Tech wrestling, sigh. It can break the smartest of folks. Not unusually, I was feeling pretty stupid about a recent ‘save your damn draft’ cage match on another blogging platform. It left me wanting for merriment and good cheer. That led to thoughts of (DROWN YOUR SORROWS IN) alcohol – specifically, beer – but I didn’t actually do so. Some grown-up characteristic decided to exercise its right to self-care. Bet my endocrine system was rejoicing over that one.
The next best thing seemed to be flipping through copies and reviews of drink-themed zines. This was during International Zine Month (July) where I was busily reading, writing and just admiring anything and everything ‘zine’ (being a non-maker). Oh yeah, didn’t I once write about a few beer and food-obsession/curation zines? Eons ago? Indeed!
It’s not pronounced Bolognese. My semester of French tells me that much.
Boo-lounge-err-ree? Not sure that’s right either.I should have paid more attention in class, dagnabbit!
However it’s pronounced, Chez Dré patisserie boulangerie is a welcome addition to the South Melbourne lunch scene.
Once up the alley-way, and through the snaking entrance, you are presented with a remarkably large and bright space. A beautiful purpose-built kitchen is on display for diners to peak through at the madness. The brain child pastry chef Andrea Reiss (who like my EDS co-conspirator, Gem, is also a mestizo). If you feel so inclined, you can view the transformation on Chez Dré’s previous website.
Given this is part of the South Side Sprawl ‘series’ of posts, I was eating during my lunch hour, and again convinced my workmate Daniel to lunch with me. After the required uming and ahing, and consuming of a short black and latte, we selected our dishes. While I didn’t catch the blend used, the coffee was solid.
Daniel, having recently made a Moroccan salad at home, decided to contrast his with Chez Dre’s offering.
While I didn’t get to taste it, Daniel found it a little unexciting – he was a fan of the chutney, but thought it needed more points of interest to liven it up. It did also look a little messy from the other side of the table.
To continue the midday Moroccan madness!, I went with Moroccan-style baked eggs. I’ve had many a ‘nom-time’ experience with baked eggs at places like Big Dish, and this was no exception. The minted yoghurt provided a nice cut through the acidity of the tomato base. My only minor gripe was the eggs were slightly overdone.
On a previous visit I had the ploughman’s lunch – a hearty affair, with its terrine being the highlight for me.
Despite the fact that I nearly killed a co-worker last time I brought macarons to the office (damned anaphylaxis!), I somehow managed
to saunter out to lunch with petty cash to buy macarons. Apparently macaron lust knows no limits.
Securing two of each of the day’s flavours, they were quickly disseminated to my fellow office dwellers. Unfortunately, I can’t remember all the flavours (marmalade, chocolate, salted caramel…and…and…two others) but I do remember they were all well received. While I don’t necessarily agree with all the hype in the foodie world surrounding macarons, I am a massive sucker for a good one. While I don’t have a great ‘palate’ for the subtleties of macarons, these ticked all the boxes – crisp outer shell, soft but not chewy inner shell, and balanced and flavoursome filling. For me they are on par with the well thought of La Belle Miette.
I do believe I will be back, with my mestizo other-half.
It seemed to be one of those days: you can’t say or do the right thing and your loved ones are incurably miserable. It does leave one wondering why one bothers to get out of bed at all (being an unemployed bum, I can exercise that luxury, should I want to).
Given my shit record for standing up @becksley (or good, depends on how you look at it: good at standing up, bad for standing up), I was determined to accompany Tristan on his work commute and hang in the city till it was time to see the lovely lass in question. This meant what’s become a fairly regular habit of accidentally annoying the baristas at Cup of Truth in the morning.
It’s a sad day when even Courtney’s flawless soy Magic doesn’t make me grin like a fool.
So off I trotted to my former workplace, Elevenses where dear Shanny lovingly made me a pourover of the Toby’s Estate Guatamala El Tambor CoE #7 which incidentally has notes of fresh toast (non sequitur: oddly enough, Shanny’s name autocorrects to ‘shabby’ on one of those smartphones).
Armed with some poetic inspiration thanks to one of Shanny’s neologisms, I left with my tail a little less between my legs to see B who is, it’s fair to say, quite obsessed with macarons. She can make them (quite proficiently from what I can glean) and she’s also written a really cool zine about them. In typical angry-ranty-adorable B fashion, she declared that an establishment whose name I shall not mention made macarons of fairly average quality and that it was imperative we both visit La Belle Miette on Hardware Lane, CBD.
I’d like to think that I’m immune to fads – macarons included – but I realise I’m hardly an impartial judge. If B was mad keen on these saccharine treats from La Belle Miette, they must be pretty bloody good. As soon as one sights the shop, you can’t really help but be infected with girlie glee – it looks utterly charming and stocks a select range of beverages designed to appeal to your inner Francophile – artisanal soft drinks in reusable bottles and Mariage Frères tea.
Your main problem with the macarons will be what flavours to select (to eat in, or take home in beautifully designed boxes to protect your yummy treasures) and how many to stop at. I began with the rose, cherry blossom and sake, and a brand new offering – wasabi. The rose is one of those macaron flavours I always order when available – it’s not too sweet and I like that flower-burst-in-my-mouth quality it has. This did not fail to please. Vanillary, buttery goodness. The cherry blossom and sake, I confess I expected a little more from – I couldn’t really taste the sake and felt that the cherry blossom could be a little more ‘flower-bursty’ (yeah, look at me, all technical-like). Oh, but the wasabi, WOW. Perfect marriage of sweetness with the added kick that only wasabi could have. I do also love their doilies – my mother used to crochet ones just like this when we still lived in England! Sadly, when we came to Australia, her crotcheting style remained firmly stuck in the 80s (it still is, alas).
B said that strawberry is one of her ‘measuring macaron quality’ flavours, like rose is to me, so she started off with the strawberry and vanilla, and a pink grapefruit. She donated a pinch of the latter to me – a touch of the mouth-puckering sourness of the fruit was pleasingly evident.
Ding ding! Round two!
I’d been greedily eyeing the raspberry and the 72% cocoa chocolate single origin Venezuela macarons. B also had a chocolate one and added a violet and blueberry one too. The raspberry one had even more scrunch-up-your-face tartness than the pink grapefruit, and I was pleasantly surprised by how bitter and not-sweet the chocolate one was. It is rich and has a lot of depth in its flavour. It being bitter is not a slight – quite the opposite, actually.
The texture of the macarons is very consistent – slightly hard shells yet soft but not bone-dry. I want to say they are slightly moist but that’s not quite right either. The ganache complements the shells wonderfully and is not overdone in sweetness. The owner Maylynn is lovely and was happy to natter to me and B about all the secrets of macaron making (which sadly is lost on me given my lack of culinary prowess). B looked like she was in her element, talking to a professional trained hardcore in France. Fellow food blogger wankster Em who can actually make macarons unlike my sorry self has also visited and reviewed La Belle Miette: I urge you to read her aficionado account.
I wouldn’t normally say such things, but should you happen to get into a fight with someone and wanted to make it up to them, you could do little wrong than to buy a box of wonder from La Belle Miette. In fact, I’m off to start engineering fights right now…
*miette means ‘crumb’ in French, but I also fondly recall that Penfold from Danger Mouse is partial to the trepidatious exclamation “oh crumbs!”.