Indulge your inner old lady by having lunch at Ladurée in Paris. In operation since 1862 the tea rooms are to the left of the shop where you can order your Laudree goodies to emporté. That means to takeaway for all of you who are not studying a French language course (as you can see I have really progressed!). The tea rooms themselves look like a Rococo bomb has gone off inside them. Everything is mirrored or gold edged with the exception of the ceiling which is painted with a fresco inspired by no less than the Opera Garnier and the Sistine Chapel. It is certainly an experience to lunch while gilt edged cherubs smile down benignly upon you.
The cherubs are the only things smiling though as service is on the surly side despite the steep prices (€4.50 for an artisinal lemonade anyone?). The menu lists a range of club sandwiches, salads, breakfast dishes and of course pastries. In my best school girl French I ordered the French toast and also a selection of Ladurée’s famous macarons. The waiter immediately brought over the plate of macarons before my French toast and practically slung them down on the table. Unless there is a Parisian quirk that I am not aware of I assume that most people prefer to eat macarons after their meal rather than before.
When it did arrive the French toast was really quite good. Judging by the shape and texture, the toast appeared to be made from a brioche and so the serving sizes were hearty and the toast had a rich crumb. The French toast was served with a pot of Canadian maple syrup with which I doused the toast liberally until like a sponge it had soaked up all the sweetness it could manage and the syrup literally oozed out of each forkful.
Continuing the sugar high I progressed to the macarons with a pot of tea. Oliver Magny describes Ladurée macarons as the social lubricant of Paris as they are the perfect gift for every occasion. After my Ladurée experience I only wish that I was on the receiving end of some macarons in London. The lemon macaron has a slightly crisp exterior but then you bite into a cushion of creamy vanilla with a dash of citrus. The overall effect is sweet rather than tart. The mint green pistachio flavoured macaron is a little more dense and the flavour is nutty (obviously) with a touch of mint. As for the strawberry macarons well they actually taste like fresh strawberries and the juiciest strawberries at the height of summer if that is possible. However, my favourite is the chocolate macaron which had such a rich chocolate filling that it was almost a fudge. This little old lady will be back for more of those chocolate macarons but maybe just to emporté so that I skip the Parisian attitude.
Details: 16 rue Royale, Paris 2eme, France (Ph 01 42 60 21 79) Metro: Concorde
Gourmet Traveller Tips
I stayed at hip hotel Mama Shelter, a Phillipe Starck designed wonder out in the 20th. Housed in a converted garage each room has a slick imac which you can watch DVDs on, TV or use the internet, there are Kiehls toiletries in the bathroom and basically it is designer heaven. Rooms from €89.