July 5th, 2007

Feast

Ladurée

Location: 21, rue Bonaparte, 6th arr., Paris
Location: Burlington Arcade, Piccadilly, London
Other locations as well.

In Paris, the first time we stopped by Ladurée was for shopping. I bought chocolate croissants for breakfast the next day, two sample macarons, and dessert for dinner double0hilly's place that night. The desserts were good, the chocolate croissants exemplary, but the macarons blew me away.

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It was good enough that we went back again for lunch my last day there. I came back to England laden with croissants, caramel, and a box of sumptuous mini-macarons, all in vivid flavors. Those, and the innovative variants I brought back from Pierre Hermé inspired me to try Paul's macarons. Alas, those are pale reflections of the glory which were the ones I'd bought from the best purveyors in France.

Ladurée opened its first English branch in Harrods a year-or-so ago. It's a tea room with a menu very similar to its Parisian one. I haven't been yet, but heard the siren call of its second London branch which opened just a few weeks ago in the Burlington Arcade off of Piccadilly. Expecting a similar menu, I invited aca along to join me for lunch there.

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I could resist the prospect of more mini-macarons, however, and, after negotiating the shop's cramped confines, came home with a dozen. Caramel, pistachio, chocolate, lemon, raspberry: I think they may be just as phenomenal here, if pricier. Each is a cloud of flavor, soft, light, and rich.

* The Ispahan was created by Pierre Hermé when he worked for Ladurée and before he branched out to found his own patisseries. It consists of a pair of rose-flavored macarons with fresh raspberries, lychee, and cream sandwiched between them. Pierre Hermé does a variety of other variants with the Ispahan flavor set. If you're ever in Paris, please bring me back a box of the Ispahan fruit jellies!
** Not to be confused with Italian brioche, i.e. jam-filled croissants.