking of macarons, I FINALLY  get to share more from my day of adventure on Macaron Day.  I know I’m really late but I figure since we’re still waiting on baited breath to find out how much we raised for Red Door Family Shelter, my Macaron Day escapades are still very much relevant.

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March 2oth was truly one of the funnest days ever.  I feel so incredibly lucky and grateful to have been a part of this day and event – to buy macarons till they were coming out of my ears, to meet shop owners, to take photos, and to know that I was contributing to a really great cause.  My boss was very gracious in allowing me to take Macaron Day TO off as a personal day and I sure as hell made it count.  This day has meant more to me than I ever thought it would.  When Bonnie recruited me as a Macaron Day Ambassador back in February, I knew it was going to be a fun and exciting experience, but I never thought it would be this much fun.  Myself and the other girls were able to get involved in ways we never would have had we not been Ambassadors and it was crazy just how much we were plugging it on our blogs, on Twitter, and on our Macaron Day Facebook page (yup, that was me laying the smackdown on the Macaron Day TO Facebook page on a lot of those posts with Bonnie and Sonya while Mardi, Amy, Vickie, Vicky, and Sandi plugged away on Twitter!)

It felt so good being that focused and the adrenaline just kicked in – editing photos, finding content, seeking out updates and posting on the Facebook page 7 times a day.  And on that Wednesday, my heart felt so free hopping around town visiting patisseries, getting on and off the subway left, right, and centre, collecting macarons and tucking them away in my Hello Kitty tin lunchbox (yes, that’s right, I carried a number of macarons in a Hello Kitty tin lunchbox – they needed protection from getting squished and crushed!), and eating them ALL DAY LONG!

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I made 5 stops this year; 1 more than 2012!  I started out east and went straight down Yonge Street, hitting up a bunch of  spots I didn’t hit last year.  It was my first time going to Patisserie La Cigogne and Rahier Patisserie, both on Bayview Ave. just south of Eglinton.  Patisserie La Cigogne took my breath away with their gorgeous display case of colourful macarons, petit gateaux, pastries, and baked goods.  It was cold out that day but the beautiful sunshine that streamed in through the front windows just made everything that much brighter and happier.  I picked my free one, Caramel (I got to choose whichever flavour I wanted from their entire display case!) and then I bought a set of 6 in a nice box.

A bunch of photos later, I walked several shops down to Rahier where I had one of the nicest conversations with the cafe owner, Anita, and picked up my free one (a delicious, fruit concoction of raspberry with lychee, rose, and cream!) and another half a dozen.  Interestingly enough, Rahier is one of the few patisseries in the city that charge their macarons by weight.  There’s no $1.50, $2, or $2.50 type of pricing.  Anita explained to me that because everything was made my hand, it was fairer to price them by weight than to price them each.  And they turned out to be incredibly reasonable in price!  Half a dozen only came up to around $9 (because I’m basing this from memory only, I’d say $8-$10) and there were so many beautiful colours and flavours to choose from including lime, green tea, strawberries and cream, and my personal favourite, CINNAMON HONEY!!

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I then jetted to La Bamboche on Manor where I gave Michel (organizer of Macaron Day TO and owner of La Bamboche) a big hug and saw chef Stephen on my way out.  I’ll be doing a separate post just on my macarons from La Bamboche after this one so sit tight!  I hit up Yorkville Espresso Bar afterward (not before taking a macaron break inside the underground PATH of Hudson’s Bay Centre though), nabbed their adorable espresso macaron and took some photos of chef YJ preparing macaron batter in the Yorkville Kitchen Studio!

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And then finally, I ended my macaron collecting at Petit Thuet at Yonge and King where I was flabbergasted by their gorgeous, rainbow display of macarons that spanned over half the cafe!  Now, I know Petit Thuet went about Macaron Day a little differently this year.  Instead of offering a free macaron to every person who made the request, a single macaron was $2 which went straight to donation, or 5 for the price of $4, meaning that the 5th was free.  And 20% of all purchases (not just macarons, but all) made at Petit Thuet would be donated to Red Door Family Shelter.

I know some people took issue with this arrangement (a free macaron is a free macaron and they should have honoured this) while others couldn’t care less about it – the event is to benefit Red Door Family Shelter, period, and people shouldn’t be petty about the arrangement for the sake of a free macaron.  I have my own opinions about this which I actually don’t wish to divulge here, but I felt like mentioning it because it wouldn’t be fair to pretend like it didn’t exist or to gloss over it.  I picked up some fantastic ones during this last collection though, my favourite being the Blueberry Cheesecake!

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Stay tuned for my photos and post on La Bamboche a la Macaron Day!  And of course, the final numbers on how much we raised for Red Door Shelter this year – I can’t wait to find out!  We should be getting results some time in April so let’s hope we exceeded last year’s total of $6500 and met our goal of $8000!

Macaron Day TO’s Sophomore Year, 2013! The Remarkable Macaron Journey, Part I

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A mesmerizing rainbow display and array of macarons at Petit Thuet!

Today, Macaron Day TO 2013, was  one of the funnest, happiest days.  EVER.  And I am still reeling from it and soaking it all in.  I’m madly trying to edit my photos as quickly as I can so while I’m doing that, here’s a photo sneak peek of my day today – some of the delicious macarons I got the privilege of tasting for the first time, photos from patisseries I paid my first visit to, and the love, support, and passion that has surrounded this event from day one.

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Love all the Macaron Day signage! This one was outside Patisserie La Cigogne on Bayview Ave!

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It’s like a macaron bank! Macarons and stickers at Yorkville Espresso Bar.

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Say hello to Hazelnut Praline from La Bamboche.

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Eating my weight in macarons!

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There’s no better way to welcome the first day of spring – pastels and springtime macarons!

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Keep up with all the Macaron Day TO festivities and chatter!  “Like” and follow us on the Macaron Day TO Facebook page, follow us on Twitter @MacaronTO (hastag #macarondayTO), and visit the official website for a list of all the participating patisseries, bakeries and cafes that took part in this year’s event (it’s a fantastic bucket list for those of you who want to try out new spots!), your Macaron Day ambassadors (like me!), and more!

A Fresh Start for Ate by Ate: Macaron Day TO 2013 & Warming Up with Hot Chocolate & Macarons at La Bamboche

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Creamy hot chocolate and lavender and green tea white sesame macarons at La Bamboche!

I have a lot of explaining to do.  Because I really dropped the ball this time.  I’ll let myself off the hook for the month of December.  I was on-again, off-again and Christmas just swept me off my feet.  There was family, there were friends, there was work (was there EVER work – I was doing paperwork on Christmas eve!), there was my sweetheart and just like that, the month was over.  But the last two months?  I have not been here.  And I should have been.  But it was not happening because life just kept happening.  Things at work became much more hectic and demanding (why, hello there promotion!), I got to travel for the very first time (hello and goodbye, Florida!), I got sick, weekends disappeared before my eyes (if I wasn’t out and about gathering content, I was editing photos and if I wasn’t editing photos, I was sifting through e-mail, and if I wasn’t doing that I was trying to catch up on sleep).  I was utterly exhausted.  I could not keep up anymore.

Forget the clipped pace I was operating on – I hadn’t been to a farmers’ market in weeks, my scrapbook supplies were yearning for attention, and I was literally falling asleep as I was typing on my laptop at 7 in the evening (you don’t even want to know the incoherent gibberish I typed as I dozed off).  When that started happening, I knew I had to stop.  I always took pride in being the best supergirl I could be, balancing everything in life and still feeling happy, fulfilled, and overall, really content.  But things in my life had changed and I needed to be honest with myself about what my limits were, what I could and couldn’t do, and what truly made me happy.  So I took a break.  What the exception of putting together the January and February Food Calendars, blogging and I took a break from one another.  Because if I couldn’t be at my best, I didn’t want to blog at all.  Ate by Ate is my baby and it deserves a lot better than half-hearted, half-ass efforts.

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There was one day where I ambled around downtown in Baldwin Village and Kensington Market on my own, something I hadn’t done in what felt like ages.  And I actually felt a lump form in my throat and I could feel myself start to get choked up because, even though it was chilly and damp and just a gloomy kind of day, I felt SO GOOD.  I felt free and happy.  And I was reminded of how much I missed it and how important it was for me to actually soak in and enjoy everything as opposed to just robotically moving through it and frantically trying to get something done. 

Maybe it’s spring coming up (yes, it WILL come!), maybe it’s the love and excitement for Macaron Day; I finally feel like I’m ready to be back for real and I am so excited.  Admittedly, things won’t be the same around here.  I won’t be able to post every day like I used to.  But I will be here again full-time and as much as I can and I’m really thankful and appreciative of everyone and all of you who’ve stuck around for me.  THANK YOU x a million!

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So, first order of business: Macaron Day Toronto 2013!  If you don’t already know or if you haven’t checked out the Food Calendar listings, Macaron Day TO returns for its sophomore year on Wednesday, March 20th!  Organized by and spearheaded by La Bamboche, the event celebrates macarons worldwide and benefits Red Door Shelter here in Toronto.  You can check out the official website HERE for info on Red Door Shelter and how Macaron Day came to be.  There are some new new participants this year (including my beloved Le Dolci!) and we have a dedicated group of Macaron Day TO ambassadors promoting the cause and event – including me! 

I am SO proud to be a Macaron Day TO ambassador and I will be promoting and sharing all Macaron Day TO content all month long until the 20th, when I’ll be out and about participating in the festivities!  Follow the other girls on Twitter and Facebook (click on the ambassadors link above for blog  and Twitter contact info), follow @MacaronTO on Twitter, and “Like” and keep up with the Macaron Day TO Facebook page for fun photos, news, surveys and more!  Check out Ate by Ate’s journey last year:

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If you need some visual cues and suggestions for the day, you’ve come to the right place!  My most recent macaron purchase from La Bamboche included chocolate, espresso, eggnog rum, green tea and white sesame, lavender, caramel sea salt, pistachio, raspberry chocolate ganache, yuzu, and strawberry champagne!  And let’s not forget about their fabulous green tea mango macarons!  My favourites have to be the green tea mango and the strawberry champagne (the adorable minty green one with the little edible silver pearl on top in the photos!) and I’m hoping to try more fab flavours during future visits. 

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La Bamboche serves two locations in Toronto.  One is located at 4 Manor Rd. E., off Yonge St. south of Eglinton Ave. and the other location is at 1712 Avenue Rd., north of Lawrence Ave. East at the corner of Avenue and Fairlawn.

The Sweet Taste of Macarons – Japanese Inspired Flavours at La Bamboche

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My curious nature, along with my desire to walk into any and all random side streets, led me to this glorious, sweet discovery off Yonge St. near Eglinton.  You can walk up and down the same road or around the same neighbourhood a million times and there will always be something you missed, something you just didn’t take notice of.  You see things with fresh eyes each time and I believe that exploration in your own city can get never get old for this very reason, at least not for me.

I was so giddy when I discovered La Bamboche all on my own last month.  I was walking northbound to Eglinton on the east side of Yonge St. one hot and sticky afternoon when I came upon Manor Rd.  Continuing on my merry way as I crossed the street, I turned to my head to the right for no apparent reason and noticed something in my peripheral vision down the road.  Something black and white.  A storefront!  A cute little storefront with a black and white striped awning.  Ooo, what’s in it?  *squints* Is that a macaron tree in the window?!  Wild horses couldn’t drag me away from such a pretty piece of confectionary.  Neither could my boyfriend as I dragged him jogged across the street saying, “we’re going in!”  And so began a beautiful friendship between me and this lovely bakery.

La Bamboche is part lunch cafe, part ice cream parlour, and ALL parts patisserie with their baskets of croissants, cellophane baggies of mini meringues, and glass display cases of mousse cakes, tarts, and YES, macarons!  Their macarons are a very good size.  Macarons, on average, are slightly bigger than a toonie.  I’d say the size of the ones at La Bamboche are comparable to small cookies, kind of like the size of a digital camera’s lens.  They’re awesome and yummy, but they also come at a price: $2.60 each.  They definitely rank higher in the price point category, but I’d like to think they make up for that in quality and uniqueness in flavours.

At any given time, La Bamboche has up to 12 flavours of macarons to choose from and what I loved about theirs was their flavour selection.  Sure, they have flavour staples such as chocolate and pistachio, but they also have yummy flavours such as espresso, caramel sea salt, amaretto, and lavender.  THEN there are the super unique flavours that are Japanese inspired!  Eeeee.  Asian flavours?  I am all over that like mud on a pig.  And I was very lucky that day because when I went into the shop, the macaron case was almost empty having sold out during the earlier part of the day.  The nice gentleman went to the kitchen to the check after I asked if they would be bringing any new ones out soon, and brought out two fresh batches of delighful macarons.  I chose two: yuzu and mango green tea.

The yuzu intrigued me.  The macaron was a bright, sunny yellow colour and I initially thought it was a lemon one.  I was close; it was actually yuzu.  Yuzu is an East Asian citrus fruit with a number of varieties cultivated in Japan, China, and Korea.*  This particular flavour at La Bamboche is a Japanese Yuzu (straight from the horse’s mouth.  And by that, I mean the pastry chef!) and the macaron was so light and fresh and subtly tangy.  It was a beautiful, complex flavour.  I tasted subtle hints of grapefruit, ginger, and lemon and funny enough, the flavour didn’t embody any of the three in its entirety.  It was a mesh of light citrus flavour with a sweet, fluffy vanilla cream sandwiched between the two layers of meringue.  I know I said it was lovely, but just how lovely?  I gave my boyfriend, Richard, a small bite to try and he immediately looked back at the glass display case and back at me and said, “yeah, I’m getting one”.  If it can compel someone to snatch one up at the drop of a hat, it’s good 😉

The mango green tea macaron was so awesomely awesome.  Biting into the delicate shell was like biting into a sweet morsel of matcha, like a mouthful of green tea flavoured cake that was crispy, airy, and melt-in-your-mouth yummy.  But that’s not entirely why this macaron was so fabulous.  It’s the mango filling combined with the green tea macaron shell that did it for me and I’ll tell you why.  La Bamboche is so smart.  A macaron is not just a macaron to them.  The two Japanese inspired flavours I got were so well executed because of the nuances in texture and flavour.  The attention to detail is remarkable.  The mango filling in the macaron wasn’t a cream, a frosting, or a puree.  It was a paste.  A mango flavoured paste that resembled red bean paste in texture so much it was freaky.  As I was enjoying my macaron, I thought to myself, “I feel like I’m eating a Chinese cookie”.  You know the execution is good when you’re sitting in a French style cafe and the Asian inspired sweets taste, well…Asian.  The macarons weren’t too sweet and the quality is just bang on.

They were doing great business when I was in with people coming in and out for the macarons, parents coming in with their little ones for ice cream cones, and young women eating mousse cakes at the little tables.  The prices might be a little on the higher side, but the quality is there.  I might side step the mousse cakes just because the prices are little too rich for my blood, but I’m so looking forward to trying other macaron flavours and maybe a few of their other pastries because their lemon tarts looked mighty delicious from the dessert case that day.  Hail to the lovely macaron tree in the window that caught my eye that day.

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La Bamboche is located at 4 Manor Rd. E., off Yonge St. south of Eglinton Ave.

*source = Citrus Valley Collection