My husband and I recently came back from a fantastic trip to Paris, and it was one of the best trips we've ever taken. The pastry was unbelievable...I knew it would be, but the fact that we ate more pastry than food for two weeks really drove the point home!
My Aunt had told me about the Macarons at Pierre Herme and I read about the wonderful Laduree macarons, so I knew they were two stops I had to make. Little did I know we were staying literally walking distance to both Pierre Herme and Laduree. Quelle bonne chance! (No, I don't actually speak French, but I remember the phrase!)
French macarons are little nuggets of goodness. Nothing like macaroons here in the states, which are other little nuggets of sweet coconut goodness, French macarons are little (or big) meringue cookie sandwiches filled with a ganache or jam center. Good macarons have a filling that melts in your mouth with flavor that saturates only after you bite through the outer shell of meringue cookie with a slightly soft and chewy center. A unique combination that Pierre Herme and Laduree have mastered.
Pierre Herme we actually stumbled upon, and there wasn't a line out the door at all as is the norm apparently, but it was fairly early in the morning. The flavors of macarons at Pierre Herme were more unusual than Laduree's macarons, but were still lovely. I did have the BEST pain au chocolate (chocolate croissant) I had in Paris from Pierre Herme (and I sampled many, many pain au chocolates). The buttery, flaky pastry was unreal and unlike any I've ever had. I had crumbs all over my jacket, and wore them proudly, until my husband insisted I look presentable...we were in Paris after all!
So I must admit that was our only trip to Pierre Herme...I did however make approximately 4 trips to Laduree...I loved it. It satisfied all little girl deep rooted fantasies of pretty, dainty, pink, pastel shops I used to imagine as a girl. The sign outside, slightly rusted and weather worn, only intensified the Parisian feel.
The French women with aprons that were working behind the counter, and all the differently colored macarons neatly arranged in front of them, made every visit a visual treat. No pictures are allowed inside the shop, but my husband snapped these from outside.
We stopped by often as the shop was on our path towards the Seine almost daily, so we were able to sample many different flavors. The Raspberry was my favorite, the flavor of the raspberry just enveloped my entire mouth, I couldn't get enough! Chocolate was also magnificent and my husband's favorite.
On one of our last days in Paris, I went back to get more than just a few macarons, I wanted one of the little boxes to call my own! They have little, rectangular boxes in different pastel colors, all gilted with silver writing and curly-Qs, which fit just six macarons perfectly. It is very girly, pink and dainty...and I wanted one, even though they were kind of ridiculous in price, we were in Paris and I was going to splurge on a little pink box! The woman who served me, perfectly lined the box with tissue paper, and then filled with my choice six, and then put the little box in a little green Laduree bag!! Heaven...
They were all eaten within approximately 20 minutes...who could wait? I did control myself long enough to get back to our little apartment in Paris to take a picture at least. Oh, and I did get one chocolate macaron for my husband, honest.
My choice six? Two raspberry(the lighter red/pink above), a 'red fruit', the aforementioned chocolate, an orange blossom, and a lemon. Sigh...