Thursday, January 28, 2010

Epicurean Adventures: Life Full of Sweet Suprises

Of all my time living in New Orleans -- scratch that, of all my time living -- the best was when I was a food editor there, my writing picking up steam and my acquaintances and friends in the culinary world expanding daily. It's these people that made my experience so magical, that lit up the fire of inspiration in my ever-grumbling belly, and whose names still bring a smile to my face. And after six months away, it gives me a warmth inside that the flurrying snow this morning can't quench to know that I, too, am remembered.

A wonderful Somebody named Andy from FSC Interactive contacted me last week to find out my address and inquiries like this usually mean one thing: presents! Whether they be food or just a simple card, there's an inexplicable thrill to knowing that somewhere, something special is on its way to you.

So it was with great excitement that I received a package today, addressed (I saw with a laugh and a thrill) to The Vicarious Food Whore. Yay! And the icing on this cake? The outside of the box was splashed with one of my favorite logos: Sucre.

After an absolutely abysmal week, this was pretty much the best thing that's happened to me in a while. I say happen to me because seeing that one single word, Sucre, on any kind of box addressed to me ellicits a visceral reaction not unlike that of Pavlov's dogs, where I immediately feel fuzzy and grin like an ape. What's not to smile about? The sweet packaging with neatly tied bows! The pastel colors that skip like sunshine! The PRESENTS!

One thing I love about Sucre, too, is that even though they've gotten huge, they still remember their little people, and still treat each and every customer personally. Chef Tariq Hanna (*love* - he's like the Anthony Bourdain of pastry, a sexy badass with mad skills) and Joel Dondis (such an absolute sweetheart! And a fascinating dinner companion, I must say) still personally sign every card that accompanies a box of goodies. In this day and age, who puts that much attention to their details? No one but Sucre.

Anyway, I'd been nosy and asked Andy if it were Mardi Gras macaroons that I'd be receiving, since I fiend for these incredible Parisian mmmacaroons and drool at any mention of them (damn you again, Pavlov!), and was tickled pink to find that there were in fact, two boxes within my big box of presents, and that one big one was in the signature pastel-striped packaging that means one of Oprah's favorite things was headed into my mouth.

Unfortunately, these delicate goodies don't travel too well, as carefully packaged as they were, and the frail shell of the outer "sandwich" levels of the treats got a bit crumbled.  However, they were still a sight for sore eyes, and it was only with great difficulty that I forced myself to open the other box before diving into my favorite sweet treat of all time.

Box #2 was definitely a delightful surprise -- 15 beautiful, beautiful heart-shaped, cabernet red dark chocolate, slightly bitter in a luxurious way, with the earthiness of pure cocoa. So pretty, nestled securely in puffy lining, they glistened and glowed with that distinctive golden sheen that everything in Sucre seems to be dusted with, giving all of the delectable, gorgeously crafted sweets a magical, unearthly feel.

These chocolates were insanely rich; deep and bold dark chocolate made a crunchy hard shell around a raspberry filling so pure and fresh tasting that it was as if it were plucked off the plant and somehow made to grow and ripen further inside a protective chocolate home. The best part of it was its lack of artificiality that heavy hands with sugar tend to lend fruit. Many a good pie has been ruined for me as sugar takes the lead over natural flavor, but Chef Tariq's hand is ever steady, and the balance is refreshing.

Back to the macaroons, though -- one of my most expensive obsessions. I of course grabbed at the most puffy one in pursuit of that flaky, puffy, airy feeling, and was a little bit let down, as my ecstatic fantasizing about the moment of consumption left my expectations quite high. Because of the unreliability of stable transport, the loss of the fragile shell pieces left it more dense than I've had them before, resulting in a bit of a chewiness that isn't often encountered in a Sucre macaroon. I can only assume it's because it was left out in the cold outdoors, since I can attest that they stay fresh for quite sometime, and that Joel and Chef Tariq would never let a product out the door that they didn't 100% stand behind. To make sure of this, I called my baby sis, who I'd sent Christmas macaroons to for her birthday, among other Sucre goodies, who commented that this must indeed be a fluke, since hers were light and totally amazing.

The flavor was of course fantastic, perfectly capturing the sugary sweet frosting of king cake, the glittering Mardi Gras colors adorably represented in puffy pastry. Chewiness aside, it still made me indescribably happy.

The only problem now is making these last ...

All in all, a rather spectacular end to an altogether horrendous week. Thank you, thank you, and thanks ever so much, guys. Y'all are my sunshine.

P.S. Want 'em? Get your own, and hands and eyes off my loot. Check it:
P.P.S. These, the white chocolate and toasted almond wedding cake chocolates, are my other favorites in the entire world, which I used as part of my wedding favor package to our guests ... too bad the staff stole/threw out half of them and I never got to eat my own wedding truffles, but these are the best damn pieces of candy I've ever eaten in my entire life!

Sucre - Wedding Cake from Sucre - Founder - Joel Dondis on Vimeo.


  1. Save me one!

    Guess who also makes really good macaroons? Bouchon Bakery in NYC (it's very famous). A friend just brought some over for us and they were SO GOOD.