Macarons. Pink like kisses, pale pistachio green, golden like honey, rows and rows of small meringue discs sandwiched together with ganache to make a macaron, the world’s most decadent mouthful, with love from Paris.
Macarons have been around for longer than sliced bread – since 791 in fact, and the most famous macaroni house of all is Ladurée, founded in 1862 by Louis-Ernest Ladurée with a shop on the Rue Royale in Paris. It was his wife Jeanne’s idea to combine the pâtisserie with a café and thus establish one of Paris’ first tea salons, a place where women could meet (at the time cafés were for men only).
At that time macaroons were just a single disc of meringue cooked with almond meal. It took Ladurée’s grandson Pierre Desfontaine to think of sandwiching two macarons together with ganache in the way we eat them today, taking Paris by storm.
Ladurée has several houses in Paris but I love Ladurée Bonaparte the best, for its tea salon. Upstairs from the pâtisserie is a jewel box lined in dark blue velvet, with tasselled silk drapes and plush upholstered mahogany chairs, with gilt-framed photographs lining the walls. It seats no more than twenty, so sometimes, agonisingly, you have to wait.
Taking a little petit-déjeuner there is very civilised, and a great start to a day in Paris.
Start with coffee, served in a warmed silver jug with hot milk on the side, from cups with Ladurée’s signature pink, pistachio and blue edged in gilt.
Or have a hot chocolate, again served in your own warmed silver jug. Why aren’t all hot chocolates served this way?
Than have a pastry or two – this was the most perfect almond, hazelnut and walnut croissant (croissant fourré) I have ever eaten.
Or perhaps French toast, Ladurée style – slices of light buttery brioche dipped in egg and pan-fried.
Just a tip – Ladurée is a pâtisserie, so pastry is what they do best. The omelettes are best avoided.
After breakfast, slip downstairs to buy your macarons from the twenty-odd flavours on display – salted caramel is their most popular, but I would also highly recommend rose, orange blossom, chocolate, coffee, lime basil, and pistachio. They will come nestled in a wax-paper lined box and in one of Ladurée’s pistachio-coloured bags.
And yes, they taste every bit as good as they look!
21 rue Bonaparte
Open Monday to Friday 8.30am – 7.30pm
Saturday 8.30am – 8.30pm
Sundays and holidays 10am – 7.30pm
Métro – St Germain des Pres (Line 4)
This week is Paris Week at Life on Nanchang Lu!
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