March 20, 2015

Parisian Macaron Memories

While the fragile dusting of snow on the ground today hardly resembles the colorful flowers one expects to see on the first day of spring, my heart is warmed by all of the cheerful colorful macarons I've see for the Jour du Macaron.

This year, the thought of macarons brings memories of Paris and a once in a lifetime opportunity I had last year to visit.
So pull up a chair, pour a glass of wine, maybe play Amelie in the background for ambiance while I share a glimpse of my trip.

My husband and I had precious little time in our trip to Europe and oh so much ground to cover. For all of the complexity, history, and depth of Paris, we had only two days to experience it.

We arrived in Paris by way of Germany, but my fascination for fine art and French pastries called like a siren song pulling us 8 hours across Europe to the modern day headquarters of the Parisian macaron.

The morning of our final day in Paris began with warm croissants and cappuccino in a narrow basement below our hotel with rounded brick walls nestled over us. We set off down the Rue de Richelieu, past sleepy fromageries, through the sun-baked square of the the Louvre, around the Notre Dame and the overflowing blooms of sunflowers and roses surrounding it.

From there we followed the Seine across the Lock Bridge and straight on down a crocked diagonal alley to the mecca of my pilgrimage, Ladurée, a quiet corner store with gold lettering and bright big windows filled with macarons! 

Le touriste! I was giddy with excitement, much to the amusement and chagrin of the ladies behind the counter patiently waiting while I carefully made the important decision of which flavors would I try. 

Living in a small town in the US means that not many bakeries even know what a Parisian macaron is, let alone have the full variety of flavors available. I had to chose wisely. 

Pictured are rose, dark chocolate, salted caramel, pistachio, and vanilla -- all classic flavors!

Ladurée is the grandfather of macarons. The story goes that they have created  these little pastries since the 1860s. I'm a sucker for original trend setters, so Ladurée was definitely top of my wish list. 

But that doesn't mean, I didn't have time for Pierre Herme, the modern fashionista of macarons. 

Just a short walk down the street, past a large sculpted fountain and a string of small cafes, we found the bright square window display for Pierre Herme. Rectangular macarons were the latest rage!

But that was several months ago, so I'm sure they've moved on the star or octagonal macarons by now.

This shop was bustling! I had to push my way through people just to get a glimpse of the chic parfaits and jumbo macarons with full raspberries encircling.

Amazingly, each bite of authentic Parisian macarons proved that my self-taught macarons were actually really close to the originals. 

The flaky delicate crust, the moist interior, the firm, yet yielding icing holding it all together were so very much like my own macarons, which were based solely on the description of other passionate bakers online. Proof that with a little persistance and a willingness to try, delicious things can be accomplished. 

Happy Jour du Macaron everyone and may your spring be sweet!