Rasberry with litchi and rose macaron with the dark chocolate and passion fruit macaron in the background

Paris Enlightenment

May 15, 2011 | 0 Comments.

I have one entire day to myself before the official start of my chocolate and gastronomy adventure with David Lebovitz and venture to skip the touristy spots so I can attempt to blend in as a local. It turns out I would have blended in better if I streaked the Eiffel Tower’s Observation Deck.

Two dead giveaways I am “not from around here:”

Yoga at Rasa – Given the fact Rasa has a website in both English and France , I figure this modern and sleek studio in the 5th district will be a good place for me to fly under the radar.  Not the case.  At the beginning of class, the instructor talks about the 5 key steps to enlightenment in Francaise and I make occassional eye contact and do the approving nod to “front” that I know what she is talking about. It doesn’t work because she then proceeds to translate the whole eight minute spiel in English just for me with all of the locals watching. The discomfort faded quickly as the invigorating class got underway.

As I walk out of class to retrieve my bag, I realize I have locked up all my stuff in the men’s locker room. After busting out a couple of desoles (meaning sorry), I shamefully extract my bag and my American self.

Inadvertent free lunch at the market – At the Woodrow Wilson outdoor market (selected because I hear it is more of a local’s market), I realize there IS  such thing as a free lunch even if you are not trying to get one.

After debating between the Lebanese flat bread and the paella, I end up at the crepe stand with a Japanese tourist in front of me. After he calls out his order with his phrase book and camera in plainsight, the person taking the order then
turns to me and asks me what I would like. I order the crepe with mushrooms, cheese and tomato. The woman then charges the Japanese tourist for both of our crepes assuming we are a couple and paying together. I try to explain to the woman we are not together with wild hand gestures and some broken French, but she’s not having it. Realizing it is a hopeless cause, I turn my efforts to the tourist by offering him money. He seems confused and outraged, not comprehending that he paid for my crepe. I realize it’s hopeless and give up. I rationalize this in my mind by reminding myself his mother country is wealthier than mine.

After the debacles of the day, I console myself with three macarons from Pierre Herme as after all, I am still flush with cash after my free lunch:

  • Dark chocolate and passion fruit – a little bit sweet for my taste but pretty nonetheless.
  • Olive oil and vanilla – Herme is known for combining unique flavor combinations.  This one tasted a bit like chapstick mixed with Crisco, but still better than any macaron I have consumed in the US.
  • Big raspberry with litchi and rose water – Gigantically towering over all of the other macaroons, this is an edible piece of art.
Rasberry with litchi and rose macaron with the dark chocolate and passion fruit macaron in the background

The presentation overwhelmed me and exceeded even the legendary Laduree, but Laduree’s subtle flavors beat out Pierre Herme’s chewy and too sweet taste and texture. I can see why there are Laduree macaron shops blooming everywhere in Paris.  I saw one in the Printemps department store and there’s even a pop-up stand at Charles DeGaulle airport. I even saw a Laduree branch in Lausanne, Switzerland.

If you want to read about what prompted me to embark on a food adventure with David Lebovitz, click here.

Getting busted for snapping a shot inside Laduree



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