I don’t know if you noticed my pretty new badge over on the side-bar, but I recently had the privilege of joining the Atlanta Food Bloggers Society. One of the, really quite amazing, perks of membership is getting to be involved in various food events and tastings around our lovely city. One such event was this week at Alon’s Bakery in Dunwoody– we were invited for a tasting and a macaron tutorial. Now, if you’ve ever had one of their macarons, or any of their food for that matter, you know what a unique and seriously tasty opportunity that was, definitely a must as far as I was concerned.
We kicked off the evening with some delicious appetizers, Radicchio Pear Bruschetta and Wild Mushrooms and Fontina Cheese Bruschetta, Cheese Focaccia, and Pimento Cheese Spread. They were all seriously tasty, and more impressively, scratch made in house. They were all great, but particularly liked the mushroom bruschetta and the cheese focaccia. Probably due to my general love of cheese and mushrooms.
Chef Alon Balshan joined us in the kitchen and talked to us a bit about his bakery and how they do things. Now, you should know the kitchen smells even better than the restaurant, if that’s possible. All those tasty bread-y smells were wafting around and making me extra hungry. There is just something comforting about the smell of baking bread… Anyhow, Chef Alon told us about all the various starters they have for their breads, and that they make them all each morning. Which, if you’ve ever had any of their breads, you can tell is scratch made in house – that stuff is tasty!
As we got into the actual macaron tutorial I was reminded of why I’ve chickened out on trying these cookies thus far. They are finicky, delicate and time consuming… But goodness they are tasty and pretty! Chef Alon made a black currant macaron – which was a beautiful jewel-toned blue – all while narrating the process and giving us tips and pointers on making a better macaron (like letting the cookie sit in a still, warm place for a while prior to baking to create the crisp outer shell, or making sure your temperature are exactly right for a consistent cookie). The speed at which he could pipe out a perfect baking sheet of cookies was really quite impressive, and in perfectly staggered rows. It was also interesting to have him demonstrate the differences between a fresh, unfilled macaron, a fresh filled macaron, and one that’s been filled and allowed to rest (they were all quite tasty, but one that’s been allowed to rest was a little softer in the center).
All of this was followed up by the consumption of quite a few of the black currant macarons – which where fruity and a little tangy and a truly lovely blue, and the chocolate macaron – which was probably my favorite of the two (I’m such a chocoholic) and was a very rich, pronounced chocolate flavor. I’ve had their macarons before and they may be the best I’ve had. And I love all the colors!
I’m still not sure I’m brave enough to try my hand at macarons… I’m not always the best at following a recipe closely or dealing with finicky temperatures and such. I’m sure I’ll brave them at some point, they’re way too pretty not to try.
I’ve got to say, this was a really fun and tasty evening. I loved getting to try all the foods, seeing how it’s made, getting a behind the curtains look at Alon’s Bakery, and visiting with the other great bloggers! The people at Alon’s were incredibly nice and I’d also like to thank them for having us. Must say that I highly recommend checking them out if you haven’t, great food, great people there and fantastic desserts.