The number one lesson I learned during my 2010 pastry binge is that it’s impossible to judge a patisserie, until you eat at least half their work. There were plenty of times where I had something delicious from a shop whose other pieces were so-so – or where I had something terrible from a patisserie who was actually otherwise excellent. The trouble is that most shops have a good 20-30 pieces. Sampling a wide range of pastries from an array of great patisseries is therefore more than a little challenging. It’s also very possible to overlook gems, if the focus is, naturally, always on the most comely specimens.
To the casual observer, the above probably looks quite fancy. In the context of Ladurée case, however, it’s one of the less eye-catching works. Buying up cupcakes, gooey religieuses, macarons, Saint-Honoré’s and more from Ladurée, it took me about two months to get to this little lady. What a shame; it turns out the Divin is among my all-time favorites . . .
The texture of golden-toned top and bottom halves straddles the line between a classic Ladurée macaron and a firmer meringue. It provides a nice little resistance, on-bite, giving way to a raspberry or two that then tumble out onto your tongue, coated in sticky sweet nougatine crème. It’s a sugary blast that’s echoed in the sweetness of the shells and bits of nougatine spinkled atop them. The next bite takes you deeper, all the way to the palet of coulis gelée – a piquant blast of concentrated raspberry deliciousness. All the Divin’s constituents then rollick around your mouth, intermittently teasing your tastebuds with subtle-then-brash raspberry tones, followed by waves of extreme sweetness, balanced by mellower moments, where each of the textures take a bow at center-stage. The net effect is no less than a pastry dreamworld of flavors and sensations.
Thinking back on the Divin and another 40-50 other pastries I loved in Paris, I realize I’m going to have to spend at least a few weeks of the upcoming 6 months just re-binging on their majesty. From this little guy to Aoki’s black sesame eclairs, Marletti’s Marie Antoinette, LPdR’s Alliance, Pain de Sucre’s Millefeuille, and so much more, I might have no choice but to gain 200lbs. in my first week back. Make that 300lbs., as I should also mention Jean-Paul Hevin’s Tonka, Arnaud L.’s Charlotte Cassis, and the majority of everything at Hugo & Victor.
And then there are all the shops I haven’t yet visited: Un Dimanche a Paris, ACIDE, Pouchkine, Génin, Duchene, Desgardin, Carette, Demoncy, La Maison du Chocolat, and Aurore Capucine – to name but 10. It’s such a tough “job”, but someone’s got to do it.
All this eating is part of a master plan to not only discover the greatest pastries, but to make excessively tasty “Best” lists: best chocolate pastries, best caramel pastries, best millefeuilles, best macarons, etc. Anticipate seeing most of those next fall and winter, after the impending 6 month orgy of sweets wraps up. It’s now just 17 days until I take off for Paris. Can you tell I’m excited?!
So, yes, definitely get a Divin. Not like there aren’t 20 other things worth getting at Ladurée, but this is an absolute jewel. Or should I simply say . . . “The Divin is divine!”