I was reborn when a close friend, D, took me to Ladurée for my early birthday treat last year. I felt so alive, I should have declared a new birth date for me. I have never tasted a macaroon prior to this life-changing experience, and have always thought that anything that looks this colourful and pretty must be nauseatingly sweet, much like pastel-coloured fondant and icing on cakes.
But, I was looking forward to having afternoon tea at Ladurée. D is always a delight to talk to, and she is as much a fervent diner as I am. I knew that the little picture-perfect treats must pack a hell lot of goodness for D to rave about them, and a girly afternoon get-together in a beautiful Parisian tearoom surrounded by treats like this…nothing can possibly top that. I absolutely loved everything about the Ladurée experience, the decor, service, company, pastries and even the price! I loved it so much, that I decided to change my husband’s life (again actually, since his life was changed the day he met me, for the better if you really have to know) by going for an impromptu tea session at Ladurée after shopping at Harrods.
The queue wasn’t long, we were the first in line at about 2pm on a Saturday (the queue gets insanely long at proper tea time, right about 3-4pm, and no reservations are taken for tea but it’s still worth the wait!). We were seated upstairs in the deep red velvet plush sofas, the same area D and I were seated last year. I felt like royalty, sitting upstairs in such a lush setting, peering down at the ‘commoners’ and the galore of pretty treats at the counter. Okay, okay, that sounded a tad snooty, but that’s what the ambience does to you, it makes you feel important, rich, extravagant, everything that is associated with aristocracy. Much love.
We ordered an assortment of pastries to share – Ispahan, Saint Honoré, and a healthy dose of macaroons. He had white coffee and I had rose tea.
The Ispahan is one of Pierre Hermé’s early creations for Ladurée, and it serves up a fragrant combination of rose, raspberries and lychees that work remarkably well. I was slightly skeptical about the rose flavour. I have never really tasted rose in foods, and always associated the smell with, you know, real roses and perfumes, where they should belong. Even then, I never liked the heady incense smell of roses in perfumes. But this is a culinary delight, every bite reveals a subtle hint of rose that hits my nose, and that gives way to the tartness of whole raspberries and the unmistakeable sweetness of lychees. Absolutely divine. The rose biscuits are crisp on the outside and slightly yielding in the centre. The rose petal cream is light as a feather. The Ispahan looks way too beautiful to eat as well, with shades of pink and red, topped with a velvety rose petal and even dew drops! It took every inch of my civilised self to take lady-like mouthfuls of this pastry. I can’t wait to get to Paris in less than a fortnight to have Pierre Hermé’s standalone version of his creation. Before I forget, do try this with the rose tea; it is a match made in heaven.
The Saint Honoré is a classic French pastry, with a ring of choux pastry piped around a base of puff pastry. The base is then adorned with tiny cream puffs covered in the yummiest caramelised sugar, freshest whipped cream and sliced almonds. The cream was an absolute delight, whipped to the lightest texture and not the least bit overpowering in that huge dollop. The caramelised sugar had a nice touch of bittersweet, which makes it manly enough for a man such as my husband to go for second helpings, and girly enough for us ladies to indulge in. The puff and choux pastries were perfectly done, crispy and slightly chewy at the same time, it took a lot of willpower to stop myself from ordering another one.
Of course, we couldn’t leave the tearoom without filling our bellies with its famous macaroons. There were a couple of flavours that were regrettably sold out, such as lemon, coconut and bitter chocolate, but there were still some on my list that were available. We had rose, chocolate and coffee to start. We also tried the green apple flavour which was created to coincide with the launch of Alice in Wonderland, and it was surprisingly good. The green apple filling was wonderfully sweet and tart at the same time, perfect recipe for getting your salivary glands into action. My favourite is still salted caramel, I ordered two of those, because I was unwilling to share it with my husband. I love salted caramel, and the good people who created salted caramel macaroons are ingenious. I could pop these babies into my mouth all day and not feel sick from gorging on them. The macaroon shells were crisp in texture and ever so slightly soft in the middle, some of the ganache fillings were sweeter than what I would have liked, but salted caramel, coconut, bitter chocolate, rose, lemon and green apple were done to perfection without being overpoweringly sweet.
I would highly recommend everyone to pop by Ladurée if you ever visit London. It is an excellent place to unwind after a day of shopping in Harrods. If the queue for a table is too long for your tight schedule, you can get some takeaways for the pastries. This is great for the pocket too because it’s a little more expensive to dine in (£1.65 per macaroon as opposed to slightly more than £1 for takeaway). Just make sure you have a nice cup of tea to go with the yummy treats you’ve bought, and remember, you must never share!
Ladurée at Harrods is located at:
87/135 Brompton Road
London SW1x 7XL
Monday – Saturday 9am – 9pm
Sunday 12noon – 6pm
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