Friday, 21 December 2012

edible paris: sweet

fouquet, artisan confectionery
o indulged his sweet tooth with careless abandon particularly on hot chocolate. that of course is natural given that paris is the land of patisserie, confectionery, bonbons and so forth. i treated him to hot chocolate and a chocolate degustation at jacques genin whom i came across on david lebovitz’s ‘living the sweet life in paris’. it goes without saying that french hot chocolate is thick. jacques genin’s was outstanding, a kin to a dark chocolate bar in melted form. the chocolate degustation was arranged in the order that they should be partaken off. i will always remember the grapefruit and vanilla truffle. the latter was assertive and strong in a way that i have never had before. it was what vanilla would be in a masculine form. i had never had grapefruit with chocolate. it is a delicate flavour and quite floral. the little squares of truffle were works of art having been decorated with fine geometric, filigree and floral lines. the pate du fruit were the essence of the fruits themselves. 

on our last afternoon o made space to have a last cup of hot chocolate at la maison angelina, despite the weather (it was a peculiarly warm almost summer day) and a three course lunch that ended on an uber rich chocolate terrine. established in 1903 by an austrian patissiere, this tearoom is where the parisian aristocracy including coco chanel and proust came for afternoon tea. it is famous for both its hot chocolate l’africain and the mont blanc pastry. the salon was designed by the prominent belle epoque architect edouard-jean niermans. it retains its high society appeal with well-manicured ladies daintily tucking into mont blancs and eclairs. the hot chocolate is served with whipped cream. it is dark with a subtle heat and plenty of sweetness. 

we also stopped in at ladurée as s had recommended to do so. i must admit that ladurée’s hot chocolate paled in comparison to the two above. out of the four macarons it was the blood orange and salted caramel that took our fancy. the experiment of a marshmallow centre was most disagreeable. at the risk of offending macaron aficionados i cannot understand the hype about them but if i really must pick one i like then it was jean-paul hévin’s raspberry and chocolate macaron that takes the prize. notwithstanding the salon at the ladurée on champs-de-elysees is a beauty. its frosted hues, silver tendrils and trellises echo the fairy tale home of a snow queen. 

jean-paul hévin's macarons at galeries lafayette
other sweet things included o’s bag of caramels by jean-paul hévin which we ate sitting on a damp bench at the base of basilique du sacre-cœur at montmartre. i do not usually like chocolate caramels but these including the fig ones were quite the treat. i also managed to stop in at fouquet which is one the oldest confectioners in paris and one of the last remaining ones that make their candies and chocolate in their shop. a lovely lady helped me in selecting three small boxes of confections. there was necessarily a small box of pates de fruits for baba in memory of my first introduction to these delights. he was the one who used to bring them for me from trips abroad and i loved them from the moment i first hand them. i added a box of truffles to this to be shared by mama, baba and m and lastly a bag of grapefruit batons enrobed in chocolate. it was really difficult to limit myself especially since the caramels looked divine. at fouquet they make caramel dipped caramels, a soft centre encased by a hard shell. can you imagine the contrast of textures in the mouth? 

a trip to paris is incomplete without glace. s had recommended berthillon and so we dutifully went to the simple little parlour on rue saint louis en i'lle  that has been in existence since 1943.  the glace comes daintily served in a stainless steel ice cream bowls decorated with a large fan shaped wafer tasting distinctly of butter and toasted almonds. the sea salted caramel is outstanding paired with a pink fig sorbet. i also had the praline which was quite unique having been studded with slim fingers of pine nuts. the armagnac with prunes was the essence of itself. o had his customary pistachio with salted caramel. 

praline and prunes and armagnac glace

i know this seems like a lot of eating but there were so many things that i missed - the ubiquitous almond croissant, patisserie and crêpes to name a few. o is squarely to blame for the lack of crêpes as he is not too keen on them. i feel most cheated of a buckwheat galette with its lace-like textures and frilly edge. but as they say, there is always a next time.

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