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The Bakery Review: A Daily Blog of the Macarons of Nice, France

You’ve come to expect nothing less of me. When I travel, wherever I travel, I seek out the best of sweetness, whatever it may be. And here in Nice, France, I shall do no less. My plan, whether possible, is to review the macarons from a different bakery every single day while I’m here. I don’t know whether I will pass by enough shops on my way to and from the WAPOR and ESOMAR conferences, but I’m willing to go slightly out of my way to make things happen. Instead of a new post everyday (which would drive some of you nuts!), I’ll just keeping adding to the top of this post. Come back every day to see what I eat!

Sept 10, 2014. May I simply start by saying YUM! I stopped by today’s shop a couple days ago but declined to buy any macarons because they were priced a fair bit more than other stores. I got used to paying 1.2EU each but this shop was 1.5 and 2EU each. Yes, both are exorbitant prices for a tiny little cookie when you could buy an entire box of packaged cookies for less. For my last evening in Nice, though, I broke down and shelled out the dough at a shop called Le Notre. For three! And I’m sure you can see why. The first macaron you see is Jasmine. And yes, it has gold flakes on it which stayed nicely attached instead of just blowing off. It tasted a bit like flowers which is to be expected given the flavour, but it wasn’t overwhelming as some floral treats are. It was crispy, creamy, and nicely done inside and out. The pink one is cherry and it was decorated with a thin chocolate coating in bright pink. Inside was purple cherry jam and it didn’t quite taste like cherry. It was gushy and it completely broke apart. But, even though I’m being very critical, it was still delicious. The last kitty macaron was flavoured badou. I asked what that meant and he said badou. So, I can’t tell you what flavour it was. But, it was crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside as expected. The inside was pink and white and kind of marshmallowey. I wish I could tell you the flavour as it was tastey. And awfully cute!

IMG_3472[1]Sept 9, 2014. My apologies for this belated post. Further apologies for the fact that the shop I went to was a repeat shop, Gosset Boulanger Patissier. But I wasn’t disappointed. I could see the label for the salted caramel macaron so I asked for it. It was a up to par in terms of crispy outside and nice instead. The second macaron made me try out my french because it was not labeled with a flavour and I knew I wouldn’t be able to understand a description of it. So, I ended up asking for the orange one with green on it. What a surprise! It turned out to be orange flavoured with a hint of chili to it. I know, I know. The chili macaron I had the other night was horrid but this one managed to get the flavours just right. Not too much chili and not some strange flavour combination. Besides that, they were shiny on the outside and chewy on the inside which was el perfecto! So, I’m pretty sure I’m forgiven since these were yum!

6macaronsSept 8, 2014. After yesterday’s horrid macarons, it seems strange that I yet again write about the macarons I ate at the Acropolis Congress. But, since they were so horrid yesterday, I thought today’s macarons earned them a chance on the blog again. What we were served today were your typical macarons – shiny on top, slightly crispy on the outside, moist on the inside, not too sweet. In order, they were pistachio (very nice flavour, mushy inside), chocolate (nice brownie flavour), coffee (i was hoping for praline and I’m not a coffee fan but I could see that people would like this one), vanilla (very nice flavour, not just a ‘plain’ macaron), lemon (great lemony flavour despite being crunched, but it was closer to lemon pudding inside), raspberry (i’m not a big fan of raspberry nor of jam but given that, this macaron was fine). Actually, this is a picture of the SECOND set of macarons, but these macarons made it back to my hotel room so I could write about them. Anyways, they weren’t SO delicious that I required 12 macarons, but a macaron on a table is a macaron that requires eating. Let the hating begin… “Oh, how do you stay so thin! I wish I could eat like that!”  Well, I don’t eat like that. It’s called conference eating and it stops the second I get on the plane. That’s how. :)

horrible awful macaronSept 7, 2014. Stop reading today’s update right now. I mean it. Stop. Well, I warned you. Today’s macaron was awful. Horrible. Can’t imagine anything worse.  So, the source of today’s atrocity is the Acropolis Congress which is hosting this week’s conference. I pretty much ran over to the table as soon as I realized there were macarons on it. Politely, I took just one. I’m always very polite when it comes to sweets. Anyways, with glee, I popped that little green baby into my mouth and nearly… well, let’s say I politely finished it. I just had to open it up to see what the double hockey sticks was in. Peanut butter? With chili? Well, the outside was soft and mushy and it smelled awful. Maybe this was a gourmet flavour that is far behind my unrefined palette. I don’t care. It was so bad I just had to check out the pink one too. Back to the table… Fortunately, the pink one was still a little crispy on the outside but I wisened up on my methodology. I DID NOT EAT THIS ONE. I opened that puppy up and it had some weird brown filling that ALSO SMELLED AWFUL.  In other words, I have no idea what flavour it was and I really don’t care. To give credit, I don’t know how you’re supposed to serve good quality, fresh macarons to 1000 people when a macaron only stays fresh for about ten minutes. So don’t even try.  Hey, is it inappropriate to whip the leftover macaron bits out my hotel window? Just curious. Not that I did. But I did do this.

IMG_3115[1]Sept 6, 2014. I’ve never chaired a conference session before and today was my first time. The speakers were kind as pie and intrigued the audience enough to generate lots of questions. They made my job easy! But, I’ll take that as another reason to celebrate which of course means…. the daily macaron! I think I went to heaven! Today’s macarons are brought to you by the number OMG and the letter I NEED MORE! I believe the name of the shop was Serain Cappe and I will have to find it again. I know the macarons look unassuming. The same smooth outside, filling peeking out in the middle. They were both very fat which makes me think they were made at the store instead of shipped in from elsewhere. The brown one is praline and it caused me to literally “OMG YUM” over my notebook. It was a little sweeter than maybe it should have been but it was otherwise perfect. The meringue stayed crispy, the inside was chewy, the filling didn’t completely soak into the meringue. Serious oh yeah! The vanilla macaron was also smooth, crispy, and quite nice. Not sure why I asked for vanilla since I’ve already had a vanilla macaron and I’d say they’re generally boring, but such is life. The most popular ice cream flavour is vanilla and that just might be true with macarons too.

IMG_3112[1]Sept 5, 2015. Today was presentation day at WAPOR and the audience had lots of great questions for me. Naturally, a celebration of the blessed event was in order.  So here goes. I stopped at a place called Mimosa, which was actually a very nice candy store. I’ve seen a number of candy stores here and they are NOTHING like what we have at home. I’ll have to take a bunch of pictures. Anyways, the macarons obviously weren’t made there but they had a bunch of different, interesting flavours. The unappetizing grey macaron is licorice! It was a little sparkly, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. It wasn’t the best licorice flavour, it was a little odd, but the sweetness was good. And, the filling didn’t melt into the meringue. The second macaron was lime & cactus. Despite the picture, it’s actually kind of green on the outside and very pink on the inside. It too was crispy on the outside but it was mushy and wet on the inside. The lime was a nice flavour, a good sweet and sour mix with the cactus. I’m already looking forward to tomorrow!

macarons, gossetSept 4, 2014. I didn’t manage to find any macarons between the hotel I’m staying at and the conference hotel but have no fear.  To compensate for hours of sitting on my butt, a little exercise was in order. Aaaaaaaand, that included Gosset Boulanger Patissier. Sadly, they didn’t label the flavours so I simply practiced my stunning french (Deux macarons s’il vous plait) and pointed at two – the two most boring ones I could see. I think the white one was vanilla and the light brown one was caramel. Both macaroons had the traditional smooth shiny outside. They were crispy on the outside and smooshy on the inside. You could actually see the filling inside as opposed to the filling having been completely absorbed by the meringue. They were nicely sweet, just like the three bears. However, and this a big one, I do believe that these macaroons were not made in the store. They were set in plastic trays, there were only about 8 kinds, and they really looked like they just got dropped off at the store every few days. So, while they were good, I prefer to patronize 100% self-sufficient bakeries. Which means I won’t be going back for a second look.

macaron, nice, france, wapor, esomar, L'Art GourmandSept 3, 2014. Today my mission was simply to arrive before the conference started (first plane was late, but I caught the second plane because it too was late, hence I succeeded!). The second priority was to find the conference hotel and some dinner. Which means I had to walk by a bakery. Today I found L’Art Gourmand which is a STUNNING candy shop. They had many kinds of homemade style candy from jelly to nougat to chocolate and, yes, macarons. I chose a chocolate and an almond macaron. Both macarons looked very homemade and lacked the typical shiny smooth appearance you may be used to. But, they were the right size and shape, though not machine perfect as i suspect many are. They were also hefty and had a heavy filling. The chocolate macaron didn’t seem quite sweet enough and tasted more like chocolate powder. The almond macaron had a light taste, very nice. I wouldn’t go back for the macarons, given that there are likely to be many many other choices but if I can find the shop again, I will fork out a wad of dough for a one time ever nougat treat ($5 per 100 grams!).

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Buttertart and Nanaimo Bar Statistics: Annie’s Dream Bakery #MRX

As fun as statistics are, there really are very few jobs where you can apply those skills. Unless you want to be a math or statistics teacher, it’s good to have a fall back plan. And if I had my way and unlimited funds, Annie’s Bread Corner would be a flourishing little business right now.
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I’ve visited a ton of bakeries and pastry shops in many different cities and have figured out exactly what my quaint little bakery would be. The focus would be on fresh, out of the oven, warm baked goods. Tall loaves of olive bread, oatmeal bread, and sourdough bread as well as buttertarts, nanaimo bars, and scones would fill up my shop with tantalizing smells.

Of course, you can’t run a successful business unless you manage it well and that’s where my classical education in psychology and statistics comes into play.

  • I would calculate the frequency of inquiries and purchases for each product by time, day, week, and month
  • I would conduct test/control, randomly ordered tests on different times and days of the week determine whether the buttertarts should be made with pecans or hazelnuts
  • I would run regression analyses to determine which products create the highest total sales per individual shopper
  • I would run cluster analyses to determine which products sell better together than alone
  • Most importantly, all potential customers would be required to fill out a demographic profile, including their taste and smell likes and dislikes before being allowed to view, purchase, or smell any items in the store (the entrance will be hermetically sealed)

Now that I think about it, if statistics are this important to a tiny little bakery, I probably won’t have any time to bake. Help please?

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