The “No Macaron Left Behind” mission is alive and well, my friends! Yesterday I sampled three beautiful macarons from DC’s The Sweet Lobby, and I must say, they lived up to Zumbo standards. Read on for my tasting notes and more about my new favorite place in the nation’s capital.
For years I’ve been a fan of food-related TV. When I returned from Australia, I watched Cupcake Wars religiously. As the contestants were introduced, I jotted down names of bakeries to visit on a US road trip (which *really* will happen one day). When the brother and sister team behind Washington DC’s The Sweet Lobby won an episode of the show, I visited their website. And wouldn’t you know, they also make macarons.
Yesterday I was in DC for National Dance Day (♥) and knew the day wouldn’t be complete without a trip to The Sweet Lobby. First, I danced. Then I watched other people dance. Then, my pal Kelly and I walked 35 minutes to get to the shop, justifying a sweet indulgence by getting more exercise. And when we finally found the tiny store front, we heard angels singing.
At $1.60 each, I could have easily been tempted to try each of the macarons on display, 12-15 flavors perhaps. But I thought better of it and selected the three above — red velvet, coffee plantain (top), and sweet potato praline.
I somehow mustered the will power to save these babies to share with my parents when I returned to Charlottesville. Or, *cough*, maybe it had nothing to do with will power but everything to do with the cupcake I had just consumed in about 30 seconds.
OH. MY. GOSH. They had at least 15 cupcakes on display, and I was debating the Smores or Pineapple Inside Out cupcake when this Sweet Potato Marshmallow called my name loud and clear.
First, you have to know that I LOVE sweet potatoes. I expected this to have a nice, mild flavor with a yummy marshmallow top. Seriously, how gorgeous is the toasty marshmallow top?!
The first bite was everything I expected it to be, but OH, the second bite was better. With the second bite, I found the surprise in the middle.
With sweet potato covering my fingers, I somehow managed to get my iPhone out of my pocket and take this picture without making a complete mess or WORSE, dropping the cupcake.
Hours later, after a salad for dinner, it was time to share the macarons with my parents. In case you ever wondered how I tried so many flavors in Australia, this is your answer — I rarely eat an entire one to myself. Instead, I eat 1/3 or 1/2 and share with my partners in crime.
So what did we think?
I was more than happy with the texture of the shells and the consistency of the fillings. Everything was spot on. Zumbo-worthy. The “technical” elements were executed perfectly.
But what about flavor?
Red velvet — I tasted this one first. It was nice but perhaps a little too subtle for me. My fave macarons are the ones with BOLD flavors. Red velvet isn’t a flavor that’s supposed to be bold I suppose, but maybe I just needed a bit more of the luscious buttercream for it to be a stand out.
Coffee plantain — taste #2. I actually said a “WOW”, immediately followed by “I don’t want to share this one.” So of course my parents demanded a taste O:-) When I gave my mom the slightly bigger of the two remaining thirds, my dad was visibly disappointed. We all agreed — this was our favorite.
Sweet potato praline — savor the last bite. Thank goodness this was the biggest macaron of the bunch, because after the lovely coffee flavor of the previous one, it took a few seconds for the subtle sweet potato flavor to register. Mom smiled and said it reminded her of pumpkin pie. As I said earlier, I love sweet potatoes, so I was pleased with this one.
The Sweet Lobby was a great treat that I’d be happy to repeat any day of the week. It’s relatively easy to miss (we walked right past), and there is no indoor seating and limited space to queue up or see what’s on offer before you’re at the register being asked “what would you like?” But the quality of the cupcakes and macarons are TOP notch and will no doubt keep customers returning for years to come. After my visit yesterday, I have every intention of ordering macarons for the wedding from The Sweet Lobby.
The shop is in the Capitol Hill area and just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the Eastern Market Metro station — so minimal walking required after a long day of sight seeing