Exceptions Gourmandes-Philippe Conticini
Now that you’ve all seen everything I have in my kitchen, I thought I’d show you a place I just discovered this week not far from where all that pastry magic happens.
(And I’m sure a few of you remember where all the magic that doesn’t happen around here ends up.)
Someone chided me for having French Wine For Dummies on my bookshelf, but gave me a pass for having Rocco’s book. Hey, it was a gift from him.
What was I going to say?—No?
Had I known they were going to use all the photos that were snapped, I might have cleaned myself up a bit. Or at least tucked my undershirt in. So you got to see more than I would’ve shown you. But I suppose there’s a lot more revealing stuff out there on the internet. And if that’s the worst you’ve seen online, more power to ya.
(Now if I could only find out how to charge $4300 for a few hours work, I could afford a real haircut and a new keypad for my Mac. I dropped a saucepan on it and broke off a few keys. Luckily I don’t use X much, and I can use 2+1 instead of ‘three’.)
Anyhow, enough about just my woes.
My pastry pal, something I think everyone should have, freed up a few moments in her hectic schedule to accompany me to the new shop of Parisian pastry whiz Philippe Conticini. I don’t know if I should call it a pastry shop, or a candy shop. Or what. For one thing, it’s absolutely tiny. And it only has a few pastries; hazelnut financiers, some cookies, and boule-like pain d’epices.
There was an empty shelf with a sign that said kouign amann, which we both zeroed in on, which we were told would arrive at 3pm. Unfortunately that was a few hours away and Dorie had to split, and it wouldn’t have been sporting of me to not share the spoils. So we’ll be back. But we did stock up on sticks of chocolate and regular caramel, plus cut-to-order slabs of the best soft nougat, which was eyes-to-the-skies good.
It took us all of 2 seconds out the door to rip into the bag, and yank off a hunk. I’ve had a lot of nougat, since it’s on the world’s longest top 10 list of Things David Loves To Eat. (There’s about 87 things on that top 10 list, which I know is impossible, but I’m asking you to suspend belief right now. It’s just a blog. Not Byron.)
Conticini’s version differs from all the others I’ve had because it has the not-subtle nuance of extremely good honey. Sometimes things made with honey just taste syrupy and sweet. This slab of nougat was deep and dusky-tasting, far better than the trè blasé versions I’ve had elsewhere.
There’s also a staggering display of macarons which got saved for later. And because the quartier ain’t so chic, prices are gentle: a gooey stick of caramel costs just 1€. Now that’s a deal! Even with the insane exchange rate, that I hope doesn’t shove me back westward.
Heck, at this point, I’d work for 50% of $4300—although I think some of those high-rolling clients might be laying low for a while.
4 place du Marché Sainte-Catherine (4th)
Tél: 01 42 77 16 50
November 2008 Update: I recently walked by Exceptions Gourmands, and it appeared to be closed. It may be seasonal, as the focus of the shop was recently on ice cream. In any case, I recommend calling before heading over.