Recently in Chocolate & Pastry Shops category

Paris Pastry App Update – Version 2.0+

UPDATE! The Paris Pastry Guide app was completely updated and can now be found in the iTunes store. The new app was completely redesigned, all addresses were updated, and dozens of new addresses and photographs have been added. Get it today!


Paris Pastry App

We’ve completely revamped and rebuilt the Paris Pastry app, starting with adding updates and the latest information about Paris pastry shops and updating my favorite addresses. But we’ve also rebuilt the app from the ground up, including a scrollable, enhanced French pastry glossary and dynamic maps searchable with a tap, to find the pastry shop nearest to wherever you are in Paris.

Paris Pastry App

To use the app, open up the home page and you’ll find categories for everything, from delicious scoops of ice cream to where to find the best hot chocolate. There’s also an introduction by me about Paris pastries, as well as a glossary of terms you might come across in a bakery or chocolate shop. If you’re looking for a quick “Best of Paris” overview, check out my Top 25 Places in Paris for Pastry.

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Jacques Genin

Paris-Brest from Jacques Genin

I first met Jacques Genin a number of years ago when he was (somewhat famously) working out of a battered storefront, on an uninteresting street deep in the 15th arrondissement of Paris.

chocolates at Jacques Genin

I say “famously” because as he became quite a bit better known, many folks learning about him through Mort Rosenblum’s book, Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Light and Dark. And subsequently, people started gathering outside his workshop door with the one-way mirror, which allowed him to decide whether he wanted to open the door or not. I think I was too timid to give it a try on my first go-around and after pacing at the end of the block for a while, I ended up leaving.

jacques genin lime tart filling

If nothing else, longevity has its rewards and eventually I made it past that mirrored door and into his workshop. It was rather tight in there, to say the least. In order for someone to walk past you, you had to back up and get out of the way while someone held a tray of just-dipped chocolates high in the air, sidestepping someone else walking the other way with a tray of hot nougat.

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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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