30 Hardware Lane
Melbourne VIC 3000
+61 3 9024 4528
Macarons. Who can get enough of them? Not me! It’s funny, really. I’m someone who isn’t a sweet tooth. I can easily accompany my dessert-loving friends into cupcake stores in the city and walk out without buying a single thing. I can say ‘no’ to the slice of passionfruit cheesecake whenever it’s someone’s birthday at work. And, unlike my sister, I can wrinkle my nose upon seeing a massive tray of Mars Bar cookies at Woolies on sale for $4.99 rather than get excited. Sugar is not normally my friend.
But macarons. How I LOVE them. Ironically, they’re sweeter than most desserts – too sweet for at least five of my sugar-loving friends – but I still love them. Mention them (or even better, spell them with just one ‘o’) and my eyes light up like that house in Vermont South with all the Christmas lights. And I’m not the only one. Thanks to shows like Masterchef, Melbourne has gone macaron crazy with bakeries and cafes whipping out batches of macarons alongside their staples of pies, bread and cake. Additionally, we’ve seen cake stores such as South Yarra’s Luxbite win the hearts of bloggers with their outrageously flavoured macarons such as kaya toast and kaffir lime leaf (both of which are in my hot little hands as we speak, but this will be another post for another time). When I heard that there was to be a macaron store in the CBD, you can imagine how wet my panties were (actually, DON’T imagine…).
Situated in Hardware Lane, owners Hugh and Maylynn recently opened up La Belle Miette to tap the growing market of macaron lovers and to showcase the skills they learnt while studying the art of macarons in Paris. The word ‘miette’ means little crumb which is an apt word to describe the colourful buggers that adorn the shopfront’s window and beneath the glass counter like paint spots on an artist’s palette. It goes without saying, though, that this little crumb is bound to grow into a big tower of sugary goodness.
LBM claim to be the only store in Australia that solely focuses on the macaron but an espresso machine is also available for those who want a cuppa with their treats. I’ve been here a few times (I love the fact that it’s only a few blocks from my work!) and on all occasions, Maylynn’s cousin was the only person there on-hand to serve the customers. The store does get busy during the morning tea rush but the girl (I forgot to get her name!) still manages to provide prompt service and is always happy for a chat. Plus, if you’re friendly, she might even let you sample one of the macarons on display (for me, it was a lovely rose macaron which was made with a rose petal oil, as opposed to rosewater, which gave it a strong and pure flavour).
Macarons are $2.50 – $2.80 each, depending on flavour. Most people usually choose two or three but if you’re indecisive or greedy (or both, like myself), then boxes are available. For $18, you can get a box (see above) of six macarons and while you’re essentially paying more than if you had chose each macaron separately, the boxes are not only pretty but durable enough to prevent damage to your lovely macarons. Worth it, I reckon.
My box contained (from top to bottom): dark chocolate (72% Venezuelan cocoa), red grapefruit, cherry blossom and sake, violet and blueberry, olive oil and vanilla, and pistachio.
My favourites were the red grapefruit one which contained a lot of intense citrus-ness and the cherry blossom and sake one which had a lovely berry jelly right in the middle. I felt that the dark chocolate one was perhaps too flat and sugary (I was expecting something a bit more intense, and I couldn’t really taste any bitterness which was disappointing) and ditto the pistachio which had a flavour that was more almond than pistachio. Meanwhile, the violet and blueberry one contained equal parts sweetness and tang while the olive oil and vanilla one was the most interesting flavour combination I’ve tasted in a macaron so far – the first thing you tasted was the lovely creamy vanilla before the dehydrated, fruity olive oil flavour hits you. Nom.
Texture-wise, they were as good as you could get and the fact that they were textbook perfect made up for ‘yeah okay, not fantastic’ taste with some of the macarons. The biscuit was hard on the outside but super soft and chewy all over on the inside, and the ganache had the right amount of silkiness and creaminess. Technically perfect as far as macarons go (well, at least for a philistine like myself who has not yet had the fortune of trying Adriano Zumbo’s or Pierre Herme’s macarons).
This morning I grabbed two macarons: a lemon one and a raspberry one. I was also hoping to score a ginger and macadamia nut one but the girl in front of me managed to grab the last one so by the time I reached the front of the line, they had gone. As you can see, Mr Lemony Snicket suffered a series of unfortunate events (being crushed by two constitutional law textbooks and my Macbook Pro took a toll on his body) as both macarons were transported in a clear plastic bag rather than a box. They were both obviously still edible though – and delicious. These two were probably the most intensely-flavoured macarons in LBM – the maker of the lemon one seemingly received a box of lemons and instead of making boring lemonades, squeezed every piece of lemon into this batch of macarons to give it more of a tangy taste than a sweet one. Loved it. The raspberry one was equally delightful – biting into it was akin to eating a spoonful of raspberry jam.
City workers, rejoice. We shall no longer have to put up with crappy biscuits masquerading themselves as macarons at Lindt cafe, nor do we have to trek all the way to South Yarra for Luxbite’s macarons (speaking of which, I just bit into a kaya toast macaron and oh my! … I die.). LBM, you are destined for big things.