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Food

Marvelous Macarons, From Russia With Love

How’s this for an only-in-New-York story: Russian Jew meets Israeli-born Frenchman on a trip to New York. She leaves Moscow to join him in Manhattan. They start an artisan macaron business. And Macy’s Herald Square courts them to open a shop.

It’s not a movie script. It’s Polina Andris’s life, and Made by Pauline is now selling more than 10,000 macarons a day from a counter inside the fine jewelry section at Macy’s. Among its luscious seasonal flavors are Nutella/banana, rose, cassis, Key lime, fig and salted caramel. The company’s name comes courtesy of Andris’s Parisian mother-in-law, who would Frenchify “Polina”; the moniker stuck.

Kosher certification is on tap for next year, and a major expansion is planned. But last month, Andris and husband, Aaron Elbaz (a former jeweler), were just trying to keep up with demand for the holidays. “It’s going to be big,” Andris predicted.

Here, three questions for Polina Andris:

Though you were brand director for a restaurant group in Russia, this is your first pastry business. Where did you turn for your macaron recipe?

I took a classes in Paris, and according to the teacher, I was good. I kept baking and trying new products since that day. I use a very classic technique. I try new flavors every week — this week, it’s melon and roasted almond. We’re working on a savory line as well. I made a hummus macaron last week, and Aaron couldn’t be happier: For a French Israeli, it was the best of both worlds.

You grew up Jewish in Moscow. What are your strongest food memories of your life there?

For me, growing up Jewish in Moscow was a big advantage; it was like being 100% Russian yet different culturally. Russian food and Jewish food are very similar. I grew up on smoked fish and cured meat with pickles.

You and Aaron started Made by Pauline less than a year ago. How did a partnership with Macy’s happen?

We’ve had an order from Macy’s: They needed 5,000 macarons for a display for Lancôme. We delivered the macarons, and apparently people started to eat the macarons inside the display. After that, we met with the Macy’s executive in charge of food vendors, and after seven months we opened on the main floor. It was kind of unreal for us. I mean, for us, Macy’s was and still is a monument. We came in NYC as kids and came to visit Macy’s like we would visit the Statue of Liberty.

Michael Kaminer is a contributing editor at the Forward. Contact him at kaminer@forward.com

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