On my culinary intern slave wages in Paris, I couldn’t afford to frequent Ladurée (the macaron Mecca) as much as I would have liked. Its porcelain tea services and Sistine ceilings beckoned, but the only time I was able to buy was when my moneyed aunt came to visit for a week. We went every day. Everyone needs a moneyed aunt.
Since Sarasota’s Le Macaron opened a satellite store in the nook on Park Avenue inhabited by Paris Bistro, and my budget has increased (if only slightly), I’ve a new target for my desire for sweet, crisp-shelled, light-as-air macarons. One wouldn’t expect a burly Frenchman behind the counter of this hot-pink room with its crystal chandelier dangling over phalanxes of brightly colored cookies ($1.80 each; 10 for $17) and chocolate truffles ($1.80 each), but there is one. He greets customers with a jovial “Bonjour!” and offers samples and recommendations freely.
Classic Parisian flavors like cassis, pistachio and mint sit alongside modern ones like basil with white chocolate, passion fruit and gingerbread. The truffles are beautiful, too. I loved the cinnamon bun truffle, which almost tasted yeasty (in a good way), as well as a white chocolate vanilla cupcake truffle, all Rothko-ed out with pink and baby-blue splatter.
Don’t shy away from the gelato ($3.20 for a small); it’s made in-house, too, and features flavors to tempt palates both French and American. It’s creamy like the crème glacée at Paris ice cream institution Berthillon, and I especially liked the lemon meringue – lemon gelato topped with caramelized Swiss meringue.
I’ll be stopping by Le Macaron often, probably in the morning for pain au chocolat ($3) and an espresso, my breakfast of choice. If that doesn’t wake me up, those fuchsia walls will.
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