On Friday evening, I came home to a beautiful green bag sitting on the table. Inside, a box of eggs, and these are no ordinary eggs ;)
Patrick Roger produces these specifically for Easter. The eggs have previously been emptied and thoroughly cleaned, before an even coating of dark chocolate was set within the eggs. Then, soft praline is piped into the core and finally sealed off with a dark chocolate button. Voilà! I’ll let the pictures (hover over them for captions) do the talking.
On the other hand, I’m not sure that my photographic skill does them justice though…
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The relatively early arrival of wintry weather means I’ve been out on a hunt for hot chocolate. Following a number of recommendations plus some random taste-testing, I came to the conclusion that great hot chocolate at a bargain is an urban legend. A great cuppa doesn’t come at €3-5. Instead, be prepared to dole out somewhere along €6-8.
The price is steep? Yes. Is it worth it? Definitely!
Remember, we’re paying for the quality of the ingredients in every mug of chocolat chaud. I personally love hot chocolates that are thick and creamy – just the perfect remedy on a cold, cold day. However, a few visitors whom I brought around town recently found them too strong for what they are normally used to. Fret not, there are some less viscous but equally rich in taste hot chocolate available.
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My friend has just moved to a new apartment and this means a couple of things : (1) apartment visit so I can check the place our (it’s a beautiful apartment which had me somewhat envious), (2) looking forward to a house-warming party (that’ll be some time yet to come) and (3) have a look around of nice places to get treats from in her new neighbourhood.
I was looking for some bread when I spotted a boulangerie just down the road from where she lives. I came out with a baguette, a fruit dacquoise, a lemon meringue tart and a strawberry tart, all for a rather reasonable price at that time. These cakes were delicious although I must say my favourite is the strawberry tart. I don’t recall seeing a name for the place though, and without a receipt given to me, I couldn’t verify it right now either. Another day. I’m sure I’ll be back around the area again. There is another tea salon that I have not try…
Everywhere I look, it’s now all about Christmas. Ho, ho, ho! With about 5 weeks to go, I guess it’s time to start writing up the shopping list for presents to the people near and dearest to us. Or maybe even start shopping itself. Last minute rush cannot be fun although with my new apartment next to a main shopping street, perhaps it won’t be as bad for me?
During the build up, of course you’ll need something to help you count down the days. Best with a wee bit of treat. One a day, you know. That’s why they have advent calendar, with the little doors that hide your candy or chocolate of the day. They’re not cheap though. Well I guess it won’t be cheap if you try to buy from Jeff de Bruges instead of Cadbury’s… Now who wants to get me one of these? :p
We all could do with a little treat every so often. For some reason, I seem to fixate on the idea for a cuppa white hot chocolate at Angelina and even managed to convince Liting to come along with me. However, as we got there by about 5pm (prime hour for pastry and hot chocolate), the queue isn’t inconsiderable.
Patiently did we wait for our turn. In between, we people-watched and stole a few (creative) shots. I particularly like this one, which I had all but a small window of opportunity to photograph. Sure I wish this is a sharper shoot, but the slight blur and imperfection are, in my opinion, the elements that made this image works. What say you?
I’ve had a fairly active day, which started with a jogging session, followed by another non-drowning session. There were some improvements but something weird/amusing were also observed – (1) my legs are “heavy” (they don’t like staying afloat) and (2) I somehow managed to do a full circle while kicking when I was meant to go in a straight line. Hmmm…
Then, what did I do after I work those calories away? I gobbled down some tasty calorific treats. Cakes and macarons from Gérard Mulot to be precise. I didn’t eat by myself though. Instead, Chloé and I made our selections and after lunch, made our way to the Luxembourg Garden to enjoy our bounty together. Don’t be fooled by the sunny appearance above. We’ve just barely finished cake tasting when the sky opened up and we had to leg it so we didn’t get drowned out there!
You know I’m always on the look out for nice pastries. However, it is also prudent that I don’t overdo it. As of present, I seem to be stepping in a pâtisserie about once every fortnight and for the intermittent weeks, perhaps a chocolaterie every second fortnight?
Arnaud Delmontel is a bit out of the way and quite a chance discovery. I had trodded my way to Montmartre in search of a small shop where I’ve previously bought some lovely matcha madeleine but unfortunately the shop is currently closed for its congé annuel. However, right across the street is Delmontel and its cakes on display just called out to me. Like moth to a light, I fluttered my way over and bought les petits gateaux for myself and Anne. The verdict? Mine was rich an creamy but Anne’s was a tad dry on the outside. A place to revisit when I’m in the area again next but perhaps not one to deliberately journey out for.
Now that I know a handful of pâtisseries and chocolatiers of Paris, I’m branching out to another form of soother to my über sweet tooth – candies! I do wonder what would a candy shop be called? Bonbonerie?
Le Bonbon au Palais is a total candy wonderland. Its unique selling point is that they gather candies and chocolates from different regions of France and bring them all under one roof. Imagine to have one stop shop for all your French candy needs… I reckon the owner recognised the sugar-crazed look in my eyes because he was offering samplers of this and that and guess what, I bought them. Such a sucker, right? Still, who can resist candies?! Yum, yum and yum!
Pierre Hermé has changed its window front again. And I think I may be going round chez Pierre a tad too often, even if I’m just getting a tart or two to share with friends, or stock up on some waffles and chocolate, or to get a small sachet of macarons to snack on. Ah if only they do customer loyalty card – you know, like coffee shops would, where you get a stamp for every purchase – I’m quite sure I’ll be in line to get free goodies very quickly, hehehe.
For anyone who ever consider vanilla as a boring flavour need to be re-educated and it’s just as simple as getting the infiniment vanille tart. The unmistakeable fragrant, perfectly baked tart shell, spongy cake centre and luscious and smooth vanilla cream layer over the top – it is not secret that this is perhaps my favourite pastry, even more than those which are chocolate-based or fruit-based. Ah, even thinking about it now is making me drool… but no, I won’t go back there again this week. In fact, I must not. Someone save me please!
So I was meeting Anne in the Marais yesterday. However, as I arrived early in the area, I decided to walk about randomly (like I always do). Somewhere along the route, I came across Patisserie Pain de Sucre and like a siren calling out to me, I automatically walked in to the shop and cue Pavlovian conditioning – droolfest! If I could have, I would have bought one of every cake and verrine in there. But I stayed sensible, and I came out about €16 poorer in exchange for 2 verrines and a slice of Gyokuro.
The verrines have been eaten up after dinner last night, but there’s still this slice of cake left for today. Its full description reads: Biscuit madeleine à la pistache et zestes d’agrumes, crème au thé vert matcha, mousse coco, crémeux léger au thé gyokuro, feuille de chocolat au thé vert (madeleine cake of pistachio and citrus zest, cream of matcha green tea, coconut mousse, light cream of gyokuro tea, green tea chocolate leaf). I was quite sure I spotted rosemary inside one of the layers, not just decorative at the top, but I could have also mistaken something else for it. Perhaps it was green citrus peel?
Gyokuro is amazingly light to eat and it tastes fresh too, perfect as a summer day treat. It is definitely the best buy of the lot, as the verrines were just too “busy” with all the complex layers contained in teeny tiny glasses. I liked them, but not enough to want a repeat. The cake, however, I could eat a lot more of it. I should try other varieties next time I pass by.
While I was gallavanting around in Stockholm over the weekend, Chloé was on chocolate discovery mission. A new chocolate-tasting concept chocolatier has been found at St Germain, “between Pierre Hermé and Ladurée” (on rue Bonaparte), and wonderful friend that she is, she brought Anne and I a selection to try. Parc Montsouris seems like a good place to enjoy the last of the sunshine for the day and have chocolate tasting.
Chocolats Richart has plenty to offer but what we’ve got here are from two dégustation boxes – petits Richart Les Fruités (as the name suggests, fruity ganache filling within) and Les Hespéridés (for that fresh citrusy and extra zing of a flavour). All three of us prefer Les Hespéridés, even if we think there was a questionable (overripe) pineapple ganache in the selection. For next tasting session, I think we should get the other tasting selection, including Les Floraux (floral are usually good), Les Balsamiques (yup, balsamic!), Les Herbacés (herbs and chocolate – interesting), Les Epicés (not sure though if I’m keen on a spiced-chocolate selection) and Les Grillés (with nuts, this I can do).
Maybe I should just get a selection of all the selection. It’ll make my life easier and I get to taste ALL of them :D
When the day is long and warm, a lovely little treat is to get a cone of ice cream/ sorbet and enjoy it while taking a stroll along the quay of River Seine. One of the most famous gelateries in the city is Berthillon on rue St-Louis-en-l’Ile, which I drop by every so often. I loooove their parfum caramel au beurre salé.
Precisely because they’re famous, a large number of “agents” selling Berthillon’s ice cream have mushroomed on Ile-St-Louis, offering more than one location to scout for Berthillon’s goodies. It is particularly handy on an evening like today, when the real deal has closed for the day when we arrived. A few doors away, there you go, an agent of Berthillon’s best. :)
Ps: a delicious alternative to Berthillon is Pozzetto near St Paul – if I am on ice-cream trip with Anne, you’ll always catch us queueing there instead.
There’s so much to tell today and I don’t know where to start. Or how to keep it short-ish. Just know that it has been a gloriously warm Sunday and I wish everyday is as wonderful as this.
Only one museum visited this morning – Chloé and I went to the Musée des Arts et Métiers where we caught live demonstrations of Pascaline calculator and Faucault’s Pendulum – before our stomach rumbled and we got very lucky to get a table at Breizh Café without reservation. A galette Breton and a sweet crepe each, yum. Sitting outside at the terrace for a bit of a tan while eating delicious brunch – bonus of the day.
That was not all. Today is Jour du Macaron as well, so we made it to Pierre Hermé’s shop near Pasteur (the queue at the shop near St Sulpice was crazy long and we didn’t even try to go there) for some treats. The flavours I picked: fig, sweetbriar and foie gras; white truffle and hazelnut; and “dépaysé” which combined matcha green tea, azuki bean, lime and ginger. Two words to describe them all – flavoursome, delectable.
As the Salon du Livre was also running this weekend, I went over to check it out. Free entry with my Paris public library card – nice! I bought a couple of books, including Dessine-moi un parisien by Olivier Magny (who keeps an entertaining blog of Stuff Parisians Like), which he also kindly autographed. I would have like to stay and chat with him for a bit, but my French was failing me…
The day was capped off with dinner at Chloé’s where the girls and I were served raclette with potato, salad and saucissons. Even though we were stuffed in the end, we incorporated a little twist to dessert, by serving roti bakar, Malaysian style.
I am having the time of my life :D
I have been eyeing these giant meringues for a while now. Each time I pass the window of The Butler’s Pantry in Donnybrook, that is. The pink ones are supposed to be raspberry meringue, the white one traditional, and the baby blue ones, errrm, I don’t know what’s the flavour actually. Should I drop in and ask?
If you are wondering how big are these giant meringues, just compare against the tarts on the display dish right next to the meringue plate. I am also curious as to the amount of time it requires to bake these monstrous treats so each stays dry and airy on the inside while crispy yet not burnt on the outside. To be honest, I have never quite perfected the art of meringue baking, so I won’t attempt to whip up a batch of giant meringues just yet.
There is a sweet little stand of delicious goodness in the form of cupcakes at the Powerscourt Centre. They look pretty and well-iced, although I don’t normally buy them, given the rather extravagant price tag (for me) and I could bake them myself at home (although I admit to not being very good at icing the cupcakes). Still, today, I gave in to the temptation of a chocolate biscuit cupcake.
This is the most delectable marriage between chocolate and biscuit, and possibly a very Irish thing too since I’ve not seen this elsewhere abroad. Maybe I have not paid enough attention? In any case, it is actually quite easy to make some at home too, except it takes time for the cake to set. Not ideal, however, if one is looking for instant gratification.
My favourite places for immediate chocolate biscuit cake in Dublin:
- chocolate biscuit cupcake (€2.25) at Cupcakes
- chocolate biscuit slice (€2.60) at Café Sol
- chocolate biscuit slice (€2.00) at Pichet