So many you’re new or maybe you have short term memory loss or maybe you’ve intentionally been blocking out all previous mentions of macarons on this here blog, but for those of you late to the party let me be the first to tell you: I love macarons. If you want to play catch up: read this, this, this, or this.
Anyway. Given that Ladurée is in another city and, ahem, really expensive, I’ve had to stop being so picky about where I get my macarons or learn to live without them. Clearly the latter is not an option, though it seemed that Philly hadn’t caught on to the whole macaron craze (does it count as a ‘craze’ if it’s just me?) yet. It’s kind of like the frozen yogurt trend or the popularity of cupcakes of the past few years. It take my city a while to catch up. Which it finally did, last week, when I had not one, but TWO different macaron experiences. Which was good, because I’d literally been itching from withdrawal.
I work in the same business park as Urban Outfitters headquarters, which makes commutes in the morning a really fun game of guessing which people on the subway work there. Here’s a hint from someone who is always right: look for the person who looks like the most homeless, and you’re on the right track. Bonus points for some sort of stupid, floppy crocheted hat or tights with holes in them. Oh, and it’s sort of a giveaway but every employee inevitably wears oxfords or lace up boots. Once, I saw a girl in an outfit so ridiculous it actually crossed over from being insane to being completely normal, so homeless did she look. Combat boots, ripped purple fishnet stockings over leggings, an enormous denim jacket with white sweaters for sleeves, a bright red gingham scarf, and a floppy hat. I couldn’t stop staring. It was awe-inspiring how stupid she looked.
Anyway, aside from my bitchy proclivity to judge others harshly based on their wardrobe choices, Urban also provides the only meal option for the area in their cafeteria. It’s an enormous industrial warehouse that’s been converted to a giant dining hall but still retains the exposed metal beams and huge windows. It’s amazing, and hard to really describe how cavernous it is, but totally styled-out. There’s an enormous koi pond in the middle.
Anyway, they have 9 or 10 different gourmet stations to choose from for food: you can get fresh rolled sushi, grilled sandwiches, salad with raw tuna, the works. They also have a dessert station with the usual cupcakes and cookies. You have to walk right by it on the way to the registers (where sometimes, depending on what you’re wearing, the cashier will mistake you for an Urban employee and give you a discount on your meal), and on my most recent trip there with coworkers last week, I saw a tray of brightly colored macarons. I was so happy I could have hugged the homeless woman in front of me in line.
Verdict: Smaller than Ladurée, but a lot stiffer. With the exception of the vanilla flavored one, perched on top there, it felt like eating hard candy. I bit into the strawberry one on the end and the filling didn’t budge. This was probably because they’d been sitting out rather than in refrigerated cases. Still, they were cheap, readily available, and only a stone’s throw from my office. (And if you’re wondering, yes, I did set them up on my desk for a photoshoot).
And then, a mere 3 days later, on my walk home I passed a yummy French bakery I’d heard rumors of having macarons, though I’d never been able to spot any in their cases, I spotted them. There, from the street, I saw trays and trays of macarons. Obviously never one to turn them down, and committed to continuing my unofficial taste-test, I popped in and bought 16 of them.
Verdict: Weirdly flavorless (cranberry) or overwhelmingly flavorful (like the green apple and cinnamon ones), and the muted colors aren’t doing it for me. Harder and chewier than a macaron is supposed to be, and I don’t think I needed to buy 16. But they were less than half the cost of Ladurée. A fair substitute if I’m in a pinch.
You’d have thought that eating over 20 macarons in a week would have satiated my craving, but no. I still had my heart set on a set of Ladurée candles I mentioned in my first Friday Five Gift Guide. Retailing for $60 at the store, and $75 in the online shop based in San Francisco I found that also sells them, they are prohibitively expensive, but something I wanted nonetheless. Wild strawberry and brioche scented? SOLD.
Magically, I found only one set of the candles on eBay, and it happened to be the set I wanted. The person was selling them for less than what they usually cost, so I snatched them up without a moment’s hesitation, further solidifying my reign as the Crazy Candle Lady. Seriously, I love candles. And I love Ladurée. This is like a match made in heaven.
I love them. I couldn’t resist burning the brioche candle before snapping this pic, so no, she didn’t sell them to me used. The jars are really delicate ceramic with a beautiful white ceramic crest on the front of each. They make the entire room smell delicious even when they’re not lit, which has made a certain four legged creature in my house completely bonkers.
The return address on the mailing label they came in was a penthouse in Manhattan, so naturally I googled the seller’s name. Is that creepy? No? Then perhaps finding out that she is a socialite, party girl, and proclaimed “self-medicated label-whore” (from her Twitter profile) and then screen-capping her more outrageous tweets is. You guys, my money is sitting somewhere between her nostril and her brain right now.
I don’t even know what kind of drug you do when you light it on a spoon, but I’m really afraid to google it. At least if my life ever goes off the rails to the point that tweeting openly about my illicit drug usage doesn’t bother me, I’ll know never to use a plastic spoon. At least there’s that.
So once the awkward realization that I just gave $50 to a clubrat drug-user faded, I was able to appreciate the absolute insanity of the situation. Of course the person I buy Ladurée candles from has both a prescription and illegal drug problem. Anyone that lives in a penthouse and has a “von” in their last name who has a spare set of overpriced French candles that smell like macarons laying around they need to sell off to fuel their cocaine addiction is OBVIOUSLY the one person I end up giving money to.
Oh well. Have any of you ever bought something off eBay and then googled the seller? I never had before but now I’m super leery of where my money is going now. Who would have thought that my quest to have everything Ladurée related would lead me here? Maybe this is a sign!