There is something very sexy about the way French say the word “macaron” (pronounced mack-ah-ROHN). The heavily accented syllables roll off the tongue lazily, a little slurred yet unmistakably delicious. The experience of biting into a macaron – two shells made with egg white and almond flour laced with ganache (a mixture of cream and chocolate), is simply delightful. It is crunchy yet smooth, airy yet lingering, and most definitely heavenly when paired with a good cup of tea. Indulge yourself with this delicious treat at Chantal Guillon in Palo Alto.
The store, well-lit and painted white, exudes an air of stark minimalist approach. Instead, full attention is given to the macarons. A range of classic and seasonal flavors, usually between 15 to 20 flavors, are available. Imagine choosing among espresso coffee, dark chocolate, salted caramel, Persian rose, apricot, orange blossom, and other equally wonderful flavors, all displayed in a myriad enchantment of colors. Oh sweet agony, how could I ever make a decision?
Thanks to the staff’s recommendation, I settled on 4 classic flavors: dark chocolate, espresso coffee, almond amaretto, salted caramel and 2 seasonal flavors: red velvet, passion fruit ($10.80 for 6).
My personal favorites are salted caramel and passion fruit. The caramel balances smokiness, saltiness, and sweetness; each element complements the other without being overpowering. The passion fruit is both sweet and sour, like spring and first love.
Members of the Chantal Guillon team shared with me their own top picks, including dark chocolate and strawberry lychee. The namesake owner herself adores the almond because it reminds her of her childhood. In the seventies, French macarons were made only with almonds, and it is the Italian French who added ganache into macarons.
When Guillon first arrived in the Bay Area, she discovered that she was unable to find good macarons. To recapture the flavor of “Parisian macarons,” she started her first shop in San Francisco (2009), and later in Palo Alto (2012). These sweet concoctions have gathered fans and followers of all genders and ages.
“Quality is very important,” says a staff, “Every macaron you see on display here, Guillon has personally tasted and approved.” Only the best ingredients – Californian almonds, Valrhona chocolate, are used. Every morning a fresh batch is shipped from Chantal Guillon’s central kitchen in San Francisco, where each macaron is assembled by hand.
High-quality teas, in black, green, and red, are available. “It’s very French to have macarons and tea,” Chantal Guillon’s marketing manager informs me, and “Mariage Frères is a very old French tea company who cares about their quality, so that goes with our brand.”
In addition to seasonal flavors, which come out twice a year, there’s a new flavor for each important holiday. Mother’s Day was violet strawberry, and for this upcoming Father’s Day, Chantal Guillon celebrates the occasion with whiskey bourbon chocolate, “yum.”
I think I am ready for another macaron, are you?
p.s. Guillon adds a touch of Italian in her shop with Bacetti – individually wrapped gelato dipped in chocolate. The small ice cream treat is perfect for dipping in coffee.
Chantal Guillon ? 444 University Ave. Palo Alto Hours: Mon & Sun noon - 6 PM; Tue - Thurs 11 AM - 7 PM; Fri - Sat 11 AM - 7:30 PM chantalguillon.com $$ *** interviewees – publicity manager and Chantal’s daughter, refuse to be quoted by name, preferring to speak on behalf of the brand as a team.
June 15, 2013 ??????? (News for Chinese)