It’s true, macaroons are not only très à la mode in France – they’ve made their way across the Channel too. Vanilla, pistachio, chocolate, coffee and lemon are all delicious flavours but I doubt you’ve tried or even heard of escargot, marshmallow or even salted caramel and calvados flavour. Until now of course…
Meet Patricia. Once a clown and children’s entertainer – she can sculpt a balloon into 40 different animal shapes – now a macaroon maker extraordinaire. Driven by her sizzling curiosity and tireless creativity, she’s mastered over 90 flavours and keeps inventing more. She’s entirely self-taught and happened upon her business venture, Aux Saveurs Retrouvées almost by accident.
Seeking adventure, Patricia left her native Paris almost ten years ago to move to Spain with her husband and young family. A keen baker, Patricia ran a coffee shop where she explored French cooking and baking, to the delight of her Spanish customers. Always looking for a challenge, when she heard that macaroons were particularly tricky to make, Patricia decided that this was next for her to master.
Returning to France just over two years ago, Patricia and her family decided to switch city life for the Normandy countryside. They made their home in Buis sur Damville, a hamlet surrounded by miles of farmland. Patricia had dreamt of being able to raise chickens to supply the eggs for her business and she now has a brood of 70 in her back garden.
Setting up a state of the art kitchen next door to the family house, Patricia works around the clock baking macaroons and inventing new flavours. It’s a labour intensive process – not only because she makes all the fillings herself but also because she only makes 80 at a time – more than that she says, and the quality is lost. With five children, Patricia’s grown accustomed to operating on little sleep and it’s not crying babies that keep her up at night now but having a head full of new flavours to create.
Wanting to venture into savoury macaroons Patricia has developed escargot, mustard, cheese and caramelised onion flavour. She admits to having a sweet tooth and goes to town decorating the sweet macaroons and trying all variety of flavours: praline, rum and raison and my favourite, chocolate orange. She experiments with shape, colours, decoration… it’s clear she has great fun doing what she does.
In the two years since she moved her, Patricia’s macaroon business has grown from strength to strength. She started by selling at local markets and festivals and as soon people taste these little rounds of delight, word spreads. The week before I met her, she’d had a stall at the autumn apple festival, Fête de la Pomme in the nearby town of Conde-en-Auge. After a couple of days working long hours to get everything ready, all 1,500 macaroons were all gone in just three hours.
Patricia now supplies macaroons for weddings, businesses and several gourmet tea rooms throughout Normandy. In spite of being in deep rural countryside, Patricia’s always had a steady stream of visitors who make the journey to try her macaroons for themselves. She also recently opened her own on-site tea room and will be launching a new English menu this November.
For those wanting to try their hand at making their own macaroons, Patricia runs workshops every Friday evening (she can currently run these in French and Spanish, she’s working on the English so watch this space)! Participants make two flavours of macaroons – and each participant take home a box of their creations.
So what’s next for this restless macaroon chef? Well a lady from La Durée visited her shop a few months ago so who knows, perhaps we’ll soon be seeing escargot, mustard and calvados salted caramel macaroons in Paris’ most mouth-watering windows.
Visit the Aux Saveurs Retrouvées Facebook page by clicking here.
For more information on food and drink in Normandy, visit the Normandy Tourist Board website.
Text and all photos © Maggie McNulty / Normandy Tourist Board