Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Breakfast time in Holland

As you know I went on a Europe trip with my hubby a few weeks ago. Because he was born in Holland we went to visit his family that I had never met. We stayed with his family for two weeks and had a FABULOUS time!

One of my favourite past times in Holland was breakfast time! (I love my food okay!) Breakfast time consisted of the whole family gathered around the dining room table with everything out to choose from.

The Dutch don't eat toast (someone managed to find a toaster anyway) so I insisted that I eat bread, as they do, the whole time I was there. They typically eat cheese (lots of cheese), sausage meats and other meats, peanut butter and other spreads or sprinkles on bread for breakfast. Of course you can have cereal or muesli too but that was kind of boring for me. Then you always had a good strong coffee with coffee milk (not normal milk) in it.

Cheese Shop in Holland
Just a Normal Cheese Shop in Holland

The cheese was SO CHEAP in Holland, we practically ate it for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

The sprinkles I was talking about earlier, they were my favourite! There is Hagel Slag which is pretty much like chocolate hail except WAY yummier. To me it tasted like Easter egg chocolate! Yum!

Chocolate Hail on Bread for Breakfast (Hagel Slag)

Then there is bosvruchten hagel which is a coloured, flavoured sprinkle. This was quite sweet so I didn't eat it too much, it reminded me of ground up fruit loops.
Another chocolatey breakfast sprinkle they had was called Chocoladen Vlokken which is pretty much just chocolate flakes, these come in dark, milk and white too which is good!

Dutch Breakfast Sprinkles
Chocolate Flakes and Ground up Fruit Loops! Yum!

The last kind of breakfast sprinkle they have is called Muisjes, this one is coloured aniseed sprinkles, I was a little disappointed when we bought it because I didn't know it was aniseed flavoured and I don't like it!
We also found some fun breakfast sprinkles, there are these Dutch windmill cookies (you can even get them here) Well they made tiny ones of them that you sprinkle on your bread! Cute and yummy!

Left to Right: Aniseed Sprinkles, Chocolate Flakes & Windmill Cookies
Top: Variety Pack we Took Home

Sunday, June 26, 2011

J'adore Macarons - French Macaron Review Part 2

Ever since I had heard of macarons, the name Laduree was always something I heard or read about. The nicest photos online were that of Laduree.

The only macarons I had tried in New Zealand were by Ma Cherie and for the time, they were good. Then I tried making my own and enjoyed the ones I made more. But I really had no idea what they were "supposed" to taste like.

Laduree Stall in Heathrow Airport in London

Our Europe trip started with two weeks in Holland but our flight actually landed in Heathrow Airport in London and transferred to Amsterdam. In those couple of very jet lagged hours at the massive Heathrow terminal 5, I managed to find a macaron stall, not just any macaron stall, a Laduree macaron stall!

My First Ever French Macaron Experience: Laduree
I bought three flavours: Salted Caramel, Green Apple and Vanilla.
Salted caramel was very decadent and oh so delicious! Vanilla was melt in your mouth gooood! The filling was to die for and it left me wanting to re-create this at home (goodness knows how!) Green Apple, however was not a nice experience, it tasted like I was eating an oily gummy candy, too sweet and weird!

My first impression of French macarons:
They seem very moist compared to the ones I had tried in NZ, not cheap either! At Heathrow Airport they were 1.60 Pounds each!

Laduree Shop
Me Outside the Laduree Restaurant in Paris

My Laduree Experience:
After walking miles and miles I can't begin to tell you just how sore my feet were (seriously, I have to see a Dr now because my left foot is screwed up!) But when I saw Laduree, glowing, all pastel green and golden, I couldn't have cared less about my feet! I took some photos by the entrance and of the window displays (AMAZING window displays!) Then entered into heaven.

Laduree Macaron Tower
Macaron Tower Display in the Window of Laduree

I walked into Laduree and starting clicking away, taking photos until someone told me not to. There were macaron towers, desserts, chocolates, pastries and macarons galore! I ordered a box of eight. My first thoughts were *exciting I'm getting a Laduree box* Then, I had to pick eight flavours! How to choose?! I chose Blackcurrant Violet, Orange Blossom, Almond Morello Cherry, Vanilla, Mint & Strawberry, Dark Chocolate, Coconut and Melon. I also bought a raspberry and rose dessert called Ispahan from Laduree, this looked amazing and I was scared to eat it because of it's beauty!

Strawberry Display Inside Laduree (they're all edible desserts!)

After a long, long day in Paris we got back to our hotel where me and my husband starting devouring these delicious macarons, I wrote a little journal entry about each one:

Laduree Macarons
Macarons from Laduree
From top to bottom:
Blackcurrant Violet: Mmm nice and tangy! Sharp taste and a bit of sour, this is my second fave I think!

Orange Blossom: Delightful! Tasted like a sort of cream in the middle, similar consistency to it too. Nice light flavour -perfect!

Almond Morello Cherry: Yum! Much like the Blackcurrant Violet this one has a lovely sweet tangyness to it. Cherry is always one of my faves though, so I'm a little bias!

Vanilla: This was nicer than the one I had at the airport, those were a lot softer in the middle than these fresh macarons.

Mint & Strawberry: Surprisingly nice, refreshing, not too sweet. Almost a jelly-like centre.

Dark Chocolate: Just like a brownie, these remind me of the ones I made, mainly because of the dark choc ganache. Mmm I could eat a plate of these for dessert!

Coconut:Wowzers! Totally my fave so far, nice light centre that's like the middle of a Bounty Bar or coconut ice but not as sweet.

Melon: Weird filling, feels like I'm eating a melon oil essence. Think I'll give this a miss next time I'm in Paris.

Ispahan Raspberry Rose Dessert from Laduree

Ispahan (Raspberry & Rose Dessert):
Delicious fresh raspberries on a raspberry macaron base with a creamy rose flavoured filling and more raspberries inside. This was a little hard to eat but well worth it once I got in. Me and hubby ate the top off first then took turns biting the base and oh-my-gosh! YUMMY! SO yum and SO worth six Euros!

The Verdict: Laduree:
I love Laduree macarons, I can now say I've tried them and they're the best that I've tried. They are slightly chewier than the other macarons I tried while in Paris. The shells stay in tact when you pick them up and have a definite almondy taste, the fillings are lighter and not as filled as Peirre Herrme. The flavour choices were great, heaps to choose from so I REALLY want to go back and try them all now!

Laduree macarons
My Laduree Bag and Macarons (I kept them!)

Hope you enjoyed my review of the real French macaron, I know I loved the taste testing! Next stop for me  is the Dizengoff Cafe in Ponsonby where my friend, Danelle, tells me there are some amazing macarons to try! See her post here about the exciting flavours she tried.

Au Revoir!

Monday, June 20, 2011

J'adore Macarons - French Macaron Review Part 1

I've just gotten back from my four week Europe holiday, two of which were spent touring six countries! I can honestly tell you, I need a holiday after my holiday!
The sights were amazing, the food was superb and as we got closer and closer to Paris the more excited I got. I knew we only had one full day there so I got out my "Paris' Best Macarons" print out with the map and started planning our day.

Macarons Pierre Herme
Pierre Herme Macarons

Rose Flavoured Macaron from Pierre Herme

The five shops I wanted to visit weren't the only thing I wanted to see and do in Paris (obviously!) there was the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame and shopping down the Champs Elysees (luckily we had seen the Louvre and Eiffel Tower the night before)
These five macaron stores turned out to be quite a walk from one another so we only got time to see two out of those five BUT we did find another nice macaron store called Pierre Marcolini on accident.

Me and my friends buying French Macarons in Paris

First Macaron Experience: Pierre Marcolini
This store looked so fancy and up market. They sold thousands for different varieties of chocolates and sweet treats. The shop assistant was lovely and very patient with us English speaking tourists. I took a group of Contiki friends in with me who had never tried macarons and we had a great time picking out flavours and taking photos.

Pierre Marcolini Macarons

The Verdict: Pierre Marcolini
The decorated macarons here looked almost too good to eat, I loved the shiny ones! The consistency of the macarons, however, reminded me of the ones back home. They were a bit dry and the flavours weren't as strong. I had the Strawberry Daquiri and the Mojito, lovely flavours and lovely looking but they were just a little too dry for me.

Pierre Herme
Pierre Herme

Second macaron experience: Pierre Herme
I LOVE the bright colours and energy this store had! From the cute "J'aime les macarons!" signs to the lovely customer service, Pierre Herme was perfect! At this stage I thought I was going to try hundreds more macarons this day so only bought TWO macarons! Crazy, I know!

Pierre Herme Macarons

Pierre Herme Macarons

The Verdict: Pierre Herme
LOVE love love! I had Rose and Jasmine macarons and the flavours were beautiful, not too much, just right on the spot. The textures were great, semi soft with a crisp shell. I tried some of my friends flavours, the one I remember best was Liquorice & Violet which was lovely and no nasty taste of liquorice (but I don't think it's supposed to taste like the candy)
Pierre Herme seem to fill their macarons more than I'm used to, but it doesn't effect the taste in a bad way, their shells are crispy and they were nice and light.

Third macaron experience: Laduree
To be continued...