A ritual I repeat with each visit to Paris is an afternoon visit to LaDuree's tea salon. I don't mean walking up to the take-away counter and ordering a box of macarons and a few pastries to carry out and eat in a nearby park. Although, I do that, too. No, a trip to Paris isn't complete without an afternoon in one of LaDuree's salons de thé. I must nestle myself behind one of the petite tables, with my legs tightly tucked underneath, and have dessert.
There are many joys to visiting LaDuree that begin before you even enter the salon. The windows, with their pastel-colored decorations and macaron towers, have you anxious for the princess-like treasures inside. The ornately decorated belle epoque salon transports you back to a time where women wore dresses with bustles, hats, gloves and carried parasols. I always feel an awe when inside, immagining what famous person might have sat in the same seat as I am. The atmosphere and the pastries are definitely reasons to dine dessert (I only eat the sweets) inside. They are not the real reason I go. No, the real reason I enter the tea salon is for a specific dessert. It's one you can only get inside, seated at a table.
The dessert is the Minis Macarons Glaces (mini macarons with ice cream). It's not really a beauty, especially compared to the colorful little jewels, those macarons and pastries, that first come to mind when one says LaDuree. No, this dessert is an ugly stepsister to those pretties. What she lacks in looks, she more than makes up for in taste. I'm a sucker for contrasts both in flavor and texture, so I love this dessert. Two delicate, sweet and crispy macarons sandwiched around dense and creamy ice cream, a little symphony of flavors. They also offer sorbets with the macarons. A little different contrast are the sorbets. Here bright, cold, and tangy sorbet is like a jive dance with the macaron cookies.
Now, I have always been able to pick each of the four flavors, and I always make the tragic faux pas of combining ice cream and sorbet. A French person told me once, this is "just not done!" Oh well, that's what I like, and I made my usual request for a scoop of chocolate ice cream, two macarons with ice cream and two with sorbet, lemon and raspberry flavors. The waiter told me I could only choose my scoop of ice cream, and they would choose the four macaron flavors. What?!! They can't change the rules! I was certain my horrible French was causing the confusion and repeated my request three times. Finally, my friend Karina, who's fluent in French, stepped in and asked for me. Yep, they changed the rules, probably to keep goofy Americans like me from commiting the mortal sin of combining sorbets and ice creams. I ordered pistaschio ice cream, and with it, came chocolate, vanilla, cafe and pistachio macarons filled with the same flavors of ice cream. It was creamy and sweet, dense and light, the contrasts of flavors and tastes I love presented in a silver cup. I did think about ordering another cup with only sorbets but decided to do that next time. Instead, I purchased a few macarons and other pastries from the take-away counter for later. My trip to Paris was complete.
Note: Photos inside LaDuree are not allowed, but I snuck a quick photo of the macarons and ice cream dish solely to share it with you. The rest of the photos were taken outside.
Is there a thing you must do or eat when visiting one of your favorite cities?
Join me in Provence in 2013 for a French Pastry Culinary Vacation and learn how to create these and other classic French pastries! Details here: Pastry-Making Vacation in Provence