Simply French Café is a lovely space for coffee, pastries, or a light lunch right off Alma at West 10th Avenue. Scottish-born Isobel owned Truffles Bistro in Kitsilano for 15 years. She and her husband sold the bistro, later spending six months in France together with their two teenage daughters.
While living in France, Isobel took a macaron making course; upon the family’s return to Vancouver, she was inspired to open a café. Simply French Café has been going strong for just over three years, bringing a slice of je ne sais quoi to Point Grey.
Aside from a cozy interior filled with antique chandeliers and unique objects d’art, Isobel (and Sara, one of her daughters) teach an evening macaron class from Monday to Friday (after January, the courses will run Monday through Thursday, as Sara will be back at SFU studying for a criminology degree).
I was invited to take one of their very popular French macaron making classes (currently booked into spring 2013!) this week. The two hour course is both instructional and hands-on, with students able to experiment with forming the base cookies as well as filling the macarons.
We created two different macaron cookie colours as well as two different fillings.
Classes are limited to 12 students. We were given recipes as well as a lot of great tips on the subtleties behind macaron creation.
The most important aspects of making these French delicacies are precise measurement of ingredients, making sure that the egg whites are fully stiff (Sara turned the bowl upside down to demonstrate this), and the right amount of time to allow the cookies to settle before baking.
I loved watching Sara tap the trays against the old wood working table, in an instant making our less-than-perfect circles uniform in size and shape.
During the cookies’ sitting stage, Isobel brought out a few divine creations from the bakery along with mimosas and iced tea, inviting conversation as well as anticipation for the finished result.
Luckily, the filling is much easier and less precise to prepare. I was amazed at how easy it is to create macarons, and hope to try making them at home. It’s a matter of patience and practice. We each wrapped up six macarons in cellophane with ribbon to take home and enjoy.
If you’re interested in taking a baking class at Simply French Café, the next one up is truffle making. After sampling some of Isobel’s rich truffles, I’d highly recommend signing up.
Coffee, sandwiches, soups, salads and baked goods are all available during cafe hours (Monday to Friday, 9 am to 6 pm; weekends 10 am to 5 pm). There’s also a gift shop selling jewellery and other whimsical items. Simply French Café is located at 3742 West 10th Avenue in Vancouver.