But when I visit The Mac Factory in Adelaide I’ll find my appetite re-whetted.
Climbing the stairs and passing under black and white awnings, there is definite French about this little den. Glass cabinetry, beautiful gift boxes, vintage equipment artfully displayed. And the spread of Macarons are oh so pretty. Vibrant, pastel and smooth like cream. Nearly 20 standard flavours with seasonal varieties, all stacked in colours and rows.
I’m smiling broadly and I’ve only just walked in.
The kitchen is just in view, signs point to the working nature of the premises (ring the bell please). All Macarons are made on site fresh every day by owner and chef Silvana Agostino in a husband and wife team. They use no artificial flavours or preservatives. Most are gluten free and there are dairy free options. I choose a selection of 8 for $17.50 – in pairs, to avoid toddler-flavour-squabbles – salted caramel, strawberry, raspberry, watermelon, with a surprise passionfruit added to try. I loved them all.
They are light with crunch yet chewy and almost dense. I snuck off with the salted caramel which were just amazing, yet the watermelon was a completely lovely surprise, less sweet and almost refreshing. The Mac Factory also serves breakfast / brunch on weekends which I can’t wait to try, and did I mention the side-business (literally) of The Book Nook, a specialty Cookery Book Store? Oh yes. You can eat in here or at a larger table or booth at rear. That’s a whole separate story.
But for now, my visit got me thinking.
Macarons are pretty much everywhere, is buying them from a specialist store a little passe?
For one, I could make them myself.
I’m a bit of an Adriano Zumbo fan having eaten fresh from his stores. He now has a Bake At Home Range that I thought I would try. I don’t normally opt for packet mixes and maybe I flinch just a little bit as I open the packet (but only because I know I could make them from scratch). But the promise is for ‘Zumbo magic at home ‘ and there are very few additives. I’m anticipating good things.
It’s a well put together pack, including couverture chocolate, piping bags, a useful little tracing ring. I just need thickened cream and a little water. Instructions are clear, and there are how-to videos on the website. The mix smells amazing with raspberry perfume wafting throughout the house. And quick. They are cooked and cooling in well under an hour, ready to fill later that evening.
And they taste good! For the outlay of $6.24, and after several ‘can i just taste one pleeeeease mum’ I ended up with 16 well shaped and filled biscuits, with the gratifying sense of ‘I made that’ along with it.
But they are a fickle little biscuit and with a fast oven my shells are slightly over-baked, although I could improve this on second attempt.
I could buy some from most cafes and I do. Even, would you believe, at McCafe – I met a friend there recently for pancakes and a play, and there they were, just three flavours, looking larger and well filled than usual, but there was no mistaking them. At $1.95 each, I took one of each to compare. The raspberry was probably the pick, and although a little on the large size for me personally, I can see why they are included as part of a broader range of options in store.
As I look back on my week of the Macaron: the making, the gazing, the tasting, the frenzy; there is one food memory that persists: The Mac Factory. This is the trip that I will make again (and again).
Its about the biscuits, and then some: Not least the inspiring surrounds, a feast for the senses and a chance to speak directly to the chef.
Not to mention the pleasure of seeing the beautifully packaged lovelies at home in the fridge.
I will make them myself, but I will always go back to a place like this. It’s an experience that’s hard to beat.
The Mac Factory: 190b Hutt St, Adelaide SA 5000. www.themacfactory.com.au (check website for opening times, currently breakfast / brunch only on weekends)
Adriano Zumbo Bake At Home Range: www.zumbobaking.com.au