I recently enjoyed a macaron (despite autocorrect wanting to use macaroni) fest in London’s Covent Garden but so far as I know, in a first for the area, Made With Love in Cornwall is the only creator of macarons in Cornwall. I first met their creator, Alicki Beech, about a year ago, and oh my, how the business has snowballed.
It was great to revisit the set up and see that, despite austerity and economic downturn in general, plus a new baby last December, Made with Love has actually grown and prospered.
Just goes to show what a good idea, sheer hard graft and plenty of marketing can do. Fabulous to see a business success in dear old Bude.
But first, let me rave about macarons. If you’ve ever tasted a macaron, you will know that they are exquisite small almondy-meringue bites, sandwiched together to make little treats, characterised by smooth tops, slightly chewy centres and tasty fillings. Popular in France and London, they are now readily available in Bude, too! I have a cookbook on this very subject at home and am intrigued to try making them because they are apparently extremely difficult to successfully create. However, I haven’t bothered because they look such a faff! If you haven’t tasted one, you really must!!
A Parisienne’s dream, the macaron is a luxury item, and they are not commonly found in Cornwall – or were not until Ali started making them – so Bude is very lucky to have a macaron aficionado on its doorstep. They’re not to be confused with coconut macaroons, by the way………which are also scrumptious but in a very different way.
Alicki decided to take on the macaron challenge in late 2011, when she set up her new business. Made With Love in Cornwall was something of a cottage industry, with Ali cooking, selling, and somehow managing to attend farmers’ markets in all weathers while heavily pregnant. The team has now expanded to include husband, Fran, and two assistants in new premises at the food village near Bush/Launcells soon to open. Certainly, I have rarely attended an event at which Ali or Fran (or more likely, both) have not been present. Not only are they promoting their foods/cooking, but also supporting the community big-style. They epitomise #bigupbude.
Originally from beautiful St Agnes, Ali has moved around, but was desperate to return to Cornwall. She and her chef husband moved back here in 2008, and really love being in Bude. A Mum, Ali also helps with Bude Breastfeeding Support Group, where she is a peer supporter, and with Bude Toy Library. Superwoman!!
Made With Love in Cornwall grew from feeling a need, not only to be economically active, but also creatively challenged. Ali is a keen craftswoman, bakes a lot, and wanted to work from home so she could be with her sons. She’s not a chef but has always had cooking jobs in cafes, etc. And her baking is divine as anyone who has tasted it knows. However, the venture proved so successful that baking from home was no longer viable. Moving into a purpose-built unit, near to Whalesborough Cheese and Cornish Charcuterie, production is at full pelt but still with that local, hand crafted edge. Artisan breads are also on the agenda..
Ali’s love of the macaron stems from a time when she worked for a Michelin starred establishment in Jersey and learned some of the French patissier’s art. In such an establishment, all staff, including the waitresses need to know all about the food they are serving, so she learned to deliver food which fires enthusiasm, learning about ingredients, cooking methods and flavours.
The name Made With Love simply means that Ali’s (and now also Fran’s) cakes (and savoury meat pies – they create pasties, pork pies, chicken and mushroom, steak and ale, plus lovely cakes like Billionaire’s shortcake, apple, almond and plum and apple and blackberry cake, and surf bars) are made with the same care that they’d put in for their own children.
“Whatever I do, I have to make sure I’m true to myself“, said Ali, “and I really believe in what we’re doing“. She and Fran use local ingredients, fresh free range eggs, ethically sourced. Macaron – making is a very labour intensive process but, despite commercial success, Ali has not given up on them, thank goodness.
She makes some fabulous flavours: rose using rose water and rose essence, a good one for romantics, raspberry with vanilla, pistachio, with clementine/chocolate ganache filling and a very decent coffee version, for starters. I loved this comment on Ali’s Facebook page:
“When I was last in Bude at Easter, me and my friend Barbara stumbled across your stall at the Friday market. We were blown away by your cakes, and most specially your salted caramel macarons – they were without a doubt be of the best things we have ever tasted and Barbara hasn’t stopped talking about them since!…”
As Ali explains:
“The idea is for a crisp shell with a soft layer in the middle plus a filling. They don’t fill you up, aren’t calorific, are pretty and are also fashionable. You would not believe the price of them in London. It’s not a product you could mass produce“. I can now believe the price in London at places like Paul’s and La Duree, because I’ve paid it!
Ali’s and Fran’s business was started on a shoestring, but is growing beautifully, far quicker and more encouragingly than expected, which means early starts for Fran. To Ali, the really important things are: to treat people as best they can through their products, to use local ingredients and support the local economy. And now they are heavily involved in promoting the concept of a Food Village and a Bude Food Festival. If you’re on Twitter check out the hashtag #BudeForFood
As she says: “you don’t need a chemistry degree to know what’s in our products“.
She’s been pleased by the local response to her goodies, exclaiming “people seem really excited by the products and seem to care about local“.
As an enthusiastic macaron taster, I can heartily recommend them as a fabulous alternative to cake……..but then I tasted some of her peanut butter cake recently and experienced heaven. I adore peanut butter ice cream, so cake….wow!!
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