First came frozen yogurt, then cupcakes. Dessert trends seem to be unfolding faster than I can lose the weight I gained from the last one, but the latest has me thinking that the extra minutes on the elliptical are worth it. The newest addition to the trendy dessert roster is the macaron, and, as I recently discovered, a local RI business is doing it just right.
As a point of clarification, “macarons” are not to be confused with “macaroons.” A “macaroon” is a merengue and coconut based cookie that is often dipped in chocolate, and was more than likely the highlight of your Italian grandmother’s Christmas cookie tray. A “macaron” is merengue and almond based confection that is somewhere between a cookie, a cake and a gift from the gods.
Last week I decided to make a trip to the weekly Movies on the Block off Westminster St. Block in Downtown Providence. My motivation was more than my mother’s being appalled by my never having seen Smokey and the Bandit. I had recently heard it through the internet grape vine that “Macaron Millie sometimes makes an appearance!” I paused. Macaron Millie? I delved further into internet oblivion. Gracie’s on Washington St. has a bakery called Ellie’s, which among its many sugary good offerings, features macarons. Macaron Millie is Ellie’s food cart that serves macarons with a twist that my sweet tooth possessing, food obsessed self found intriguing and craving inducing: macaron ice cream sandwiches.
I arrived at Movies on the Block (which I highly recommend) and was disappointed to see that Millie wasn’t there. My macaron eating dreams were slowly fading until I remembered that, like many portable food entities, Millie probably had a Twitter. I found @MacaronMillie and decided to make a last last-ditch plea.
About halfway through the movie, I looked down at my phone to see that Millie had answered me. “I only have cherry balsamic left,” they Tweeted to me, “but it’s delicious and I’m here!”
I went over to the cart-toting bike and introduced myself to the guy manning the cart as “the girl who begged you to come here via Twitter.” He explained that Millie had just finished a stint at the Concert Under the Elms series at the John Brown House Museum and was not scheduled to be at Movies on the Block this week, but had seen my Tweet and biked over before returning to homebase.
Not only did the service go above and beyond, but the product was delicious. Macarons are notoriously difficult to make, but these were soft, light, tasty, and, of course, filled with homemade ice cream. Cherry balsamic sounded like an odd combination to me, but upon eating it I realized I had been very wrong. The tart balsamic ice cream complemented the sweet/tart cherry macaron very well and I found myself regretting only buying just one.
Jim Almo from Ellie’s explained that the development of Millie came from a love of food-trucks and the Providence community. “We feel part of the idea of a neighborhood, especially in a downtown area, is being able to be out meeting your neighbors, friends, colleagues, and visitors. It made sense to us to be able to get out of the bakery and meet people and try to be a larger part of what makes Providence so special. The idea of Millie is born of that aesthetic.” Jim went onto explain that while Ellie’s serves traditional macarons and other goodies, only Millie serves macarons with an ice cream filling. The flavors are constantly changing so there is always something new to try. Some of their past flavors have included strawberry and sherry shortcake, rainbow sherbet, and pistachio raspberry.
Follow Millie’s movements on Twitter @MacaronMillie, or visit her stationary counterpart at 194 Washington St. in Providence.