When people hear the word “macaron” (mack-ah-ROHN), they often think of a sweet, chewy little mound of shredded dried coconut known as a macaroon (mack-ah-ROON). In actuality, a macaron is a French, meringue-based almond cookie. Resembling a minihamburger in appearance, a macaron consists of two brightly colored small cakes with eggshell-thin crusts sandwiching a ganache, buttercream or fruit-jam filling. Offering exquisite texture and taste, macarons have come to define the Parisian gastronomic experience for many. One local French-American shop, which opened last year, is bringing the fabled Parisian confection to Palo Alto. True to its name, Chantal Guillon Macarons & Tea specializes in light-as-air French macarons and tea.

Spotless white walls and huge mirrors lend a bright, airy feel to the place. Families, doe-eyed couples, tourists and college students taking a break from studies mill about the service counter. Children press their faces and hands against the display glass. Smiling servers with French accents zip from customer to customer. Some (presumably) first-time visitors snap pictures of a wall adorned with Ms. Chantal Guillon’s collection of handbags. I appreciate the fact that Chantal Guillon maintains a strictly gluten-free kitchen.

Each day, Chantal Guillon’s chefs craft culinary jewels out of almond flour, pure cane sugar, egg whites, natural food coloring and—occasionally—gold paint. There are nine classic flavors: Tahitian vanilla, espresso coffee, salted caramel, Italian pistachio, almond amaretto, dark chocolate, green tea, lavender poppy and Persian rose. Seasonal flavors include: passion fruit, lemon, Red Velvet, raspberry-lychee, dark chocolate-yuzu, cherry Amarena and strawberry. With a total of 16 different flavors to choose from, one might feel overwhelmed or tempted to try them all. Macarons cost $21 per dozen. Single macarons are $1.80. The almond amaretto reminds me of marzipan and smells of fresh-out-of-the-oven shortbread. This spring, the flavor many people are talking about is Red Velvet. Classic lipstick-red with a delicate, crispy, buttery shell and white chocolate filling, this morsel symbolizes a happy marriage between French technique and American taste. Another strikingly red offering on the seasonal menu is cherry Amarena. It contains real dark-cherry pieces and smells like Black Forest cake.
Chantal Guillon also carries beautiful, fragrant teas from master tea blender Mariage Fr