Japan Mar 2011 Day 8 – Le Cordon Bleu Kobe Macarons
I’m “fast forwarding” my Japan posts to bring to you guys the Le Cordon Bleu Macarons from Kobe! “Nan desu de?!” some of you might ask. ‘Cos in barely 2 weeks’ time on 20th March is Le Jour de Macaron aka Macarons Day! This day which celebrates the popular French confectionery was initiated by no other than the man who revolutionised macaron gastronomie, Pierre Hermé. Since its inauguration 7 years ago, Macarons Day is celebrated by many patisseries around France, with notable names like Sadaharu Aoki, Dalloyau, Laurent Duchêne and Jean-Paul Hévin, just to name a few. It has since spread across the Altantic to NYC and Toronto, as well as the rest of the world! And over at Aspiring Bakers, we are having celebrating it for one whole month with “Aspiring Bakers #17 – March Macaron Madness!”
We visited Kobe as a day trip on our second last day in Kansai. It was an impromptu decision actually as we’d initially decided to stay put in Osaka after visiting Kyoto and Nara a couple of days back. But we kinda ran out of places to visit in Osaka, which is pretty much of a business and commercial hub, with much less character and history than its neighbouring cities and towns. So it was off to Kobe for more patisserie hunting!
Tucked in a small inconspicuous corner of SOGO Kobe is the sales booth of Le Cordon Bleu Kobe. Given its small store space, very selected items were on display and for sale. These included some chocolate truffles and bon bons, a LCB Butter Cake which is supposedly very very popular amongst the Japanese ladies and macarons! Doesn’t take much to guess what we chose!
Macarons come prepacked in a boxes of 5 going at 1050 Yen. Not too pricey, compared to what other stores are selling. And this is LCB afterall!
Flavours from left to right, chocolat, citron, framboise, pistache et orange aka chocolate, lemon, raspberry, pistachio and orange!
Quick shot of our macs in a takeaway paper bag while the two store ladies chat away in the background. Curious as they were not as attentive service-wise compared to the other patisseries we’d been to. But we are not too bothered by this. Chancing upon LCB macs makes me happy! Then again, they didnt stop us from taking photos of their booth like what some other did. They just continued to chat away… The plush bear in the lower shelf was positively cute! J wanted to get it but I didn’t wanna. Regretting it now! Argh…
Unveiling the packaging after coming back to Singapore. Apart from the slide-in cover, the opening of the box was film-sealed around the edges to maintain the macarons. Macarons individually placed within black truffle paper cases, ensuring that they make a safe journey back!
Some quick shots before taking taste test! Orange, pistachio and chocolate. Mac filled quite generously and the smooth and shiny shells with extremely pronounced feet, especially on the pistachio one!
Equally pleasing are the lemon and raspberry ones! All the mac fillings were ganache-based, all except the chocolat macaron was incorporated with chocolat blanc, which is an excellent vector for an assortment of different flavours. Having aced the “visual test”, now to see how they taste!
Starting off with the most “subtle-flavoured” one. Or so I thought! Wafts of citrusy perfume spiraled up my nose as I took the first bite. Very very good! The zesty aroma exuded from the citrus oils were very very pronounced. What a surprise!
Next comes the most tart of the lot, Lemon Macaron with lemon ganache filling. The use of ganache was perpetuated in all the LCB macs and quite understandably so, being easier to store over longer periods of time compared to buttercream-based ones. It also tends to be less cloying, using the sweetness from the chocolate to counterbalance the acidity from the lemons. Despite the mellowing effect, tart notes were still very apparent, which I enjoyed tremendously! Like the orange mac, the shells for the citron mac were perfectly done, providing a gentle crunch without being overtly chewy was what would be typically expected from underbaked macarons.
Switching over to pistachio for a change in tones. The filling was aromatic but the nuttiness was much less obvious than what I’d expected, since its a “double shot” from almonds and pistachios. Its quite probable that only the filling is infused with pistachio paste while the shells were kept strictly to only almond meal. Quite a shame really. The shells were also a tad too crunchy, probably slightly overbaked with some gaps showing up. Overall still a good piece, but not as great as the citrus themed ones above.
Back to framboise, flavour was much much milder than what I’d anticipated. Not very exciting. I’d expected the piece to permeate the fragrance and tart flavours of raspberries but it was watered down in both aroma and taste. Were my senses dulled from the previous three macs? Well, I had generous gulps of water to wash it all down. It was also getting boring I guess, as the composition of the pieces were pretty much uniform and thus, on the mundane side…A little dollop of framboise confiture or a square of gelee would make the piece much more interesting yeah? Shells were very good like the lemon and orange pieces. No complaints about that.
Lastly, chocolate, the darkest of the lot. Well, not as dark as I’d wanted it to be. But it wasn’t delightfully milky as in a chocolat au lait as well. Very safe flavour, in other words, boring… It was very well-executed and creamy yes, the texture is good and thus would probably get raves from most. But I was expecting it to be special, oh well… no expectations, no disappointments. :)
The quality of the macarons were very consistent, well made shells with good ganache fillings. Well, they had better be, since they teach folks to make macs, who end up teaching other folks to make macs. So they’d better know how to make good macs to start with! The lemon and orange ones were very, very delicious IMO but then it starts to get boring with the others. Perhaps I’m partial towards acidic flavours, or maybe I’d raised the bar with the chocolate and pistachio ones subconsciously. The macs were indeed good, but not on the fantastic scale. Not all of them at least.
So yes, if you happen to be in the area, do drop by SOGO Kobe to get yourself a box of these macarons. They are good and shouldn’t disappoint too much, unless your expectations ran high like mine. With some of the flavours, I felt that more could be done to make them interesting. There’s room for improvement, as there will always be. Or perhaps that’s jus the insatiable me speaking. :)
Keep a look out for more macaron reviews this month and join in the fun to make some macs in our “Aspiring Bakers #17 – March Macaron Madness!”
Japan Mar 2011 Day 7 – Osaka Aquarium
Japan Mar 2011 Day 6 – Le Salon de Thé de Dalloyau
Japan Mar 2011 Day 6 – Nara Todaiji and A Tale of Two Ramens @ Dotonbori
Japan Mar 2011 Day 6 – Nara Koen and Katsuga Daisha
Japan Mar 2011 Day 5 – Pâtisserie Jouvencelle Oike Kyoto
Japan Mar 2011 Day 5 – Surviving Depachikas in Japan
Japan Mar 2011 Day 5 – 伏見稻荷大社 & JR Kyoto Station
Japan Mar 2011 Day 5 – 平野神社 北野天满宫
Japan Mar 2011 Day 5 – 金閣寺 の 日栄軒和菓子
Japan Mar 2011 Day 4 – Cannelé and Macarons from Pâtisserie Kanae
Japan Mar 2011 Day 4 – Pâtisserie Kanae Kyoto
Japan Mar 2011 Day 4 – Macarons @ Jean-Philippe Darcis Kyoto & Unagi don dinner
Japan Mar 2011 Day 4 – 知恩院 錦市場
Japan Mar 2011 Day 4 – 京都 清水寺 二年坂
Japan Mar 2011 Day 4 – 京都 洛東 清水寺
Japan Mar 2011 Day 4 – 京都 晨の雪
Japan Mar 2011 Day 3 – A Taste of Spring 岚山 竹路庵 和菓子
Japan Mar 2011 Day 3 – Pâtisserie Henri Charpentier
Japan Mar 2011 Day 3 – Pâtisserie Gion Sakai
Japan Mar 2011 Day 3 – Gion and Depachika Dinner
Japan Mar 2011 Day 3 – Arashiyama Lunch @ 平の家
Japan Mar 2011 Day 3 – Tenryuji and Sagano
Japan Mar 2011 Day 3 – 嵐山 愛宕念仏寺 Otagi Nenbutsu-Ji
Japan Mar 2011 Day 2 – Macarons from Patisserie Alcyon
Japan Mar 2011 Day 2 – Mont Blancs from Pâtisserie Factory Shin
Japan Mar 2011 Day 2 – Dinner @ 鹤桥风月大阪焼 Fugetsu Okonomiyaki
Japan Mar 2011 Day 2 – Pâtisserie Mont Plus @ Daimaru Umeda
Japan Mar 2011 Day 2 – Umeda & Lunch @ Daimaru
Japan Mar 2011 Day 2 – Osaka Castle
Japan Mar 2011 Day 1 – Dinner @ Shi Ten Noh Ramen, Dotonbori
Japan Mar 2011 Day 1 – Sights and Sounds of Shinsaibashi