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.)

nougat

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.

Caramels

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.

Rats.

Exceptions Gourmandes
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.

25 comments

  • Hi David, sorry for putting this question here instead of e-mailing you.

    My best friend will be heading to Paris in a few months time and she will be living there for a WHOLE year and she got herself a 1 yr work visa (she’s semi-fluent in French)…I’ve looked at most of your post about Paris i.e.: the must eat food, the subway and etc…. Could you please give me (or my friend) tips about renting in Paris, and where to shop to get the best bargain?! (i.e.: the supermarket or the open market?)

    Thank you so much for your help…

  • I’m drooling over that nougat!!!!

  • Ohhh, I think I might have to make another batch of nougat soon! Thanks for enabling us fellow sugar addicts, Mr. L!

  • yeah – this is about a five-minute walk from chez moi – i’ll have to go tomorrow. thanks for the tip.

  • Mmmm… caramel. Maybe this is what I’ll request when my friend makes a trip back next month. Ah, comme Paris me manque…

    To the above person, open markets, toward closing time. And if you’re female, go alone. You can throw out the phone numbers and keep the free/cheap food.

    David, if you get said keyboard, can I buy the “z” from you? My 9 month old got to it, and it’s gone, baby, gone…

  • oh, nougat! I think I’d take this over chocolate any day. Can you actually make it? Well, of course, as long as it’s not twinkies you can make it, right? I’m gonna poke around for a recipe. mmmm…

  • I’ll have to put this on my “must go buy and bring back home” list when I am in Paris in May! I’ve wanted to taste kouign amann since Jeffrey Steingarten wrote about it several years ago.

  • I’m clamoring for a nougat recipe, too – please??? And I’m bummed that I can’t to Dallas when you are here next month, which is silly, because I am there now for business. And Whole Foods won’t put a store in Oklahoma City – something about ancient liquor laws and too low of an education level… And… Looking forward to the new book!

  • Philip Conticini’s nougat recipe may be in his book Tentations, but I’m not sure.

  • Rather than being filled with Nougat & Caramel my two favorite candies; I am filled with envy as I am a long way from Paris. Lucky You!

  • Wow, how much can a keypad cost? And are you referring to a notebook or a tabletop?

  • Please add me to the list of Nougat Recipe Requesters. I can get all sorts of good nougat here, being just a skip from Provence, but I’d love to make something sensational at home.

    And kudos on doing what you do with what you’ve got! That is some (tiny) kitchen.

  • Oh man, I may have to make bread dough this weekend just so I can turn the leftovers in to kouign amann.

  • If you’ve got the jones for nougat, try this place

    http://www.termini.com/

    I’m from Philly, so maybe a little biased, but it’s the best torrone I’ve had yet. And they do mail-order.

  • But did he have anything made with Nutella? I adore Conticini – I’m so glad he’s got a shop again.

  • Louisa: How could I forget our very first-ever rendez vous at La Table Nutella?

    There wasn’t any Nutella that we could see at Exceptions Gourmandes, but to be honest, I don’t think there was room for even a little jar of that good stuff. The place was smaller than my kitchen!

    Tags: That nougat looks great. I noticed it’s seasonal, so people might want to jump on it when it’s available. I know I would.

    (Folks interested in making a Nougat recipe, there’s one over at delicious:days…)

  • Our village has a saffran faire every year.

    Not a lot of saffron is grown in the area these days, so other local produce gets a look in, one of the specialities being the local (Brenne) honey, including sarrasin.

    One of the honey makers makes nougat from the sarrasin, and we have a pic here for those who like looking at such things…. It really is the world’s strongest nougat, made by hand (literally) by one of the world’s smallest people!

  • and now can we have a recipe please!

  • Being half French and half Italian, I alternate between calling it nougat or torrone. Torrone often wins…especially when I go to Modern Pastry in Boston. It’s the BEST! I don’t even try to make it at home because it’s so good at Modern. I live two hours outside of Boston, and if I can’t make the trip, but still need a fix, I order it online. You can too!
    http://www.modernpastry.com

  • Does it taste better than nougat fouqué ( available at L’étoile d’or from september to january)? The white one really has the taste of honey and almond.

  • Those caramel sticks…are they better than M. Roux? I taste test them for sure!
    Merci :)

  • You’re kitchen is even smaller than mine!!! When I moved to France that was one of the hardest things to get used to…my tiny kitchen. I’m envious of your HUGE refrigerator though (in comparison with mine :p) and you also have drawers. So lucky! Well as I have found since recently returning to my love of cooking, you can do wonders in even the smallest of spaces if you are determined. :)

  • Christine: I’m a big fan of the Spanish version, Turrone…the firm one, packed with Marcona almonds. Which reminds me; I need to go back to Barcelona soon for more!

    Lalia: Haven’t tried it…does that mean I need to wait until next September to go back to L’Etoile d’Or?

    ParisBreakfasts: I think the Le Roux caramels are ‘le top’…and that’s all I’m gonna say : )

    (For those interested, I went to visit Henri Le Roux in Brittany, and you can see how he makes his amazing caramels: Henri Le Roux)

    Diane: I know. I complain about my fridge to friends here and they start giving me dirty looks. No matter how big my fridge is (or my freezer) I seem to find ways to fill it.

  • yes, you should have said no.

  • You will have to wait until next September to taste them.

    There are three kinds: the nougat noir, which only contains almonds and honey, the felibres, with almonds, pistachios, egg whites and honey, and the nougat blanc, the one I like best.

    It is one of the 13 traditional Christmas desserts in Provence.