A couple of years ago, Francois Payard, of Francois Payard Bakery, invented my favorite holiday: Macaron Day. Well, okay so he brought the tradition over from France, but it really doesn't matter because Macaron Day is The Best Day!! Think about this, friends: for one whole day, you can visit participating bakeries and get free macarons from them.
I'm going to let that statement sink in for a bit....
Exciting right?! I'm almost hesitant to write about it because then we'd be letting out our big secret and then all our favorite macaron places will be crowded and run out of macarons this year...but this was how we found one of our enduring favorite macaron places in New York City.
Located in the Lower East Side in a very sleek, minimalist shop, Bisous Ciao gave out a dark chocolate ganache macaron last year, embellished with a little pink bisous on the top of the cookie. Since then, I've practically fallen in love with the place. (Side note: because free macarons are the best macarons, they also gave out free mini passionfruit macarons for their first birthday last summer. Free = good.)
My hands down favorite here is the jasmine + green tea. They are pale green with flecks of jasmine petals on top. I also highly recommend the gianduja flavor; no one knows what this is, but really everyone knows what it is once you tell them it's milk chocolate and hazelnut! On my Bisous Ciao wishlist: one of each please! All the macarons have a consistent, light texture and crisp, shatter-prone shell (which is a good thing; see Panya if you don't believe me...).
Basically everything here is sublime, but I liked some flavors less: the berry flavors with jam filling were a little odd, though never bad. Also, be ready to part with a lot of money if you buy even one of these babies...
It is worth it though, if only once. Some things that I find great about this macaron place and keep me coming back? The store is so clean and aesthetically pleasing. All their packaging (though maybe a little superfluous) is black and white with bold accents of pink. I mean, if you get a box of 6 ($15 last time I went), the macarons are nestled in tissue paper...and then put in a sleeve around the box...and then you get a business card type thing slipped inside...and then your treasure box is put in an oversized black bag...that is tied with a pink ribbon.
Very appropriate for something like.......
YES, that was my Valentine's Day present: salted caramel, gianduja, espresso, and three chocolate-covered strawberry macarons. (!!!!!!!!) What a sweet Valentine I have! The salted caramel one, funnily enough, oozed into the box so the macaron was sort of pasted to the bottom and I had to basically dig it out. Very tasty, even though I'm not a huge caramel fan. The gianduja one was even more delicious: less ooze-y than the caramel and richly chocolate-y. I had a couple of the chocolate-covered strawberries and they were delicious too. The strawberry flavor did not really shine through and the jam filling wasn't strongly strawberry, but the chocolate-dipped edge was just so clever that I felt like I was eating a chocolate-covered strawberry!
Alex and I have had so many fond times at Bisous Ciao, and these will most definitely not be our last. In fact, there are two more macarons in my gift box waiting for me.
101 Stanton Street