My time in Japan has spanned 3 years that were filled with many new experiences: my first job (meh) my first experience paying my own rent and bills (MEH), my first time getting a fringe/bangs (LOVE IT). And the food experiences! Amazing...and I don't even like traditional Japanese food. Seriously, I actually hate it. Miso, sushi, osechi, natto, ochazuke...none for me, thanks. But the other side of Japanese food, the side that takes it's cue from the cuisine of other nations? I could live off of tempura, tonkatsu, soup curry, and okonomiyaki. Which of course I don't since it would wreck havoc on my wallet and waistline, but when I do indulge? Heavenly.
Another great side of the Tokyo food scene is born from the fact that a fair number of Japanese (specifically the non-working wives both young and old who wield their husband's and/or parents' disposable income like a weapon) love all things European. If by Europe you mean the afternoon tea-swilling, Chanel-wearing, Wedgwood-collecting fantasy land version.
Which, of course, they do.
But hey, Japan's Japan, and at least the country's fascination with Europe has led to an influx of foods and brands that we'd never have the chance to sample unless we actually went to Europe. My personal favorite import? The macaron.
Now, I've actually never had a macaron until recently, even while living in London. Partly because they weren't as trendy and widespread as they are now and partly because in my mind they were linked to the coconut macaroons and hard-baked meringues that I hate. My fiancee, however, loves them, and eventually he convinced me to try one. A classic pistachio one, from a Japanese patisserie called Theobroma. I cautiously bit into it, and as the chewy shell collapsed in a cloud of almond powder and perfume, I was hooked.
Like most converts, I became a zealot. I was on a mission to find the best macaron available in Tokyo. Sadly, the other Japanese versions were too sweet, too creamy, or too oddly-flavored to impress. The best of the local offerings is most likely Theobroma, but this being Tokyo we had the chance to sample the wares of the most famous original macaron masters: Pierre Herme and Laduree.
So this past Tuesday we headed out to Ginza, an older area of Tokyo famous for old ladies swaddled in fur and pearls and old-school salarymen marching around in three-piece bespoke suits. It's also the home of Japan's first Abercrombie and Fitch store. We actually went in, and were subsequently scarred for life. But that's a tale for another day... on to the sweets!
Since it has been open for a few years and it was an early weekday afternoon there was practically no wait. We were seated in the fabulously opulent tea room that was designed to evoke visions of a rosy-cheeked Marie Antoinette feasting on delectable delights...before her subjects cut off her head, of course. The unappetizing fate of the doomed dauphine aside, it was an amazing experience, among the best I've had here in Tokyo. From the delicious cafe viennois to the jewel-like macarons (I had lemon, vanilla, pistachio, and rose), I felt like I had died and gone to girly heaven. Where Marie Antoinette resides, one would guess.
Then of course we had to get a box of 8 to go...and we ate them all that night.