Laduree Macaroon Crazy

From the first day I arrived in Paris, Alan had already told me we were going to have macaroons in Laduree which, incidentally, had their main patisserie at Champs Elysee which was a stone’s throw away from our hotel on Rue de Berri.  On our second to the last day, we were actually planning to have tea there but the line for the Salon de The was a mile long and so was the line for the take home counter.  We took a quick peak and decided we would go there early Sunday to sample the goodies and take our pick of what to bring home.  (Big mistake!  We should’ve gone the first day I was there..!)

We had breakfast in the hotel and went out to a sunny Champs Elysees and crossed the street to have early morning tea.  Requesting for the non-smoking are, we were ushered in to a salon upstairs resplendent in its classic decor and homey ambience.

Salon Castiglione for the non-smokers on the second floor

They seated us by the fireplace (which is actually the table you see on the lower right hand corner of the picture above) and we looked over their French menu.  After perusing it and realizing except for the Tea and the coffee, we weren’t quite sure which ones were the macaroons, we decided to venture with our splattering of French and I braved ordering from the young waitress attending to our table.  I figure that if I mentioned “petite macaroons” she would get that we wanted the small ones, and in saying “assortment” with an accent she would understand I wanted different flavors, I would get the message across.

Alan ordered an espresso, and I picked out the Laduree Melange xxx in the tea menu.  (That one she picked up easy.)  And then I did my spiel on the petite macaroons which went without a hitch, plus I ordered an eclair.  I surmised that this was the best place to try one.  (Something I had postponed day after day as I passed patisserie after patisserie.)

The young lady arrived with two plates of 4 different flavored macaroons which Alan and I shared.  The first bite I took totally melted my tastebuds!  Right there and then, I knew each one was just a question of flavor, and I definitely made a mistake not to have taken the time to have one sooner.  My idea of a macaroon was the coconut macaroons I myself made and which I bought from good old Goldilocks back home!

The Laduree counter where guests get to pick their treats to take home.

We had our tea and coffee and finished our macaroons and went downstairs to order our take home goodies.  Alan and I bought a box of 15 macaroons each.  Even Mikey and Mom loved the macaroons when we got home.  Today I found out our new friend Alain, a true Frenchman in every sense of the word, arrived for a business trip in New York and handed Alan a big box of macaroons fresh from Paris!  I am salivating just thinking about it and dying to sink my teeth into another batch of the heavenly treats from Laduree.. heaven must’ve been listening when I started reminiscing. 

With our Pinoy penchant for pasalubongs, this is the perfect treat.  So next time you have a friend going to Paris, ask for a box of macaroons from Laduree.  They can be pricey, though, with a box of 15 mini macaroons fetching $23.00 or 17 Euros.  Ah, the price of heaven!

And if you should find yourself in Paris one day, be ready for a feast for the eyes.  If you have a fickle heart, you’ll have a tough time deciding which pastries to get.  Safest choice: pick the plain macaroons.. that way, you know you’ll get your money’s worth without losing out on taste.  My personal pick is caramel and almonds.. yummy!

My own photograph of the facade of Laduree at the Champs Elysee

Pictures that speak a thousand words

 

I must’ve taken close to 800 pictures during my 3 1/2 days in Paris. I eventually ended up with over 450 on my digital camera (sans the pictures I had deleted). I look forward to seeing the pictures taken with my disposable advantix camera. Some of the pictures I took just jump out right at me, like this shot I took of Alan in front of the Eiffel tower. I was telling Alan how marvelous this place must look in the summer when the trees were abloom, considering how the twigs were “sculpted” square to give the row of trees a manicured appearance. Despite the absence of green, the row upon row of trees so trimmed was majestic for it’s total effect.

This was taken on the Champs de Mars behind the Eiffel Tower.  It’s one of my favorites because of the way I captured Alan with this backdrop. The lighting was perfect because of the setting sun.  I like the way it caught Alan looking away but standing firm where he was, as if it caught him in midstep but not.  And the whole composition embodied to me the grandness of Tour Eiffel.  I have always believed that the picture is as much the eye of the one holding the camera and the subject matter.  Most of my best pictures were taken by Alan.  Perhaps it’s the connection between us that leads to pictures like this one which truly speak a thousand words — even if only he and I will ever know what those words are and if they only have meaning to the two of us.

A question of money

I work for a corporation that does a yearly performance appraisal process which, if you’re in the upper 30% of the population, you will end up with a very good bonus, but if, despite your best efforts you fail to be in that top ranking, you will have to make do with peanuts.

I guess you would’ve guess by now that I’m part of the sorry group making do with peanuts.  I went to the vending machine and grabbed a Hershey chocolate bar to mull things over with.  I ask myself if it’s so bad that I only got a paltry sum when my annual salary is at least 25% higher than someone who is receiving a bonus 3x as much as I did.  Perhaps it’s just my ego eating at me.  Perhaps it’s plain old envy. 

I am not steaming mad because this had not come as a surprise.  The boss is a tough woman to please.  It is a miracle that our partnership has lasted this long.  I was actually surprised to read her write that I was a great partner — with a few ifs and buts.  But I had expected worse, and after talking and reading her review of me, I actually think she meant the good things she said.

But back to the crux of this blog entry — should I really be mad considering I earn 25% more than someone who got a bigger bonus, whose annual income including their bigger bonus combined still makes me stand out earning 20% more than they do?  And yes, if it’s any consolation, I’ve been promised a raise again this year. 

So what am I complaining about?  Maybe I just feel I deserved a little more considering she thought that despite the fact that I wasn’t the perfect assistant, I was good enough at what I did to decide to keep me.  No warnings despite the lower rating, and just a few suggestions so that we can keep going.  Another day done.. another year ahead.  I’m looking forward to just getting on with the day and thankful I have a job that pays me very well.

Life has its trade offs — I guess we just have to take the blessings and be thankful for them.

Remembering Fridays in Days of Old

It’s almost midnight this Friday in Manila. As I walked into my office cube this morning, I found myself thinking about how I had spent my Fridays back in Manila way back when. It’s been almost 5 years.. by June of this year, I would’ve been a resident here in New York for 5 years. My last trip home was in December 2002. I cannot even begin to plan the next one yet because there are too many factors to consider — biggest of all which is airfare.

Perhaps fate opened doors to solve that problem when I received an airline promotion which, if I am lucky, might get me the plum prize of 12 round trip tickets for two to anywhere that airline flies to. All I have to do is tell them why I fly. I have always believed that if I have a shot at it, it wouldn’t hurt to try. (I mistakenly typed in “fly” instead of “try” which just goes to show how psyched up I am to get into the contest!) I have already made up my mind that besides a trip home to Manila, (or whichever nearest port they will fly me to), I will go back to Paris. (Please refer to posts preceding this for a backgrounder.) A free trip is a free trip..

Just as taking a trip down memory lane is.. and remembering Fridays of old when we would eat dinner at some place in Makati, stay for some show or band or movie, and go home to a weekend that let me sleep late. It might’ve meant midnight shopping madness at one of the malls if it were payday. Fe and I would check out if any new shoe styles were available at our favorite shoe stores, JOSE or VIA VENNETTO. We’d talk the night away.

Sometimes I can still smell and feel how it was like. Sometimes it’s just a distant memory. Five years is a long time to be away but there are so many memories that keep that part of my life still alive even if only in my mind.