Archive for November 18th, 2008

L'Atelier des Chefs, Marylebon

L'Atelier des Chefs, Marylebone

As usual, I’m late. Those of you who read other London food blogs have probably by now read about the Trusted Places-organized macaron-baking adventures last weekend. Trusted Places, World Foodie Guide and Eggbeater (newly transplanted from the Bay Area to London) have already done a fab job describing our class at L’Atelier des Chefs, but here are my jumbled thoughts anyway:

  1. I really enjoyed meeting a few of my fellow food bloggers in person, including Krista, Helen and Su-Lin, whose blogs I’ve followed for months now. For a blogger, I’m a bit of a luddite, so making the jump from Internet to real life was weird at first. After all, you read someone’s blog and you think you “know” them, and then you’re face-to-face and realize you have to introduce yourself.
  2. Our hosts at L’Atelier were so organized and welcoming that even though Saturday was a freebie for us, I’d be glad to return as a paying customer. The mix of demo and hands-on work was good, and L’Atelier’s facilities are gorgeous and comfortable. Although there are inexpensive, 30-minute classes available, £72 seems to be the going rate for an involved, 3-hour class like our macaron-making one. The price tag’s steep, but I’d love to go back to do a class with friends. I figure an afternoon at L’Atelier is a lot cheaper and more productive than shoe shopping at Selfridge’s around the corner.
  3. Even though I lack a sweet tooth, I love macarons (and not just because I’m a francophile). So when Eat Like a Girl invited me to this ‘do, I was thrilled. Based solely on taste and visuals of Pierre Herme’s macarons, I’ve always been glad to pay 1.40+ euros per crispy-chewy macaron, but now that I’ve learned how much labor goes into making those pretties, I appreciate them even more.
ingredients for rose-raspberry macarons

ingredients for rose-raspberry macarons

Working with Shuna, Mia, Niamh and Niamh’s friend Heather, I helped whip up a few dozen rose-raspberry macarons (just throw in the lychee and it’d be ispahan, no?).

The first thing I noticed was how much slow sifting went into making the almond flour fine enough for the macaron biscuits.

batter for raspberry macaron biscuits

batter for rose-raspberry macaron biscuits

And look how seriously pink the biscuit batter was. Lurid, no?

macaron biscuit batter ready for the oven

dollops of macaron biscuit batter ready for the oven

Using a pastry bag, we tried our best to make the biscuits perfectly round. The key is to keep the bag tip stationary on the cookie tray to let the batter blob out. The other insights of the day wrt the biscuits were (1) once you’ve filled a tray with biscuit batter, you drop the tray onto your counter (with a loud thwap) to get the air bubbles out before baking; and (2) you don’t put these puppies in the oven until they’ve dried out a bit (and feel that way to the touch).

Click here, here, and here to see a few action photos of the day. (Can you tell we were all food bloggers?) 

It was a fun, informative class and I stuffed myself silly with macarons. An ideal afternoon.

L’Atelier des Chefs, 19 Wigmore Street, W1 1PH, 0207 499 6580; closest tube stations: Oxford Circus or Bond Street

Read Full Post »