Over the holidays in Portland I went to breakfast with a friend and discovered the gluten-free joy that is macarons (blog post here). For the longest time I had gotten macarons, macaroons, and meringues confused and didn’t know how much I was missing out with macarons (the one with just one “o”). And they are naturally gluten-free!
Now that I’m back in Miami it was only a matter of time before my mind started to think about macarons. When they are done right they are decadent, but light, and you don’t have to worry about the gluten-free version being less delicious than the original. Because again the originals are gluten-free! I tend to have a very special place in my heart for things that are naturally gluten-free, but seem like they are made with gluten (like macarons and arepas for example).
Thinking about macarons in Miami brought me back to Art Basel when some friends were in town. One friend Snapchatted a pic of the other at a place on Miami Beach called Laduree, joking that the other guy had to get his macaron fix. That other friend later told me that when he was living in Paris he lived near a Laduree and went all the time. He was pretty dang excited to get some of their macarons in South Beach. At that time I just thought it was this friend being who he is (the French pastry obsession fit him), but wish I had paid more attention.
Now that I am a macaron convert, Laduree seemed like a must-do. Can’t do French pastries much better than the French themselves after all. Also when I searched for macarons on Yelp it got some high reviews, so the signs for pointing in the direction of Miami Beach.
So all of this thinking brought me to this Sunday. I was reading in the middle of the day and something triggered a craving for macarons. No idea what it was even seconds after it happened. There was no discussion of desserts or even anything sweet in the book I was reading. But it got on my mind and it did not go away.
It was about 1 PM and I was going to a friend’s birthday party at 3. I thought maybe I could make a stop after the birthday party, since Laduree was open until 10 PM that day (Sunday). But I was driving with a friend and the moment of doubt from thinking it might be logistically tough planted in my mind the idea of going RIGHT NOW. Like right now. I put that off for a few minutes, but it just kept gnawing at me (gluten-free stuff just has this kind of affect on me..). I could totally do it and be back in time for the birthday no problem.
Combined with the fact that I hadn’t eaten since breakfast, I made the decision to pull the trigger and reserved a Car2Go to take over to South Beach. There is a Car2Go garage at 16th and Michigan that’s not far from Laduree and this seemed like a nice plan to avoid the hassle of South Beach parking. It went rather smoothly except for the crazy traffic on Alton just passing the Miami Beach Golf Course.
But eventually I made it to Lincoln Road and then walked down across Alton near Huahua’s Tacos. This is where Laduree was showing up on the Yelp. After walking a few times along the block I realized from the address that it couldn’t be on that side. 1111 Lincoln Road is the famous Herzog & De Meuron garage and Laduree was 1118. I walked back across Alton and indeed did found it on that other side of Alton. It’s a tiny little shop without a very large sign right next to the Regal movie theater.
I walked in and there’s pretty much just room for 2 people to be looking at the display case (with only space for one or two people to be lined up behind them). Small, but I kind of feel like that adds to a sort of quaint French feel (not exactly sure where that feeling is coming from though).
There are a number of different signs posted, including the prices of boxes with certain number of macarons and then some signs with all the flavors. 6 seemed like the right number based on exercising some self-restraint (something I hadn’t exhibited up until then) and the price. I went for chocolate, vanilla, caramel, pistachio, coffee, and raspberry. They asked me what kind of a box I liked and I sort of registered my ambivalence. I was going to get a box shaped like a pineapple since that’s what was most visible, but they then suggested a special Art Deco one that’s exclusive to Miami, so I went with that one. Only late did I learn that the box itself cost about $5. Each individual macaron costs $2.80 (or so). This special box with six macarons was $21. It’s a nice box, but I really haven’t done anything with it after I ate all the macarons. Unless you’re getting macarons as a gift or really like one of the boxes, I would stick to ordering them without the box.
I surprisingly made it all the way home without eating any of the macarons (to be honest it was probably more motivated by wanting to take a nice picture of them all vs. having any self-control). All the macarons did not disappoint. They were that sort of soft/chewy with just a little bit of crunch all rolled together texture with some decadent, but not too sweet flavor (and again NATURALLY gluten-free!!). The presentation (appearance) of each macaron was also very nice. In the box it was like a delicious little off-color rainbow. The price with the box was a bit of a turn-off, but given that they are French, Laduree is a well-known macaron maker, and they’re on Lincoln Road, I think $2.80 (when you buy individually without the special box) isn’t that bad of a price for them.
Fans of Laduree from France will be very excited to find a store in South Beach. Macaron fans in general I think will also enjoy their time, as Laduree is touted as one of the best macarons in the world. I am pretty sure I might have just been late to the gluten-free party when it came to macarons, but if there are other gluten-frees out there that haven’t tried macarons they should make this a stop. These are pretty delicious ones for your first time. I am sure I will find myself back at Laduree and have trouble not stopping when I am in the area. I should probably just give in and do that and Shake Shake to take care of all the built up cravings associated with Lincoln Road!
P.S. Looking at the website Laduree seems to have a pretty extensive menu of other pastries and breakfast food. There was a little counter that almost looked like a place to order other food, but it was so small I doubt it functions as a place to order all the stuff listed. I think there was some outside seating, but maybe I missed more of a “cafe” next door. Something to look into on my next visit.
Laduree- 1118 Lincoln Road Miami Beach, FL