下面這篇紐約時報的報導，光是第一句就夠我愛的:"THE macaron is the anti-cupcake."
幹，說的太正確，大快人心!為什麼呢?大概這一兩年，macaron在美國能見度變高，但不普遍，水準也差的可以(包括Thomas Keller的Bouchon Bakery)，或許是要拉近距離、拉抬知名度吧，媒体在介紹他時往往以「他就像是法國的cupcake」帶過，我的老天，小朋友，以後如果有人做出拿著懶叫來比雞腿的事情，我們就可以說他簡直是「拿macaron比cupecake」，懂了嗎?
我甚至在一個法國甜點名廚(last name是P開頭)辦的macaron 日活動的海報上看到大喇喇的寫著"Macaron is the new cupcake now!"我知道在紐約討生活不易，但拿macaron去比cupcake真的太誇張，要討好當地消費者也不是這樣子的，這簡直就像一堆台灣名嘴跑去中國說人大選舉是二十一世紀的民主典範、全球七十億人(中的五分之一)擁戴普世價值的体現一樣的意思。
THE macaron is the anti-cupcake.
A cupcake comforts. A macaron teases. Dainty, nearly weightless, it leaves you hungrier than you were before. It is but a prelude to other pleasures. Your slacker boyfriend gives you a cupcake; your lover gives you macarons.
(Note that we speak here of the Parisian macaron, two airy almond meringue cookies pressed around a creamy filling — not those tiny bombs of shredded coconut that, on our shores, answer to the name “macaroon.”)
Macarons make no pretense of ease. They demand surgical precision in the mixing and sifting of ground almonds and superfine sugar and the beating (not too much) of egg whites, preferably ones that have been left to age for a few days in the refrigerator (or at room temperature, if you’re hard core). After the batter is piped out, you are advised to bang the cookie sheet on the counter, to eliminate bubbles. A quiver in humidity and all is lost.
Until recently, macarons have been difficult to procure in the United States. A determined seducer had to fly to Paris. No longer. Over the last three weeks I have nibbled 209 macarons from 26 confectioners across New York City. Many were alarmingly sweet, with a sour aftermath. Some were gritty and lumpy. One was desiccated, a fistful of chalk. There were flavors that I wish I could forget: Soapy jasmine. Maple-bacon. Oreo.
Eight macaroniers rose above the lurid gimcrack. They understood the macaron’s elegant calculus of crumble, cloud and cream.
If you taste but one macaron in this town, may it be from the Upper East Side outpost of Ladurée. The venerated French pâtisserie was founded in 1862 and is credited with the invention of the macaron “sandwich” in the early 1900s. Inside Ladurée, it is still the Second Empire. Spools of pale satin ribbons dangle in front of a spotted mirror. Ladies in black uniforms and blush-colored aprons and gentlemen in gray vests and matching cravats dispense pastel macarons, shipped from Paris three times a week. Their subtle hues come from natural ingredients, not artificial coloring, according to the company.
Lines are long. Be patient. The macarons are so small, so perfect. The top of the cookie is as flat as a wafer. The rest is ruffle, or pied (foot), as the French call it. Bite into the eggshell-like crust and there is an exhalation, a surrender, as the cookie crumbles, giving way to the chewy, almost half-baked interior. This is just textural foreplay, for the main flavor is in the filling: bracing lemon curd, perhaps, or evanescent orange blossom, or vanilla flecked with vanilla bean, or raspberry jam, with a faint, thrilling trace of bitterness from the seed. But do not concede the superiority of the French just yet. Leave it to Brooklyn to field a contender: Vendôme, the one-woman company of Taryn Garcia, whose macarons are the only ones in New York to rival the French forebear’s. They are sold at Charbonnel et Walker, at Saks Fifth Avenue.
The cookies come in supersaturated colors, like iPod nanos: Tyrian purple, flame red, high-noon yellow. (Ms. Garcia uses food colorings imported from Europe.) The cookies are puffier than Ladurée’s, crispy domes that cave in with a sigh. The ratio of cookie to filling (of flaky to gooey to creamy) is golden. No need to consult a flavor chart: each macaron announces itself. Ah, mango, with a squeeze of lime and a splash of rum.
Ladurée and Vendôme touch the hem of heaven, and it is a long way down. Still, honorable mention should go to the buoyant and intense vanilla and lemon macarons at Almondine in Dumbo and Park Slope in Brooklyn, and the delicate cassis and vivid passion fruit versions at La Maison du Macaron in Chelsea. Both shops are run by expat Frenchmen who seem to be have capitulated a little to the American sweet tooth.
I must confess an irrational fondness for the macarons at Takahachi Bakery in TriBeCa. They are too big. They don’t really qualify as meringues. The fillings are oddly fluffy, like cake frosting. But the flavors (yuzu-passion fruit, green tea, black sesame) are pure and true, and barely sweet at all.
The macarons at La Maison du Chocolat on the Upper East Side are even smaller in diameter than Ladurée’s, and have less loft and more tooth. They are strict here: there is no filling but chocolate ganache, infused with flavors like pistachio, coffee, and (the angels sing) salted caramel.
Bisous Ciao, on the Lower East Side, a minimalist white-cube boutique, presents macarons as a study in longing, arrayed in a long glittering case. You want to press your nose to the glass. They do not quite live up to their promise: some shatter at the touch, others are too sturdy. Still, they will do the trick, tucked in their chic gift box, black and pink, à la Agent Provocateur.
At Little Oven in Long Island City, Queens, Anna-Marie Farrier, who has a Ph.D. in literature from Princeton, makes macarons that are technically accomplished, albeit slightly dense. But is that so wrong? Perhaps we should shift our horizon of expectation and herald the arrival of an American macaron, one that eschews ethereality for the heft of a brownie.
Or, say, a cupcake.
ALMONDINE 85 Water Street (Main Street), Dumbo, Brooklyn, (718) 797-5026, and 442 Ninth Street (Seventh Avenue), Park Slope, Brooklyn, (718) 832-4607; $1.75 each.
BISOUS CIAO 101 Stanton Street (Ludlow Street), Lower East Side, (212) 260-3463; $2.50.
LADURÉE 864 Madison Avenue (70th Street), Upper East Side, (646) 558-3157; $2.70.
LITTLE OVEN 12-07 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, Queens, (718) 440-9438; $1.75.
LA MAISON DU CHOCOLAT 1018 Madison Avenue (78th Street), (212) 744-7117; $2.75.
LA MAISON DU MACARON 132 West 23rd Street, Chelsea, (212) 243-2757; $2.50.
TAKAHACHI BAKERY 25 Murray Street (Church Street), TriBeCa, (212) 791-5550; $2 to $2.25.
VENDÔME at Charbonnel et Walker in Saks Fifth Avenue, 611 Fifth Avenue (49th Street), (212) 588-0596; can be ordered for local delivery, (917) 892-2127, vendomenyc.com; $2.60 to $3.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: November 1, 2011
An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to iPod nanos as iPad nanos.