Monday, July 14, 2008

Happy Fourteenth of July!

Instead of cooking myself a healthy dinner tonight, I decided to celebrate Bastille Day (it's not the 14th of July every day, is it?) by searching out my newly favorite French delicacy: the macaron.  Starting with this list that a friend passed to me, I picked out the one place open late enough to fit my schedule and headed out through some slightly snooty neighborhoods* to find it.

I came upon Milk in an area with fancy synagogues sprinkled amongst funky shops and restaurants - and incidentally a few blocks from the CBS studio where Dancing with the Stars is filmed**.  I quickly found parking on the street next to it and headed in with items from the online menu in mind.

This was not going to be the pure macaron experience - the list of macaron places notes that Milk only uses macarons to make ice cream sandwiches - but I figured this new incarnation would mitigate any potential disappointment with the macarons themselves.  All the reviews online make it sound like the macaron situation in L.A. is pitiful, so this seemed a good way to ease in.

They were beautiful in the ice cream case, stacked in their varying flavors and colors; the green macarons with pink watermelon ice cream and chocolate chips in the middle looked the most interesting, but I opted for a coffee/toffee sandwich and a vanilla bean one dipped half in chocolate.  I also purchased the pain au chocolat pictured above to have a loyally French choice in hand (whose chocolate, by the way, was fabulous).  There were no madeleines available today, even though they were listed on the website, and I was sorely tempted to say to the cashier girl, "Did you know that today is Bastille Day?  It would be a good day to have madeleines."

In the end, I was glad that I did not say anything, because she very kindly asked if I was taking the ice cream sandwiches far (which I was) and then offered to place them on ice to keep them cold.  She then inserted a reusable little ice pack in the carry-out bag, and carefully stapled closed a bag around each of the sandwiches and inserted them over the ice pack.  "They'll keep better this way," she told me.

And indeed, upon my return home 20 minutes later, they were in perfect condition to eat: slightly melty, so you could cleanly sweep your tongue around the ice cream sides and come away with heavenly ice cream in your mouth.  The macarons - which I could not resist tasting just a little bit immediately outside the store - were a bit stiff when straight out of the freezer, but by the time I got home, they were wonderfully chewy and just solid enough to hold things together.  If it had not been for the picture-taking process, they would have been just right when I ate them, but as it was, I had to endure a bit more meltiness for the sake of this blog:

So, instead of cauliflower-chicken breast salad tonight, I had macaron ice cream sandwiches for dinner.  And they were wonderful.  In terms of lactose pill worthiness, they get a 5 out of 5.  
The End.

*Places like Beverly Hills and Bel Air crack me up; when I drive through there it seems like there are obvious signs every few blocks declaring that you are in that city.  Not so much the subtle, private upscale neighborhoods - more the in-your-face proud to be upscale kind of places!  ALL the macaron places are there, go figure.
**A show which I may have seen filmed twice in the last year and a half, and yes, it is a CBS studio, even though it airs on ABC.  Sorry if you thought it was a real ballroom.  

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