Bonjour from Paris

Since my last blog post last December, a lot has happened. I’ve survived the first two years at Amherst College, and now I find myself living in the middle of Paris for the next four months.


Here’s how the story goes: Ever since I tasted my first macaron in 2010, I became interested in French cuisine and pastries. Just before going to college, I somehow got the idea that I would study French for two years so that I can study abroad in Paris to taste all of the pastries!

My intention for studying abroad has changed since then, as have my intentions for this blog. Vivian Macaron started out as an outlet for following my inspiration at a time when I needed to express myself and explore something that I’m passionate about.


I still love to eat desserts, but my interests have changed and I have changed. (This is the reason why I haven’t been updating this blog, combined with the lack of culinary options when living at Amherst.) I realized that food isn’t my main academic and personal interest, and that definitely changed my goals for studying abroad (though I’ll admit that dreaming of all of the desserts I would eat in Paris helped me bear with all of the French exams.)

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America’s 50 Best Bakeries

With so many great bakeries across the country, finding the fifty best was a daunting task. On behalf of The Daily Meal, I eventually narrowed the list down to what I think is a good starting point (and a great bakery bucket list).

brownie flour bakery boston

Here’s are the factors that I considered:

“From local mom-and-pop shops to high-end chains, from American favorites to French patisseries, and from artisanal bread bakeries to pastry shops, we took into account all the different kinds of bakeries as we searched for America’s best. Although some bakeries bake only bread or only pastries (in France, for example, you’d go to a patisserie for your pastry fix and a boulangerie for your daily baguette), we decided to incorporate both kinds of bakeries into our search. While it was not necessary for bakeries to serve both, the ones who do received extra points. We also took into account bakeries’ originality, how long they’ve been around for, if they have notable and award-winning chefs, if they make all their baked goods from scratch, and their buzz factor.”

Go check out “America’s 50 Best Bakeries” at The Daily Meal!

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Okayu (Rice Porridge)

There are times when you’re tired and wiped from the cold, a throat infection, the flu, or whatever it may be. I had some sort of throat infection earlier this summer. It seemed kind of weird to get sick in such good weather (minus the rain), but I was coughing a lot and my throat bothered me for over two weeks.

Being sick is one of the times when I have no appetite for food, so something bland is usually soothing and not vomit inducing. I remembered that I had bookmarked a recipe for okayu after I saw it in an old Shojo Beat magazine, but I could not find it! Instead, I Googled it and found that a lifesaver posted the recipe on a forum.

Tip: Another simple thing to make is shoga-yu, a Japanese lemon, honey + ginger drink that’s great for colds and sore throats. Click here for the recipe.

okayuOkayu is a rice porridge, quite similar to the Chinese congee. The one that my mom prepared for me has chicken stock and is cooked for over two hours, but you can cook it for less time. The only difference is that the rice will be less broken down and smooth to the tongue. Feel free to add garnishes to the okayu — anything goes!

Thank you mom for making this when I was bedridden with fever!

Continue for the recipe…

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Le Palais des Thés: New Tea, U.S. Loyalty Program & Tea Pairings

Le Palais des Thés introduced their new tea products and tea pairings at an event earlier this week. I first found out about this brand when I bought Margaret’s Hope (Darjeeling 2nd Flush) at the Tea & Honey Store last summer. Since then, I’ve visited Le Palais’ stores in the Upper West Side, SoHo, and even in Dublin, Ireland!

They have three new products, “For The Morning,” “For The Office,” and “For The Evening.” Each boxed product contains a variety of tea bags that work best for the time of the day. Of course, tea always tastes better with a special treat. In this case, it’s a canelé, which is a French pastry that’s thick and caramelly on the outside and soft and custardy on the inside.

We had a tea tasting with canelés from Canelé by Céline.


Thé des Lords + Chocolate Canelé

Big Ben + Caramel Canelé



Thé du Hammam (a popular flavor) + Vanilla Canelé

Thé des Alizés + Orange Canelé

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Vietnamese Shrimp Salad (Goi Tom)

This is one of the dishes that I always order when I eat at a Vietnamese restaurant. The shrimp is supposed to be the star, but it’s the chopped vegetables soaked in fish sauce and vinegar that I love biting into. Even after all the shrimp is gone, I still enjoy piling each shrimp cracker with a mouthful of vegetables topped with chopped peanuts.

Making goi tom at home may take a lot of prepping, but if you use fresh shrimp, it makes an exceptional salad. My amazing mom created this recipe and made it for me whenever I came back from college. Distance does make the heart grow fonder… and my stomach hungrier.

Here’s the recipe below; if you don’t make it, at least try it at a restaurant. Note that this recipe’s salad dressing may be slightly different from a restaurants’; it’s more vinegary.


Continue for the recipe…

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