At the centre of a European-style arcade, A La Folie introduces light as air macarons to Melbourne.
MoMo & Coco wish to bestow full credit for this discovery to a lovely subscriber of our blog, and fellow blogger, Melburniangirl. Thank you.
Melbourne has long been considered the more “European” of Australian cities. Nothing captures that vibe better than the old-world charm of several heritage buildings. There’s the la belle epoque style of the Georges Apartments (MoMo & Coco’s dream city apartment block), the colonnaded grandeur of the old ANZ Bank, the subterranean sumptousness of the Plaza Ballroom, the landscaped vastness of the Royal Exhibition Building, and boutique shopping arcades nestled within the colonial General Post Office, the Victorian-era nostalgia of the Block Arcade, and the restored Renaissance Revival decor of the Royal Arcade. The Royal Arcade is full of beautiful surprises. Connecting Little Collins Street and Bourke Street, natural light cascades through a full-length canopy of skylights framed by elegant wrought iron supports. There’s a myriad of trinket, ecletic vintage fashion, jewellery and two chocolate boutiques. In a time that Melbourne aimes les macarons à la folie (literally, loves macarons to madness), a newly-opened suprise off-shoot of a long-standing cafe has also found a home in the Royal Arcade, a sweet specialty boutique specialising in macarons.
Situated right in the centre of the Royal Arcade’s thoroughfare, The Little Royal is simply an espresso stand, with a counter offering chocolate beetles and honey pops, and a glass cabinet brimming with a painter’s pastel palette of macarons. Clearly eager to bring a touch of Paris to the already European Royal Arcade, the counter is decorated with glass-covered cake stands of macarons, crystal birds, and an iron silhouette of the Eiffel Tower. Exclusively stocking A La Folie Macarons, the macarons come packed in a sturdy, girly-pink column box, or a pink-ribboned white square box. (*Dear readers, you owe us two — we have articulated our ambivalence about macarons before, and further, as Melbourne locals, we felt so ridiculous taking photos in this tourist hot-spot!*).
As The Little Royal is a new specialty sweet boutique, we visited twice, purchasing twice over a full set ($3.00 each) in order to write a possibly more accurate review. It also gave us a chance to experiment with the macarons. With two macarons of the same flavour, we ate one half on the day of purchase, left one half at room temperature in its box for consumption a day or so after, refridgerated another half in an airtight container and had a cup of tea in the old English way with the last half.
This is the Raspberry Macaron. It’s vividly coloured, but fairy-light in flavour. La Belle Miette‘s version continues to be the best raspberry macaron that MoMo & Coco have had in Melbourne, it’s exceptionally hard to beat.
This is the Camomile Macaron — and is the first of this particular flavour that MoMo & Coco have encountered. It is very very subtle, with a slight honey aroma characteristic of camomile. With a little experimentation, we found that the camomile flavour manifests more strongly if this macaron is accompanied with a cup of earl grey.
This is the Green Matcha Tea and Red Currant Macaron, adorned on both sides of its smooth shell with a green tea leaf. Yet another exotic tea flavour offering, it was a pity that each time we bought this, MoMo & Coco failed to detect a green matcha tea flavour (a more biting version of green tea), or any real flavour for that matter. We cut it in half, ate one by itself, refrigerated another, let another sit a day, and accompanied another half with tea. No luck, it was just a sweet little morsel.
This is the Jasmine Macaron, with a sweetness as delicate and gentle as the flower that gives the macaron its name, and a texture as light as snow. A clean refreshment.
This is the Dark Chocolate Macaron. A very good solid chocolate macaron. If left for a day or so after purchase, the bitter decadence of dark chocolate is fully imparted.
The Salted Caramel Macaron has a salted caramel ganache that lives up to its name. With a ganache filling akin to buttercream, it was however a little drippy. Still, La Belle Miette‘s version remains the benchmark for salted caramel macarons in Melbourne.
The Choc Orange Macaron is rather cute to look at, with one shell half of light chocolate and the other orange, sandwiching a chocolate cream filling. As with strawberry-flavoured things, orange-flavoured things can often have a somewhat artificial taste. To MoMo & Coco, it did here. It’s a welcome new flavour offering, nonetheless.
The Coconut Macaron is the perfect sweet to chase away the wetness and chills of Melbourne’s winter. With the more strongly-manifested flavour of all A La Folie’s macarons, it was a highlight of our samplings.
A La Folie’s macarons are different macarons in many ways. MoMo & Coco are inclined to attribute this particular different-ness to the use of, perhaps, the Italian meringue technique, rather than the French meringue technique more commonly used by patisseries in Australia —
- In terms of appearance — A La Folie’s macarons are h-u-g-e. Italian meatball huge. Italian opera huge. With a price to match ($3.00, instead of the $2.00-2.50 per macaron found elsewhere in Melbourne). They also present a formidable challenge to La Belle Miette’s almost-perfectly formed macarons. Of the two boxes we sampled, only one had a large hollow airpocket in the shell. Most possessed the highly sought-after consistency in formation, with lovely smooth shells and lovely, high non-protruding feet (the rim of the shells).
- In terms of taste — We love the inspiration drawn from tea infusions and the Orient. For the not-too-sweet-tooth or those with very good tastebuds, the exceedingly delicate and subtle flavours (even with some maturation) of A La Folie’s macarons are probably ideal. For the sweet-tooths preferring more robust macarons, probably not. A likely cause of this very light flavouring is probably the general sparseness of the ganache cream filling spread. It must be said though, deadened tastebuds or not, a few macarons were just flavourless, coloured meringue biscuits.
- In terms of texture — The shells were properly firm and crisp, not at all crunchy nor dry nor sticky, but the inner meringue tended to a slight crumble and so, lacked the sought-after slight chewyness.
- With regards to maturation — From our experiments, if you eat on the day of purchase, A La Folie’s macarons are like Tinkerbell balloons – inflated in size, but airy fairy in taste and texture. If you let the macarons stand at room temperature in their box for a day or so, the macarons “mature” in the same way as a good wine, with more flavour and a less airy texture expressing itself. It entirely depends if you prefer macarons soft, airy and light, or with a slight chewyness and more robust flavour. We are personally inclined to the latter, so we would highly recommend further maturation.
Overall, A La Folie’s macarons are chameleons — MoMo & Coco would say that they possess a flexibility that can be adapted to individual preferences in terms of texture/taste. Others would say that this flexibility equates to variability or inconsistency. Aside from these individual preferences, with a bit more ganache filling perhaps, the Little Royal, as the exclusive stockist of A La Folie macarons, certainly has the foundation to be yet another place in Melbourne to dash to to satisfy one’s la folie (madness) for these sweet, now super-sized, hamburgers of the 21st century bourgeoisie.
Dessert adventure checklist
- ☑ Dessert destination: A La Folie at The Little Royal, Royal Arcade, 335 Bourke Street Mall, Melbourne CBD, Vic 3000.
- ☑ Budget: $.
- ☑ Sweet irresistibles: Macarons.
- ☑ Must-eat: The “Jasmine” and “Coconut” macarons.
- ☑ The short and sweet story: At the centre of a European-style arcade, A La Folie introduces light as air macarons to Melbourne.