Jill Colonna is mad about macarons. The “luxuries of the gastronomic world” she calls them. She is not alone in her passion for the biscuity little delicacies. The French adore them and there are macaron fan clubs and associations around the world where dedicated macaron lovers swap views on flavours and looks.
When Jill moved from her native Scotland to live in Paris she quickly became entranced with the patisseries of the city and in particular those that offered macarons. She decided that everyone should be able to enjoy them and so she has written the definitive book about making them. Filled with fabulous recipes from the classic vanilla, to a giant strawberry macaron cake and even savoury mixes which are becoming increasingly popular in France, the book aims to make us all macaron mad too. Talk about have your cake and eat it!
French bookworm wanted to know more about the Macaron Mad Jill Colonna and where to go in Paris for the ultimate pastry taste sensation…
Do French friends seem surprised that a non-French person has mastered the art of a quintessentially French item? And that you’re taking the expertise around the world?
At first they did seem surprised – especially after a local pastry competition a few years ago when they were a bit taken aback: I don’t know if it was because I was Scottish or that I’d dared to produce such a macaron flavour as pistachio, green tea and wasabi! In either case I was extremely flattered when they asked me to make them for their dinner parties.
As the book is in English, I don’t think they even know that it has gone further afield.
Is your passion just for the macaron? Or do you bring the same enthusiasm to other baking and cooking?
Ask my friends and family and they’ll confirm I’m just as mad about many other pastries. Admittedly, I’m also obsessed about cooking and eating well and prepare easy French-style family meals every day. It’s my highlight of the day to enjoy eating together with a glass of wine and sharing stories around the table.
Which are your favourite cooking/baking supplies shops in Paris?
I love to head to Rue Montmartre (at the Châtelet-les Halles end) where there are a few famous baking supply shops on the same street such as Mora and La Bovida. I personally prefer DecoRelief across the street, as they’re so much friendlier and don’t let you feel intimidated! G. Detou on rue Tiquetonne is also just around the corner and great for chocolate in buckets from Valhrona.
Ooh, that’s a tough one. I don’t have one special one, to be honest, as there are so many of them that are fabulous and I love being inspired by them. As most of the top-notch pastry shops have particular house specialities, I’ll pop in to La Pâtisserie des Rêves for a sugared brioche feuilletée, for example, or Pierre Hermé for his Infinitely Vanilla Tartlet for the occasional teatime splurge.
What is your favourite tea room/coffee shop in Paris?
I thoroughly recommend the tea salon in the Jacquemart André museum. Imagine sipping tea and choosing pastries from the sweet trolley, produced by the oldest patisserie in Paris, while gazing at the surrounding tapestries and Tiepolo ceiling. It’s sweet heaven. I’m still ‘working hard’ to test out more…
Mad About Macarons by Jill Colonna is available at Amazon.