My first macaron experience was at Laduree in Paris. It was New Years Eve, and the gilded, luxurious patisserie (I went to the 1862 original in the 8th arr.) was jammed with well-heeled Parisians stocking up for the holiday. By the sound of it, I was the only American in line, and it seemed that everyone in line around me knew I had no idea what I was doing. I tucked away my little guidebook and feigned indifference, even boredom, whilst inside, my heart raced. I had no idea what to order, or how. Certainly I would screw everything up and the women behind the counter would laugh and the crowd around me would rile up into some crazy French mob and hit me with baguettes.
The brusque women behind the sparkling glass cases were filling light green and gold boxes with great speed, barely looking at the customers pointing and barking requests in French. When I got to the front, my eyes fell upon the macarons, piled high and in a rainbow of colors. I pointed wildly, repeating s’il vous plait and merci in a breathless rush, and the surprisingly sympathetic woman not only filled my order but smiled at me. I had survived Laduree during holiday rush.
When I returned to my little hotel, I opened up the dainty box to my macarons (ahem, also a chocolate cake and a raspberry torte)…bright and festive in raspberry, pistachio, chocolate, vanilla, and blackberry. The first bite was a heavenly experience of delicate crunch giving way to lush, barely chewy cookie and subtly sweet ganache.
I would love to reserve the macaron as my Parisian treat, something to be savored only when I am abroad. Realistically, with flights and the euro as it is, it will be awhile before I get back to Paris so I’ll have to find something worthy here in the city.
Here are the locations I turned up:
Almondine Bakery: 85 Water St in Dumbo, Brooklyn
Bouley Bakery: 120 W. Broadway in Tribeca
Macaron Cafe: 161 W. 36th, nr Seventh Ave
Payard: 1032 Lexington between 73rd and 74th
Bouchon Bakery: 10 Columbus Circle, 3rd Fl.