Sunday, May 3, 2009
Jin Patisserie was the last bakery on my list of macaron places in L.A. to try; if there are others who make macarons here that are not on the list (like Vanilla Bake Shop), I will just have to discover them as I muddle my way around the city.
Jin is an Asian-inspired French pastry and chocolate boutique tucked away on Venice Beach's funky/trendy Abbot Kinney Avenue. This door leads into a nice little courtyard with fountains, tables to sit at, and nice greenery, behind which sits the shop itself. I feel very strongly that this should be called a boutique rather than a bakery, since the small indoor space is set up as a sparse store - a few glassed-in shelves on the back wall, a little chocolate counter by the cash register, and shelves of merchandise behind the counter. It's got style, but not a space to stay in; you buy your stuff and retreat into the courtyard.
I arrived 20 minutes before the store closed for the day, and the back shelves were already being cleared of any remaining items. There were three staff people in the small space, and they almost looked at me like I didn't belong in there. The only thing for me to do was to directly address one of them and ask to see the macarons, and she very nicely brought them out and showed me the flavors. I don't think I would have known what to do if I hadn't already known what I wanted when I walked in!
I ended up buying pistachio, violet-cranberry, rose, and sea salt caramel, and actually got them home without popping one in my mouth. It would have been easy to, considering the teeny-tiny size of these little guys.
These are the closest to Pierre Hermé's macarons that I have found in the States! In appearance they approximate his approach of couture cuisine (see the gold dust on the rose macaron?), in flavor they present inventive options (violet-cranberry, tea, sour plum, red bean paste, as in other items at Jin), and in texture they were JUST RIGHT. Not too chewy or substantial, not too crumbly inside the outside shell, not too brittle a shell, a nice slight sheen to the outside, pretty little feet, and lovely creams on the inside.
The pistachio's flavor tasted a teeny bit artificial to me, the violet-cranberry combination was interesting but a little too perfumy to be my favorite, but the rose was a wonderfully clear rose water flavor, and the sea salt caramel was marvelous! I'm not entirely sure why it's orange, but I suppose one has to make these decisions in high fashion food.
I feel that a properly made macaron is delicate enough to be in danger of being crushed in transport, but not so delicate that it crumbles at the slightest touch. It's always with a mix of relief and sadness that I find a crushed macaron in my bag after bringing it home!
So, to sum up the macaron scene in L.A.: absolutely do not miss Jin and Euro Pane, and stop by Milk if you feel like a macaron ice cream sandwich (fun and big!), but feel free to skip Paulette and Boule unless you want to be disappointed. And who wants to be disappointed by macarons?