Is it possible to talk about Ladurée without mentioning their emblematic macarons. These delicate pastries, meringue-based confections made with eggs, sugar and almonds, creamy on the inside and crispy on the outside, that melt in the mouth in an explosive rainbow of flavors, are a trademark of the Parisian patisserie.
The iconic French enclave is distinguished by a culinary tradition that dates more than 160 years back. It was in 1862 when Louis Ernest Ladurée, a grain miller from southeast France, opened a bakery at 16 Rue Royale. Years later, Baron Hausmmann renovated the locale to cater to the burgeoning Parisian bourgeoisie of the time, transforming the old business into an elegant pastry shop.
To be in line with the “new face” of the City of Lights of the late 19th century, the space required a luxurious décor, and the interior design of the new pastry shop was commissioned to the celebrated painter and graphic artist, Jules Chéret. The images depicted on the ceilings were inspired by the Paris Opera and added an elegant stamp and a sumptuous atmosphere to the patisserie, very favorable for an era when luxurious coffeehouses were considered the ideal meeting places for the Parisian upper class.
Interestingly, one of the main promoters of the first Parisian teahouses was Jeanne Souchard, Ladurée’s wife, who set out to combine the concept of the traditional coffee house with a patisserie to host and attract aristocrats during informal gatherings and celebrations.
Since then, Ladurée has risen to international fame for their exquisite macarons. Whether the classic renditions, made of chocolate and cream of coconut, strawberry, vanilla, orange, caramel, or coffee, or more subtle versions, filled with rose petals, pistachio or dark liquor, to date nobody has been able rival Ladurée’s macarons.
Always surprising, Ladurée has released new flavors for this season. These include specialties made with pure chocolate from Venezuela, or the “pastel blue”, featuring cream of mint. The genial creative capacity of this house makes each visit a journey to discover innovative flavors like “pink pepper,” made with colorful hints of red pepper in contrast with its grayish shell.
“When you speak of chocolate, it is as if you spoke of love. All the senses are involved”, reads one of the mottos of Le Marquis of Ladurée, a branch recently opened in Paris, which specializes in luxury chocolates. Ladurée is reaching beyond Paris with similar establishments in cities such as St. Tropez, Sao Paulo, Milan, Monte Carlo, Sydney, Osaka and Dubai. The most recent expansion is a branch in New York City, and according to company sources, visitors to Miami Beach’s Lincoln Road, will soon be privy to the delightful macarons with the opening of a store there by the end of this year.
To keep up with the times, Ladurée continues to broaden its range of offers. The label recently launched a line of beauty products, which includes perfumes, body creams, bath salts and candles with the firm’s exclusive and delicate fragrances. The company has also joined the tech universe with apps for iPad and iPhone, which indicate how to purchase its products, locate the nearest store or discover the secrets of their harmoniously sweet blends. ■