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!

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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.)

The First Annual Macaron Day in Toronto! A Whirlwind Day of Patisseries, and Rainbow Colours & Flavours, Part I

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Happy first day of spring and Macaron Day, everyone!  What a whirlwind of a day it has been.  I have never popped in and out of so many patisseries and macaron shops in one day in my entire life and I have never seen so many instant photos of macarons flying through my Twitter feed since I started my account.  Macaron day had everyone in a tizzy today and it proved to be one of the most fun, memorable food days ever and I am so happy and proud to have been a part of it in my own tiny way.  I promised you all macaron goodies and I’m here to deliver with the goods!  

Since the day I found out about Macaron Day back in February, I cleared my schedule and started mentally planning out how I was going to incorporate all the macaron goodness into my day alongside anniversary plans (3 years!) with my boyfriend.  Nothing was going to interfere with either of these special occasions.  I figured out the perfect solution and executed a plan of attack.  One that required me to get up at the crack of dawn before there was even a glimmer of daylight, but a plan of attack nevertheless.

The plan: 1) choose a neighbourhood and/or area of the city and stick with it, and 2) GET.THERE.EARLY.  As much as I wanted to visit certain locations, I knew it would do me no good setting my sights on shops that were nowhere near each other.  I had to think “cluster” and I had to figure out a logical flow that would fit into my day and my plans.  I so badly wanted to visit the shops on Bayview as I had been wanting to explore the neighbourhood for so long, but it just didn’t jive with what I had in mind for the day, so I sadly had to let those options go (along with a few in the west end) and focus on others. 

While some might have hit the west end or the east end, I chose uptown and midtown Yonge Street as my main destination and one in Cabbagetown because it fit perfectly into the plans my boyfriend and I had.  I hit 4 – count ’em, FOUR! – shops in one easy swoop.  I suppose I could have hit six or seven, but the fact that I even got four in was a feat considering I was aiming for two when I was mulling over my options on Sunday night.  I had so much fun and my boyfriend ended up even more excited about our adventures than me!  The fun and excitement was just contagious.  I ended up visiting La Bamboche, Petit Thuet, Patachou, and Daniel & Daniel.  I felt like I was trick-or-treating for macarons!  At each and every location, I picked up my free macaron and purchased one more.  Knowing a portion of the money was going toward Red Door Family Shelter and enjoying every moment of the whirlwind macaron chase was worth every penny.

Each patisserie had a different way of doing Macaron Day.  Some shops selected one particular flavour to act as “spokesperson” for the special day while others had an assortment to choose from.  All the macarons my boyfriend and I chose were delicious and of the utmost quality and the whole experience made me more excited for future macaron trips.  Visiting all these shops allowed me to see the breadth of flavours available, to talk to staff, and to really embrace the day as a fun and inspiring one.  I was introduced to new and exciting flavours I never knew existed and it made me appreciate the patisseries more just by seeing how they executed Macaron Day in their own unique ways.  I’ll be breaking down my day into a series of posts over the next little while, so in the meantime, enjoy the photos and flavours I managed to snag!  Violet buttercream, strawberry champagne, yuzu chocolate, coconut chocolate, chocolate cherry, peach, lemon, and pistachio!

Today was wonderfully perfect in so many ways.  I was artistically inspired (you can bet I’ll be working on new scrapbook pages with some of the photos I took today, that’s for sure!), I got to contribute to a worthy cause, and I ate some of yummiest macarons the city has to offer.  And my boyfriend and I celebrated our 3-year anniversary on one of the funnest food days of the year on one of the most glorious days of spring.  It couldn’t have worked out better.

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For more information on Macaron Day and Macaron Day TO, check out their official website here and for more information the Red Door Family Shelter here in Toronto, click here.