A Study of Macarons. Athens & Paris For Dollars A Day

Welcome to my multi-part review of our summer vacation.  We spent 12 days abroad, predominately in Athens and Paris (and a half day in Amsterdam before heading home).    Happy to answer questions as I finish up the series.  We traveled in mid-July, so right in the middle of the Athens financial crisis.  Here’s most of what I expect to cover, including links to posts I’ve already completed:

On our first trip to Paris a couple of years ago, Catherine fell in love with macarons.  This tasty, French treat can be found at so many different places in Paris.  While it didn’t start out as our goal, we ended up sampling macarons from 3 different places.  All were a little different and worth a stop if you find yourself craving sweets in the City of Light.

Laduree:
This is one of the most popular names and thus can have some of the longest lines.  You’ll find locations scattered around the city with a list of locations on their website. And, if you really like them, you can find them in the US at their NYC and Miami locations.

Laduree is highly proficient at producing consistent macarons.  We ate them more than once on our first trip and snagged them twice this time around, mostly because they have so many locations around the city.  The outer shell has a slight crisp that gives way to a softer cookie underneath and finally a jelly or cream filling.

Pistachio is our favorite macaron flavor overall and Laduree does a fine job with the flavor.  Other enjoyable choices were Lemon, Vanilla and Strawberry Candy Guimauve, with it’s crunchy sugar exterior.  We also tried the Licorice (interesting), Rose Petal (not our thing), Iced Mint (tasty), Salted Caramel (yum), and Orange Blossom (interesting).

Macarons

Macarons

All in all, we found Laduree to be consistent every time we tried them.  We found the “normal” flavors to all be spot on, whereas we had a little trouble discerning the flavors without the picture as a guide on a few of the more exotic ones.

Angelina:

This was our second time back to Angelina, having enjoyed their pastries and unbelievable hot chocolate the first time we were in Paris.  We learned of Angelina via Gary of View From the Wing.  Located a short walk from Park Hyatt Place Vendome, the line here can be quite long to eat lunch.  Reservations are absolutely essential.  On the day we enjoyed lunch there we also grabbed some macarons to take with us.

Angelina also has a lovely selection of pastries to go with the macarons.  Both times we’ve purchased macarons we also ended up with a few pastries, all of which we found excellent.  Their specialty is the Mont-Blanc which is a pastry-lovers dream consisting of meringue and chestnut cream.

Macarons

Macarons

Macarons

Here we sampled Raspberry, Lemon, Vanilla, Pistachio and Caramel.  All were delightful, with Lemon and Pistachio taking the proverbial cake.  Maybe the macarons we had at Angelina were fresher, but they seemed to be a bit less dense than the Laduree version.  I think they don’t chill their macarons as cold as Laduree, which may be why they seem a bit more fresh and the flavors a bit more….flavorful.  They do less of the exotic flavors but execute well on the ones they offer.

Macarons

Don’t forget to try the hot chocolate if you’re not there in the middle of summer.  You won’t be disappointed.

Pierre Herme:

As the story was told to us, Pierre Herme helped craft the recipes at Laduree many years ago but left to start his own shop.  The store itself was much more modern than either Laduree or Angelina.

Macarons

Macarons

And the flavors were VERY imaginative.  It was tough to pick which ones we wanted to sample.  Grapefruit, Lime, Olive Oil and Lemon, and one that had Rose Petal, Lychee and Raspberry with yogurt.  Wow!

Macarons

Macarons

One interesting aspect of Pierre Herme was that alongside cream and jelly fillings they also had yogurt filled macarons.  The mouth feel of the outer pastry was similar but the filling was softer, almost like a stiff whipped cream or canoli filling.

A funny aside.  The door of the store was such a perfectly clean sheet of glass that our daughter, Catherine, walked straight into it.  She started crying a bit as she had bumped her nose.  The employee serving us was mortified, noting that she had just finished cleaning the door (she obviously did a good job).  She was around from behind the counter trying to soothe Catherine’s tears with a free macaron.  Disaster was averted with the tasty treat.

Bottom Line It For Me, Ed

Laduree was the first name we heard when we asked where to get macarons in Paris.  Given their history and number of locations, many folks will make this their first and/or only stop.  If they do, I think they’re missing out on the nuances of other patiserries.  I also think Laduree refrigerates their macarons a bit too much, making the cookie a bit firmer.  I think you’re best waiting 15-20 minutes after purchasing at Laduree before eating.

Angelina has an exceptional variety of pastries and that incredible hot chocolate.  Those factors help make an argument to be made for them over Laduree given that their macarons are just as good.

And, finally, Pierre Herme really does throw tradition out the window when it comes to flavors.  The imagination behind the creations was really quite impressive.

All three represent something a little different, enjoyable in their own way.  If I had to pick one overall I’d probably go with Pierre Herme for the audacity of the flavor selections.  But, the best suggestion is probably to sample all of them and make your own decision.  I guarantee you’ll have fun doing it. If you find any new entrants we should consider, let me know!

The post A Study of Macarons.  Athens & Paris For Dollars A Day was published first on Pizza in Motion

16 Comments

  1. Thanks for this post. I’m also in love with macarons and will probably try #2 and #3 on our trip. Remind me to bang my head against the front door for a free macaron. That’s travel hacking at its best.
    PS: you did mean Park Hyatt “Paris” right?

    1. I was Vendoming. 🙂 Park Hyatt Paris Place Vendome. Definitely try to make it to both 2 and 3 on your next trip. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. There’s a good lunch place near one of the Pierre Herme locations I need to write up as well.

  2. Swooning over your descriptions! I can’t wait to go back and see if Herme and Angelina can top Laduree!

  3. Macrons are our daughter’s favorite as well. Lauderee has a boutique at Harrods Department Store in London. We sampled many while her Mom shopped. We will put the two from Paris on our list the next time we make it back to that city.

  4. Do macaroons travel well in a carry on? Heading to Paris next week and would like to bring some back home for the wife

    1. Legend, they can. If you can buy a small thermal bag they may travel better. Ultimately, if you bought them the day before you went home you’ll likely have to finish them in a day or two when you get home before they’ll go bad. I’ve taken them home before and been told you can get 3 or 4 days, but that’s stretching it IMO. Refrigerate when you get home but the cookie may harden a bit after 24 hours or so in the fridge.

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