In the first book of the Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe (or what used to be first, I think they changed the order at this late date), Edmund trips through the wardrobe into the snow covered enchanted kingdom of Narnia and is seduced by the White Witch with her special Turkish Delight. The real middle eastern delicacy is a very sweet jelly like confection covered in sugar and flavored with rosewater but what I imagine the magical allure to be for Edmund – and why someone could turn their backs on family and common sense – would be for the taste of a Laduree macaron. Morals be damned. Yo evil? C’mon down.
Always a bright spot on any Parisian foray, they finally landed in our fair city about a year and a half ago and I don’t think there’s been a moment since without a line out the door. Too bad we can’t slip through the back of a closet right onto their counter!
Macaron shops have been popping up all over the city for the last few years, and while I do have other favorites, I can’t deny the heat for Laduree. After all – the macaron was born in Laduree at least six decades ago and not many bites tickle the bottom of your soul like the ones where you sink your teeth into an almond merengue tradition.
They’re deceptive. They look hard. But the two halves bonded by a ganache filling are like cloud cookies. Layered with a slight crunch and crackle in the shell, then a whisper of flavored air followed by light chewiness from the velvet insides of the shell.
The delicate chocolates provide an ethereal counterpoint to the macarons. I mean if you’ve already gone down the path of indulgence, may as well dive into the sea of opulent extravagance.
New owners took over in the late nineties and have been expanding the brand around the world. Next autumn Soho will be the home of the biggest most comprehensive Laduree anywhere touting a retail area, a tea room (a la their original shop circa 1862) and a full service restaurant.
There are seasonal flavors (lime marshmallow), collector gift box themes (hello kitty) and the 15 or so regular offerings including my favorites of rosewater, pistachio, coffee and violet. Sometimes my choice is for the taste and often for the chance to bite into such vibrant colors. Plus they pair beautifully with coffee or champagne. Suits any occasion including a birthday celebration or just any snowy afternoon.
864 Madison Avenue between 71/72nd Street