While Colin’s brother was visiting, he mentioned that he wanted to try some macarons. So although Colin and I had to leave him to meet our landlady for a glass of wine (she was passing through Paris, and we’d never met her in person), we gave Ross directions to the nearest Pierre Hermé and told him to pick something good.
I am thus pleased to bring you the next installment of the Great Paris Macaron Showdown.
The flavors we tried were: lemon, jasmine, pistachio, “Ultime” (Madagascar vanilla and Belize chocolate), rose, cassis, and “Jardin Enchanté” (lime, raspberry, and Espelette pepper).
So how did they compare to macarons from that age-old culinary institution, Ladurée? In both cases, I found that I liked the perfumey flavors (jasmine and rose from Pierre Hermé; orange blossom and rose from Ladurée) least. Pistachio was my favorite at both places. In general, the Pierre Hermé macarons seemed to have less flavorful merengues than Ladurée (most of the flavor came from the ganache) but much more exciting flavor combinations.
Presentation-wise, I’m tempted to hand it to Ladurée, although the take-out box vs. gift box comparison isn’t exactly a fair fight. (The lighting in the Pierre Hermé photo isn’t helping either, but we were picnicking after sunset by the river.)
In conclusion: On taste, I’d give Ladurée a slight edge. I’m withholding judgement on presentation since the two boxes clearly serve different purposes, and I can’t comment on price since Ross treated us to the ones from Pierre Hermé (thanks again!). But Pierre Hermé wins hands-down on fun factor! In fact, Ross admitted he intentionally chose pretty traditional flavors for his first macaron experience, but if you’re feeling adventurous you can find macarons featuring, for example, litchi, passion fruit, buckwheat shortbread, cream cheese, and quince.
As much as it pains me to say so, I’m just going to have to declare this one a toss-up and continue my research.