Any serious foodie must, at some point before they die, visit Paris. If good food is a religion, then Paris is Rome, Jerusalem, and Mecca all rolled into one. And if there is a liturgy for the foodie religion, then it is the pastries of Paris, which you simply cannot ignore. They rest like jewels in the windows of Paris’s patisseries, which seem to be on every corner. And in these windows, rest little circular shaped gems, in a variety of hues, from pale green to red, yellow, and orange. They are macarons!
© 2013 Chris Terrell
Macarons from The Tart Bandit
For the uninitiated, the macaron is a sweet, meringue-based confection made with eggs, sugar, and icing. Please don’t get the macaron confused with the the macaroon. The latter is a a coconut-based concoction. (Don’t get me wrong, I love macaroons too!)
Unfortunately, I cannot get back to Paris to eat my fill of macarons, at least not until we have our own flying cars, like the Jetsons, or a transporter like the ones in Star Trek. For those like me who live in Birmingham, however, there is an easier option: The Tart Bandit.
The Tart Bandit, a/k/a Mary-Claire Alford, is a local pastry artist who makes the most fabulous macarons I’ve ever tasted outside of Paris. In fact, hers are just as good, if not better, than some of the ones I've had there. (They are certainly better than the ones made by Ladurée-you macarons fiends know about whom I speak!) She has a booth at Pepper Place Market, every Saturday, or least every Saturday that I’ve been there. I was there today, and—lucky me—I got the second-to-last bag of orange-flavored macarons. Four to a bag and, unfortunately, I had to share two of them with my boys.
So, if you live in Birmingham and you love Paris or if you love macarons, then I strongly suggest you seek out the Tart Bandit. You will not be disappointed. Her website is: www.tartbandit.com