Friday, November 30, 2012

Post 98: On the Hunt for Macarons (Chicago: Old Town/Near North Side)

I was on the hunt for macarons... specifically macarons from La Fournette, an authentic French bakery in the Old Town Chicago.  After parting ways with Jen post lunch at XOCO I set out for a quick trip to Old Town before heading back to the airport.  Along the way to La Fournette, I came across The Twisted Baker, a local bakeshop/café.  They had macarons too.

Their macarons were bite-sized, and there were just two flavors left in the shelf for the day... vanilla and lime.  So I bought them... all of them.  There was a sign that proudly displayed that their colorful creations were gluten free.  I am not sure if these macarons are specifically gluten free or if all macarons are naturally gluten free.  Does anyone have an answer for that? Gluten free or not, the macarons were quite elastic... a texture that rarely comes across in these petite pastries.  The vanilla macaron had frosty buttercream in the center while the lime macaron tasted more like a citrus flavored cupcake icing.  Both were good and not overly sweet, especially with the hot tea that I ordered.

So now that I held almost a dozen mini macarons in my hand, I stayed to get some work done using their free internet.  I'm glad I did because the twisted baker herself (and her baking staff) began to make pastry tart shells from scratch.  The scent of butter... delicious, irresistible butter wafted through the open kitchen and into the seating area.  The smell was orgasmic.  Really.  I did not want to leave... so I sat there attempting to engage myself in the electronic correspondence of corporate America while the teasing smell of butter kept interrupting my focus.  It was no different from sending e-mails in a strip club... only that the strippers here are baked goods that smell like butter drenched carbohydrates rather than fake strawberry lip gloss.  Or... so I hear.

Finally, I had enough of a butter high.  It was time to jump off Temptation Island of baked goods and high tail it back to O' Hare.  But it was as soon as I stepped off the stairs of the bakery I noticed that La Fournette, what I had been searching for the entire time, was right next door.  There were two bakeries standing back to back... both with macrons... I guess it was my lucky day.

As I walked in through the door, I was greeted with a cheery "Bonjour!" by the staff at the front counter.  There was a bountiful bunch of bread on the shelves.  Chalkboards that displayed the lunch specials hung from the walls.  There was a definite French feel to the bakery.  Not that I have ever been to France, but this is what I imagine a Parisian bakery to be like.  I made a B line for the macarons.

I picked up a variety of flavors (pumpkin, chocolate, peanut butter chocolate), and all were good... but five stood out the most for the intensity of their true flavors.  I enjoyed the pistachio, mango passion, cassis (black currant), and Lord Bergamot (a tea similar to Earl Grey).  The most interesting of them all was a special macaron that used a blend of spices from The Spice House across the street.  I am glad to see that community economics comes into play in Old Town Chicago.  Props to The Spice House and La Fournette for forming a partnership to create inventive desserts.  I will be back for the jams, preserves, and other spreads that are made in house, all of which became a temptation to further stuff my baggage.

Whereas The Twisted Baker seems to be more of an American bakeshop that specializes in pies, cakes, and tarts, La Fournette is more of a French bakery that capitalizes on its bread selection and other traditional classics such as croissants and crepes.  Both of which are worthy local shops that present high quality products.  Next time I visit the Windy City, I will definitely return to Old Town for these two neighborhood gems.  I plan to drop by The Spice House also.  Until next time, let's all get S.O.F.A.T.

ML - 20121114


  1. Macaroons are naturally gluten free cuz they're made with only almond flour, sugar, and powdered sugar.