La Reine des Macarons

I wasn’t really planning to start this category of post…  But I’ve just got so very many vendor friends that I have to start sharing them with you.  I actually have a bit of a backlog of people I want to share, but I’ll start with the first one I’ve met, first.  Oh – and absolutely no money changed hands, this isn’t an advertising or tit-for-tat thing, or anything…  Grace shared something nice with me and I’d like to share it with you.  End of story. 🙂

In March I approached Grace of La Reine des Macarons about her pricing, thinking perhaps we’d be able to add them to the sweets buffet at Michelle + Dave’s wedding (which will hopefully blogged very soon!).  And I am so glad I did.

We didn’t end up using Grace’s services for the wedding, but she and I have kept in contact via e-mail, and she approached me just after Easter, wondering if I’d like a sample left over from her Easter orders.  Would I???

I don’t know if I’ve said this before on my blog, but I’ve been dealing with a variety of tummy issues.  If I coordinate your wedding, I’ll quietly let the catering staff know; most of them are extremely accommodating of my requests (they’re not too weird; I suspect xanthan and guar gum first and foremost, with gluten being another culprit).  Anyway, I haven’t really been able to indulge in many sweets at my weddings or events since discovering that gluten hit my stomach wrong.

But macarons are gluten free.

Made with almond flour and egg whites, macarons are little sandwich cookies that are the in thing right now.  They look killer on a wedding dessert display, make great favors, and just taste good.  But they are darn.hard.to.make.

I’ve ordered macarons twice before, for events.  The first time they turned out lovely (I *think* they were made in-house at the caterers for the gala I coordinated back in 2007).  The second time?  My client didn’t want to pay very much.  I won’t give the name of the bakery – needless to say, they were not a hit.  Flat, lumpy, too-sweet, burned, and filled with a thin gel.  It’s no wonder that most of them were left on the plate.

Grace’s macarons are nothing like those.

They are a work of art.  High “feet” (the rough part underneath the dome of each cookie), crisp shells with a slightly chewy interior, filled with the perfect amount of filling (in this case, I got a dulce de leche filled with caramel cream and a black forest cake filled with chocolate).  Full disclosure: Grace gave me these macarons at no charge.  She wanted me to be able to talk about them to my couples.  But she didn’t even think to ask me to blog them.  I wanted to.  Because they are just too incredible not to share.

Grace can make standard-sized macarons in a variety of flavor combinations – just listening to them was making my head spin.  And she can make them in any color you want.  This, my friends, is pretty rare in San Diego.  The few places that make really good (read: not lumpy and burnt) macarons typically make them in just a few colors/flavors.  Grace told me that she could tint them to match any wedding decor, and even decorate them with gold lustre dust!

Photo from La Reine des Macarons website

But standard macarons aren’t all that Grace does.  She actually brought my two in pretty packaging, all dressed up to be wedding favors.

Photo from La Reine des Macarons website

And with them she brought a special treat: a miniature macaron “cake,” a slightly flatter and chewier version of her normal macarons (made with some marzipan mixed into the almond flour/egg mixture – yum!) filled with a thick layer of fresh raspberries and buttercream.  I was in heaven eating it (I shared it, and the cookies, with my husband!) – this is the perfect combination of tart and sweet.  I am very tempted to ask for this as my birthday cake this year!

Photo from La Reine des Macarons website

Not only were the products incredibly good, but Grace was incredibly nice too.  I can’t wait for our coffee date – I think I’ve made a new friend! 🙂

Photos from La Reine des Macarons website, used with permission.

Edited on 05/07 to add: I apparently screwed up on my description of the cake…  It’s filled with BAVARIAN CREAM.  Which is totally delectable!!!!  Sorry Grace! :/

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Under The Sea Baby Shower 11*12*2011

I created this “Under the Sea” baby shower theme for a very special momma – my cousin Natalie!  She wanted a big affair – 70 people, including kids and men – so it had to be anything but ordinary!

Wishing Tree

This shower was originally scheduled – and styled – for outdoors in a pretty, terraced backyard.  But a week before the shower was to take place, we found out that our Southern California sun wasn’t going to behave.  Instead of having a beautiful relaxing sun-soaked November day, we’d have soaking of a different sort.  Rain.  Buckets of rain.

I can’t lie – it was a bit of a shocker, since no one counted on rain during what was supposed to be a very dry November in San Diego.  What was worse was that the home where we’d planned to hold the shower couldn’t accommodate 70 people indoors.  So, thanks to a very generous coworker, we moved on to Plan B: the gourmet kitchen and bar areas of a private clubhouse (the rest of which was already rented out that day for a bridal shower!).

Luckily it was an absolutely gorgeous venue, and luckily even the rain didn’t keep away the throngs of guests.  We showered this Mama in style!

We created some really fun touches, from GORGEOUS sea urchin vases custom made by the insanely creative Desiree of Penny Blooms to cascading bubble chandeliers made from clear glass ornaments provided by the mom-to-be to a wishing tree made from driftwood.

Sea urchin vases by Penny Blooms!

Sea Urchin vases custom made by Penny Blooms

Bubble Chandelier

Driftwood Wishing Tree

Driftwood Wishing Tree

Driftwood Wishing Tree

Natalie and Tony decided that they didn’t want to know the gender of their unborn baby, so we threw a completely gender-neutral party (complete with coloring pages asking if the kids in attendance thought the baby was a Stella – girl – or Brayden – boy, and a single game asking adults in attendance to fill in their guesses for birth stats and gender).  I have to admit, it was kind of tough staying firmly in the “cute and gender neutral” category, but it was helpful that Natalie chose such an adorable “Under the Sea” theme, inspired by a set of scrapbooking stickers she found when she found out she was first pregnant!

I created a set of printed pieces including an invitation featuring original artwork (inspired by the stickers) an original poem by Practically Perfect Poetry, Prose, and Proofreading – I just love how much personality there was in that sweet little turtle!

Invitation featuring original artwork by Events by Elisa and and original poetry by Practically Perfect Poetry, Prose, and Proofreading

Food tags by Events by Elisa

Sweet Table Tags by Events by Elisa

Custom Thank You cards by Events by Elisa

Then of course there was my personal favorite feature of the party – a huge ocean-themed sweets buffet featuring a gorgeous “wave” backdrop of fabric that my amazing assistant found at Joann’s Fabric, hand-assembled clamshell cookies (made by me!), a sculpted sandcastle cake by Hey There, Cupcake!, and the most adorable sea creature cake pops by Calculated Whisk!  The “sand” was actually brown sugar, and the rocks and shells were candy – and every kid there (and some of the adults) loved that they could eat every bit they wanted!  Plus brown sugar was inexpensive, non-toxic, and looked and smelled amazing!

Sweet Table by Events by Elisa, featuring Hey There, Cupcake and Calculated Whisk

Clamshell cookies, assembled by Events by Elisa

Sweet Table by Events by Elisa, with brown sugar "sand"

Gummy fish and Godiva Gems on the Under the Sea Sweets Table created by Events by Elisa

Turtle cake pops by Calculated Whisk!

Gorgeous sand castle cake by Hey There, Cupcake!

A sand castle made of cake, by Hey There, Cupcake!

I can’t help but throw in one extra shot of those cookies…  I just love them so much!

One more shot of

And of course I’m happy to report that Natalie gave birth to Baby Boy Brayden last month and he’s beautiful!

Natalie’s Under the Sea Baby Shower 11*12*2011 Party Details: