Recently in Chocolate & Pastry Shops category

Rochoux’s Hazelnut Praline Paste

Hazelnut-praline spread from Jean-Charles Rochoux (Paris)

I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I rarely go over to the Saint Germain des Près area much. I know, it’s a popular destination for many, but if I head over there, it’s usually for one thing, and one thing only: Chocolate.

Most of the chocolatiers are clustered over there because, well, if you can afford to live over there, that’s where most of the folks are who buy boxes of chocolate. Well, except me. So I make the trek over there to get my licks in, and say hi to the folks who haven’t seen me in a while.

One such person is Jean-Charles Rochoux, whose chocolates are at the top of my list in Paris. He has just one shop, not an enterprise, and is one of the few people who makes his chocolates in Paris; real estate prices make it hard for people to set up candymaking operations. So every day, Monsieur Rochoux gets started in his basement workshop, and every few months, I go over there and see what’s new.

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Kouign Amann at Le Grenier à Pain

Kouign Amann pastry

Today is election day in France, and la République has the choice of re-electing the current President, or ushering in a new one. For people who usually have a lot of opinions, my French friends aren’t all that enthused about either one of the fellows. One is hoping to come into office, promising to represent Changement, and the other came into office five years ago, vowing changement, too. Sound familiar?

The polls opened at 8am and the only change I was feeling was in my pocket, as I roamed the streets looking for a baguette. However instead of the buttery, yeasty aromas wafting forth from my usual arsenal of boulangeries, none were open. It wasn’t because it was election day, it just happened that every one I hit had the shades down and the door shuttered closed for various reasons.

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Comme à Lisbonne

pasteis de nata

I remember with curiosity, walking by Comme à Lisbonne shortly after it opened. The shop was merely a tiny storefront that featured Pastéis de nata, the famous tartlets from Portugal that are often served by the platter since it’s often not possible to stop after eating just one. Interestingly, a number of bakeries in Paris do make pastéis de nata – some good, some just okay – but I don’t usually order them, preferring to stick to something French. But I was lunching with a friend in the Marais, and she’s a big fan of these Portuguese custard tarts, so I suggested we stop in for a taste.

We each took one of the two low stools and sat down, ordering a couple of coffees. (I noticed a clean, well cared-for coffee machine, which is an encouraging sign in Paris.) Then we were each handed a warm little tartlet. Taking my first bite was a revelation; I’d had the pastries in Lisbon and remember liking them a lot, but the ones at Comme à Lisbonne just might give any French pastry a run for its money.

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A Visit to A l’Etoile d’Or (Video)

A place like A l’Etoile d’Or could not exist anywhere else in the world but Paris. In this charming shop up by Montmarte you find a carefully selected assortment of candies and chocolates from the best artisans across France. Darting from shelf to shelf, owner Denise Acabo charms patrons with animated descriptions of every sweet bonbon in her collection. It’s always a pleasure to chat with her in her shop, which I visited on a rather chilly day in Paris. (Hence the trouble I had wrapping my frozen lips around the word “Lorraine”.)

Every time I go into her shop, I am helpless against Madame Acabo’s charms and I always leave with something special tucked in my bag, whether it’s a Kalouga chocolate bar filled with gooey salted butter caramel from Bernachon, almond-rich calissons d’Aix from Provence, or bright jellies flavored with the tangy juice of the elusive bergamots made in Alsace.

Even if you can’t make it to Paris, I hope you enjoy this visit to her shop as much as I did.

-David

(You can watch the video here by clicking on the arrow. To view it in a larger version, click on the title, which will take you to Vimeo.)

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Clasico Argentino: Argentinian Helado in Paris

ice cream

I’ve come to realize that I’m not very good at ‘watching’. When I worked in the restaurant business, one of my cohorts said to me one day – “There are two types of chefs: doers and watchers.” Meaning that some chefs got right into the cooking with the line cooks, while others like to stand there and watch. I, myself, could be classified as a doer because I’m like I’m a shark: If I don’t keep moving, I’ll wither away.

I’ve kind of had my fill of watching and waiting, so instead of continuing to wither away, I decided to take matters into my own hands and deal with what I could control. This week the weather took a turn for the better in Paris; it’s always one day when the bleak weather suddenly changes and we revel in the hope that the cold snap of winter is behind us.

Everyone on the sidewalks of Paris is a little stunned to see the sunlight, almost walking around in a daze (including the number of people who refused to get out of my way when I was struggling to carry an iron pipe down the sidewalk and as a consequence, almost walked right into the butt of a massive metal pipe) but within a few hours, all the café terraces are packed – and not just with the usual fumeurs – but everyone craning their necks, trying to catch a little wedge of sunshine.

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La Pâtisserie

 croissant

When you live in Paris, you tend to stick to pastry shops in your neighborhood. Not that there aren’t “destination-worthy” places in all twenty arrondissements – with many notable ones on the Left Bank and in swankier districts. But with young chefs opening bakeries in various neighborhoods, catering especially to locals, one doesn’t necessarily need to go all that far to find extraordinary pastries and confections.

La Pâtisseriepain au levain
baba au rhum at La Pâtisseriekouign amann

Cyril Lignac is a chef who is hosts popular television programs in France, and a few years ago had purchased Chardenoux bistro, an aging warhorse of a place where I once went to meet a good friend who was in town for a month. As I waited for him at the table, the place – and the waiters – looked so tired (both looked ready for a much-needed retirement), when he arrived, I quickly convinced him that we were probably better off going to a corner café for a salad. So it was good to hear that the bistro had been taken over by Monsieur Lignac and just across the street, pastry chef Benoit Couvrand was turning out stellar pastries and breads.

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Helmut Newcake, Gluten-Free Bakery in Paris

Canelé

Ever since I heard word it, I’ve been anxious to try Helmut Newcake, what’s been heralded as the first gluten-free bakery in Paris. While a couple of bakeries and natural food shops offer gluten-free bread, they’re invariably made somewhere where other breads are made (risking cross-contamination with wheat flour), or the salesclerks simply stack the gluten-free breads with the regular ones, which is little comfort to those who can’t tolerate eating gluten.

réligeuse

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Paris Pastry Guide E-Book

I’m excited to announce the release of the e-book of my Paris Pastry Guide!

With over 300 addresses for the best places in Paris for chocolates, pastries, and other confections, this comprehensive guide is the perfect sweet companion for your trip to Paris. But even if you’re not planning a trip, there’s plenty of pictures to so you can enjoy the scrumptious pastries of Paris – wherever you are!

The Paris Pastry e-book is available in three formats:

  • E.Pub: For the iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Sony eReader, Kobo, and Blackberry.

  • Mobi: For Kindle, MobiPocket, and Calibre.

  • Kindle: The Kindle version is available on Amazon.

    They can be downloaded via the Paris Pastry website. It will soon be available in the iBooks bookstore and Barnes & Noble (Nook). To be alerted when they’re ready, follow Paris Pastry on Twitter or Facebook.

    So get your copy today!


    FAQs

    Is the map in the e-book aligned with a GPS system?

    Yes, it is. So if you tap on a link, a map will open that will take you there. You will need to have an internet connection to use that feature. For those with other mobile devices, and iPad users, the e-book will work on those devices.

    In the app, because people often have to pay substantial roaming charges, we attached the addresses to a fixed map. So if you want a map that is linked to Google maps, you might wish to consider downloading the e-book or the Kindle version.

    (We are working on an Android version of the app, and appreciate your patience. There’s no need to leave a message or comment requesting an Android version because it it already something under consideration; if you’d like to be notified when it’s available, follow Paris Pastry on Twitter or Facebook. Although I don’t have an Android-enabled device, according to the publisher, you can read the e-book on Android devices using the Kobo app.)

    I have an iPad. Which version should I buy?

    The app available in the iTunes store will work fine, although it’s formatted for the iPhone and to save on roaming charges, the maps in the iPhone app do not require an internet connection (they aren’t attached to Google maps-although that will be changed in the next update). The book is formatted for larger size reading devices, such as the iPad, and the maps are linked to Google maps, which work with an internet connection.

    Is there going to be a printed book available?

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