I can remember it like it was almost yesterday, sitting in the tea salon at Ladurée by the Opera in Paris. I felt like a silly schoolgirl next to all those ladies who lunch, but while I was eating my coupe I was momentarily as happy as I could have ever imagined being. I’ve been to Paris twice, once on my own and once on a work-related stage in the kitchens of the pastry gods and both times my favorite moments always happened inside the vaulted doors of Ladurée.
Once you walked inside there was a special magic in the air. It was so thick you could feel it and a few moments later you knew you would be lucky enough to taste it. Visions of coffee eclairs and rose religeuse dance in my head whenever I think Ladurée. When I heard that they would be opening a shop here in our own little city, excited couldn’t begin to describe my feelings. I could already taste the pastry cream as I anxiously waited for the moment it would open. But sometimes all good things don’t come to those who wait. Ladurée had announced its opening for the Saturday before Hurricane Irene flew into town.
Alas, it was not to be. It finally made its debut the next Tuesday with lines down the street. Probably not a site that Madison Avenue has ever seen before, not even for a must-have Gucci. Since I couldn’t make it, hubby kindly ventured up to get a lay of the land and return with a goody bag for me. The bag was gorgeous; the boxes amazing — the signature Ladurée packaging is not to be beat. However, the selection was a bit lacking. He returned with a small box of macarons and an even smaller box of chocolates and some tea. “Honey, where are my eclairs?” the little voice inside my head was screaming. That little voice has a tendency to get really loud sometimes, especially when it is disappointed.
It seems that our own little piece of Paris is more like an airport duty-free version, selling macarons, chocolates and tea only. My heart was saddened, I had truly hoped for more because personally, I think that the last thing NYC really needs is another macaron shop. What we really need is a pâte à choux-ery, a store where everything is magically filled with lightened pastry cream and dipped in fondant of every shade in the rainbow (hmmmmm, perhaps I have found my new direction in life, the choux salon — Manolos and cream puffs anyone?). At least the macarons were pretty good.
We had chocolate, caramel, raspberry, cassis-violette and pistachio and there was nary a bad one in the beautiful pale blue, strawberry dotted, gorgeous box. I will say that, as the mother of two small macaron eating, snobby culinary aficionados, I still prefer the macarons at Bouchon for their delightful buttercream fillings (one of the very few times in life you will ever hear me compliment buttercream) although I would give the second to Laduree and third place to Maison du Chocolat.
The chocolates that hubby returned with, in their gorgeous creamy green box, were not notably special, but I wouldn’t bother with chocolates when visiting Ladurée in France so I wouldn’t expect anything different here. There are still a few in the fridge, but they were surpassed by a Ring Ding craving. Ladurée is definitely a must check out place but I can’t see making a return visit unless I’m tour guiding some out of town relatives. Perhaps they will expand their line but if not watch out, because every woman loves to go choux-shopping and I might just have to be the one to fill those shoes.