When I walked into Bite Macarons, I felt immediately transported to Tokyo...wait, that's not right. The macaron, English shorthand for the macaron parisien or le macaron Gerbet, is of French origins. And the talented owner and executive chef behind Bite Macarons, Sandia Horng, is Taiwanese.
So what was with my misplaced nostalgia for Japan?
In part it was due to the patisserie's fluorescent lighting, immaculate white interior, and pristine bakery cases violently punctuated by bright stripes of color from the stacked macarons. Such range of color combined with extreme cleanliness is something I particularly associate with Narita International and Japanese megamalls.
Once I recovered from this psychic disorientation, I was faced with selecting just a few of these treats to take home with me. Bite Macarons isn't Shipley's Donuts; each macaron is $2.25, which means buying a full assortment isn't exactly cheap.
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I understand and accept, however, the higher price point, given the intense time and preparation required to produce the perfect macaron. Watching Horng explain her passion for this pastry is further proof of the level of artistry involved in the creation of each Bite Macarons confection.
As I am not an expert in French pastries, I cannot judge the relative excellence of the structural integrity of Horng's macarons, which as per tradition sandwich light ganache/cream between airy meringue discs. I can testify to the absolutely inventive, well-executed flavors. The terrific rose macaron has a shy, botanical sweetness, while the house favorite sea salt caramel is richer with strong brown-butter notes. My final selection, a "plain" vanilla macaron, was anything but that, and its intense flavor was a sad reminder of how artificial vanilla dominates so many other baked goods.
When I have more change in my pocket, I plan to return to Bite Macarons to indulge in their fruitier varieties: passionfruit, raspberry, blood orange. It's probably a good thing I can purchase only a few at a time, as the macaron should not be fodder for vulgar binges, but rather the subject of patient, sophisticated consumption.