D.C. is about as clueless as Ann Hathaway sporting a cerulean sweater in The Devil Wears Prada when it comes to ever-changing foodie trends. Even NPR declared, “cupcakes are so 2005”—and they said that two years ago.
Georgetown Cupcake may still attract hoards of tourists to their sickeningly sweet lair on M street, but chic pastry shops in New York and LA switched to serving macarons several years ago. The French confectionaries are devilishly hard to make, but when the meringue-based cookies come together with a sturdy ganache or buttercream, they’re worth all the fuss.
Deborah Kim and her husband Han have thankfully launched D.C. into the present with their new macaron shop on Wisconsin Avenue. The two met at the other CIA—New York’s Culinary Institute of America—where they learned all the skills to craft the delicate confectionaries.
Their store, Macaron Bee, finally opened up last Saturday after a long back and forth with the ANC over whether or not they would be able to sell the pastel-colored sweets out of the shop’s front window. In the end, the ANC put so many restrictions on the store that they settled on selling the cookies from a glass pastry display case inside, which required an interior remodeling of the location in Book Hill.
Despite its setbacks, the new store is nestled charmingly into the street, showing off nine-layered pyramids of lemon and raspberry macarons from its window. Inside, all 13 flavors sit in colorful rows behind the display case.
Although it boasts unconventional flavors, Macaron Bee does the classics best. The light pink rose macron is filled with a smooth but solid vanilla-rose buttercream and has a strong floral kick. Its lavender pair, however, is drowned out by the chocolate ganache filling, which oddly makes the cookie taste more like dulce de leche than the blossom it takes its soft purple color from.
The pistachio confectionary certainly isn’t as sweet as its companions, but the nutty macaron serves up the boldest flavor. And while the more innovative flavors like blood orange are hit or miss, the Kims created an elegant novelty in their tart and tropical milk chocolate passion fruit macaron.
Although they took a while to arrive in the nation’s capital, at least the French confectionary hasn’t jumped the shark—in Los Angeles, ketchup-flavored macarons are now all the rage.
Vox will continue to feature restaurant reviews throughout the summer.
Photos by Heather Regen