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!

Eggnog, Gingerbread Candy Cane and More – Magical Christmas & Holiday Macarons at Petit Thuet!

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What’s better than sweet and delicious Christmas and holiday themed cupcakes?  Christmas and holiday themed cupcakes AND macarons!  For years cupcakes were my be all and end all.  Nothing could come between us.  Not pie, not candy, not donuts, sometimes not even ice cream!  It was rare, but it happened.  For the past year and a half though I’ve been loving macarons more and more and I’ve been enjoying them just as much as cupcakes, especially over the last few months.  I started hitting up a ton of patisseries and bakeries I had never been to before to try their macarons – Butter Avenue, Cake Opera, Nadege Patisserie and even Yorkville Espresso Bar for their strawberry marshmallow ones among a few other spots.  Some I loved to itty bitty pieces, some were so-so, and some were, well, awful.  Which ones were awful?  I can’t say.  I promised myself and all of you that I’d never bash anything here unless I had something else positive to redeem the situation.  If you’re really curious I’d tell you straight up but only privately, so all you’ll see here are the ones I loved and the ones I liked.

Every spot has their standouts and the ones you can live without, so out of those 4 recent visits and sweet spots, here are the ones I loved the most: Yorkville Espresso Bar’s strawberry marshmallow, Nadege Patisserie’s pumpkin, Cake Opera’s vanilla-orange blossom (even though their retail section is no longer around, definitely keep them in mind for catering orders and sweet tables!), and Butter Avenue’s walnut matcha green tea and cafe au lait.  Now it’s time to add some sweet and lickably delicious Christmas and holiday macarons from Petit Thuet to the mix!

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Now, you all know how deeply in love I am with Petit Thuet’s cookies n’ cream macaron.  And if you don’t, you do now!  I didn’t think any other flavour of theirs could compare.

I was wrong.

There are 3 others.  And two of them are Christmas ones!  *cue excited squeals*  During my most recent visit to Petit Thuet on King and Yonge Street, I picked up a box of half a dozen macarons and was absolutely beside myself when I found out they had holiday flavours!  I was truly happy with all 5 flavours I chose (I duplicated one of them so my boyfriend could try): eggnog (bright yellow shells with eggnog cream), gingerbread candy cane (OH.MY.GOD – gingerbread brown shells with candy cane cream), white chocolate wasabi (crazy, I know!  White shells with wasabi powder sprinkled on top and white chocolate cream mixed with a hint of wasabi mixed in), my beloved cookies n’ cream (cookie shells with Oreo cream), and the luscious mint chocolate with its bright green shells and rich chocolate ganache.

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Honestly, out of all the times I’ve bought a selection of macarons, this was the first time I truly loved all the flavours I chose.  While there are flavours I’d jump on more quickly, I can truly say I’d go back for any and all of them.  However, I know everyone likes to know which ones are the shining stars out of the ones I hadn’t tried yet so I’m going to say that you need to stuff your face with the eggnog, gingerbread candy cane, and the mint chocolate ones.  I know.  That doesn’t really help.  But it’s only because they’re so delicious!  The eggnog is so creamy, the gingerbread candy cane is an insanely adorable, fun mix of gingerbread spice and crunchy, pepperminty candy cane bits and cream (that’s right, it’s not just candy cane cream in the middle, you get the crunch from actual crushed candy cane!), and the mint chocolate is decadent, rich, thick, and deliciously chocolatey smorsgabord of your favourite peppermint patty, After Ate chocolate thin mints, and Girl Scout cookies.

So if you can get to Petit Thuet sometime, take advantage of the holiday and Christmas flavours!

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Petite Thuet serves 3 locations in downtown/midtown Toronto:

  1. 1162 Yonge St. (between Summerhill and Rosedale subway stations, on the west side of Yonge St.)
  2. 1 King St. West (at the corner of Yonge and King St.)
  3. 244 King St. East (between Sherbourne and Princess St.)

The Oreo Anniversary Series – The Cookies n’ Cream “Ice Cream Sandwich” Macaron from Petit Thuet

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“Hello, my name is Cookies n’ Cream macaron and I will be your new favourite sweet confection.  I hail from Petit Thuet and I guarantee that I will be one of the loveliest things sandwiched between two meringue shells you’ll ever lay your eyes and teeth on.”  Well, now that the macaron diva has introduced herself to everyone, I’ll take it from here.  The Oreo Anniversary Series continues on, folks, with a Cookies n’ Cream macaron.  Yes, a MACARON!  We’re accustomed to seeing Oreo cupcakes, Oreo cheesecakes, and Oreo cakes in general, but Oreo cookies n’ cream macarons?!  When I found out about these during my visit to Petit Thuet on Macaron Day last month, my initial mental reaction was, “are you serious??  Oh my god, cookies n’ cream macarons!”  If you love Oreos as well as cookies n’ cream ice cream and chocolates, you need this macaron in your life.  I knew I did.  Which was why I succumbed to temptation, went back, and basked in the joy of my reunion with the delightful confection.  

Even though I didn’t specifically include the “Keys to my Heart” series in the post title, this post is going straight into the vault for being one of the most delicious macarons in the city.  There is so much to love about this macaron: the thickness, the sturdiness (the ability of a macaron to hold its shape when being handled and being eaten), the texture, and the flavour.  It had body and substance, it didn’t fall apart and disintegrate into my hands while I was eating it, the filling didn’t squish out and play a game of slip n’ slide on me, and it hit the nail on the head in its resemblance to an Oreo ice cream sandwich.

 This Cookies n’ Cream macaron from Petit Thuet ($2.20) is EXACTLY like an Oreo and/or cookies n’ cream ice cream sandwich!  It’s like an ice cream sandwich mini-me disguised in classy, delicate macaron attire.  I couldn’t believe how delicious it was and how the flavour and texture were both executed so well.  Case in point: you know how the ice cream filling in an ice cream sandwich has that amazing thick but creamy quality to it that makes every bite SO good?  That split second where your teeth bite into it and glide through the cold ice cream in one smooth motion?  This macaron has that quality and it actually makes you believe you’re sinking your teeth into a cold, creamy, cookie sandwich dessert because the filling is that incredible.  It’s crazy, but it’s true!  Not only is it delicious but apparently, it also has magical powers!  Furthermore, it stays true to its Cookies n’ Cream name while at the same time staying true to its macaron-ness.  You can taste the Oreo crumb and cookie crumbles studded in the creamy macaron filling and the sweet almond flavour in the shells as it melts in your mouth.

Can you imagine how incredible these macarons would be in a bowl of Oreo ice cream?  With crushed Oreo cookies?  Oh, oh, or on an ice cream cupcake?!  Or on an ice cream flavoured theme cake or cupcake?  The macaron is wonderful on its own but thinking of other dessert spin-offs is really fun!  I don’t know if any other patisserie has a Cookies n’ Cream macaron, but for the time being Petit Thuet is the place to get your sweet fix.       

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Petite Thuet serves 3 locations in downtown/midtown Toronto:

  1. 1162 Yonge St. (between Summerhill and Rosedale subway stations, on the west side of Yonge St.)
  2. 1 King St. West (at the corner of Yonge and King St.)
  3. 244 King St. East (between Sherbourne and Princess St.)

Rainbows and Artwork at Petite Thuet – Yuzu Chocolate & Chocolate Coconut on Macaron Day, Part III!

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After nearly an entire week of macarons, I have learned something very important: 1) I should only ever bring a macaron home for my brother and 2) putting them in the fridge makes them last longer and they taste just as delicious the day after.  And the day after that.  And the day after that.  That’s right, folks.  I brought home four perfect, plump, beautiful macarons on Tuesday (I ate four all on my own during the day.  Don’t judge me, you know you’d do the same) and I still have one sitting on my kitchen table waiting to be devoured.  And most likely, it will be devoured by me.  I know, I live a tough life.  My family has exasperated me to the point of no return.  Anybody else would be empty-handed by now.  Or at the very least, swatting somebody else’s hand away for attempting to eat mine.  But noooo. 

My brother happily ate his, but my parents have repeatedly rejected my beloved macarons day after day and the only reason I didn’t just eat their share after a day is because I didn’t want to be selfish.  That, and also a pig.  Even if I have boundaries as blurry as they may be.  But for goodness sake, I think I’m the only person on this earth who still has a macaron left from Macaron Day!  And for that, I am embarrassed.  Note to self: save one for the brother and call it a day to save yourself from the face-palming and head-on-wall-banging.  Sigh.       

You’d think that after a day of macaron trick-or-treating and a week of macaron eating I’d be pooped out.  Nope, far from it.  Macaron Day has only fueled my giddiness over macarons and now I can’t get enough.  They’re delicate, cute, and as colourful as watercolour paint pucks.  They are delightful.  This love is going to be just as bad as cupcakes, if not worse.  One of the very first macaron posts I wrote on the blog was for Petit Thuet but this time around, I have the goods from a different location!  On Macaron Day, I paid a visit to the Rosedale location for the first time and I really fell in love with the space, much more so than the one on King St. in the financial district.  The Rosedale location, located in the heart of midtown Toronto on Yonge Street, has beautiful paintings and artwork on the walls and gorgeous wooden accents including a wooden light fixture and a wooden table bench by the storefront window.  The space is a little sunnier with more pop and personality to it and even though it’s small, I like it a lot.

Petit Thuet is a French bakery/boulangerie and gourmet shop that serves croissants, baked goods, pastries, and desserts, along with gourmet meats, jarred preserves, salads, and more.  Pastries and desserts include lemon bars, meringue tarts, fruit tarts, danishes, almond pastries, small cakes, and the ever popular macarons that have put Petit Thuet on the macaron map.  My very first Petit Thuet macaron was their rosewater one and while I really enjoyed it then, I LOVED the macarons I picked out on Tuesday even more!

There was literally a rainbow of macarons to choose from on Macaron Day and right off the bat, I picked up on the noticable differences.  The macarons were larger and plumper than I remember and there were a number of flavours that were completely new and exciting to me!  I snatched a bright yellow yuzu chocolate macaron (the yellow one you see on the far left in the macaron photo up top) and a creamy chocolate cocoa coconut one (the chocolate one with the toasted sprinkled coconut on top) and there were plenty of others that looked sweet and delicious.  My brother took the yuzu chocolate (his first macaron ever!) while we shared the chocolate coconut between the two of us and both were deeply loved. 

While I can’t give you an excited assessment of the yuzu chocolate yet, I can tell you that my brother was over the moon over it and loved it to itty bitty pieces.  He prefers citrus fruits over others such as berries and he’s a mega chocoholic so it was perfect for him.  It was his very time eating a macaron and he was hooked after the first bite.  And if you love coconut milk, the chocolate coconut macaron needs to be in your life.  Coconut and lemon are my two dessert flavour weaknesses so this made me all sorts of happy, especially because the filling was so creamy and so true to what coconut milk tastes like.

Macarons are $2.20 a piece which puts them in the middle price range as macarons in the city go for $1.50 to $3.  The new flavours and bigger sizes took me by surprise in the best way possible and I couldn’t be happier with the changes and additions.  They are fabulous and I am going to have the hardest time staying away.  Between Petit Thuet, La Bamboche, Bobbette & Belle, and other patisseries, I am going to be one very macaron-occupied girl for quite some time!  The last time I was this excited about a food event was last Septemeber during Vegetarian Food Fair and Macaron Day totally lived up to the fun and excitement I was expecting, and then some.  I had some of the most delicious flavours, the funnest time taking photos, and sharing the sweet treat stories with all of you and I can’t wait to do it all again next year now that the event has come to the city.  I hope you all enjoyed the macaron posts these last few days – it’s the beginning of a whole new delicious adventure!    

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Petite Thuet serves 3 locations in downtown/midtown Toronto:

  1. 1162 Yonge St. (between Summerhill and Rosedale subway stations, on the west side of Yonge St.)
  2. 1 King St. West (at the corner of Yonge and King St.)
  3. 244 King St. East (between Sherbourne and Princess St.)

Taste the Rainbow! Sweet, Airy Macarons From Petite Thuet

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You knew another macaron post would show up on my blog eventually 😉  I recently read in a food magazine that macarons have become the new cupcakes, and that cupcakes had their time in the spotlight and macarons are, if I can put it, the “Ooo la la, haute couture” of pastry desserts and sweet confections.  Although I love macarons dearly and find them absolutely darling, I completely disagree.  I love cupcakes and always will, period.  And so will many other people.  I know interests are piqued and new loves are formed as time goes on, but I find the notion of food as “trendy” absolutely ludacris.  The role that food plays in our lives may evolve as we grow older, develop new relationships, and take on different lifestyles, but food should never be “trendy”.  You either like it, or you don’t, and you like your food because it genuinely makes you happy, not because everyone and their mother is stuffing their face with it.

The macaron is one of those desserts that really stirs up a ton of debate and emotion among foodies.  The frustrations with soggy meringue shells when not made properly, the pure delight in simply seeing the myriad colours and flavours, and finding that perfect dual texture of crispy, yet light and creamy.  I wanted to approach macarons from two angles: the accessible, supermarket bakery angle and the gourmet pastry shop angle.  We may love food, but it’s important to remember that luxuries such as macarons may not be accessible to everyone, and the accessibility and enjoyment of such things shouldn’t be inhibited by the size of your wallet or the area in which you live in.

I first found out about Petite Thuet from an issue of Where magazine and to my delight, there was a location smack dab in the core of downtown Toronto: 1 King St. West, right at the southwest corner of Yonge and King St.  Petit Thuet is a gourmet bakery, pastry, and food shop, offering sweet treats such as macarons, lemon meringue tarts, flaky fruit and almond pastries, freshly baked croissants and artisan breads, jams and preserves, packaged meats and sauces, and other baked goods.

Macarons are priced at $1.95 each and come in so many flavours!  I enjoyed 2 lovely, dainty macarons, one in hazelnut and the other in rosewater.  I chose them based on appearance only.  I had no idea what flavour I was getting because I honestly didn’t bother looking at the list of flavours.  The sweet tooth in me snarled and said, “just pick 2 damn macarons and let me eat them!”  If I can make a recommendation, the rosewater macaron is delicious.  I’m salivating just thinking about it.  Pretty in pink, the cream is soft and sweet without being cavity inducing, and the meringue shell is crispy and so flavourful.  It’s not chewy or dry or soggy; it’s light and airy and creamy.  And because I didn’t know what the flavour was initially, I knew the flavour was bang on when I ate it because I knew it was rosewater as soon as I bit into it, “this is rosewater, omg, yummy!”

I recently discovered a 2nd location in the Rosedale neighbourhood (between Summerhill and Rosedale subway station on Yonge St.) and when I went in, I saw a fresh platter of breakfast croissants and a plate with a pyramid of freshly baked donut holes rolled in sugar.  I wanted to jump on them.  Tis all.

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Petite Thuet serves 3 locations in downtown/midtown Toronto:

  1. 1162 Yonge St. (between Summerhill and Rosedale subway stations, on the west side of Yonge St.)
  2. 1 King St. West (at the corner of Yonge and King St.)
  3. 244 King St. East (between Sherbourne and Princess St.)