La Belle Miette has perfected the mini burger of the 21st-century bourgeoisie.
Do you remember Paris? The sculptured landscape of Les Jardin des Tuileries. The verdant majesty of Le Jardin du Luxembourg. The golden sandstone buildings and white Parisian apartments eternally preserved along L’Avenue des Champs-Élysées, and in the L’Opera arondissement. The sun glistening on bridges criss-crossing La Seine. The paved laneways, sketching artists and old book sellers of Montmarte. And of course, the darling little cafes and sweet patisseries near Saint-Germain-des-Prés. And in Melbourne? Towards one end of the paved Hardware Lane, just after a series of birch trees, there it is.
Long French windows grace its entrance. Boxes and pyramids of macarons in the window front. Filigree iron seating on the landing. Shelves stocked with tea from Mariage Freres and artisanal lemonade by Hansi. A veritable rainbow of irresistibles lie spread across a marble top. We give you La Belle Miette — translating to a little crumb, a little crumb of Paris in Melbourne.
La Belle Miette’s macarons come boxed in Parisian style, as evoked by a local Melbourne artist — elegant silver flourishes, with little charms of almond blossom, foot, egg, whisk, watch, that serenade a story of the creation of a macaron, and other charms of an Eiffel tower, a ladies shoes and hat narrating a Parisian tale. To hold one’s macarons, there are soft boxes, and for a little more, sturdier hard boxes.
MoMo & Coco’s lovestory with La Belle Miette commenced in the following way. To celebrate our heritage’s new year earlier this year, MoMo & Coco scoured the city in the search of irresistibles in shades of red and pink for extra good luck. We struck sweet fortune when we read an excerpt in the Age Epicure announcing the opening of a specialty sweet boutique. This was our first hoard. Nine round irresistibles, nine being plus one of eight, both lucky numbers. Round symbolizing completness and longevity…
Raspberry Ganache macaron – Dark red macaron, symbolizing luck and prosperity.
Rose macaron – Dark pink macaron, symbolizing beauty and vitality.
Cherry blossom and sake macaron – Light pink macaron, symbolizing harmony and serenity.
And our lovestory continued on a regular basis thereafter, a few macarons here and there, for afternoon sugar hits, for cake decorations, for friends’ birthday gift accompaniments, for family treats. Each and everytime, service was friendly, easy-going, warm. We have lately decided to do La Belle Miette true justice, and hence we recently purchased a full set of all the flavours available ($2.50 each, $2.80 for the chocolate one) for our readers’ vicarious enjoyment…and ours, of course. Note that we re-arranged the macarons into a rainbow below, because we have a slightly better eye for a more photogenic colour palette than the rather good-looking young man working that day, oh la la. 😛
This is the Pistachio Macaron, a green little nut. If you like pistachio, La Belle Miette’s version is delicately chic. Cacao’s version (here) is somewhat more intensely flavoured, and nuttier.
This is the Olive Oil &Vanilla Macaron – the smoothness of olive oil is well captured by the almond meringue, with a vanilla scented ganache filling.
The Violet & Blueberry Macaron is one of MoMo & Coco’s favourites. Combining the floral notes of violet and the fruityness of blueberry in a blue perfume dream, it is rather reminiscent of the beautiful violet-based perfumes of Bvglari Femme, Armani’s Cuir Améthyste, L’Artisan’s Vert Violette and Comme des Garcons’ Stephen Jones.
The Earl Grey Macaron is another macaron to make our favourite list. The characteristic citrusy tones of bergamot in earl grey tea manifests strongly here.
The Lemon Macaron is a classic interpretation of sourness. Stoutly flavoured, it can make one pucker up.
The Ginger & Macadamia Macaron is lightly flavoured, with whift of spicy ginger aroma.
The Cherry Blossom & Sake Macaron is one of MoMo & Coco’s favourites. It is flavoured as daintily, gracefully and whispering soft as the pink flowers that give it its name.
The Rose Macaron is sublime, evoking images of both the elegance of English rose gardens and sultry Middle Eastern Persian courtyard gardens. Yet another perfumery favourite of MoMo & Coco’s.
The Strawberry & Cream Macaron contains a slash of jam, and is a little artificial in flavour compared to Cacao‘s more evocative strawberry macaron. La Belle Miette’s version is a sweet morsel, nonetheless.
The Pink Grapefruit Macaron has a very subtle tang. It probably could be stronger in flavour.
The Pomegranate & Pimms Macaron screams (and tastes of) summer. It’s the colour of blushing cheeks on a steamy summer afternoon or night sipping a Pimms cocktail.
The Raspberry Macaon is the all-time foremost favourite of MoMo & Coco. There is simply none like it ever. Intensely flavoured, it’s a whirlwind sensation of creamy, tangy, and sweet. It alluringly colours your lips and simultaneously does a sensual tango and spirited flamenco on your tongue.
The Caramel a La Fleur de Sel Macaron will convert those who haven’t had a salted caramel irresistible before, and will remind those who are sick to death of its thousand copycats of why it is so, so, so good. La Belle Miette’s version properly errs towards the salty side.
The Hazlenut Macaron is imbibed with a greater and truer nut flavour than the Pistachio Macaron (above). One more for the nutty macaron lovers of nut flavours.
The 72% Coco Single Origin Venezuelan Chocolate Macaron is simply the most intense and truest chocolate macaron that MoMo & Coco have had. It’s bitter, dark, silky and all delectable decadence.
And because MoMo & Coco love cake, we recently combined our love for La Belle Miette’s macarons with our love for cake and chocolate. To pay tribute to the main ingredient of macarons (almond meal), we made a super moist vanilla cake partly composed of almond meal, smothered in a dark chocolate ganache icing and wreathed by a rainbow of La Belle Miette’s irresistibles. Vous aimez-la? 🙂
La Belle Miette has perfected the mini burger of the 21st-century bourgeoisie —
In terms of appearance — La Belle Miette is unparalleled, in Melbourne at least, for the consistency of each and every of its irresistibles. Shells are smooth, never cracked and do not hide airpockets nor empty shells. The feet (the hem of the shell) are moderately-high, not overly-frilly, never protrude and are always present. The shape is desirably and voluptously round, rather than flat. It’s sweet symmetry at every angle.
In terms of taste — Most of La Belle Miette’s macarons are very flavoursome, a flavour explosion in one’s mouth. There are many stand-outs: Earl Grey, Raspberry, Pomegranate Pimms, Caramel a La Fleur de Sel. Equally good, the perfume-inspired macarons are simply ethereal (Violet Blueberry, Cherry Blossom, Rose). A few (the Olive Oil, Ginger and Cherry Blossom macarons) however, are more delicate and require far more sensitive tastebuds. Cacao‘s macarons are probably more consistently flavoursome. Nonetheless, none of La Belle Miette’s macarons are insipidly-flavoured, all-sugar mediocre messes commonly found elsewhere. The ganache filling of each macaron is just-right.
In terms of texture — The proprietors of La Belle Miette state that “premium grade almonds are dried, ground, sifted; then reground and resifted with sugar until a fine, powder-like tant pour tant (half-almond, half-sugar) is achieved.” It’s patissier’s speak for as close to textural and compositional perfection as one will ever find, a consistent trait from this and past samplings – a melt-in-the-mouth balance of crisp, spring, air and slight chewyness. Never crunchy, never soggy, never sticky.
- With regards to maturation – “Maturation” (ie allowing to stand for a day or so, or refrigerate for a few hours) is not necessary. La Belle Miette’s macarons may be eaten on the day of purchase.
Step back from the Melbourne macaron craze and ask yourself — do you like macarons? Do you really, or is it just because it is “cool” to like it? Before La Belle Miette (and apart from it), MoMo & Coco would and still will bravely raise our hands and say, hell no, let us eat cake. Let’s be honest — the macaron virus suffocating Melbourne like an ebola infection can be traced back to a Masterchef-spawned phenomena. Some years before Masterchef, MoMo & Coco did indeed sample macarons in Paris from highly-esteemed institutions. We did not enjoy the experience, perhaps because we were too young to appreciate. But, macarons from specialty sweet boutiques in London, New York and Parisian off-shoots in East Asia did nothing for us. Neither, in the post-Masterchef-induced macaron psychosis, did we like macarons from several specialty sweet/chocolate boutiques around Melbourne, nor from “pop-up” macaron makers. It was only until we savoured La Belle Miette’s macarons, mes cheries, that we could finally re-consider classifying macarons as worthy to be hmmmmm…irresistible…If one was to select a sweet irresistible to symbolise a country, it could be said that a cupcake is to America, what a pudding is to London, what a macaron is to Paris. MoMo & Coco thanks La Belle Miette for bringing such an exquisite, and true, touch of Paris to Melbourne.
Dessert adventure checklist
- ☑ Dessert destination: La Belle Miette, 30 Hardware Lane, Melbourne CBD, Vic 3000; also, 432 Church Street, Richmond, Vic 3121
- ☑ Budget: $.
- ☑ Sweet irresistibles: Macarons.
- ☑ Must-eat: The “Raspberry Ganache,” “Dark Chocolate,” “Cherry Blossom Sake,” and “Violet Blueberry”
- ☑ The short and sweet story: La Belle Miette has perfected the mini burger of the 21st-century bourgeoisie