Map Out Your Macaron Munching Routes – 1 Week Until Macaron Day Toronto 2014!

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pre macaron day 2014 collageJust as the title says: only 1 more week until we celebrate the 3rd annual Macaron Day TO on March 20th!  I’m happily volunteering again this year as a Macaron Day TO ambassador and I already have my macaron map figured out.  If you’ve never participated in the delicious occasion before, you must!  Not only is it super fun carrying around a bundle of macarons in your arms (or purse or tote bag or in my case in the last two years, a picnic basket and Hello Kitty tin lunch box!), it’s also for a bigger and more important cause.

Macaron Day, in essence, is a day to support local charities in addition to enjoying delicious macarons and trying numerous wacky flavours made just for the occasion.  Many cities take part including Paris, New York and Toronto and each city chooses a local charity to raise money for.  For the last two years, Macaron Day TO has been donating 25% of all Macaron Day sales on March 20th to the Red Door Family Shelter, an organization that aids in providing care and social, legal and financial assistance to the homeless, low-income families and abused women and children just to name a handful.

On March 20th, participating patisseries, bakeries and cafes all across the city will be baking up a storm in support of this cause.  Here’s how it works: show up at a participating Macaron Day TO location, tell folks at said location that you’re celebrating Macaron Day and receive a FREE macaron!  (One free macaron per customer).  And of course, 25% of the proceeds of any and all macaron purchases you make on the day will go to benefit Red Door.  Obviously, Macaron Day wouldn’t be a success without the enthusiasm and support from everyone who comes out for it, so if you can, visit your favourite participant or make a day out of like me!  Get out early though as each participating location will have a limited number of free macarons to give out.

I’ve had a lot of fun strategizing and mapping out my macaron munching routes the last two years and this year will be no different.  I’ve generally followed a north-south plan, hitting up about 4 to 6 spots each year: La Bamboche, Petit Thuet x 2, Patachou, Rahier Patisserie, Patisserie La Cigogne, Yorkville Espresso Bar, and Daniel et Daniel.  I’m going about my route a little differently this year so you’ll see lots of photos from places I haven’t hit on Macaron Day yet!  I’m excited and I hope that all of you will get the chance to come out, have fun, eat macarons, and benefit Red Door.

Check out all of Ate by Ate’s macaron yumminess!

Macaron Day TO 2013

Macaron Day TO 2012

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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.

*****

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.

Celebrating Macarons and Supporting Local Charities & Organizations – A Sneak Peek at Macaron Day TO!

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What day is Tuesday, March 20th, 2012?  Macaron Day TO!  A day to spread awareness of social issues and local organizations and causes that matter to the community.  A day to make a difference, if only a small one.  A day to address the needs of those less fortunate.  A day to appreciate and reflect on the many luxuries we have in our lives that are often taken for granted.  And finally, Macaron Day TO is a day to celebrate the dainty, delicate, deliciously sweet Parisian confection that has taken the hearts of foodies, pastry chefs, and sweet tooths by storm all over the world.  Macaron Day is currently an internationally recognized and celebrated event in cities such as Paris and New York* and this year, a number of cities are joining the celebration and cause for the first time in an effort to raise money for local causes. 

Spearheaded by La Bamboche Patisserie, Macaron Day TO 2012 is the first of its kind in the city (along with Macaron Day Vancouver!) with more than 15 bakeries and patisseries across the city taking part in this event!  Sweet shops such as Bobbette & Belle, Daniel & Daniel, Moroco Chocolat, and many others will be providing free macarons on Tuesday, with a portion of additional macaron sales benefiting the Red Door Family Shelter in Toronto.  Twenty-five percent of the funds raised from the event will go toward the Red Door Family Shelter, an emergency housing shelter and organization that provides services and support to the homeless and the domestically abused.  Here’s how Macaron Day works: visit a participating Macaron Day location, say you are celebrating Macaron Day TO, and receive your complimentary macaron while supplies last!  And if you can spare some money, purchase a few to contribute to the cause.

I’ve been looking forward to this day for over a month now and even though I’m unsure of how many patisseries I can visit or get to in time, I’m hoping to make it to at least one or two.  In the meantime, I’m pre-celebrating today by giving everyone a healthy dose of macaron photo love!  The very first photo up top was a photo taken at Ruelo Patisserie’s station at last year’s Food Network Canada’s Delicious Food Show in October, where macarons shared the limelight with cakes, cupcakes, and cookies. 

I recently got the chance to hop on over to their original Richmond Hill location within the Times Square plaza complex by Highway 7 and Leslie St. where I nabbed two delicious flavours.  I’m saving those photos for a future blog post specifically dedicated to Ruelo, but I’ll give you all a hint as to what one of the flavours was: it’s one of the ones pictured in the first photo and it’s a very unique colour.  I promise I won’t keep you guys in suspense for long!  Ruelo is one of the 18 participants in this year’s event, so definitely check out  one of their locations (their other one just opened up near Yonge & Eglinton) if you get the opportunity!

Macarons have gained so much popularity over the last year in the city and you can tell just by looking at the list of participating patisseries and bakeries as well as all the beautiful macarons that were being showcased at the Delicious Food Show last October!  There were macaron towers, macaron sculptures, and macarons sitting in display cases like precious jewels.  While many patisseries in Toronto have clearly embraced these luxurious confections, you can also find them in both Markham and Richmond Hill as well!  We have Old Firehall Confectionery on Main Street Unionville, Ruelo Patisserie in Richmond Hill,and Sugar Tiers in north Markahm.  The flavour combinations of macarons are so creative (lemon thyme!  Crème brûlée!  Wasabi grapefruit!  Lime and honey! Cream cheese orange!) and they’re one of Le Dolci‘s most popular classes, selling out each and every single time. 

And to keep things fresh and fun, more and more patisseries are incorporating macarons into their desserts and in their every day line-up of sweet offerings.  Just think, Nadege Patisserie and Butter Avenue offer small gourmet cakes adorned with mini macarons, macarons are being daintily plunked on top of cupcakes, and wedding cakes?  Try macaron cakes.  They’re bite-sized works of art that are beautiful to look at and delicious to eat, and on Tuesday, March 20th, they’ll be celebrated and nibbled on across the city in support of the Red Door Family Shelter.  Happy early Macaron Day, everyone!  

*****

* = Official Macaron Day TO site.  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.