Saturday, April 4, 2015

Laduree in the City, London

I hope everyone's been having an awesome Easter break! We just recently moved into the heart of the city of London from the suburbs, so we've taken a couple extra days off on either side to explore our new digs. One of the biggest shocks for me was finding out that there is a Laduree about 10 - 15 minutes away from us now. I've recently been on a real kick for patisserie & hunting around for cool bakeries in Paris (wistfully, all the while) so Laduree was on my radar as I passed by it on a bus journey back towards our new flat.

This location is sort of across the street from The Royal Exchange, where a Paul A Young shop is...a perfect corner of the world, sweets-wise, if you ask me. It's amazing - I don't know how I missed it! Not only is this Laduree nearby, it keeps pretty decent hours during the week (early morning 'til 8 pm) but is closed at the weekend entirely. That's the only downside to this neighborhood, everything is shut at the weekend. However, if you find yourself on the side of town (or within a 10 minute walk or so, like the Liverpool St area) during the week with some free time, I highly recommend having a stroll & a piece of cake or chocolate around here. It's just so much less busy & fretful than Soho or Covent Garden, provided it isn't before work, during lunch, or straight after work.

There is no seating inside that I could see, but they had a menu of hot drinks in addition to the macarons & a few other pastries - literally, like 3 left. I asked the lady working there if they usually had more patisserie options, and she said yes, they just so happened to sell out early on that day - maybe because it was the Thursday before the bank holiday. Fair enough, hopefully I'll be a bit more lucky next time because they have some cool stuff with lots of cream on the website. I was really most interested in trying their most famous treats of crispity-creamity flavorsome macaron-y, anyway!

We chose a box of 6, which ended up being a good amount for two to share as a light afternoon snack. The flavors we selected were Cherry Blossom, Pistachio, Chestnut, Yuzu Ginger, and two Marie Antoinettes. In hindsight, we made the absolute right choice in getting one Marie Antoinette each, as it was easily the best flavor. They were all very soft & creamy centered with a crispy meringue style cap 'n' bottom. Can you tell I'm no expert on macarons? I can count on one hand the amount of times I've eaten them, counting this Laduree trip.

The Marie Antoinette macaron was flavored with a special Laduree house blend tea, unsurprisingly also called Marie Antoinette. It had a lovely delicate black tea backnote, with a citrus-and-honey top flavor. The black tea base just sort of grounds it & keeps it from being too sweet or too zesty. It reminded me of an earl gray tea with just a splash of milk, but sweeter. Hey, it is a macaron after all. A really lovely refreshing flavor.

Pistachio macaron was nutty & a weensy bit salty, and was super accurate to the taste of pistachio in ice cream or cake. Was it like a real pistachio? No, but that's a good thing - they can be a bit bitter & oddly tart for a nut. This wasn't though, thank goodness! Went particularly well with the tea, perhaps because it was less sweet than the rest.

Chestnut macaron was also nutty & sweet, no salt - with a bit of a vanilla note as well. Reminded me a lot of mont blanc pastry, which are some of my favorites. Not a whole lot to say about this one, it was sweet, nutty & vanilla-y...hard to go wrong.

Yuzu Ginger macaron was my husband's favorite, and I was a fan too. I think the best flavors at Laduree (in my incredibly limited experience of...this trip) are the citrus & fruit ones. They certainly had the most unique & true tastes, brightest & cheeriest colors, and refreshing, revitalizing flavors. This one was a honeyed yuzu with just a bit of warming spice from ginger. I'm usually not a fan of ginger, but it plays nicely here.

Cherry blossom macaron had an oddly rosy taste, with a hint of sweetened cherry flavor. Can't say it really reminded me of other cherry blossom/sakura sweets I've had, but it was nice all the same. The predominant flavor really did seem to be rose, with a bit of fruity sweetness.

They were all quite tasty, no losers in the bunch. The over all winner is definitely the Marie Antoinette, followed closely by the Yuzu Ginger. Next time I want to try Lemon & the Orange Blossom, as I thought the citrus flavors were best of the bunch. I'd fill the rest of the box with more Marie Antoinettes, and then try a cup of the namesake tea. Or, if they had more pastries out, I'd get something creamy!

Just before I forget, another cool thing about this location is that they sell Laduree candles as well. There are a few really nice ones, including 'Incense' and 'Coffee'. They're expensive, but a nice luxury if you're a home fragrance fan!

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