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have to make a perfect meringue, mix in the 10x and almond flour just so, pipe the cookies like a master, rest the cookies for a precise amount of time, bake them with the utmost care, and finally, handle the macarons like newborns or they'll crack. The only easy aspect of making macarons might be the filling, and even that requires practiced skill. So when I can find a good macaron, you know i'll chase it down like a single minded animal. Which brings us to 'lette.
'lette Macarons is well known among devotees as producing some of the best macarons in Los Angeles. In fact, 'lette is credited with popularizing them here. In 2007, Paulette Koumetz opened the first store in posh Beverly Hills. Since then, she and master pastry chef Christophe Michelak (winner of 2005 Coupe de Monde de la Pâtisserie) have expanded the business to a second store in Little Tokyo and, now, a third in Old Pasadena, which opened earlier this month. The Old Pasadena store is a tiny boutique, squashed between Louise's Trattoria and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (used to be Mrs. Beasley's). The interior is painted starkly white and had a kind of feminine approach to it: being a guy, I was uncomfortable to be seen in there.
'lette Macarons has an extensive selection of flavors to choose from: Carribean chocolate, coconut, Columbian coffee, earl grey tea, lemon, lychee (seasonal), Madagascar vanilla, passion fruit (seasonal), raspberry, rose, salted caramel, Sicilian pistachio, sweet wedding almond, and violet cassis. The base filling for all the macarons is white chocolate ganache that is changed to suit each flavor of macaron.
think of any way to improve it: the flavor was perfect.
Next, I tried the raspberry. The shells had a blemish or two and the consistency of the filling was spot on. The raspberry macaron had better bite than the salted caramel: the shell had a firmer crust which gave way to the soft innards. The macaron tasted as it should have - like raspberry - but I thought the flavor could have been a touch brighter on the palate. Finally, there was nice texture in the filling from some raspberry seeds.
The last macaron, and the best of the trio, was the passion fruit. The shell was perfect in form, the filling's consistency just right, and the bite flawless. The flavor really shined in this macaron, outperforming the other two macarons.
Having trained and worked in pastry, I know how hard it is to make macarons properly, which I explained above. To make good macarons, you need the skill of a craftsman and, just as importantly, soul, which Chef Michelak and his team have proved to me.
In the title of this article, I referenced the owners of both 'lette Macarons and Euro Pane because I see 'lette's macaron as a potential usurper to Euro Pane's macaron here in Pasadena. It's tricky to compare the two. 'lette uses a ganache filling while Euro Pane uses buttercream, which I'm partial to. Euro Pane's macaron is bigger than 'lette's, but it's correspondingly pricier. In conclusion, I think Sumi Chang better watch out because 'lette has good enough macarons to steal her customers away. Read my review of Euro Pane
Parking: I suggest using the Schoolhouse ramp (on Green Street between Fair Oaks and Raymond) because it's just steps away from 'lette. Parking in the Schoolhouse parking ramp is free of charge for the first ninety minutes (as are the De Lacey ramp and the Marriott ramp). Metered parking on the street costs 1.25 USD per hour north of Dayton Street.
The Bill: 5.10 USD
My Rating: out of four stars (excellent to outstanding on every level) - wow! Open Sunday to Thursday, 11 AM to 8 PM, and Friday and Saturday, 11 AM to 10 PM. Credit cards accepted. www.lettemacarons.com
Last Word: I hope 'lette Macarons remains a permanent fixture in Old Pasadena.
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