WASHINGTON — It’s hard to overlook the popularity of the macaron.
It inspires runway shows and is featured in photo shoots for fashion labels, cosmetic brands and jewelry lines. Its presence litters Instagram and Pinterest, and fans brave long lines and pay top-dollar to sink their teeth into the colorful confection.
And pretty soon, D.C. will be home to the world’s most famous macaron: that of Ladurée.
The popular French bakery first opened its doors on Rue Royale in Paris 150 years ago and guided the macaron into the spotlight in the 1930s. But Ladurée is credited with more than its sweets. Its tearoom — a combination of a patisserie and a cafe — broke down societal norms.
“[The opening of the tearoom] was really the first time in the history of Paris that men and women could meet together in public,” said Elisabeth Holder, whose family bought the Ladurée brand 25 years ago.
Before that, women were not admitted into the city’s male-only cafes, but the tearoom was a place open to everyone.
“So there are lots of love and lovers stories about it, so it’s really French, it’s really very Paris,” said Holder, the owner and co-CEO of Ladurée U.S.
Since the Holder family took over Ladurée, it has grown from the original shop in Paris to 100 locations around the world. As its iconic tearooms spread, so did the macaron’s fame.
“It’s happiness actually,” Holder said, when asked to describe the light sandwich-like cookie that’s made from egg whites, sugar and almond powder, and stuffed with flavored fillings.
“Inside, you can play with anything you want — you can have jam, you can have chocolate ganache, we have one with marshmallow.”
Ladurée sells several different varieties of macarons and shakes up its menu monthly with seasonal additions that vary by location. (D.C.’s shop will have a cherry blossom macaron.) But the most popular flavors are the most common: chocolate, vanilla, pistachio and caramel.
And while many praise the pastry for its crunchy, airy texture and slightly sweet taste, fans of the macaron can’t help but love its look.
“It’s like the supermodel of food,” Holder said. “It’s very beautiful; it’s got a round shape so it’s very feminine. It’s super photogenic — I think it matches with everything.”
This spring, Ladurée is opening two storefronts in D.C.: a boutique and restaurant in Georgetown and a smaller location inside Union Station. The brand’s other U.S. destinations include shops in New York, Miami and Los Angeles.
“[D.C.] is like a European city, actually, so we feel a little bit at home,” Holder said.
Both local locations will offer more than macarons. Georgetown’s full menu includes everything from breakfast omelets and toasts, to lunch options of salads, sandwiches and entrees, to classic French pastries and cocktails.
Union Station’s Ladurée outpost will cater to the traveler with a to-go menu of finger sandwiches, salads, juices and ice cream.
Each will bring a little taste of Paris to the nation’s capital.
“I think [Ladurée] is part of the heritage of Paris,” Holder said. “It’s really like you go to the Eiffel Tower and you go to Ladurée. It’s part of Paris.”
No opening date is set for Ladurée, but WTOP is told it will be “very soon.” Hours for the Georgetown location are Monday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Union Station will open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday.
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