It's been almost two years since my last post. I have very much missed the Chowhound community. My recent trip to NYC has reinvigorated my love for food and desire to document all that I have eaten. Especially of note was my recent trip to Laduree. Below, I have briefly outlined my wonderful experience. I hope to also post about my experiences at Takashi & Kajitsu later next week.
I arrived 15 minutes before the scheduled opening of the store. The drapes were still pulled and employees were still trickling in. Strangely, there were already a half dozen or so die-hard-foodies already in line ahead of me. I was thinking of dispatching of them quickly, but I figured that they couldn’t possibly snap up every macaron in the store. I could wait.
On the very minute the store was scheduled to open, the drapes were raised to reveal a bevy of brightly coloured coins; all laid out in intricate arrangements and pretty jewel-worthy boxes. I started to salivate. My body already knew that the golden hour was upon us. The door was then suddenly thrown open and a gentleman with a thick French accent ushered us through the door with the ever chipper (and slightly snarky) “Charge!! Go go go !!!”. Yes – I am a crazy fool standing outside a bake shop at 9AM in the morning in the falling rain to get some cookies for $3 a piece, but I am not cattle. From the looks of the assembly-line-like set-up inside the store, I may have had to reassess my position in society – I was indeed just some cattle being corralled through the waiting pen, past the feed pen and to … the pay pen? Anyway, my analogy got lost somewhere along the way.
We were presented with a succinct menu listing the day’s available flavours. There were about 13 in total. When it came to my turn, I requested a box of 24 pieces (the maximum number of pieces in the standard box), with an assortment including everything but the chocolate. Yes, I am ‘one of those’ that don’t particularly fancy chocolate. I find it a bit overpowering, especially for something as delicate as the macaron.
20 minutes later, I stood proudly with my first box of NYC Laduree macarons. I quickly tore apart the delicate wrapping and indulged in a few treats. E favoured green, so we tasted a green apple and a pistachio flavour. They were followed up by a mutely flavoured I-Have-No-Idea-What-It-Was-But-It-Was-Good-And-Pale-In-Colour macaron. I was once again transported back toParisso many years ago.
E is a jaded person. E claims that Laduree in Paris is so much better than Laduree in NYC. I agree with E that the texture is indeed a bit off, probably due to the freezing or unfreezing of the delicate pastries due to the high altitudes and low flight temperatures. I did notice that some of the boxes containing the macarons had a bit of condensation dripping off them. But they were pretty darned good! And yes, you read that right: high altitudes. These babies were flown in daily from the other side of the Atlantic for our noshing pleasures.
I quickly got back into line and bought another jewel-box full. This one was going to survive intact as it was a gift for some very special foodie friends that were having a wedding later that week. I had intended to surprise them with a box of fresh-from-Paris cookies that very evening when I drove to Toronto. These cookies were indeed pricey, but considering I don’t like huge desserts, get bored easily, and that they were flown in fromParis, I quickly rationalized the cost.
So now I’ll focus on the cookies. They were beautifully shaped. They had the perfect little ‘foot’ under each cookie. The filling looked like it had been done by hand. Each one was slightly differently filled from the next. None of them were over-filled and hence soggy, nor overpowering. The colours were bright, but not neon like I had grown accustomed to inNorth America. In short; they were just as I had remembered. Dainty. Colourful. Perfect.
What made me realize how much I missed them was their delicate flavour. They didn’t taste of sugar like so many of their American counterparts. They tasted like essential oils and genuine flavour extractions. The rose was beautifully perfumed. It was actually one of my favourites. It tasted better when it warmed to room temperature as the aromas were able to diffuse a bit when I bit into them. At room temperature the creams were a bit airier and lighter as well. They were truly just unveiled from their storage places before being placed in my greedy little hands. Another favourite was definitely the espresso. It tasted like a morning mug of my favourite latte. Just the right touch of cream/milk and sugar in the cookie. It was very concentrated and not overly sweet, nor bitter. E particularly enjoyed the lemon with lemongrass. It was brightly flavoured, with the citrusy punch coming to the forefront, but not cloyingly so. The green apple was a bit sour for my tastes (and yes, my own fault since I don’t particularly enjoy the original either), and the salted caramel was a touch disappointing. The voices around me when I was in line were singing rhapsodies and praises of the salted caramel. And yes, I know that flavour is de rigueur right now. But in a macaron, I feel the caramel is a bit too sweet and the runny texture of the caramel doesn’t do any favours to the delicate cookie, nor the superb wrapping job of the staff. My caramel macaron melted all over my box and tasted, well, like caramel. Wth salt.
My only slight complaint was that each box was not packed with a colour chart explaining each flavour. Since I was blessed with the inability to retain information for more than 10 seconds at a time, some of the flavours escaped me when I was devouring them. They had them on the menu at the store, but unlike everyone’s favourite box of chocolates growing up inToronto(which I state in full tongue-in-cheek manner), my Pot of Gold didn’t come with a menu.
All in all, I was in awe at the care and dedication involved in bringing us these delicate treats. I was not surprised that Laduree would not be offering their full line-up of baked treats, as the quality control they would like to exert would be a logistical nightmare with anything more delicate than these tiny confections. Right now,Americawants their $3 tiny angelic macarons and Laduree is delivering them via the skies. And thank heavens for that.
I know I will be returning to Laduree on my next trip out, even though I spent nearly $200 on cookies on my first trip there. I would highly recommend that you seek them out, especially if you’ve been disappointed time after time like me with lesser impostors.
864 Madison Ave
(between 71st St & 70th St)
New York, NY 10021
Neighborhood: Upper East Side
Open every day except Sunday and Monday (except exceptionally – which apparently means by special circumstance. And yes, I did have to call them to find out what that meant)
Thank you for your time.
For integrated photos, please see my post on my blog: http://havesporkwilltravel.wordpress....
864 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10021
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