Why are suburban teens, foodists, and a burly fellow in a football jersey sneaking down the stairs below Nuvrei’s Pearl District café? They’ve discovered America’s first macaron rave: a rocking hallway complete with black walls, Daft Punk’s electro beats, and rows and rows of elegant French cookies flashing psychedelic colors.
Nuvrei Mac Bar
404 NW 10th Ave
503-546-3032Behind this underground counter, Nuvrei owner Marius Pop and “sidekick” Jessica Risdon fret over the perfect macaron, deploying exactingly ground almond meal, Valrhona chocolate, structurally flawless meringues, and the coolest custards in the room. Meticulously detailed and vibrantly flavored, these sweets can cure any mac attack.
The essence of toffee, translated into a puff of stretchy caramel and salt crunch, packing more get-up than a James Brown tune.
Can a cookie that looks like a Fruit Loop singing Prince’s “Raspberry Beret” taste this good? Brothers and sisters, bite right in. The exterior cracks like thin ice to reveal a bright thrum of jammy fruit.
Proof of Pop’s brilliance? The baker uses squid ink to lend these almond meringues a Bauhausian hue and high-pitched earthiness. Inside, orange zest bumps up the happy quotient as smoky tea informs an opulence of white chocolate cream, liberating tea at last from the clutches of boredom.
A triumph of form and function, elegance and swagger, glossy cream with cardamom backbeat. Pop summarizes it best: “It’s a Jay Z Bentley, with an all-white interior.”
This is an opportunity to eat an entire key lime pie in four bites. First comes the crackle, then lime, lime, and more lime to bracket a shriek of lime curd.
This article appeared in the April 2014 issue of Portland Monthly.