Friday, July 27, 2012

Paris - Chocolate and Hazelnut Spreads

Jean-Charles Rochoux's Dark Chocolate and Hazelnut Spreads
On my recent trip to Paris, I went to Jean-Charles Rochoux, at 16 rue d'Assas, to buy their hazelnut ("l'Enfance") and dark chocolate ("l'Age de Raison") pâtes à tartiner. I suppose the hazelnut's name reflects that this spread is like Nutella on culinary steroids, and I guess dark chocolate is considered a flavor for adults. No matter what, the chocolate is excellent and the hazelnut is far better than that!

Bobby Jay

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Paris - On the Hunt for the Best Chocolate Macaron

The Figaro's culture and entertainment weekly, Figaroscope, periodically does contests seeking to find the best X in Paris, where X can be croissants, flan nature, lemon tarts, roast chicken, hamburgers . . . well, you get the picture.

Recently, they conducted a chocolate macaron contest, testing samples from all the great Paris pâtisseries, except Gérard Mulot and Arnaud Delmontel, which were closed on the day of the test. The winner was Jean-Paul Hévin, the famed (but not Joan's or my favorite) chocolatier.

I have in the past enjoyed testing Figaroscope's results against my own research. For example, see my post on flan. And what better thing to do than to sample chocolate macarons in Paris? So I tried as many as I could of the top 10 -- Aoki, (my beloved) Dalloyau, Ladurée, Gerard Mulot (not closed when I was there) and, of course, Hévin. I was unable to get to Pierre Hermé and Lenôtre had no chocolate macarons the day I visited.

The winner, and not by a small margin, was in fact Jean-Paul Hévin. The interplay between the very bitter but light chocolate ganache and the less bitter chocolate meringue was perfection itself. Possibly worth the plane fare to Paris.

Here are my three steps to Heaven/Hévin: 

While I was at it, I tried a few other flavors, and the coffee at Aoki earned an honorable mention even if their chocolate was not competitive. Likewise the pistachio at Dalloyau.

Bobby Jay

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Paris -- Two More Good Bistros: Comme Chez Maman and Métropolitain

My friend Andy G and I recently went to Comme Chez Maman, in a fairly remote area of Paris' 17th arrondissement. This bistro -- a coup de coeur (heart throb) in the Pudlo guide -- is run by a chef who has worked for Alain Ducasse and Jean-Georges (New York and Tokyo) but decided to create a simple bistro with, as the name implies, traditional French food. Andy G had calf's liver and I had roast chicken; both were just what they should be, as were the starters and desserts (an amazing gauffre (waffle) with chocolate sauce and an excellent millefeuille with red fruits). Comme Chez Maman 5, rue des Moines, 75017 Paris (Métro Brochant).

 Parmesan and onion tart at Métropolitain

Then last night I went with a friend to Métropolitain, a charming bistro in the 4th arrondissement, in the southern part of the Marais, not far from Île St-Louis. This place gets three red cocottes from Le Petit Lebey, the guide to Paris Bistros, and rapport qualité-prix de l'année (best value for money of the year) from the Pudlo guide. While I don't agree with the rapport qualité-prix award (prices are reasonable but not that low), we had a very enjoyable meal here, classic dishes elevated to something a little special, served with grace in a charming little place.  My companion was happy with her sweetbreads and I greatly enjoyed my parmesan and onion tart (see photo), duck two ways and banana dessert. Métropolitain, 8, rue de Jouy, 75004 Paris (Métro Saint-Paul).

Bobby Jay

Paris -- Flan Nature Update

In April, 2009, I did a post on flan nature, in which I described my own experience of the ones that Figaroscope found to be the best in Paris, as well as some others.  One that I liked then was from Julien at St-Philippe du Roule, which was not among Figaroscope's choices. Today I was at Julien to buy a baguette and noticed a dark, dark flan that was quite different from the one I had experienced in 2009. How could I resist?

Flan nature from Julien, St-Philippe du Roule

This one was excellent but still would not have won the contest because, despite the marvelous almost burnt crust, the texture was not as creamy as the winning flan.

Bobby Jay