Sunday, 28 March 2010

A One Way Ticket To My Heart

Last December, my Grande Soeur and her partner Hans paid a visit to the city that never sleeps, New York. The reason for their trip? Hans was attending the NY launch of his book Utopia or Auschwitz (well done bro). Nevertheless, knowing the Big Apple very well they were intent on discovering pastures new and decided on a snowy jaunt to the Catskill Mountains.

On the way, they happened upon a little gingerbread town called Rhinebeck where Grande Soeur said she came across a pretty little shop called Paper Trails. According to her description it was filled with all things quaint and quirky. Pretty paper and labels aplenty, ribbons and threads, jewellery, glitters, imaginative gifts and more. Amongst the abundance of eye candy was a little gem that caught her eye as a stocking filler for me.

Come Christmas Day she presented me with a little gift, wrapped and tied with curling ribbon. I opened it with my eyes tightly shut (as always ... it seems to enhance the excitement). At first I wasn't sure what it was. It appeared to be a roll of tickets with a pretty red silk ribbon and a paper tag. On closer inspection I discovered it was actually a roll of 100 ticket stubs - the kind they used to give you when you went to the cinema in the old days. Each ticket had the word "WISH" imprinted upon it and a little sticker saying '100 wishes' sealed the roll neatly in place. The paper tag, dotted with hole punched stars, read:

"If I had a hundred wishes I would give them all to you"

If I could describe my feelings in two words, it would have to be 'overwhelmingly touched'. Well, being the sentimental old fool that I am I cried of course. But to be fair, even those who'd had their tear ducts removed would have shed a tear upon receiving such a gift. I had been having a particularly troublesome couple of months and this was just the beacon of light I needed to help renew my hope.

Thanks to Grande Soeur I am officially the owner of 100 Wishes and my first wish is to grant my beloved sister 100 wishes back!

Friday, 19 March 2010


If there's one thing everyone knows about me it's my obsession with Ladurée. For those unfamiliar with the phenomenon that is Ladurée it is a Parisian tea salon & patisserie famed for its delectable 'double-decker' macaroons.

I will never forget my first encounter: Paris. St Germain to be precise. It was my first ever trip to the City of Lights. The sun was shining. My sister led me down a cobbled street toward a pretty celadon green shop front. As I peered curiously through the window she just smiled, "Trust me" she said. She was absolutely right – it was true love. My first was a perfectly formed pistachio macaroon, crisp on the outside and smooth as silk on the inside. To quote Mary Poppins, "...practically perfect in every way... ". I left clutching a signature lilac & gold gift box. Nestled within were eight jewel-coloured macaroons – and thus an obsession was born.

With thirteen flavours, plus seasonal variations, it's hard to recommend a favorite. But at a push I'd have to say the Pistachio, the Caramel with Salted Butter and my newest fixation the Orange Blossom. 

Ladurée opened its first salon de thé on the Rue Royale in 1862. I was heartened to read on the official website that it was in fact one of the first tea salons in Paris, and one that freely allowed ladies to socialise and drink tea together in public. Hardly trailblazing nowadays I know, but up until then Parisian cafés were a strictly all male affair.  I could not help but think what my friend the Tea Queen would make of this over at her blog Afternoon Tea Total.

So you may be misled by this blog post into believing that the macaroons are the only thing of note at Ladurée. Au contrair, mon ami. So many things so little time…how about the exquisite loose leaf teas they serve in silver teapots? The artisan chocolates? The pretty notebooks? The candles and cakes and the charms, oh my!

Oh my stars, I could go on but I won't other than to suggest you just go and take a look, and at the very least press your nose up against the glass display case and admire row upon row of macaroons.

Not lucky enough to be swinging by Paris anytime soon? Then hopefully you might have a chance to pop into one of the branches in Monaco, Switzerland, Tokyo or London. I would love to hear about what you think of Ladurée. Love or hate.

Disclaimer: Ladurée macaroons may be seriously addictive! Enjoy at your own risk.

Middle image: Courtesy of Ladurée