Fly to Paris next time a macaron craving hits? I mean, that would be ideal. But for New Yorkers, the macaron landscape just got a lot better. Famed Parisian macaron shop Ladurée finally, finally opened their Madison Avenue doors this morning—their first North American location.
The lines were long but not chaotic—considering how long we've been waiting for this opening—with an average wait time of 45 minutes. And everyone who went into the store came out with (at the very least) one of Ladurée signature green and gold bags.
What's available? Macarons in 15 flavors, for $2.70 apiece. Ice creams and sorbets for $8.50 a serving, madeleines with beautiful, golden humps, and nutty financiers for $2 each. Jams, chocolate covered almonds, mendiants, and calissons. And lots of non-edible goodies, including Ladurée tote bags and a whole line of candles to match the macaron flavors. (Most of the people in line knew exactly what they wanted, they didn't wander here at 9am on Tuesday morning for no reason.)
If you're unfamiliar with the world of macarons, and the debates and passion which these seemingly simple cookies can induce, first read Robyn's Introduction to French Macarons. Then return to Ladurée and start with a six-pack. If you order fewer than six macarons at a time, they slide them into thin paper slips. And if you don't eat them immediately, count on them getting smashed one way or another. So make six your minimum. Make sure there's a soft-hued pistachio in there, nutty and rewarding; add on a vanilla speckled with what seems like a million vanilla beans; then a fragrant, but not excessively floral rose petal; a salty caramel that's bold on the salt; strawberry and mint; and finally, one seasonal flavor: green apple.
They do six flavors each of ice cream and sorbet, each pre-packed and topped with a coordinating macacon shell. We devoured a cup of the lush, seed-speckled Strawberry sorbet pretty quickly this morning, though the Salted Caramel and Coffee ice cream still remain my favorite flavors. $8.50 for a small cup is steep, but worth it for an occasional indulgence. Three macarons or one ice cream cup? Hard to decide. Which is why we ended up with both and then some.
We met with David Holder, Ladurée's chairman and son of the founder of Holder Group - which also owns Paul Bakery, for a brief chat. Some insight: the only macaron flavor that didn't make it from Paris to NYC is the beloved macaron à la réglisse, a subtle, cool and nutty licorice macaron with a serious following. (Can you believe it didn't pass FDA approval?) But perhaps it's for the better; we'd have no incentive to visit in Ladurée in Paris if we have everything here.
On the flip side, they will be introducing a macaron flavor exclusive to New York. On September 8th they'll debut the Cinnamon-Raisin Macaron (in junction with Fashion's Night Out). And finally, Ladurée will open a tea salon in the Soho or Village area come next spring. The tea salon will have a full kitchen, and that's when they'll start baking the pastries. Hello, Ispahan!
The only thing that could make macaron-obsessed New Yorkers even happier? Pierre Hermé. Fingers crossed. Then we could call our city a true macaron town.