Perhaps it seems odd that this is categorized “What to do in Italy.” But as of last Spring, Ladurée—that star of the French confection le macaron—is also here in Milan. And as far as I’m concerned, going to Ladurée is not about eating. It’s about “doing,” or rather “experiencing.” You don’t eat these macaroons; you are simply overwhelmed by them. It’s a process of succumbing to essence and texture. Slightly granular, soft on the inside, crackly on the outside, and downright gooey in the middle—these little babies are flown in daily from Monaco, and priced accordingly. It almost suffices to merely look at them.
The store itself is as much a frothy confection as what it sells. It is, as they say, over the top: beautifully, almost comically, ornate—”French” in the extreme—with crystal chandeliers, a small galleried tea room overhead, and painstakingly arranged pyramids of the sweet in question. On the day that I took Tram 27 to the Center for the sole purpose of buying a box of macaroons, they were promoting their John Galliano line. I find the whole idea almost as absurd as John Galliano’s mustache, but you have to love it.
Needless to say, those particular goodies were out of my range. No, I was after something much more economical and representative of Ladurée’s wide array of flavors, or parfums (you inhale their scent as much as you eat them), and I wanted to get some that would appeal to my children. Rose. Cassis. Citron. Caramel. At home, the packaging was almost too beautiful to unwrap, but sometimes you just have no choice! You’ll notice the intense and unusual colors of these little delicacies. I’m happy to report, that their flavor is even more so. But, like sushi, I’m sure “take-home” just isn’t the same, so next time, I’ll take my girls with me on the 27, and we’ll indulge like three modern-day Marie Antoinettes in that little over-head tearoom.
NOTE: April 16, 2011. I have since been back to Ladurée with my children in tow, and noticed that the overhead tea room which I mention is “faux,” a design feature for appearances only. I apologize if I’ve misled anyone.
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I’m inspired by your conscious trips, deliberately planned around sampling one simple thing. While I’ve gone to museums with the express purpose of spending an hour with just one or two paintings, I don’t know that I’ve made enough truly purposeful day-to-day excursions. In these times of overabundance, it’s seems all the more important to slow down and carefully seek out things I’m interested in. Thank you.
Diane, I really appreciate your comments to this blog. Thank you. As for the family stuff I referred to in “PGR,” it is slowly sorting itself out as these things tend to do…thanks so much for your expression of concern and friendship.
They are indeed exquisite and beautiful… but of course I have a preference for the ones made at Chez Adam in the town of Saint Jean de Luz (in the Basque Country of my origins) made without the fancy flourishes, food coloring and fillings of Ladurée but an exquisite treat nonetheless. These were originally created for the arrival of King Louis XIV who married the young Spanish Infanta in the church of Saint Jean de Luz. The original door to the church was subsequently walled in, and the ‘macaron’ became a specialty and a delicacy that is specially made to order and shipped worldwide. They absolutely melt in your mouth and delight the senses. Your entire being smiles. – Anna
I am under the impression that they don’t use artificial colors. I’ll find out. I’d love to taste the ones you love. I’m sure they are divine. What I love about them, in general, is that one is enough. They are such a loaded sensorial experience, you don’t need to over-indulge. In fact, if you did, it would produce a negative effect. Thanks for sharing this, Anna.
I love this post. I will be in Milan in just over a week – I’ll be looking for these. Macarons are a world wide phenomenon right now. I have followed them everywhere – from Hong Kong to Helsinki and beyond.