Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Snapshots: Ladurée's First Day

It's true! The first Ladurée has opened in Manhattan. Slightly deterred by Hurricane Tropical Storm Irene, the shop was forced to keep its doors shuttered on Monday. But, this one day delay did not deter the macaron madness that hit the Upper East Side on Tuesday!

On the day of the grand opening, throngs of tourists and New Yorkers alike stood in line -- the wait was approximately 25 minutes -- for these divine little bites of Paris.

I first tried these macarons in 2008. My former boss from Food & Wine brought them back from a weekend getaway. Her boyfriend surprised her with a romantic trip to Paris! I helped him arrange a few minor details, since he was too consumed with the proposal! My boss received the diamond ring of her dreams and I was rewarded with a box of the most delicious macarons.

Ladurée's signature box was beautiful. It was something I would've hoarded as a child, a tiny pastel green colored treasure trove – a perfect home for my prized trinkets and costume jewelry. As an adult, I'm glad to have it filled, instead, with six macarons.

Before receiving this present, I always assumed that macarons were doughy drop cookies made with candied coconut. I was so wrong! (Those cookies are completely different and are called "macaroons." The extra "o" makes all the difference!) I had also never received such a fancy food gift before. I was, after all, from the suburbs where you gifted Harry & David fruit baskets and See's Chocolates. I had no idea how elaborate artisanal sweets could be – it was a magical foodie epiphany!

As I opened the box, a cornucopia of colors enticed every taste bud. Casis? Frambroise? Cafe? The scents wafted up to my nose; my mouth watered. Each delicate macaron consisted of two petite cookies that looked like colorful Nabisco Nilla wafers. But, the texture was delicate and airy. The top shattered like an egg shell, but the center was soft, slightly chewy and would break away like moist cake. Each bite was deceivingly rich and full of sweet flavor. The center was filled with a fruit mousse, chocolate, or caramel. The texture wasn't like the overly sweet jellies that filled so many of the NY-made macarons. These were far superior. It's like eating sweet French clouds. Heaven.


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