Looking at the photos I’d taken over the past week during my Paris Chocolate Exploration Tour, I noticed something odd…there weren’t too many pictures of chocolate.
(Where did it all go?…)
I don’t know why, since we seemed to have sampled every chocolate that we possibly could have here in Paris. And although I thought I’d never say this—I think I’ve had enough chocolate for a while.
So aside from all the chocolate, here’s what else we ate and drank…
Since the weather was decidedly decent, we opted for outdoor dining as much as possible. Of course that involved plenty of rosé for cooling down. Leading the pack myself, I found that most Americans get over their aversion to rosé when they realize most of the stuff here in France is quite different than the syrupy-sweet blush-colored wines found elsewhere.
After a visit to my local market, where everyone swooned over Régis the salt guy (and the potato guy too) we stopped in the Place des Vosges and had lunch, and a few bottles of rosé, at the well-situated Ma Bourgogne restaurant, drinking and dining under the dramatic arches of this historic square.
Although primarily known for their steak-frites, is there anything more lovely than a nicely-composed French salad? The salade Niçoise was anything but traditional but no one seemed to mind. Unlike other French restaurants, thankfully you won’t find any canned corn or mounds of rice on the salads here.
And my salade Lyonnaise with lardons of crispy bacon and a hulking wedge of forme d’Ambert was a fine derivation of the classic. The runny egg that’s normally mixed into the tangle of frisée wasn’t missed at all. One bite of the creamy blue cheese will make anyone a believer in the version served here.
When I posted a picture of the generous platter of charcuterie on my Flickr page, someone commented that my “…critical focus was lacking“. I took that to mean there was more interest in the butter than the bovine. At least I hope that’s what they meant.
Still, I don’t think anyone was missing any delicious dairy products when we stopped at Pozzetto for gelato. Since man, and apparently woman, can’t live by chocolate (or butter…or sausage) alone, God created gelato di gianduja, a rich amalgamation of hazelnuts and milk chocolate heaped into a crispy cone.
Pas de tout!
Needing a digestif after our week of eating, we headed over to Vert d’Absinthe for a tasting of six different kinds of the famed liquor. (He stocks over 30 kinds, each tasting quite differently from the others.) Luc-Santiago, the genial owner of the shop, had the fountain ready and waiting for us when we arrived, dripping icy water over sugar cubes into the tiny glasses and passing them around for us to sniff and sip.
And sip we did!
The next day we woke up early (ouch! my head…), after sleeping off the absinthe, and headed over to La Maison du Chocolat for a private tasting with one of their distinguished chocolate experts. As we arrived, no one seemed disappointed in the least to find themselves faced with their own arranged platter with perhaps a dozen chocolates awaiting inspection. As we tasted our way around the plate, sampling chocolates infused with everything from fresh Moroccan mint to Andalusian lemon zest to cinnamon, only a few of us managed to make it through them all. I, of course, triumphed. Mort did too.
And for one special day, we piled into the minivan and headed out to Normandy. While everyone loved the visit to the auto boutique, most of us were actually even more impressed with our lunch at Susan Loomis’ home On Rue Tatin. We were greeted at the door before heading into her cozy, but professional kitchen for a tasting of olive oils.
We also had un apéritif with some just-baked scourtines; little buttery cocktail cookies made with chopped olives, which we ate just before our lunch. Then it was into the dining room where we started off with roasted asparagus topped with quickly-sautéed morsels of delectable foie gras before dipping into mortars of garlicky, maximum-strength Aïoli. (I felt more than a bit sorry for our van driver on the way home. Poor guy.)
Our meal ended with a tasting of sublime Normandy cheese, including Camembert, Neufchâtel and, of course, Livarot, three of the best-known cheeses of the region. Astoundingly, Mort managed to get it all down before heading outdoors to enjoy a cigar.
After our final dinner last night back in Paris, we all collapsed with exhaustion over how much food we’d enjoyed. (Including the seven kilos of chocolates and caramels we divided up from Jacques Genin.) Over an always-terrific meal in the private wine cave at Les Papilles, we said our goodbyes then made our way back home and slid into bed, looking forward to next year’s chocolate adventure.
In May of 2008, we’ll be presenting our third annual Paris Chocolate Exploration Tour.
Mort Rosenblum and I will be adding a few surprises as well as featuring some of the events mentioned above. (Although we can’t guarantee we’ll get another chance at getting all those chocolates and caramels from Jacques!)
To get on the waiting list or for more news when it becomes available, email us your contact information and you’ll be the first to know when that information is available.