"I have the simplest tastes. I am simply satisfied with the best." - Oscar Wilde

"I came, I saw, I ate." - Au Gourmand

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Bisous Ciao - October 16, 2010

Macarons at Bisous Ciao
My favorite flavor of macarons is, without doubt, the rose.  Imagine your mouth filled with the delicate, intoxicating, and utterly irresistible perfume of rose; when I recall the rose macarons at Pierre Hermé or Chez Matsuo (a frequent dessert item, but not always available unless you tell them that is what you want in advance), even the memory of them transports me to the Neverland of rose macarons that I do not ever want to leave.  I was so excited when I found Pierre Hermé in Tokyo; sadly, however, the made-in-Japan Ispahan was such a disappointment - plain, flavorless; it was just a pink, wet and crumbly mess. I wonder if the recipe is altered to suit the Japanese palette, assuming that the chef in Japan is more than capable.  Or is it simply that rose flavor is difficult to perfect? So far every single rose macaron in New York has turned to be more than bearably disgusting that I had not so far managed to consume more than one-fourth of it; to be honest, had my mouth been smaller, I would have eaten even less. Therefore, I stood with much apprehension in front of the minimalist counter at Bisous Ciao:  To get rose or to not get rose, that is the question.  Ever the hopeful, I ventured to order one rose macaron:  Yes, I have finally learned not to get carried away and order multiple macarons after staring at many forlorn bags of half-bitten and undesirable macarons.  

Let's first get the question of rose flavor out of the way:  The cream was light and airy - the Hermé school - but what flavor there was was so faint that you could have fooled me that it was just food coloring - on second thought, it was probably really just food coloring.

However, why did I not just throw up my hands (and macaron) and leave for dinner?  Because the texture was bearably adequate.  Leaning toward the Ladurée school, the shells were crunchier and harder than Hermé, but not as chewy.  It was still only "bearably adequate" because, why else, the macarons were too big.  When a macaron is over a certain size-limit, you need to either bake them longer or alter the recipe so that the shells would not collapse - translating into harder and chewier shells.  Diseconomy of scale, have you heard?  Or did you stop at Econ 101 - Economy of Scale?  It is not always the bigger the better.  I asked the nice gentleman, who gracefully went along with my request for the macaron with the most filling, who also helpfully advised against getting the first macaron (the one closest to the glass) for it would be drier (reason forgotten; something to do with stocking order), why the macarons were so big in the U.S.  He shrugged and replied, "Like everything else in America." Hence, the problem of the size of macarons in the U.S. needs to be solved bottom-up: The Americans need to learn portion control and to work on their culinary skills so that a small quantity of quality would suffice the appetite and craving:  if you can get 1 gram of 100% quality, you do not need 100 grams made of 1% quality and 99% junk.

Masala Chai
The most unusual offering at Bisous Ciao, how could I pass it by?  The flavor was indeed chai - sweet, intense and spicy.  The hardness of the shells actually matches the strong flavor and the sweetness of chai - crunch, a burst of chai, crunch, a burst of sweetness.  Hermé's shells are so airy because his flavors are more delicate, pure and yet unmistakable.  Nonetheless, this was the first decent macaron I had tasted in New York.

Another bold flavor, the espresso would kick you awake.  Bisous Ciao seems to be better with the strong and bold rather than the pure and delicate - Wild Wide West, is it?  Less sweet than chai, the shells felt a little too heavy compared to paring with chai.  Look at the cross-section:  The outermost layers are visibly hard and thick. This is what happens when you super-size the macarons.

So far, the best macaron shop around in New York; however, can't New York do better than this?  Well, we shall see:  Next, please!

Bisous Ciao
Address: 101 Stanton Street, New York, NY 10002
Phone: (212) 260-3463

No comments:

Post a Comment