Article originally appeared on Examiner.com November 1, 2014
You open the doors and your eyes dance around. White walls rest among soft lighting. The aromas of freshly steeped tea and brewing coffee waft around you. Upbeat yet attentive music plays in the background. You take a deep breath in and hold it as you approach the display case. And there they are — perfectly aligned, vibrant in color, waiting for your assessment. This is not the new hipster arts cafe in the city. This is the one-of-a-kind sensory experience of Bite Macarons of Houston, Texas.
Although not new to the pastry scene (and certainly not to be confused with macaroons), French macarons are becoming the newest dessert craze in America. The confection can be found in many bakeries and specialty shops in metro Houston, boasting robust flavors and picture-perfect hues. So what makes Bite such a popular stop with Houstonians and even the Consulate General of France of Houston (Bonjour monsieur!)? Passion and innovation.
“We wanted a modern twist on the classical form,” shared Sandia Horng, Executive Chef and Owner of Bite Macarons. General Manager and co-owner, Gabe Lo, chimed in, “Her concept is [an] old-school classics, modernized minimalistic approach.” The entire space stays true to this, from the way the lights within the patisserie are placed, the style of tables and the accent art on the walls. During your next visit, see if you can spot the half-eaten macaron, much like the dot above the company’s “i,” in one of the murals!
Adding to the aesthetics of the place are the actual macarons. At a little over $2.00 each, the confections are so pleasing to the eye, they almost appear to not be real. The macarons come in interesting flavors such as rose, pistachio and salted caramel; and the colors are just as appealing. “We’ve been working on fall flavors, such as gingerbread and peppermint,” Lo comments, also adding that Chef Sandia and their team are working to convey the gingerbread flavor without using actual gingerbread. The deconstruction of traditional recipes and creation of new sweets is a mainstay for the Bite team. “There are many times that the lights will still be on in the kitchen, well after closing, and we’re working on something new.” Chef Sandia embraces the feeling of the process, from the ingredients to texture and color, and their team follows suit.
Some patisseries stack macarons for display, others place them in bundles, similar to how you’d pick fruit from your grocery store. So, why did the Bite team decide on the straight-line approach? “When you see them in the straight line, you see that everything is form,” commented Lo. “From the shape, feet and size, traditionalist can see the standard we uphold ourselves to.” Bite Macarons also serves Kusmi Tea, a selection of teas from Paris, a brand with more than 140 years of tea know-how. A representative for Kusmi Tea even took the time to meet with Bite Macarons and establish a great menu that influences several food and drink pairings.
At the end of my visit, Chef Sandia brought over two macarons — pistachio and passion fruit — on a dark plate and gently placed them before me. It was time to personally experience the flavor pairing! I cleansed my palette with a quick sip of water, then reached for the pistachio-flavored sweet. The first bite was crisp. Fresh out of the coolness of the display case, a subtle taste of mint began to appear. Chef motioned for me to try the tea along with the macaron. One full gulp and bam! The nutty flavors took over, just like she said they would. Exciting! A second visit, equipped with a book, is in my near future.
Bite Macarons is located at 5172-B Buffalo Speedway, Houston, TX 77005 and is open seven days a week at various hours. Online ordering of all flavors and cakes is available. (Local patrons only for deliveries.)