Treat or treat! Ladurée Celebrates Halloween

There’s pretty much only one way to do tasteful halloween macarons and Ladurée ‘s nailed it.

la duree halloween, laduree, macarons, halloween macarons, laduree halloween macarons


Now that Ladurée  is established in New York City, it is embracing some American traditions with the release of its first ever Halloween-inspired macarons box.  The bright passion fruit orange macarons are sold exclusively here in the US starting October 21st.

A Most Delicious London Guide Book

Traveling to London anytime soon? Leave your guidebook at home and grab a box of Pierre Hermé’s macarons instead! To celebrate the one-year anniversary of his Lowndes Street London boutique, the Picasso of Pastries created a special box of macarons, much like the box les Incontournables de Paris that was sold at his Parisian stores last year.
So which London landmarks should you visit? The usual suspects: the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben… and Pierre Hermé’s store, bien sur! Not on the list, however: any of Ladurée‘s 3 London addresses. I wonder why 😉

Royal Wedding – Monaco Edition

Two months after Will and Kate, there’s another European royal wedding grabbing headlines. On July 2nd, Prince Albert will marry Charlene Wittstock in the tiny Mediterranean principality of Monaco. The lavish two-day-long nuptial festivities will feature a religious ceremony in the palace’s courtyard, a light-and-sound show by Jean-Michel Jarre and a free concert by the Eagles, a dinner by Monegasque Chef Alain Ducasse and a post-festivities brunch for which Ducasse will get a little assistance by Chef Joel Robuchon. The Champagne will be French, of course, and in honour of the bride, the red wine served with dinner will be South African. Other than that, the ingredients used to prepare the 3 course menu will be sourced from a 6-mile radius from the rock: honey from Monaco’s bee-hives, fishes line-caught in the mediterranean that morning, and vegetables from the Prince’s own farm. I’m not sure what will be served for dessert, though if I were the bride, I would go for a macaron croquembouche by Ladurée. Especially if  Ladurée created two unique flavours just for my wedding!

Photo credit: Ladurée
Ladurée, which has a presence in Monaco with a boutique at the Galerie Métrople, is offering two exceptional macarons to honour the couple. The macarons will be red and white, the colours of the House of Grimaldi since 1339, with delicate flavours of guava and raspberry-anise, and presented in a limited edition gift box in ivory and gold, decorated with the two first names of the future husband and with the princely arms, symbols of the Principality. *le swoon*

Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis! Bienvenue à DC!

I have a confession to make. Technically speaking, I am not a parisienne. Shakira’s hips don’t lie and neither do my passport and birth certificate. I was actually born a ch’ti in the northern French city of Lille and only moved to Paris at the age of five. Why confess to this now? Well, because soon there will be another ch’ti moving to DC, one that also hails from Lille and that shares my grandfather’s name: Paul.

Francis Holder opened the very first Paul bakery Place de Strasbourg in Lille back in 1953. Within 10 years, Francis was opening Paul branches throughout the city and by the 70s there were Pauls all over France. Today, there are over 450 Paul “stores” throughout the world and if you’ve been to London recently, I’m sure you’ll have no problem believing that outside of France, the UK holds the biggest concentration of Pauls. Paul entered the US market (rather unsuccessfully) by way of Miami and is now arriving in the District with a first opening planned for January 2011 May 2nd at 801 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. They will open a second PAUL store will open in Georgetown at the corner of Wisconsin Ave. and M St. NW later in the year.

Back home, I’m not typically a Paul customer. Paul is chain and while their bread (especially the flutes and the emmental mimolette Flemish bread) is good, it hardly compares to Eric Kayser‘s. (Trust me, best pain in all of Paris!) But Eric Kayser has no intention of opening a store in DC and good bread is hard to come by in this town. So I’m pretty excited about the upcoming opening! Another reason why I’m very excited? Well, if you’ve read my blog in the past or followed my tweets, you may have noticed that I have a slight obsession with great appreciation of macarons. In 1993, Francis Holder, by then the head of a large baking empire called Groupe Holder, purchased a (somewhat famous) little pâtisserie located Rue Royale in Paris. You know, the one with the pastel green exterior and the line of Japanese tourists waiting outside to purchase a few macarons. Now Paul’s mini-macarons are not of the same caliber as Ladurée‘s, bien sûr, but they’re WAY better than those made by Château Blanc (remember those? I wrote about them previously), also a subsidary of Groupe Holder.

Paul’s mini-macarons come in many flavours including pistachio (pictured above), cassis (my fave)
and of course, the classic caramel beurre de sel, chocolate, vanille and raspberry.
So my thinking: basically until Kayser or Ladurée opens in DC I am more than happy to settle for fellow ch’ti Paul for my bread and my macarons (and the occasional tarte aux framboises, sandwich, quiches, chausson aux pommes, vienoiseries or glass of Orangina)!

2011 Resolution: Eat More Macarons!

Did anyone else make a New Year’s Resolution to eat more macarons? J’en doute, but please humour me for the sake of my post 😉 I mean, you could very well have put eating more macarons on your resolution list. They are after all a top food trend for 2011 as predicted by Epicurious and more locally by DC’s very own Metrocurean

To kick off 2011 in Parisian style Artfully Chocolate Kingsbury Confections in Alexandria is hosting an open house tasting of macarons by Michel Patisserie. People often ask me where they can find the best macarons in Washington, or at least anything comparable to what you would find in Paris. For the past two years, I have always answered that Michel Giaon of Michel Patisserie makes the best in town – though Jacques Poulain’s, sold at Cacao and Puro Cafe have grown on me recently. Michel’s parisian macarons are sold at ACKC, whose DC location is just a few blocks away from my office… how convenient!  If you can’t make it to Laduree anytime soon (that whole having to get on an international flight thing is a bummer, I know), you can at least hop on the metro and head to ACKC’s Alexandria location to taste the colourful and delicate creations of a pastry chef who has trained there!

Artfully Chocolate Kingsbury Confections‘s Alexandria shop is located at 2003A Mount Vernon Avenue, a few streets away from Cheesetique and a short walk from the Braddock Road metro station. The open house tasting is scheduled on January 6th, from 5:30 to 8pm. Resolve to go! 

Bye bye macarons, bonjour cupcakes?

Let them eat (cup) cake! And by them, I mean the parisians. The rise in popularity of the very parisian macaron has been well documented in the United States, with trend-watchers inevitably wondering whether they will one day be the heirs to the cupcake throne. It’s a good question. But from where I am standing, I think it needs to be reversed! Macarons are not the new cupcakes… cupcakes are the new macarons! In Paris, macarons reign supreme. And if they are the patisserie equivalent of the Sun King, cupcakes are their dauphin even making an appearance at the Versailles of macarons: Ladurée
But there’s cupcakes and cup cakes… leave it to Ladurée and its chef de patisserie Philippe Andrieu, to elevate the small frosted treat to an art form. Le cup cake made in France is a fun and elegant take on its American cousin. 
From its playful presentation (it actually comes in an pretty paper “cup” that hides the actual wrapper) to its exquisite flavours (pictured is rose-raspberry though my favourite was actually cassis-violette) le cup cake is as easy on the eyes as it is on your palate. Though priced at 5.5 euros, it’s definitely not easy on your wallet so you might want to consume with moderation 😉
Le macaron se meurt… vive le cup cake?*
* (the macaron is dead… long live le cup cake)

French Friday: Il N’y A Que Maille Qui M’Aille

Whenever I go home to Paris I always make a quick stop in the Maille boutique 6 place de la Madeleine. The small shop, conveniently located around the corner from Ladurée, is an homage to all things mustard. There, you’ll find some of the best mustard in Paris freshly prepared and on tap, in a variety of classic and seasonal flavours, as well as vinegards and cornichons. When it comes to mustard, il n’y a que Maille qui m’aille and I wouldn’t be caught dead purchasing Grey Poupon! This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe was a mustard tart (Gerard’s Mustard Tart to be precise) so I was glad to have a few jars of mustard left in my fridge from my last visit to the Maille store back in August.

The mustard at Maille is served on tap, like beer, at their store place de la Madeleine.

Gerard’s Mustard Tart called for 2 different kinds of mustard: Dijon mustard and grainy Dijon mustard. I used the Maille Dijon Originale and Maille Old Style.Both mustards are mixed with crème fraiche and eggs to make a custard on which to lay 3-inches long sticks of steamed carrots and leeks. The recipe also calls for a store bought crust, which actually makes this dish one that can easily be done on any weeknight after coming home from work. Though the end result is so pretty that it is almost a shame not to share it! I artfully arranged the vegetables in my pie crust, though in hindsight I realize that you can barely see the leeks under all these carrots 😦 Oh well…

Gerard’s Mustard Tart – recipe number 2 of French Fridays with Dorie

I probably won’t get around to making next week’s recipe: Viet Chicken Soup but I’m excited to be making hachis parmentier (think French sheppard’s pie) in two weeks’ time! Until then, bon appétit and bon vendredi!

Things to do: Paris Façades Opening Reception

If I dreamed in watercolors, I’m pretty sure the succession of images and emotions in my mind would look like Carol Gillott‘s aquarelles. Most of her paintings take you right into the whimsical streets of Paris and the pastel strorefronts of LaDue. Needless to say, I check her blog “>Paris Breakfast regularly to see which parts of my hometown have been inspiring her brushes lately though most of the time her muse seem to be the façade of a macaron shop with its tower of pastries and other sweet reflections of Parisien life.

Carol shares her time between New York, where she resides, and Paris where she travels frequently to soak up inspiration. Tomorrow, she will travel to Paris on the Potomac to present her delightful and mouth-watering renderings of Parisien boulangeries, patisseries and every day life at l’Alliance Française. The exhibit opens tomorrow with a reception and will be on display until November 1st, when it will move on to Philadelphia.

The opening reception at l’Alliance Française (on 2142 Wyoming Avenue NW) starts at 6:30 pm and is free attend. Reservations are required by calling 202-234-7911.

Tu Sais Que Tu M’Aimes, Bisous, Bisous!

It’s not the first time a popular TV show uses Paris in its plot. You may remember way back on 90201, when Brenda’s relationship with Dylan began to crumble, she spent the summer in Paris with Donna. There she pretended to be French to woo another American students she met while Kelly seduced her man back in sunny L.A. Another teen favourite, Dawson’s Creek ended with Joey standing in front of the Eiffel Tower in a not-so-subtle sign that she had gotten too big for CapesideIn the seventh season of Gossip Girl, Lorelai and Rory’s dad Christopher eloped in Paris. Friends’ Rachel got offered a job in Paris as a series concluded, much to the chagrin of Ross and Joey. She never actually made it onto the plane and eventually reunited with Ross giving everyone the series finale that they wanted to see. And of course, there’s Sex and the City. In the series’ finale Carrie left the City that Never Sleeps to join “the Russian” in the City of Light only to hate it and return to New York City with Mr. Big. Heck, the Bachelor even had a season in Paris and the Simpsons travelled there to visit Euro Itchy and Scratchy land.  So it was only a matter of time before the Manhattan socialites of Gossip Girl would say au revoir to the Upper East Side and bonjour to the left bank. 

Last night season’s premiere of Gossip Girl L(or should I say l’Elite de New York as it is known in some francophone countries) found Blair and Serena in Paris. Since I care less about the actual plot of the episode than I do about how they portrait my hometown, here are a few highlights of the places spotted on “Belles Du Jour.”

OMD — that would be Oh Mon Dieu 😉 — the first scene of the episode features the two gal pals walking across Le Pont Des Arts, with Serena holding something I could recognize with my eyes closed: a lovely Ladur
ée pastel green bag. Standing right next to her is Blair, bien sûr, eating macarons out of a cute pink box. J’adore!

The next few scenes go over how les filles have spent their summer. We see Blair walking on Le Boulevard des Invalides carrying LOTS of shopping bags, Serena walking with a beautiful man on the banks of the Seine,  and Blair reading Colette’s Gigi or “eating sugary snacks like a modern Marie-Antoinette” at a terrace facing the Eiffel Tower.

“She shopped at Saint Laurent and ate at Drouant…” but while we never see Blair munch on oysters at Chef Antoine Westermann’s famous Place Gaillon establishment, we do see her meeting up with Serena at Chez Julien. Chez Julien is located at 1 rue du Pont Louis-Phillipe, a mere 2 blocks away from where I went to middle school. Cross the Louis-Philippe bridge and you’ll be on l’Ile Saint Louis where you can find the best ice cream in the whole city at one of the many Berthillon outposts on Rue Saint-Louis en l’Ile. But I digress. Blair is wearing a béret (how cliché) and Serena is confessing to her weakness for French waiters (which by the way, no-one in France actually calls garçons) and “bartenders and museum docents and anyone on a vespa or bicycle or wearing Zadig and Voltaire.” Founded in 1780, Chez Julien is technically a “bistro” but it was also renovated recently by the Costes family (of Hôtel Costes and Hôtel Costes Presente CD compilation fame), meaning it is now a chic yet traditional restaurant in the historic neighbourhood of Le Marais (my ‘hood!!) serving high-quality traditional French dishes in a romantic location facing the Seine. It’s a completely different restaurant from Julien, another traditional French bistro owned by Brasserie Flo and located closer to the Grands Boulevards which also happens to be an excellent option for dinner out on the town.

Break to commercials and a few scenes in New York City and we now found ourselves at Le Musée d’Orsay,  a modern-art museum housed in a former railway station and known for its impressive impressionist collection. Blair is trying to find comfort in Le Déjeuner sur l’Herbe, her favourite Manet painting when she meets a beautiful young French Monegasque man prince.  

Following this chance encounter with a potential real life prince charming, Blair and Serena go on a double date with the Manet-affecionado and his chauffeur, but do a little retail therapy beforehand bien sûr. They stop at Paris’ famous Grands Magasins, Le Printemps and Les Galeries Lafayettes (which are worth going into just for the breathtaking dôme stained glass ceiling), Tally Weijl, rue Saint Honoré and of course, Avenue Montaigne, a street in the 8th arrondissement which boasts numerous high end stores like Dior, Chanel or Valentino. Just the kind of places you need to hit before diner at Baccarat Cristal Room. 

This restaurant located in the Baccarat museum-boutique boasts a stunning decor by Philippe Starck, one of the best known designer in the New Design Style. Baccarat is actually a small town in Lorraine, a region of France I recently visited, and is now synonymous with fine crystal glassware. The restaurant and museum are located in a superb former hotel particulier and while I’ve never personally eaten there, the chef, Guy Martin, is very well rated and has the Michelin stars to back it up, so I can’t imagine that the food wouldn/t be as spectacular as the decor.  

After a quick not-so-accidental dip into the Fontaine Louvois (which, by the way, is nowhere near Baccarat… but I guess it’s a little late to question the realism in GG), the girls have a heart to heart and end the episode on the best of terms, both looking forward to starting the new school year at Columbia University in New York City. But that probably won’t be until a little bit ore French drama as Chuck is spotted arriving at La Gare du Nord with his new girlfriend, played by French actress and model Clémence Poésy, best known for her roles as Fleur Delacour in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Chloe in Bruges.

OMD – bonjour drama! Bisous bisous! 

Alice in Paris… I mean… Wonderland

My special correspondent in Paris and enabler of macarons obsession (also known as my dad) reports that Paris is currently “émerveillé” with Alice au Pays des Merveilles. That would be French for Alice in Wonderland 😉
Tim Burton‘s adaptation of Lewis Caroll’s tale only comes out on March 24th in France, but Alice’s whimsical world has already taken Paris by storm. The Arludik Gallery, for example, is hosting an exhibit of artists selected by Tim Burton himself to define the artistic and graphic universe of the film (March 4-7, 12-14 rue St Louis en L’Ile, 4eme). Paul & Joe imagined a make-up line inspired by the fairy tale and Stella McCartney collaborated with Disney to create a special edition of necklaces and bracelets. Speaking of Disney, my former place of employment, Disneyland® Resort Paris, is also celebrating with special Alice in Wonderland characters meet and greets as well as a special edition Alice t-shirt sold exclusively at the resort.

But the most exciting celebration is happening at Le Printemps. Since February 1st, the department store’s windows are displaying select designers’ interpretation of Alice’s famous dress. Chloe or Alexander McQueen, among others, were given free reigns to fashion Alice, for the enjoyment of passers-by. Meanwhile inside Le Printemps, Paris’ most renowned pâtisserie La Durée has transformed the ground store into a re-creation of Mad Hater’s tea party with a special salon de thé. In another tribute to the enchanting world down the rabbit-hole, La Durée imagined a special green apple macaron, sold in a limited edition musical box to satisfy children and grownups alike. I wish I could tumble down a rabbit-hole and emerge in the middle of the Printemps right now…