A Visit to Sandrine’s French Pastry and Chocolate in Kelowna

Inside Sandrine's well-appointed pastry shop in the Okanagan

French macarons, the affordable haute couture cookie, are pairs of tiny air-whipped meringues held together with heavenly fillings including ganache, buttercream, lemon curd, and jam. These vibrant splashes of color, in flavours such as raspberry, pistachio, lemon and chocolate, at first crunch, then slowly melt in your mouth. Macarons are the new “It Girl” outshining the cupcake at birthdays, weddings and designer events. The delicate and elegant macaron, long a darling of socialites, celebrities and royalty makes the cupcake look like an unsophisticated county-bumpkin.

The macaron’s long lineage has both France and Italy claiming to be the birthplace of these little meringue cookies traditionally served in pairs. However, there is no debate that the famed Laduree bakery in Paris created the “Parisian Macaron” in the early twentieth century by joining the meringue discs together using a filling of ganache with traditional flavours of vanilla, chocolate, coffee and raspberry. And, it was Pierre Herme that created the French obsession with macarons in the 1980’s, when he began experimenting with flavours and colors such as lemon, pistachio, salted cameral and mandarin. Today, macarons are found in almost every bakery in Paris, each with their own signature flavours and the houses of Laduree and Herme compete on the international stage for the title of world’s best macarons .

It is rumoured that Sophia Coppola’s 2006 Oscar winning movie, Marie Antoinette began the macaron craze currently sweeping North America. This movie created the ultimate feminine fantasy, of a world filled with pretty dresses, Laduree’s macarons, champagne and shoes. For me, macarons are the ideal gift for any girl’s Sweet 16th (or in today’s world of Miley pole-dancing Cyrus) Sweet 13th birthday because I love the macaron’s ability to somehow capture both childhood innocence and adult sophistication. Martha Stewart in 2009 highlighted perfectly packaged macarons as wedding favours and they are being used to accent wedding cakes when not replacing the wedding cake altogether . Brightly filled bowls of macarons scattered in living rooms and offices are the in-choice of designers including Ralph Lauren and Vancouver-based Patricia Gray. President Obama’s daughters, Malia and Sasha are devoted fans. Yes, the macaron has definitely arrived in North America.

Luckily in the Okanagan, one does not have to jet-set to Paris or be a Queen to enjoy French macarons. A visit to Sandrine’s French Pastry and Chocolate in Kelowna is like going straight to a Parisian bakery via Hwy 97. Sandrine is originally from France, and like the famed Pierre Herme, comes from family generations of chocolatiers. Don’t be fooled-making these delicate little cookies is an art that takes great skill and Sandrine’s macarons do not disappoint. The more traditional macarons such as chocolate ganache, pistachio, and raspberry buttercream lie along side Sandrine’s creations of black current with cream cheese mousse and so for the season a raspberry rose macaron.  Available individually at a $1.55, or in perfectly gift-wrapped boxes of 7 for $13.85 plus HST. For special occasions, Sandrine takes large orders on request. Macarons are wonderful with afternoon tea, delightful after dinner and heavenly with champagne. An affordable indulgence, eating macarons from Sandrine’s make me feel like I am back in Paris. – by Claire Sear

Sandrine’s Pastry and Chocolate-1865 Dilworth Drive, across from Orchard Park Mall. 250-860-1202

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