Olivia Macaron Venturing out of Georgetown

No, the Georgetown purveyor of colourful macarons is not opening a second boutique in Shaw. At least not yet (how great would it be though??) But there’s still some good news if you love Olivia Macaron but don’t love trekking all the way to M Street… you can now purchase a limited selection of macarons to go along your favourite coffee blend at La Colombe in Bladgen Alley.

Olivia Macaron now available at La ColombeObviously, there’s a lot less flavours available at  La Colombe, but it’s great to know that there are some available in Shaw right? Also, if you can’t make it to (or don’t want to) Olivia Macaron or La Colombe, Olivia delivers nationwide (just call 202.965.1000 for orders.)

La Colombe is located at 924 N St NW. Olivia Macaron is located at 3222 M St NW. 

New Éclair de Dessert Collection at Paul Bakery

Looks like it’s definitely éclairs season in DC! After introducing two decadent new éclair flavours for Valentine’s Day (framboise & trois chocolats,) Paul Bakery  is keeping the momentum going with a whole month of new limited edition éclairs. A new line-up of tasty éclairs with join Paul’s traditional flavours vanille, café and chocolate.

Eclairs traditionels at Paul Bakery

 

Jot down this schedule! The Un Éclair de Dessert campaign will debut on February 25 by tackling one of France’s most beloved dessert: the Paris-Brest. What’s that you ask? It’s actually kind of like an éclair! Named after a bicycle race that used to take place way before the Tour de France was a thing between the French capital and one of Brittany’s largest city, it’s also made with pâte à choux. But, instead of being oblong shaped, it’s round to resemble a bicycle wheel and filled with whipped cream. It also lacks the fondant layer that typically tops the éclair. Paul’s Paris-Brest inspired éclair will be available from February 25 to March 3, and will be filled with a buttery praline cream and enhanced with caramelized hazelnuts. WANT.

Eclair Paris Brest

 

The following week will see the springtime return of one of my fall favourite: Paul’s noix de pecan éclair, typically available around Thanksgiving. Don’t miss it! It will only be in stores from March 4 to 10, 2015.

Pecan eclair

 

Next, from March 11 to March 17 will come the éclair coconut, topped with finely grated coconut instead of ganache,

Eclair coconut

 

Rounding up the series will be the éclair framboise-pistache (March 18-25) and the éclair fraise-pistache (March 25-31.)

Eclairs at Paul

 

All of these eclairs will be available individually during their respective time-frame (and only then, so plan your visits to accordingly) at all of Paul’s location throughout the Washington, DC area (you can find a Paul near you here) for $5.65 each. A special box set with 3 éclairs of your choice will also be available for $15.99.

I’m planning on hitting Paul every week to try each flavour because, well, do i need a reason beyond loving éclairs and pastries in general? Is there one you’re looking forward to trying more than the others? I’d love to hear! Eclair meet-up anyone?

G’Eclair to Bring Trendy French Pastry to Adams Morgan

In 2009, I met my mom, aunt, grandmother and cousins in Djerba, Tunisia for a relaxing Mediterranean family vacation (you can read more about that trip here). I had to leave before everyone else because well, I’m the only one who lives in a country that doesn’t have 6-weeks of paid vacation days a year (grrr USA!) but did meet up with my dad in Paris for a quick 24 hours before flying back to D.C. My dad and I both have a mad sweet tooth and truly appreciate fine desserts, so these 24 hours turned into quite the pâtisseries marathon. And it was good timing: Éclair Week was in full swing at Fauchon, leading me to rediscover a forgotten childhood favourite.

eclair, fauchon

Fast forward to today. Saying that éclairs are the new macarons is about as over-said as saying that macarons are the new cupcakes. And yet, that’s pretty much exactly what I just said 😉 Éclairs are quite trendy right now, and they’ve never looked or tasted better! Some éclairs truly look like tiny pieces of art (see the stunning éclair Joconde below.)

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Fauchon's Mona Lisa éclair

One of the chef pâtissier to credit for the éclair’s relaunch from simple pastry a high-end dessert is Christophe Adam, who spent 15 years at Fauchon. Adam, who now has his own shop(s) called l’Éclair de Génie, and Guillaume Simonnet, of L’Atelier de l’Éclair, have Parisians lined up outside their stores to try their latest creations and flavours… They’re looking to spread the éclair gospel to the United States, with Adam slated to open a shop in SoHo this summer this year.  There’s already quite a few spot to get decent éclairs in New York: Kayser‘s are really good as are the ones at Michel Richard’s Pomme Palais, Daniel Boulud’s Épicerie Boulud, Dominique Ansel Bakery and La Maison du Chocolat. Pastry chef Jennifer Yee also offers a selection of éclairs at Lafayette Grand Café and Bakery (try it for brunch! Their bread comes straight from Poilâne!!). In Washington, well, it’s a bit more difficult to find good éclairs right now. Like a lot more difficult. So I have high hopes for G’Eclair (pronounced Gee-Clair not JAY-Clair), an éclair boutique that popped up on valentine’s day and will open soon inside frozen yogurt shop Spoon in Adams Morgan. The team behind G’Eclair is also behind Donburi, a Japanese restaurant focused on rice-bowls. Its owner James Jang and his business partner Grace Owens-Stively are getting into the éclair business and eventually plan to open their own small brick-and-mortar éclair shop.

G'Eclair in Washington, DC
GEclair

Over the weekend, Grace and James handed out free éclair samples. I braved the snow Saturday to try them out and wasn’t disappointed by the green-tea white chocolate mini-éclair and the miso-caramel one. There’s still a little bit of work to be done on the presentation I think. The pastries need to be finer and longer to look more refined, and the designs have room for more artistry too. But the flavours were spot on so I’m definitely hopeful and think I might have more reasons to visit Adam Morgan in the near future…

Sweet! There’s a New Menu at The Grill Room

Chef Frank Ruta, picture courtesy of Capella DC

Chef Ruta, photo courtesy of Capella DC

Wednesday night, I headed off to the Capella Hotel in Georgetown to celebrate its new chef Frank Ruta, and the new menu he designed for its restaurant The Grill Room. I must confess, I never ate at Palena, the Cleveland Park establishment Chef Ruta headed before it closed last year. I also never attended one of his famed Bread Feast supper club dinner at Mark Furstenberg’s Bread Furst . And yet, I have an awesome memory of Chef Ruta, one that doesn’t involve his food directly. Instead, it involves a panel on which he sat at the National Archives a few years back. A panel of former White House chefs. The soft spoken Chef Ruta sat between former White House Executive Chef Pierre Chambrin and (very outspoken) former White House Executive Pastry Chef Roland Mesnier, the lone American sandwiched by two French chefs, with their heavy accents, talking about what goes on in one of America’s most famous kitchen. C-SPAN has a recording of the conversation if you want to watch it, hearing the two Frenchies talk about cooking Thanksgiving meals is quite entertaining!

Like he was on the panel, Chef Ruta was also rather discreet at the party thrown in his honor, letting his food do most of the talking for him. The pumpkin and squash soup made me want to skip spring and summer and head straight into fall while the sampling of the new charcuterie plate and oysters made me long to try the whole thing, perhaps during a spring-time lunch at one of the restaurant’s tables overlooking the C&O Canal.

Charcuterie plate at The Grill Room, at the Capella DC Hotel

Photo courtesy of Capella DC

Oysters at The Grill Room at Capella DC

Photo courtesy of Capella DC

What I was really excited to try at Wednesday’s celebration were the new desserts from pastry chef Aggie Chin. If I never had dinner at Palena, I did buy macarons from their market (and I have Nevin Martell to thank for that recommendation!) They were very good. So I was excited to try her latest creations for The Grill Room and Rye Bar. Unfortunately, we didn’t actually get to try items from the new dessert menu. I guess that’s how they tease us to come back… It was alright though, we were treated to an elegant buffet of bite sized treats, the highlights of which was a perfect canelé.

Picture perfect caneles at Capella DC

There was also some stunning chocolate macarons dipped in dark cocoa, though sadly, I couldn’t eat those 😦

Stunning Chocolate macarons at Capella DC

Chef Aggie Chin credits food blogs like Clotilde Dusoulier’s Chocolate & Zucchini for inspiring her to get into the kitchen instead of the courtroom after she studied law at UVA. She’s crafted an ambitious menu for The Grill Room, one she says “reflects the bustling diverse metropolis of D.C.” Many of the dishes mix seasonal vegetables or fruits with spices. The “Root for It” for example pairs parsnip cake, ginger ice cream and a squash and brown sugar mousse. The “Just Say Ah” mixes green apple and fennel sorbet with gingered apple, golden raisins and coconut curry meringues. Again, it’s really unfortunate that none of these desserts were available to sample at the party introducing the two chefs, but I guess that just made me want to come back and try them even more, especially if some desserts are going to be available at The Rye Bar and paired with cocktails!

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Les Merveilleux de Fred Opens in New York’s West Village

I spent the past week in New York City for a work event, and just had to find some time to visit the newly opened bakery Aux Merveilleux de Fred. HAD TO.

Aux Merveilleux de Fred is now open in the West Village

The Manhattan version of Frédéric Vaucamps’ meringue-shop looks like his many Parisian outposts, with a stunning chandelier, rows of merveilleux in display cases and an open kitchen that allows passers-by on 8th avenue to see how the pastries are assembled by hand. And the pastries? Well, they’re just as marvelous on this side of the Atlantic 😉

Aux merveilleux de Fred New York

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If you’re not familiar with the merveilleux pastry, you’re not alone. This traditional northern France sweet had fallen out of fashion until the late 90’s, when Fred decided to make it the star of Aux Merveilleux de Fred, his Lille pastry shop. It’s a marvelously airy combination of soft and not-so-soft meringues, held together with flavoured whipped cream and rolled in pieces of nuts, coconut flakes, or chocolate shavings. It looks a bit like a snowball and, for many, bitting into one evokes delicious memories of childhood. In New York, they are sold individually in mini or regular or large size and declined in 6 different flavours with extremely French names you might find hard to pronounce: le Merveilleux (chocolate), l’Incroyable (speculos and white chocolate), l’Impensable (coffee), l’Excentrique (cherry), le Magnifique (praline, almond, hazelnuts – my personal favourite) and le Sans-Culotte (caramel). The shop also sells cramiques, which are brioche-y breads.

A box of 10 merveilleux will set you back $25

But let’s get back to how fred ended up in New York. Following on fellow Lillois Meert’s footstep, Fred brought his marvelous pâtisseries to the French capital, a rare feat in itself. As Olivier Magny, the best-selling author of “Stuff Parisians Like,” note: “it’s a rare thing for Parisians to adopt a provincials’ favorite.”  And yet, that’s just what Fred achieved. Parisians can’t get enough merveilleux, at one of the six pâtisseries that are scattered around the city. His newest Parisian shop is actually around the corner from where I went to middle school. If you’re in Paris, you should go and check out the houses across the street at 11 and 13 rue François Miron. They’re some of the oldest in the city! Swing by Izrael next door too, it’s a tiny but fabulous spice shop. But I digress. Back to Frédéric and his merveilleux….The pâtissier is now out to conquer the world… starting with outposts in Brussels, London, and now New York. I can only hope Washington will be next! Spoiler alert: it’s not. Geneva and Shanghai will get sweet merveilleux before I do. So I like knowing that I can get my merveilleux fix in the West Village. And I should note that Aux Merveilleux de Fred is not the first New York bakery to sell merveilleux. Belgian expat Anne Sophie Diotallevi opened O Merveilleux in the Upper East Side last year, just a few blocks away from Ladurée and the French bookstore Albertine. Stay tuned for posts on both O Merveilleux and Albertine. Because obviously, I had to check these out too. HAD TO.

Aux Merveilleux de Fred is located at 37 eighth avenue (at the corner of Jane street). It’s open every day from 8AM to 7.30PM. Click here to view the addresses of the Paris shops.

Nutella Cheesecake Mousse

I was looking for an easy dessert recipe to cap off a raclette dinner party when I stumbled upon this no-bake Nutella cheesecake mousse recipe in My Baking Addiction. Not only was it easy to make, but it was absolutely delicious! You can check out the recipe on Jamie’s blog, though I did change up the recipe a little bit and made my own whipped cream instead of using frozen whipped topping like her recipe called for. To do that, I simply whipped 1 1/3 cup of heavy whipping cream until soft peaks formed and added 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar and whipped further until stiff peaks formed. I also topped each individual cups with a quarter of a Rocher Suchard.

no bake nutella cheesecake mousse

Trust me, you’ll want to try this one at home.

Ben & Jerry’s Introduced Spectacular Speculoos Cookie Core

The Vermont ice cream company just introduced three new flavours to its “cookie core’ line-up. Since I grew up eating spéculos (that’s how we spell speculoos in French, you might know them under the name cookie butter) I’m really only excited about one of those flavours: the spectacular Speculoos Cookie Core. GET IN MY BELLY!!!

Image courtesy of Ben & Jerry's

Image courtesy of Ben & Jerry’s

Oh, and in case you want to know, the other two news flavours are Boom Chocolatta! Cookie Core and Peanut Buttah Cookie Core. But really: SPECTACULAR SPECULOOS!!!

Dolci Gelati Cafe Now Spreading Happiness in Shaw

Unless you live in Takoma PGelato at Dolci Gelati Cafe in Shawark and already have easy access to chef Gianluigi Dellaccio’s sweet frozen creations, you’re probably like me and pretty stoked that Dolci Gelati Cafe just opened in Shaw. Equally exciting, chef Cedric Maupillier of Mintwood Place is slated to open his new restaurant, Convivial, next door…

Dolci Gelati is a labour of love for Gianluigi and Anastasia Dellaccio and I never tire of hearing the story of their business’ beginnings, which had Gianluigi drumming up business by going from restaurant to restaurant with a cooler of gelato strapped to the back of his vespa. Today, Dolci Gelati is a larger operation, with a production facility in Northeast Washington, a food truck and two retail locations. The newest one in Shaw is larger than the original Takoma Park location. The 1,200 square foot space has its own kitchen and gelato machines, as well as Dolci Gelati’s signature pistachio green on its walls and two luxurious chandeliers hanging from the ceiling.

I wanna swing, from the chandelier... from the chandeli-eeeeeer

The focus of the shop is gelato, of course, but that’s not all you’ll find. Immediately upon entering, you’ll notice the gelato counter and chalkboard menus of coppe gelato, or Sundae. I instantly fell in love with the pumpkin seed gelato and I wish we could have met sooner. We will have to rekindle our relationship comes next fall 😉 All gelato can be scooped individually or served in affogatos (hot or cold), gelato panini, shakes and even cookie sandwich. Towards the middle of the cafe is one of Dolci Gelati Cafe’s nolvety: a custom gelato pops counter, which allows you to dip a gelato popsicle into a variety of melted chocolates and sprinkle them with a variety of sweet toppings. Finally, there’s a beverage, sandwich and pastry counter. This winter, try Dolci Gelati’s signature Dolci Baci hazelnut hot cocoa paired with fresh house made whipped cream or homemade marshmallows. There’s also an assortment of pastries from the traditional Italian cannoli and tiramisu to croissants and tarts. Three sandwiches (ham & cheese, pesto caprese panini and prosciutto mozzarella panini) provide a savoury respite from all the sweetness around.

 

Dolci gelati custom popsicle bar

Dolci gelati owners Gianluigi and Anastasia  Dellaccio

 

Dolci Gelati Cafe opens in Shaw at 1420 8th street, NW. Check out my Tastemade video to learn more about the new space and its offerings.

Celebrate Fall with Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Macarons

Trader Joe's pumpkin macaronsIt’s pumpkin season and that means the pumpkin macarons are back in Trader Joe’s freezers, along with about a million other pumpkin flavoured items throughout the stores… (OK, apparently, just 40 according to Tech Insider.) Trader Joe’s is very committed to the pumpkinization of fall that way 😉

I’m not a huge fan of frozen macarons, though I’ve had these before and they’re not bad (for frozen macarons…) They’re ready to eat in about 30 minutes after you’ve taken them out of the freezer (though my friend Kaoru likes to eat them frozen too, almost like French mochi) so that’s an option as well.) They’re a bit on the soggy side, could definitely use a little more crunch but the pumpkin custard filling is pretty tasty. According to Trader Joe’s, they’re made with natural flavors and get their orange hue from turmeric and beet juice.

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Macarons, Pumpkin Macarons, macarons, pumpkin, fall, pumpkin everything

A box of 12 Pumpkin macarons retails for $4.99, so they’re a pretty good deal for entertaining… Every year, I stock up on a few boxes that I bring out when I entertain around on Thanksgiving.

Pumpkin Pie Spiced Macaron at Malmaison

Picture courtesy of Malmaison

Picture courtesy of Malmaison

One more reason to love fall! PS: did you know that the second Monday of every month is #MacaronMonday at Malmaison? You do now 😉 Mention Macaron Monday on October 13, buy one macaron (pumpkin Pie Spiced or not) and get one free!

Macarons are $2 a piece at Malmaison and typically sell in the following flavours: Lemon, Raspberry, Mixed-Berry, Pistachio, Salted Caramel, Toasted Coconut, Chocolate Hazelnut, & Orange. I can’t wait to try this new seasonal flavour!