My Macaron Crush: Love at First Bite

Here we suspend the space-time continuum for a bit & jump from Alice Springs to my current location of Sydney, bypassing the two and a half weeks I spent in Melbourne.  Fear not – I promise to return to my time in Melbourne soon, but right now I have a hankering for some macarons . . . 🙂

My First Macarons: 1) Strawberry Balsamic; 2) Finger Bun (a popular type of Aussie cake made with raisins, coconut & icing); 3) Pistachio & Apricot

It wasn’t so long ago that (gasp!) I didn’t even know macarons existed.  Of course I had heard of macaroons, the Americanized version of the French treat (which are often of the coconut variety).  Quite honestly, I had never really paid much attention to macaroons – I neither liked nor disliked them; I was altogether ambivalent.  But all that changed last September when I came to visit Heather in Sydney & I was introduced to my first ever French-style macarons at Adriano Zumbo [cue angels singing the praises of Zumbo’s delectable treats]. 0:-)

Adriano Zumbo, Master of Macarons!

Ever since that first bite back in September 2010, I was hooked.  It’s not just the unusual (read: amazing!) flavors that keep me coming back for more (although I’m sure that alone could do it!), it’s also the palate pleasing textures – the thin crispy outer layer of the shell to give that little bit of crunch when you first bite into it, contrasted with the soft chewy middle of the cookie, culminating with the smooth sensation of the cream-filled center.  Oh oh, careful now – you don’t want that drool to drip all over your shirt collar, do you? 😉

So you can see how easy it was for me to become infatuated. 0:-)

Those who have read Heather’s blog will be well aware of her “No Macaron Left Behind” Challenge.  I’m not sure I’ll surpass or even match the number of macarons she tasted (67 in total!), but with exotic flavor combinations like “Black Sesame, Licorice & Lime” to tempt the taste buds, you can bet I’m going to try! 0:-)

Unfortunately, I don’t recall jotting down tasting notes for macarons #1-3 (see photo at the beginning of this post), so you will just have to use your imagination!  Alternatively, you can check out Heather’s description of these flavors as of course we shared!  Once I returned to Sydney in mid-May I knew I’d be frequenting Adriano Zumbo quite a bit, so I resolved to savor each bite of every macaron I taste & to try to describe the experience as best I can.  I’m no food critic, but hopefully my words can capture the essence of each macaron.  Oh – I’m sure the photos help, too! 😉

Toasted White Chocolate; Black Sesame, Licorice & Lime

4 ) Toasted White Chocolate – Sweet, but not overly sweet.  The “toastiness” of this macaron reminded me of the flavor you get from roasting marshmallows over a campfire – very nice!  I also thought I detected a hint of caramel.

5 ) Black Sesame, Licorice & Lime – I was slightly skeptical about the flavor combination in this one, but it was fabulous!  I tasted the black sesame & licorice flavors first, followed by the lime & then finishing with the licorice again, which lingered on the palate.

Salted Butter Caramel; Pandan (fragrant Asian leaf)

6 ) Salted Butter Caramel – Tastes just how it sounds!  Caramel shell with salty, buttery filling . . . mmmmm.  I wouldn’t want to eat the filling on its own, but it was balanced nicely with the sweetness of the caramel cookie.

7 ) Pandan – I’d never tasted anything flavored with pandan before, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with this one, but I was very intrigued!  My notes indicate that the shell was sweet, the filling refreshing & that there was a familiarity about this flavor that I couldn’t quite place . . . hmmm, seems I will have to go back & try Zumbo’s “Dan the Pandan Man” cake sometime soon to see if I can figure it out! 🙂

8 ) Lychee Bubble Tea – Sadly, I don’t have a picture of this one (I vaguely recall it getting squashed on my way home, which left it looking not so picture perfect :(); however, I do have a pretty cool story about how I scored this free macaron . . . it was given to me by barista Sam after my job trial at Zumbo’s Rozelle patisserie!!  OK, so now you’re probably wondering what pastry faux pas I committed in order to deserve being put on trial?  Hahaha!  Well you see, when you apply for a job in Australia it is customary to be given a “trial,” usually for a couple of hours, so both you & your potential employer can make an informed decision about possible employment.  You may already know that the job at Adriano Zumbo didn’t work out (it was a barista position & they really needed someone with more than say, the seven hours of experience I had from the coffee course I had taken earlier that month).  Ah well, maybe it’s for the best – I mean, just imagine how many macarons I would be eating if I had to face temptation every time I walked into work?!

Anyway, back to the Lychee Bubble Tea macaron: There seemed to be two different types of fillings – a tea flavored cream filling along with a jelly consisting of small tapioca bubbles.  Great texture!

Palm Sugar; Kafir Lime & Ginger

9 ) Palm Sugar – You can see in the picture above how the copious cream, which tasted a bit like cotton candy, spilled out from the shell after I took a bite – nice!  The shell reminded me of a sugar cookie.  Although this macaron was good I wouldn’t say it was a standout; I wrote in my notes that the Kafir Lime & Ginger (described below) was the definite winner out of the two.

10 ) Kafir Lime & Ginger – I loved the way the green & gold hues melded together in the shell of this macaron . . . made even more evident after taking a bite. 😉  I tasted more lime than ginger initially, but it was actually the other way around on the second bite.  In my opinion, ginger often seems to overpower other flavors, but here I think Zumbo blended it nicely with the lime.  I couldn’t quite figure out what was in the cream filling – perhaps vanilla & a hint of ginger?

Chocolate Pop; Lemon & Olive Oil

11) Chocolate Pop – So far I’ve shied away from “normal” sounding flavors like chocolate & vanilla since Zumbo offers so many more interesting flavors to choose from, but the “pop” in the Chocolate Pop macaron immediately caught my attention.  The girl at the counter wasn’t quite sure what it was, but explained that the last time they had a similarly named macaron it contained something on the order of Pop Rocks, so I knew I had to give this one a go. 🙂

The shell had a chocolate brownie flavor & the filling was a rich ganache – not too sweet, maybe dark chocolate?  On the second bite I experienced the crunch that you can see in the shell in the picture above.  It didn’t seem to have the same “explode in your mouth” potency that I associate with Pop Rocks (reminded me more of Rice Krispies, or as they call them here, Rice Bubbles), but it added a nice texture nonetheless.

12) Lemon & Olive Oil – I admit, this one sounded a trifle odd.  As it is, lemon is one of those flavors that’s hit or miss for me – if it’s too tart I usually dislike it; if it’s mild it can be quite nice . . . but mixed with olive oil?  I didn’t know what to make of it, so what else could I do but try it & decide for myself just how loony Zumbo really is? 😉

The lemon flavor was subtle (a good thing in my book) & there was a definite sweetness to the macaron.  Knowing that it contained olive oil gave me the idea that perhaps this was what I sensed in the moistness of the shell, but I’m not positive about that & I would never have guessed it had it not been in the title.  All things considered, not bad!

Well, as you’ve probably guessed, 12 macarons is just the beginning – there’s more to come, my friends!  Get ready for additional macaron-inspired posts to be sprinkled throughout my blog in the coming months. 🙂

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Aunt Penny
    Jul 31, 2011 @ 00:41:19

    The macaroons look yummy; so many flavors. There’s a French bakery and cafe here that has macaroons that look similar, but they only have 10 flavors. We will have to go there when you come to California to compare. Looking forward to more posts… XOXOXO

    Reply

    • nicoleinoz
      Jul 31, 2011 @ 08:06:45

      Ten flavors isn’t too bad; I’ve seen some places here that only have three! But the great thing about Zumbo is that he changes his flavors every so often so that over the course of time you get to try many, many different varieties. 🙂

      Reply

  2. Camille
    Jul 31, 2011 @ 03:13:29

    Being the chocolate lover that I am, I would have headed straight for the chocolate pop! Looks so yummy in the photo…I am drooling. Then again, I am a lover of lemon desserts too so both flavors are very tempting. Who am I kidding – they ALL look good! I am sure I would be holding up the line just trying to make a decision. How many varieties are there on a normal day?

    Best get in line now for Adriano Zumbo Day!

    Reply

    • nicoleinoz
      Jul 31, 2011 @ 08:10:55

      If you go to Zumbo’s website http://adrianozumbo.com/ you can see the list of current flavors – right now it looks like they have 14 & I think that’s probably around the number they typically have on a given day. I think they change the flavors seasonally, so perhaps there will be some new ones this spring, but I still have heaps to try from the current offerings! They have a rice pudding one right now that made me think of you – you better book a flight soon!! 😉

      Reply

  3. Heather
    Jul 31, 2011 @ 07:38:11

    Super jealous of the lychee bubble tea (they were out every time!) and the lemon & olive oil, as they are the only ones I haven’t had!! Your descriptions are so good…I can totally see you writing about food (or sweets anyway).

    Reply

    • nicoleinoz
      Jul 31, 2011 @ 08:13:48

      Hmmm . . . maybe if you come back for Macaron Day they will have the Lychee Bubble Tea & the Lemon & Olive Oil again . . . hint, hint! 🙂 I’ll have to go back & re-read your posts about the other flavors to see if we agreed or disagreed on how they tasted!

      Reply

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