I keep a piece of paper near my front door. On it are places in Paris that I want to visit. When I hear about a place that sounds interesting, on the list it goes. Unfortunately, it seems as soon as I cross one off, a few more get added. And the list gets longer and longer and longer and longer and…
One particular spot that I’ve had my eye on for too long was Puerto Cacao, located in the farthest part of the city from where I live, requiring more than my limit of two métro changes. The focus of the shop is chocolate équitable, or fair trade chocolate.
So I was surprised when I was walking near the Marché d’Aligre and the store with the pricey mid-century modern furniture that I used to covet was gone. And in its place was a new hot chocolate spot.
I hovered around outside before stepping in. Being Saturday, there was an inordinate amount of kids in there. And while I love kids, especially the well-behaved French ones, there were a few too many strollers in there to circumvent. But once a few departed and the coast was clear, I was able to poke around and scope out the chocolate bars, which included lots of single-origin tablets, different kinds of cocoa powder, and interestingly, a few bars of pure, pale-white cocoa butter. Being Paris, naturally, there were rows of colorful macarons, but I was getting a little bande by a plate of brownies that looked über-dark, shiny, and bittersweet. (Which I saw getting doused with crème anglaise.) But I was there for the hot chocolate: le chocolat chaud.
Priced at just €3.5 per mug, it seemed like a deal. And the menu featured an extensive list of spices and add-ins that sounded interesting; cumin, cardamom, spiced Spanish red pepper, licorice, mint, and cinnamon were just a few. So I parked myself on one of the tall, unvarnished wooden stools, and ordered a mug.
The hot chocolate is made in batches, mixed by a double-urned machine. Then it’s microwaved to warm it up in a pitcher, to order. I was a little surprised that the hot chocolate that was set in front of me, dusted with spicy-red chile powder, wasn’t all that hot. (Or spicy.) I think the staff was distracted since they were running out of chocolate mix and one person was ready to finish their shift and didn’t want to stay, but the fellow staying on was encouraging her to make more. So a lot of attention wasn’t being paid to the details.
The menu says the hot chocolate is made from fèves des cacao torréfiés, roasted cocoa beans and organic low-fat milk, so I had high hopes for it. It wasn’t as bitter I expected, and prefer, and I assume it was made from dark chocolate, rather than straight cacao mass (100% unsweetened chocolate).
Still, there was something encouraging and good-natured about the place and I think once they get their bearings, it’ll be a nice address to know about if looking for a cozy neighborhood place for a warm spot of chocolat chaud. And in the summer, it’s good to know that a chocolate milk shake is going to be just a short walk away.
2, rue Théophile Roussel (12th)
Tél: 01 43 47 58 60
(Another shop is located at 53, rue de Tocqueville, in the 17th.)
Parisian Hot Chocolate (Recipe)