I am safely back from Spain – so no more pictures of beer, ham and cheese. However, my journey back was slightly more eventful than it should have been, thanks to Storm St Jude (the patron saint of lost causes!) that decided to lash the UK and parts of Europe on the same day that I was supposed to be flying from Madrid to Amsterdam.
Of course, Spain started off the day sunny and mild and even while it had become overcast by the time I arrived at the airport, there were no disruptions. Or rather, no disruptions bar those flights that were heading to Amsterdam which were cancelled and late left, right and centre.
With just an hour in Amsterdam to connect to my flight to Malaysia things were looking tight and eventually even the very optimistic KLM staff had to acknowledge that I needed to be re-routed.
Happily, this re-routing meant I was scheduled to arrive home just an hour later than expected and had the added bonus that I was now heading via Paris, with a three hour wait in Charles de Gaulle airport.
Aside from my obligatory beer and crisps in the airport I had a quick wander around. I had to skip the Givenchy, Hermès and Chanel shops and I thought I had already used up my duty free booze allowance (it turned out I hadn’t but I had another stop anyway, so I doubt I could have bought anything). What to get? What to get? It would be a shame to let an unexpected stop in Paris go completely unmarked by consumerism!
Fortunately, Charles de Gaulle terminal 4E is home to a smart Ladurée shop. Founded in 1862, Ladurée is the grand-daddy of macaron shops. When I was last in Paris proper the shop on the Champs Elysées was on my to do list but I was smartly put off by a queue and what I thought were quite high prices.
Of course, now the rest of the western world is in the grip of some kind of small pâtisserie frenzy, macarons are everywhere and prices have spiked. Seriously. I recall paying about $4.50 for a Nic & Rocco macaron here in Adelaide.
And yet here I was in Paris, a city not known for bargain basement prices, and I could buy a box of 8 macarons for €16,40 (about $23.50, or just under $3 a pop).
Ladurée has an excellent array of flavours, including the new pink peppercorn and gingerbread. I went for a slightly more conventional range of choices: chocolate, coffee, hazelnut, salted caramel, raspberry (x2), rose, vanilla. They were packed away in a beautiful box, presented to me in a beautiful bag and made it to Australia perfectly preserved. I did have visions of me having to scoff all 8 at the airport when AQIS decided they weren’t allowed in, but sadly that didn’t happen.
Of course, I’ve been back a couple of days now and the macarons are history. While they were tasty (the toddler particularly seemed to enjoy them and also seemed to think my mother was some kind of idiot for asking, rhetorically, “what do we have here?” while looking in the box. “Macawons!” he shouted, rolling his eyes) they were not mind blowing in the way that I’d expected them to be.
And such are the perils of having quite possibly the biggest name in the macaron world …