Let’s face it: Wednesday can be a tough day to get through. It’s the middle of the week, work is slow; the weekend seems like it’ll never arrive. Unfortunately, for most of us, the best we can do on a Wednesday afternoon is to grin and bear it, and (try not to) stare at the clock as it slowly counts down the minutes until the end of the work day.
Last Wednesday, however, was different.
Last Wednesday, the editors at Inside New York were treated to a sampler of macarons from Little Oven, a small bakery in Long Island City specializing in these exquisitely-crafted, French-invented, insanely-tricky-to-make-at-home bites of heaven. Delivered by hand (by hand!) by Little Oven’s friendly store manager, Kyra, and wrapped in a ribbon-tied box, the sampler featured an array of the bakery’s classic flavors: Caramel Fleur de Sel, Dark Chocolate, Raspberry, Passionfruit, Cassis, and Pistachio.
These were no ordinary treats. These macarons were one of those rare types of food that look too beautiful to eat, but taste even better than they look. The Inside New York office, normally filled with the sounds of typing and talking, grew silent as each editor savored a macaron and pondered its perfection. Words like “delicious” and “incredible” and the half-intelligible “mmmm!” slipped out occasionally. Mainly there was reverent silence.
You can find macarons at pretty much any French or French-like bakery in the city, but don’t be fooled into thinking that the ones from Little Oven are like the rest of ‘em. I’m no macaron expert– my one attempt to make them at home resulted in burnt, sticky clods of inedible matter– but I’ve sampled macarons all over the city, from SoHo’s Francois Payard to Georgia’s in the Upper West Side, and Little Oven’s goods clearly stand apart from the crowd.
If you really want to get technical about it, there are a few factors (in my humble, non-expert opinion) that can really make or break a macaron: texture, flavor, filling-to-crust ratio, sweetness. On every count, the macarons from Little Oven easily outshone their competitiors– they were delicately chewy without being gummy; not too sweet; infused with flavor. And what flavors! Forget your typical chocolate-and-vanilla business, although Little Oven does those too, as brilliantly as you might expect. For creative flavor enthusiasts, Little Oven’s current lineup includes such gems as coconut cardamom, peach and white jasmine, and earl grey (you’d be forgiven for briefly thinking you were reading the menu of a tea shop instead of a bakery.) It certainly helps that owner and chef Anna-Marie Farrier studied with none other than Pierre Hermé himself, the master of all things macaron.
Here’s some good news for you: Little Oven delivers to all 50 states. Need we say more? Do yourself (and your work week) a favor and order a box immediately; send one to your mother as an 8-months-early Mother’s Day gift; order a sampler to share with your best friend or significant other. And, as the French say, bon appétit!