Ladurée is widely credited as inventing the macaron as we know it today! The double decker macaron with a ganache filling was first made by Louis-Ernest Ladurée (which the shop is named after). We actually tracked down their biggest tea room and bakery in Champs-Élysées and took the Metro right to the place before even visiting the Arc de Triomphe. :)
Champs-Élysées is a very prestigious address in Paris, the equivalent of Fifth Avenue in New York (although it was Parisian culture which started the latter). It’s very expensive to maintain a presence here coz the real estate is incredibly desirable. Ladurée actually calls their branches as “houses” or “boutiques” even though they’re technically a tea room – that’s how seriously they take their heritage!
Their restaurant, tea room and bakery at 75, Avenue des Champs-Élysées flies their famous green-and-gold Ladurée, Paris sign and is a huge old and stately building that has al-fresco seating during spring. This is the place that we’ve been looking for and we made a bee-line right into their bakery…
…to run into a long, slow-moving line of people.
It was more than a queue, it was like watching the human equivalent of rabbits breeding! There are tourists, locals glaring at the camera toting tourists, and bemused passer-bys who got dragged in by the sheer force of the crowd swarming for Ladurée macarons. It was chaos, but organized chaos.
We were each passed a brochure listing their macarons, including the seasonal specials. My better half wanted to get ½ a dozen so I asked the patient and professional Ladurée wait staff for their recommendations. I only changed one and here’s our list:
- Vanille (Vanilla)
- Reglisse (Liquorice)
- Fruits Rouges (Red Fruits)
- Pistache (Pistachio)
- Caramel Fleur de Sel (Salted Caramel)
The blue Marie-Antoinette and the Red Fruits macarons are seasonal specials for Spring 2014!
The six (6) macarons are all awesome and there’s one thing I noticed about vanilla in France – no one uses vanilla flavoring, it’s like it’s a culinary sin! Every place we’ve been, from Michelin star restaurants to cafes uses real dried vanilla fruits (which is the second most expensive spice after saffron!) and it makes a lot of difference!
I quite liked some of the Ladurée macarons – the Marie-Antoinette, Salted Caramel and Vanilla are awesome but the best one is the one I switched to – Liquorice (swapped this for the recommended Lemon). The Liquorice macaron is black and when you bite into it, you get a mouthful of dry ash and acrid bitterness…and then the mild sweetness of the licorice filling hits you, for just a short while before it disappears and leaves a pleasant aniseed aftertaste in your mouth.
It’s ephemeral and epitomizes the macaron perfectly. I’m not just trying to alliterate my words, but that’s how I felt about the Liquorice macaron. However, as for the others, I felt that Pierre Hermé macarons tastes better.
I’ll do a review of Pierre Hermé macarons soon – we tried both of the great French maracons and both were good! I know that both has branches here or close to us but they taste totally different. Macarons are supposed to be temperature controlled and eaten within 3 days and it doesn’t take well to importation or local ingredient substitution.
You can never get macarons here that’s as good as the ones in France and I’m glad we managed to eat these delicate French creations during our Europe trip! Oh yeah, our 2 Michelin star meal at Relais Louis XIII is coming up next! :)