Sometimes it is possible to miss something long before you have ever experienced it. That is the way I have always felt about Paris. I have wanted to go there ever since I can remember. I have probably wanted to go ever since I heard the name and could recognize where it was, as well as the incredible history, culture, and food that is associated with this exotic location. I have longed to be in Paris the way people long to have a child, the way someone longs to be a musician, the way you need to do whatever it is to fulfill your soul.
I knew long before I ever visited Paris, that my relationship with this city would leave us as close as possible, like a pair of bosom buddies, and we were from the moment I stepped off the train in the summer of 2009.
On my first glorious trip to Paris, I had a fully planned itinerary (http://thequeenoff-ckingeverything.blogspot.com/2011/05/for-game-plan-part-iii.html) and it was the
On our second to last day there, we were to see the magnificent Arc de Triomphe and climb our way to the top (ok I would be cheating and taking the elevator half of the way). Right before we would arrive we would have an important pit stop to make all thanks to travel guru Samantha Brown. As you will note from previous blogs, (http://thequeenoff-ckingeverything.blogspot.com/2011/03/for-those-who-also-worship-my-travel.html) I learned the best travel tips and locations from watching her hop around the world and I haven’t even made a dent in passing that information along. But in terms of delicious essentials, Laduree was as the top of her list; therefore it was at the top of mine. Since it is perfectly located on the tree lined Champs-Elysees mere feet from the Arc de Triomphe, it was where we stopped for a break from my self-guided tour and the pouring rain. It is a moment I shall always treasure.
Laduree on Madison Avenue was opened in August 2011 and there wasn’t a sole in New York City who didn’t know or care about it. For weeks, maybe even months, there were lines around the block even on weekdays. I knew I couldn’t get in for a while and I was panicked. Then I just never got a chance but I never, ever let it out of my mind for one second. It was always on my to do list (http://thequeenoff-ckingeverything.blogspot.com/2012_04_01_archive.html).
If for some reason you are feeling generous or need a gift for someone, this is an ideal gift for anyone, anytime! (http://thequeenoff-ckingeverything.blogspot.com/2013_01_01_archive.html)
second leg of a celebratory vacation in honor of my brother’s college graduation. We had spent the previous five days in London and now it was on to five days in Paris.
Laduree is more than a pastry shop or a pretty place to sit outside for a nice lunch. From the outside you can tell from the marble and decorative layout careful thought and planning has gone into every detail especially in what they serve. On the Samantha Brown episode, I very clearly remember her starring down at the glass onto the pastel colored macarons and other precious desserts trying to make the difficult decisions on which treats will ultimately become hers. What I didn’t realize until my own journey there was that they serve a full menu of entrees too. At the time I was not hungry but did opt to stay and enjoy my treats and not take mine to go like Ms. Brown did. Boy was this much more fun.
Although the wait staff spoke mostly French they were very friendly and with my minimal half broken English/French we made do. Our order was simple to look at but is still my favorite of ALL time. Of course there was French press coffee (yum) but instead of the traditional macaron they are famous for we ordered éclairs. This is embarrassing but when I read it the first thought I had was of those filled with cream with the thick chocolate stripe down the middle that I see in Entenmann’s boxes. I am not a fan. But here they had so many flavors and I figured when in Paris……..
So I ordered a pistachio and my brother ordered a vanilla. You can see from the photo at the very beginning of this blog that we did not receive anything like I expected. But that picture like so many I take, fall flat on their face when trying to convey the brilliance that was before me. This is was the freshest, most delicate piece of pastry I have ever held. It had some very light powered sugar like topping and when I took a bite Paris and I became soul mates. It was the taste of true love. There are no words. The fact that I cannot get any in New York made me heart sick. But in 2011 a remedy was available and I did a happy dance.
Laduree in New York City is a tiny shop and is ONLY selling their signature macarons, which are shipped from Paris three times a week. There are so many flavors believe me you will be overwhelmed by the choices and the line, because there are still people always in and out, but it is manageable and everyone is so kind. I love hearing “Bon jour” in my day again!
To be clear the macarons here are not the coconut ones many Americans think of right away. These are the kind that has light, airy sandwiches with creams inside. Depending on the flavor, the cream inside will match its outer layer. They look like they will be thick and crunchy but after your first bite, there is a light crumble, and then heaven. It seems like the simplest of creations and maybe it is. They have been made since 1900 in Paris. Apparently when “it's not broken, don't fix it” is a good idea.
I mention these treats now because when I finally went to see the N.Y.C. shop it was after my spa day (see previous blog). It made my “me” day all the more perfect. It was an all around luxurious afternoon and was the final touch on a day of happiness and relaxation.
This way if you buy your family and friends some, you won’t have to share yours!!
For a Taste of Paris:
For the New York Times Review: