Meryle Evans - September 2014
New York City—Gotham’s sweets aficionados are talking about a conversation, or rather, La Tarte Conversation. It’s a lovely little gâteau created by Ladurée’s Paris-based executive chef Vincent Lemains, who comes up with new pastries of varying flavors and colors twice a year to add to the repertoire at the firm’s global outlets. The short crust tart is based on a confection once served in Parisian tea rooms and was inspired by an 18th century lady of letters, Louise d’Épinay. Madame d’Épinay was noted for her liaisons with famous men of the Enlightenment, like Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and for her advocacy of women’s rights. Her most popular book, Les Conversations d’Émilie, published in the late 18th century, is a dialogue about the education of her granddaughter. The flavors of Lemain’s tarts, all covered with royal icing, are as intriguing as their inspiration. Featured this summer were Conversation Ispahan (filled with rose-flavored almond cream, light rose custard, raspberry, and lychee), Conversation Citron Lavande (almond cream, lemon/lavender cream, and candied lemon), and Conversation Vanille (almond cream, Madagascar vanilla cream, and caramelized almond fragments).
Ladurée has been a favorite Parisian cafe and pastry shop since it opened in 1862 on the Rue Royale, but their iconic modern macaron did not emerge until the mid-20th century, when a Ladurée cousin, Pierre Desfontaines, came up with the idea of joining two macaron shells with a ganache filling.