Katrina from Baking and Boys suggested I do a google search for Parisian bakeries in my area. I live in Central Minnesota. There are no Parisian Bakeries here. Period. There is the ever popular Cold Spring Bakery 20 or so miles from here. If you’re looking for donuts, and sweet rolls, Cold Spring Bakery can’t be beat. The last time I was there I even saw some macaron but they didn’t look the least bit appetizing so I passed in hopes that I would find ‘the real deal’ sometime in the future.
Fortunately I make regular trips to Minneapolis and if a Central Minnesotan really wants a foodie item, almost anything can be found in the Twin Cities metro area. Following Katrina’s advice I googled ‘Parisian Bakeries Minneapolis’ and Chez Arnaud in Maple Grove is not only the closest to me, but pretty conveniently located not far off of I-494. It’s over an hour from where I live but since I was on my way to Minneapolis yesterday I decided to allow some extra time and hunt down my first ever macaron. It was an educational experience.
I’ve read about macaron everywhere, on the web, in cookbooks and in magazines. I’ve watched countless videos about how to make them, and I’ve read countless blog posts about them. I was insanely interested in this mysterious to me little cookie. My interest is now satiated. I had one. Okay I had more than one. I had to try each flavor that Chez Arnaud had to offer yesterday. No offense to Chez Arnaud but I’m underwhelmed. They’re beautiful to look at little cookies. They have a fascinating texture. Crisp or crackly on the outside. Soft and moist on the inside. The flavors didn’t grab me. The sales clerk told me the yellow one is lemon, the pink is strawberry, and the orange is pineapple mango. I couldn’t detect any pineapple in the orange cookie. I think it’s mango. The lemon had the most flavor and was my favorite even though I’m not sure it was lemon. The strawberry was good, not great. Perhaps macaron are an acquired taste? Perhaps the flavor profile would have been better earlier in the day? I think I made my purchase a little after four in the afternoon so maybe they are better fresher?
If I have the opportunity to try macaron again I will definitely give them another try. I won’t hunt them down, and definitely won’t be trying to make them at home.
All of that said. I picked up a Pain au Chocolat and had it with tea this morning for breakfast. I would definitely return to Chez Arnaud to try their croissant, breads, and pick up another Pain au Chocolat. The Pain au Chocolate was absolutely excellent, even a day old.