Ladurée: a world of beauty beyond macarons

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This is my first post of our new column so I decided to start in style.

Ladurée… the echo of this brand is called luxury. Of course, I’m talking about the worldwide known French pâtisserie maison founded by the miller, Louis Ernest Ladurée, in Paris at the end of the 19th century. I’m sure all of you are more than familiar with les macarons, Ladurée’s most famous creation: those small, round mini cakes, crisp on the outside, with a smooth filling in the middle, that can satisfy even the more sophisticated palate. When you buy a box of those sweet masterpieces, you are buying much more than dessert. You are buying an icon. Let me tell you a story to prove my point.

As Sophia from the Golden Girls (the famous American sitcom of the ’80s) would say, picture it: London, a few years ago. I was with one of my clients. He was the perfect incarnation of the type of clients I was dealing with back then: highly educated, rich (which didn’t necessarily mean sophisticated), exclusively capable of talking about money and dreaming about more money and totally used to getting whatever he wanted whenever he wanted to. He had been invited to a dinner party by the wife of a gentleman he was anxious to make a deal with and he was determined to impress the hostess. Sure, he could have brought an expensive bottle of wine or champagne but, let’s be honest, this is a gift that would be more appropriate for a host rather than a hostess and he was a huge believer in the saying that “behind every successful man there is always a woman”. Can you prove him wrong? 😉

Anyway, he dragged me into one of the Ladurée stores in London where we waited for quite a while (it was Friday late afternoon and the store was very busy) before reaching the most beautiful and chic pastry counter I have ever seen. Obviously, my client knew exactly what he wanted (those kind of men always know what they want!) He picked a huge green box, gorgeously decorated, and selected the macarons that would determine his destiny, flavor by flavor. As we were leaving the store, I noticed that the people with the unmistakable Ladurée green bag were as thrilled as those people who carry the equally unmistakable Tiffany’s blue bag. Their face was saying “I bought something very, very special and I feel great about it”. Needless to say, a few days later my client called me to tell me that he had made the deal and it was time to get to work.

Display of Ladurée books

What I didn’t know back then is that Ladurée is much more than macarons. Beside the legendary sweets (cakes, pastries and chocolates), they have the cutest shopping bags, one of the most elegant beauty collections, a candle collection to die for, a home fragrance collection I can’t wait to try and… books. Well, Ladurée books are really the subject matter of this post. I know it took me quite a while to get to the point, but here we are.

Ladurée books are not regular books. When you see the marvelous powder pastel boxes these books come in, you know that you are in for something special. You stand there in astonishment and just the boxes can send shivers down your spine. 🙂 Then you open the boxes and, through the tissue paper that wraps all Ladurée books, you sense the luxury and the richness of the covers. When you finally pull yourself together, get the books in your hands and start flipping through them, you are instantly in heaven.

The two must-have Ladurée recipe books are Sucré (Dolce in the Italian version) and Salé (Savory in the English version).

Ladurée's Sucré and Salé

Sucré unveils the pastry secrets of Ladurée Chef Pâtissier, Philippe Andrieu, from the financiers to the rose cream bigné, the crème brûlée, the éclairs and… les macaronsbien sûr, in all their flavors: incredible recipes presented with an impeccable food styling and exquisite photography. The book also contains the indispensable basic pastry recipes, i.e., those recipes that any baker or pastry chef should perfectly master before daring call themselves as such.

Salé is the cooking gem of Ladurée Chef de Cuisine Michel Lerouet and the natural evolution of Sucré because most of the recipes represent the perfect marriage of sweet and savory in the French gastronomy. The book is divided by occasion: brunch, picnic, lunch, formal and informal dinner. Every occasion is an apotheosis of colors and flavors, from sandwiches to salads, soups, eggs, as well as meat, fish and seafood appetizers and main courses, all immortalized by lovely photographs. Not to mention that lots of the recipes are accompanied by tips of Monsieur le Chef, which is something that makes those recipes even more precious.

If Sucré and Salé are books that I think every cook on the planet should own ;-), l’Art de recevoir is a book that anyone, I repeat, anyone should have unless, of course, they live on a deserted island! Once again the book is divided by occasion: ten moments of the day (from breakfasts to family lunches, picnics, afternoon teas, buffet dinners and formal dinners) for which la Maison offers menu ideas and stylish recipes (with the essential chef’s tips), advice and suggestions on how to create elegant table settings and decorations as well as flower arrangements and, last but certainly not least, mini-lessons of savoir-faire. Every page of this book exudes French elegance and style. The china, the glassware, the silverware, the tablecloths, every decorative object used in the settings are stunning and captured by gorgeous photographs. As the book says, “Très chic, Très Ladurée“.

Ladurée's L'Art de recevoir

I suggest you put l’Art de recevoir on your wish list keeping also in mind that this book is the perfect gift for anyone, including those not so crazy about cooking, because everyone aspires to be the perfect host or the perfect hostess and I think no one can resist Ladurée’s allure.

Unfortunately for my American friends, the one and only Ladurée store in the United States is in New York – where else could it be? 😉 However, if you do not live in the city that never sleeps or close by, do not despair: you can still buy these wonders online on amazon. On the other hand, if you live in the City or you happen to be there, make sure to make time to stop by their store on Madison Avenue (again, where else could Ladurée’s store be but the most chic of Manhattan’s Avenues?) because when you push the door it’s like teleportation: in an instant you’ll find yourself in Paris! Is there anything better than that?

À bientôt, mes amis!

PS: do you like my new flower glasses icon for this column? Isn’t that gorgeous? This new icon as well as all the illustrations on Flora’s Table are the artwork of our super talented friend, Alexandra Dichne. Alexandra is in the process of finalizing her soon-to-be launched blog. Of course, I will write a post about it as soon as her blog goes live, so stay tuned!

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0 thoughts on “Ladurée: a world of beauty beyond macarons

  1. Kiara Style

    What an educational post! I had never heard of Laduree. The content is outstanding and the pictures are beautifully elegant and rich…..tres francais! You guys are Flora’s Table are just an amazing source of inspiration. Bravi ♥

    1. Francesca Post author

      Grazie Chiara. I’m so happy I made you “discover” something you didn’t know. For someone who is in love with beauty and sophistication like you, Ladurée is the way to go. 😉

  2. ElizabethWolf

    Oh how I love Laduree. Thank you for this gorgeous post. As much as I love the macarons, I love the atmosphere even more. It’s the kind of beauty you only find when so much time and commitment have been poured over one simple thing—a sweet bite.

  3. Bam's Kitchen

    Hello Francesca, You opened my eyes to something new that I did not even know existed. I have been to France on numerous occasions but must have spent too much time in the food markets, cheese stores and not enough time shopping. Take Care, BAM

  4. Maria Dernikos

    I have Savory and it was worth every penny my husband paid for it! I can only speak from the London experience but they are very special, I like to give them as gifts and love to receive them, keeping the boxes as they are so beautiful. Although, I have noticed lately that the boxes are not as sturdy. I enjoyed reading your Ladurée post. Obviously your client made a good choice!

    1. Francesca Post author

      Maria. I keep the boxes too. They are so beautiful that throwing them away would be tantamount to a sin. I haven’t noticed it. Next time I buy something from them, I’ll pay close attention. Thank you, Maria. 🙂

    1. Francesca Post author

      Good for you that one of God’s best traits is forgiveness! 😉 Just kidding! Heather, for a baker like you Ladurée is a must. I can totally picture you already trying all the sweet recipes and reaching for the stars. 🙂

  5. Darya

    I was a teenager when I discovered Ladurée: some American friends came to visit (I was still living in Paris) and took me there after lunch! The shops are really beautiful, and their macarons are truly delicious (now that I know more about Ladurée, my favorite shop in Paris is the smaller one near Boulevard Saint-Germain, with the Chinese tea salon decoration, there aren’t as many people, and it is smaller and more intimate). I once even attended a wedding in the Champs Elysées Ladurée, and that was quite amazing, I will NEVER forget the food we had (and the most elegant wedding).
    I have seen the books in our bookstores here, but never even dared to open them and look inside; they look to beautiful to be touched. Perhaps next time, I will, now that you have made them sound more like “real cookbooks”, and not “works of art”!

    1. Francesca Post author

      Aren’t you a lucky girl? A Ladurée wedding…every girl’s dream wedding. Must have been amazing! I’m quite jealous here. 😉
      You are right. The books are so beautiful that they can be a little intimidating but I tried some of the recipes myself and, although I do not have the skills of Monsieur le Chef, I was very pleased with the results. So if next time you feel inspired, just go for it. 🙂

    1. Francesca Post author

      There is nothing wrong with a spartan existence. I actually find it quite “refreshing”. But I also think that indulging yourself in something you really enjoy once in a while is a must. At least, this is my way to recharge my batteries and get back to my “regular” life. So hurray for escapism! 🙂

  6. Just Add Attitude

    A lovely post Francesca and so pretty with Stefano’s photos and Alexandra’s illustration. I had no idea that Laduree (please excuse the lack of the acute accent I am not sure how to add one in the comment box) did books. Laduree don’t have a shop in Dublin but they do have a tiny concession in a department store, so I will check next time I am passing to see if the concession carries L’Art de Recevoir. It sounds very much like my kind of book with tips on flower arranging and elegant table settings. I look forward to your future posts in the style category. 😉

  7. Fae's Twist & Tango

    -What an elegant post, Francesca! I like your new flower glasses icon for this column! Ladurée sure has a classy/smart website. Thank you for sharing your story.
    -Your friend, Alexandra Dichne, sure is super talented artist.

  8. apuginthekitchen

    What a beautiful post and lucky me since I am in Brooklyn, a stones throw from the city. I ashamedly admit I have never visited the NYC shop but after reading your gorgeous post, wiping drool and adding everything to my wish list I will be visiting there very soon.

      1. Francesca Post author

        Thank you, Suzanne. That’s perfect! This is the perfect “expedition” for you and your girlfriends. I’m sure you are going to love it. Yes, Alex did an amazing job. 🙂

  9. myhomefoodthatsamore

    Oh Flora what a lovely post, so feminine , so ancien régime and hinting at graciousness, manners, decadence and hedonism and Voltaire’s “le superflu, chose si nécessaire”. Sigh … I love their teas too … and am never out of their Marie Antoinette tea — I love its taste (why else would I buy it, duh) and it makes me feel spoilt and special. Ladurée opened in Rome just before Christmas — it’s tiny and bijou, but unmistakably Ladurée. L’Art de Recevoir will be on my Christmas list …

    1. Francesca Post author

      Thank you, Jo. I have never been to the Rome store. Next time I’m in Rome, I’ll make sure to stop by. I’m not a tea fan (quite the opposite) but tea lovers told me that their teas are excellent. You’ll see…you’ll love the book. 🙂