Battle of the Greenwich Village Macarons (a Double-Header!): Mille-Feuille vs. Francois Payard Bakery
Lauren Shockey Mille-Feuille's on the left, Francois Payard Bakery's on the right
Oh, little macaron. So many people love you, but refuse to admit it in public, now that pie curries today's culinary favor. Well, guess what -- I still love you and am not afraid to profess my love. You charm me with your many colors, your dainty, crumbly form, and your sweet, nutty taste. So when Mille-Feuille (552 LaGuardia Place, 212-533-4698), a new pastry shop peddling the cookies along with a range of croissants and other baked goods, opened up on LaGuardia Place recently, there was only one course of action: Pit it against nearby Francois Payard Bakery (116 West Houston Street, 212-995-0888) for a Battle of the Greenwich Village Macarons.
Lauren Shockey Mille-Feuille's tiny treats
We stopped by Mille-Feuille first, and were immediately enraptured by the scent of butter and baked goods permeating the tiny storefront. The marcarons were up at the front counter, with about six varieties available. Which then prompted the notion -- why not make this a double-header? After all, two cookies are always better than one.
We opted for pistachio and chocolate, figuring that these were popular flavors and available at our next stop, too. The cookies, about two inches in diameter, were priced at $1.90, which seems to be the going rate in the city.
The cookie part of the pistachio one was a vibrant green (probably from food coloring), but the filling was that muddy army green you want when searching for pistachio-flavored things. The filling was amply nutty, meaning they didn't skimp on the pricey pistachios, using butter as filler, and the cookie was soft with just a tiny bit of flake. All in all this was one of the best macarons we've had in a while. In many ways, this shouldn't be surprising -- chef/owner Olivier Dessyn trained with Pierre Hermé in Paris, who is basically God of the Macarons. It's like learning to play tennis with Andre Agassi.
Up next, chocolate. The first thing that hit us while eating this macaron was the intensity of the chocolate flavor. Dessyn ain't messing around here with some janky-ass cocoa powder. The chocolate cream was pure and rich and decadent -- it makes you forgive the notion that France can't make a brownie for shit.