Results tagged Paris from David Lebovitz

The Best Croissant in Paris

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Truth is, I don’t eat croissants very often for the simple reason that I don’t like to get dressed until I’ve had my morning coffee & toast. So having one is a relatively big deal for me, since croissants are only good early in the day: I refuse to eat one after 11am if I can help it. Like anything made with copious amounts of butter, they don’t get better the longer they’ve been out of a hot oven.

Although stories abound, no one quite knows who invented le croissant. It’s believe to be in an invention of the Austrians, who created a crescent-shaped pastry to oppose the Ottomans, who had invaded their country. They symbol of Turkey is a crescent, and granted, who doesn’t like to eat Turkey?

Except maybe vegetarians. So maybe croissants were invented by and/or for vegetarians?

Aha…a new theory emerges…this is how rumors get started on the internet, folks, and perhaps people will be quoting me decades later: “David Lebovitz says croissants were invented for Austrian vegetarians!”

But today, I think few would argue that the croissant is most closely associated with France and in fact, one rarely comes across a bakery in Paris that doesn’t offer their own version. If you need further proof of their proprietary alliance with French gastronomy, ask yourself when was the last time you heard the words das croissant?

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Paris Chocolatier: Le Furet Tanrade

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One of my favorite things to do in Paris is just wander around, often in neighborhoods that aren’t really known for anything special. There’s always something interesting to find; shops specializing in vintage hairbrushes and combs, or locksmiths for doors installed only during the reign of Napoléan III.

And of course, I’m usually on the lookout for food, and am especially keen when I come across a shop specializing in candymaking or chocolate. If I get lucky, I discover some little treasure, often in the most unlikeliest of places.

Le Furet Tanrade was opened in 1728, and it’s still one of the sweetest little chocolate shops I’ve found in Paris. Sure, their chocolates aren’t nearly as sleek or refined as their Left Bank counterparts, but I appreciated their handmade charm all the same. Especially the petits dark squares filled with a crisp morsel of mint fondant cloaked in brusque, dark chocolate. And the chocolates filled with caramel and feuilleté were certainly as delicious as those found in swankier boutiques.

One chocolate that piqued my curiosity was flavored with chanvre, a word I wasn’t familiar with. Although I’ve been previously familiar with the green leaf embedded atop the chocolate in my younger days, she offered a sample since she was having difficulty explaining exactly what was inside.

But then, in that little shop, I learned my Word-For-The-Day: the ganache was infused with hemp. So should you find yourself near the Gare du Nord or Gare d’Est, and need to pass a bit of time (or want try to get a bit of a buzz)…or if you just want to take a journey to a less-visited quartier of Paris, Le Furet Tanrade certainly makes a tasty stopping point.

Le Furet Tanrade
1, rue des Méssageries (10th)
Tél: 06 99 41 61 31
Métro: Poissonière


UPDATE: Le Furet Tanrade recently moved to a smaller location, on the rue des Méssageries. So some of the chocolate and items mentioned here may not be available while they are in the process of adapting to the new address.

For the latest on Le Furet Tanrade, and other pastry shops of Paris, check out my Paris Pastry Guide app, which is updated frequently and lists over 300 of the best Paris pastry and chocolate shops. The guide is also available for Kindle and as an e-book, compatible with Android and other devices at the Paris-Pastry website.

Métro Hands…and Cheeks

Sorry about the less-than-stellar photo. I was trying to take a picture in a hectic métro station, and when there was a break in the frenzy of commuters, I tried to get my shot. But soon the people behind the glass in the information booth started taking notice of me snapping a few pics of the high-security features of the métro, like metal railings and door handles.

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So I snapped quickly and packed up my camera fast, especially when I saw one of the guys stub out his cigarette (a sign I took that he was really serious about coming out of that booth), fearing he’d ask me what I was doing. Then I’d have to explain that I have a food blog but I write about Paris as well and I was going to do a post about something called ‘Métro Hands’ and wanted to take a photo to accompany the text for the edification of my readers which was all in the name of fun but sometimes encompassed serious topics, although often shrouded in stories that are either offbeat, funny, poorly-written, lively, contains typos, insulting, unedited, over-edited, timely, insightful, amusing, pathetic, or when all else fails, is accompanied by a recipe for a chocolate cake or cookies.

(I doubt that he would have understood what I was talking about, though in his defense, I can’t blame him—neither would I.)

Anyhow, I don’t know if the French have a phrase that corresponds to this, but when you arrive at someone’s house or at a restaurant, often one will excuse themself shortly thereafter to wash up, claiming a case of ‘Métro Hands’, which usually gets paired with a slightly queasy expression. I’ve seen both French people do this, as well as Americans, who many folks view as a band of raging germophobes (although curiously, you can’t touch produce at the market, and men must wear bathing caps and a barely-there Speedo in a public pools in France, for l’hygiene…mais oui!.)

So what are ‘Métro Hands’?

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John-Charles Rochoux, Parisian Chocolatier

One of the hardest things about writing about food is coming up with that killer opening sentence. It should start with something that grabs your attention right away, tickles your curiosity, then encourages the reader (which would be you) to follow the writer (which, or course, would be me) deeper into the story. Thankfully when writing about chocolate, I can include pictures to help me get going, so most of the work is already done.

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A Handcarved Rabbit Made of Pure White chocolate.

The other difficult thing when writing about chocolate is that there’s only so many superlatives you can use to describe it, and words like: dark, unctuous, bittersweet, delicious, seductive, etc…don’t really seem to pinpoint that feeling that you get when you walk into a pristine chocolate shop and are completely overwhelmed by the heady experience, inhaling that sweet, unmistakable scent of chocolate that permeates the air and overtakes you. There’s that quiet moment, when you step into a special place full of chocolate, where you briefly forget all that’s going on outside.

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Slender Orangettes; strips of candied orange peel flecked with crunchy nougat, dipped in dark chocolate.

I’m fortunate to live a city where there’s an unusually large amount of very good chocolate shops, and all-too-often one needs a refuge from the fast-pace of the streets and sprawling avenues. Here in Paris, I have my favorites, and one of them is John-Charles Rochoux. His petit shop is located just off the bustling rue de Rennes. It’s not just a refuge from one of Paris’ busy boulevards, but a step back to another era. In his shop, chocolate is both an edible obsession and an object of sculptural craftsmanship, and you’ll find many intricate, precious little chocolate sculptures, as well as a rather serious selection of bonbons from one of Paris’ top chocolatiers.

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Paris Chocolatier Jean-Charles Rochoux

Although there’s several chocolate shops across the city that are terrific, at Jean-Charles Rochoux you’ll find lots of little wonders here to keep you enchanted, including the amazing chocolate sculptures that M. Rochoux creates in his small, pristine workshop just beneath the tidy boutique. This kind of craftsmanship is rarely found anymore, even in a chocolate-obsessed city like Paris.

I was fortunate enough to take some time from my busy schedule to pose for Monsieur Rochoux, so he could create one of the most iconic pieces in the shop: Le torse.

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Yoga Classes In Paris

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(Please note that this list was recently updated in 2013. However prices, addresses, and policies are subject to change. You may wish to visit the website or call the school for additional information.)

If you feel the need to work off that croissant au beurre you’re likely to indulge in every morning or the daily éclair au chocolat you’ve been treating yourself to each afternoon, for visitors to Paris that practice yoga, there’s plenty of places scattered about the city with classes all day long so you can downward-dog all that buttery richness away.

You’ll find most of the yoga studios in Paris tucked away in old courtyards while others are sleek and modern. In my experience, you’re less-likely to find a ‘power yoga’-style class which feels like a heavy-duty workout in Paris as you’ll find in many US cities, but it probably best not to overexert yourself too much…after all, you’re on vacation!

Most yoga classes in Paris are Vinyasa or Ashtanga-style, with lots of variations. Of course, classes are in French (although some schools do have English-language classes), but more teachers speak some English and if you regularly practice yoga, you should be able to follow along.

Here’s a list of a several studios that are centrally located, with some notes about their classes and styles. Most studios require regular students to pay a cotisation annuelle, an annual fee, although they waive it for short-term visitors. Please note that class prices are the current rates, and you should check the individual studios web sites for updates. If you like to have water handy, it’s best to bring a small bottle along with you.

Most yoga studios in Paris don’t offer showers or towels. Expect to pay more than you would for an individual class in the US, although most places offers series of multiple classes, which is worthwhile if you plan to be in town for a while. Mats are available, but changing rooms in most of the places are non-existent, so be prepare to ‘see-and-be-seen’ (and believe me, I’ve seen everything)—so don’t be shy!

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Patrick Roger Chocolate: All I Want For Christmas

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That’s the new one meter box of chocolates from Patrick Roger, over three feet of pralines, caramels, nougats, and creamy-smooth ganache-filled bonbons, all enrobed in ultra-dark bittersweet chocolate.

I don’t know how someone would brave getting one of those home on the métro, but I’d surely appreciate their efforts if I found one under my tree!

Patrick Roger
108, Boulevard St. Germain (6th)
Tel: 01 43 29 38 42

My 10 Favorite Books of 2006

Here’s a list of 10 books, in no particular order, that I’ve enjoyed this year.

Since I don’t have easy access to English-language books, I chose mine carefully. Although I usually like to read books about food, I got a bit literate and discovered few books about Paris that were truly enlightening…which is really saying something for someone that hasn’t lifted the lid on a history book since high school.

In addition to the books I’ve listed below, I’ve also enjoyed La Bonne Cuisine de Madame St-Ange, the updated On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee, and Rememberence of Things Paris, some of the greatest food writing from Gourmet magazine from the past sixty years that is still some of the freshest and liveliest food prose happily back in print.

And on a sad note, I’ve finally given up on La Poste and assumed the two cases of cookbooks I shipped three years ago probably aren’t going to ever show up (hope is no longer springing eternal…), so I ordered a fresh, brand-new copy of Julia Child’s classic, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

A few books I’m looking forward to reading in 2007 are The Sweet Life: The Desserts from Chanterelle by pastry chef Kate Zuckerman, and books from my favorite bloggers, including Shauna, Adam’s untitled masterwork, Chocolate & Zucchini by Clotilde Dusoulier, and Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks.

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by Bill Buford

The most talked-about food book of the year, New Yorker writer Bill Buford starts from scratch in the kitchen of Mario Batali, then learns to make pasta by hand from an Italian master, and ends up butchering in Tuscany.

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Paris Restaurant Round-Up

I got a very cute message lately from a couple who had come to Paris and followed some of my restaurant suggestions. But it got to the point one evening here they were undecided where to go one night, and her husband said, “I don’t care. Let’s just go anywhere that chocolate-guy says to go!”

I was glad to be of service, but I like being known as ‘that chocolate-guy’ just as much.

But frankly, I don’t go out as much as most folks imagine. I love going to my market, talking to the vendors, and coming home with something new that I’ve never tried before, like the chervil roots I bought the other day, which involved a rather detailed, lengthy conversation with the vendor.

I mostly cooking all the fine things I find here and learn about. So when I do go out, I want it to be good…no, I want it to be great…and I find the best food in Paris is classic French cuisine; confit de canard, steak frites, and coq au vin. When you find a good version, I don’t think there’s anything more satisfying. Especially if it’s accompanied by good friends.

And, of course, a few obligatory glasses of vin rouge.

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So here’s a round-up of places I’ve eaten lately.
There’s a few you might to want to bookmark for your next visit, as well as one or two you might want to avoid.

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