Multi-colored and dainty! I had to restrain myself from taking a bite off all of them!
Jean Paul Hevin. The heavenly chocolate macarons from JPH is simply sinful. The thick filling, which seems like a kin of the ganache, is fudge-y without being too sweet and has a perfect balance of bitterness to it that sits well with the slightly sweeter chocolate macaron shell. It's like eating a softened dark chocolate bar with an interesting bit of crunchiness. This is, hands down, my favorite chocolate macaron! JPH also has some interesting flavors and one of them is earl grey. Since I HEART tea, earl grey macaron held a lot of appeal. And after one bite, it quickly became my 2nd most favorite flavor.
Laduree. This place is always packed with customers! Not only for the macarons, but also for the wide range of pastries they sell. With its charmingly dimmed lights and old world atmosphere, one can easily be lured inside and experience tête-à-tête Laduree style. My friend, Barnaby, gave me a pistachio-strawberry cake the first time we visited Laduree. The cake is made of 2 big pistachio macaron disks sandwiching fresh cut strawberries and cream. It's simplicity in construction belies how divine they go together.
Bee's mom made it a point to remind us to try their hot chocolate, which is by far the best she has ever tasted. And I should agree. After enjoying one cup for breakfast, the other hot chocolates I had for the rest of the trip seemed a watered-down version of the real thing. Laduree's hot chocolate is so thick that the liquid lava flows like melted chocolate down your throat, leaving a trail of earthy cocoa that relinquishes any doubt you're drinking the real thing.
Pierre Herme. Noticeably, Pierre Herme makes their macarons a tad smaller than, say, JPH, but if you're looking for variety in macaron flavors, well, this place has got it in spades. For a first timer like me, I like to try all the flavors. But Beurre Caramel really caught my attention, with its pale caramel color. True to its name, it is butter-y with a burnt sugar taste. It is a revelation for a baker like me how they capture the real essence of the flavor even in such small proportions. The taste is so clean and evident.
Lining the wall of the shop are various degrees of bitterness and flavor. I got for myself a 75% Dark Chocolate with Fleur de Sel and had to practice all manners of restraint so as not to take a bite right then and there! I know Pierre Herme loves working with intriguing ingredients and fleur de sel is most definitely one of them, as evidenced in not only his chocolates, but in this another favorite of mine: sable chocolat. No wonder he's THE Pierre Herme, his ingenuity in combining components and- consequently- improving texture is remarkable!