Results tagged La Maison du Chocolat from David Lebovitz

Rigoletto Noir from La Maison du Chocolat

Pardon, Monsieur Linxe, but I disagree.

La Maison du Chocolat

At a recent tasting at La Maison du Chocolat, I sampled at least eight chocolates—not to mention passion fruit ganache, chocolat chaud, plus two of their newest summer flavors: melon and star anise.

It was a lot to get through, let me tell you. I normally avoid any hot chocolate that’s offered in those kinds of situations, because I find that’s the tummy-buster, the stuff that puts you over the edge. And when faced with a plate of such fine chocolates, I want to enjoy and savor every chocolate-dipped bite. A warm cup of silky-rich chocolat chaud alongside? That’s just dorer le lys. (Gilding the lily.)

My favorite chocolate at La Maison du Chocolat is Rigoletto Noir.

Continue Reading Rigoletto Noir from La Maison du Chocolat…

La Maison du Chocolat

Don’t hate me when I tell you this: Last week I was invited to La Maison du Chocolat.

But not just to one of their swanky boutiques in Paris, the marble-lined, cocoa-hued temples where people flock to worship at the alter of founder Robert Linxe. (And yes, you can count me as one of the converted.) Instead I was invited to tour their chocolate production laboratoire just outside the city.

La Maison du Chocolat

Descending the RER train in the nondescript suburb of Nanterre, we finally came upon a beige building that was scrupulously clean; we knew we’d arrived at le mothership.

Robert Linxe, who was born in the Basque region and founded La Maison du Chocolat, was one the major proponents of using ganache in his chocolates; that slightly-airy amalgamation of chocolate and cream. Then he went on to develop a flavor palette of ganache-based chocolates…and the rest is one of the most successful stories in chocolate history.

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Paris Hot Chocolate Address Book

People come from all over the world to sip le chocolat chaud in the busy and cozy cafés in Paris. Here are some of the top addresses in town to warm up.

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Angelina
226, rue de Rivoli
Métro: Tuilleries

This famous hot chocolate salon is getting a well-deserved makeover. But no matter; the place is always packed-full of French society women and tourists side-by-side spooning up their gloriously rich, and impossibly thick, le Chocolat Africain. The service has taken some knocks, but most chocophiles forget any glitches in exchange for the priviledge of sipping the world’s most famous hot chocolate.

Berthillon
31, rue St. Louis-en-Î’le
Métro: Pont Marie or Sully-Morland

Pair a mug of frothy hot chocolate with a scoop of Paris’ best ice cream for a decadent afternoon snack. Their salon de Thé next door to the ice cream shop has terrific desserts, including perhaps the best, and most perfectly caramelized, tarte Tatin in Paris. Pair it with a scoop of caramel ice cream making it a wedge of heaven. Closed Monday and Tuesday.

Cafe de la Paix at The Grand Hotel
12, boulevard des Capucines
Métro: Opéra

Overlooking the extraordinary Opéra Garnier, this is the most picturesque (and expensive) spot in Paris to sip hot chocolate. Be sure to request fort en gout (strong flavor), unless you prefer your hot chocolate touché delicate, with a delicate touch. Open late in the evening for those after-the-opera chocolate cravings.

Charles Chocolatier
15, rue Montorgueil
Métro: Les Halles

Revitalize in this tiny, modern chocolate shop near bustling Les Halles on the trendy rue Montorgueil with a cup of their dark, bittersweet brew which gushes from their well-polished copper cauldron.

Hotel Meurice
228, rue de Rivoli
Métro: Tuileries

Unwind in fabulous gilded splendor at this chic address across from the Jardin des Tuileries. The ultimate luxury here is ordering your hot chocolate according to the cru (tropical origin), including fruity Manjari chocolate from Madagascar and intense Guanaja from South America.

Jacques Genin
133, rue de Turenne (3rd)
Tél: 01 45 77 29 01
Métro: Filles du Calvaire

The master of chocolate makes a dark, less-sweet hot chocolate, using French chocolate in his modern laboratory. The desserts are works of art as well, and don’t leave without getting a bag of his outstanding caramels.

Jean-Paul Hévin
231, rue Saint-Honoré
Métro: Tuilleries

Divine hot chocolate is served in the upstairs tearoom. I challenge any die-hard chocoholics not to resist one of the rich, elegant chocolate cakes as well.

La Charlotte de Îsle
24, rue St. Louis-en-Î’le
Métro: Pont Marie or Sully-Morland

This funky tearoom serves their ultra-thick le chocolat chaud in tiny Japanese cups, encouraging you to savor it one chocolaty dose at a time. La Charlotte got a boost from a favorable write-up in The New York Times a few years back, so the cluttered shop can get a bit cramped on weekends.

La Maison du Chocolat
8, blvd Madeleine
Métro: Madeleine.
For other addresses, visit web site

Only a few locations of La Maison du Chocolat have tasting ‘bars’ where you can sit in the summer, slurping down a chocolate frappe or during the winter, treat yourself to a steaming mug of hot chocolate made from the world’s finest chocolate. The exotic Caracas hot chocolate is not for the timid, nor is the Bacchus, with a rather adult shot of dark rum.

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La Maison du Chocolat

We often take things for granted.
Me, for example. I take things for granted. I get messages from readers, “You’re so lucky! You get to live in Paris!”.

To be honest, it wasn’t like one day back in San Francisco I came home and there was an envelope waiting for me with an airline ticket, an apartment lease, and all the blanks filled in on the paperwork filled for a French visa. It’s a lot of work living in a foreign country; it’s so much easier just to stay ‘home’. So when people say I’m ‘lucky’, I prefer to substitute the term ‘fortunate’, as living in Paris has some challenges as well as its rewards.

But each and every time I step out of my apartment, I’m amazed at the beauty that surrounds us here. Everywhere you look is something special, from the stately place des Vosges to the over-the-top Opera Garnier. Perhaps I’m a dork, but each time I pass something of significance, I stop and take a long, deeply-felt look. There’s fresh bread everywhere too. I can have a buttery croissants, a rich, cream-filled éclair, a yeasty kugelhof, or a scoop of glace Berthillon whenever I want.

(Except on Monday and Tuesday, when Berthillon is closed. Or in July or August. Or on Tuesday and Wednesday, when my bakery with the good croissants is closed. And in August. Although this year it might be July. Or on weekends, when the place I go for kugelhof is baking them. If they’re in the mood, of course. But I won’t know that until I get there. Unless there’s a holiday. Or a strike.)

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Anyhow…I spend a fair amount of time here exploring the chocolate shops, which seem to keep reliable hours. Nowhere in the world is more devoted to chocolate than Paris, and there are really excellent chocolatiers here, who I visit and write about often. But although we’re often excited by what’s new and unusual, sometimes we return to the classics for a reason: the simple fact that they’re really good.

Robert Linxe founded La Maison du Chocolat in 1977. He was a young man from the Basque region, famous for its abundance of chocolate shops, although many are sadly gone. When he opened shop in Paris, M. Linxe distained fillings heavy with nuts, spices and sugar (which had quite a long shelf life), in favor of smooth, creamy (and highly-perishable) ganache, that suave mixture of pure chocolate and heavy cream, which has since become synonymous with fine chocolates that we enjoy today.

Last week we held a private tasting at La Maison du Chocolat for my guests, which reminded me that I had forgotten how absolutely extraordinary their chocolates were, and still are.

Each time I bit into one, I found something new and delicious, wondering how a chocolatier could consistently hit it exactly right with every bite of chocolate. Each one was melting, pillowy-soft, with the true, fresh flavor of whatever M. Linxe had infused.

Zagora is my favorite. A melange of dark chocolate ganache steeped with fresh mint leaves. Bacchus is filled with Smyrna raisins soaked in the best Caribbean dark rum, then flambéed. And a life-changing Andalousie, where just the right amount of grated lemon peel is mixed with the ganache, is resplendent with spritzy lemon oil without a hint of bitterness, tasting remarkably like grated lemon that was zested just moments before.

When I went back a few days after the tasting to personally thank them for their warm and generous hospitality, I was offered a few more chocolates to sample. Not wanting to be rude, I pulled up a seat at the counter and unwrapped Cerise Griotte, a house-made candied sour cherry enrobed in dark chocolate, which exploded in my mouth, a wash of bitter-sweet cherry liquid bathed in alcohol with a thin, dark chocolate coating…it was pure heaven. Before I could even ask, the salesperson came by with a napkin for me to spit out the pit. (Wow, a salesperson that doesn’t argue with you.)

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I felt like I was coming back home, as I’d first discovered chocolates from La Maison du Chocolat what seemed like so long-ago while on vacation a long time ago in Paris. And here I am now, rediscovering them all over again. La maison means home, and I do feel indeed fortunate, and just a bit lucky, that I get to live here.
And that this is home.

La Maison du Chocolat
52, rue François 1er
Tel: 01 47 23 38 25

Other locations across Paris, as well as in London, Tokyo, and New York. All chocolates ordered through the La Maison du Chocolat web site are handmade in their Paris workshop.

LATE-BREAKING NEWS: I just tried the Rigoletto Noir, buttery caramel mousse enrobed in dark chocolate.
Wow…simply sensational.



Related Links:

Papabubble (New York City)

Le Furet Tanrade (Paris)

REGIS Chocolatier (Paris)

Jacques Genin Opens (Paris)

The Pâtisseries of Paris

A Visit to Bernachon Chocolate (Lyon)

Eye Candy (Paris)

Salted Butter Caramels from Henri Le Roux (Brittany)