Category Archives: chocolate

More Paris Christmas Past

Bonjour my friends. My two college kids are both home, the tree is up, and most of the presents are bought and wrapped. I guess Christmas is really going to happen. In addition to worrying about whether anyone  who is going to end up with fewer gifts than everyone else and what we are going to eat on Eve and Day, I am also beginning to make lists of what I need to take back to Paris on the 28th. We will have been gone for three months this time, and I have kind of forgotten what I have there and what I need for the cold months ahead. Today I added stone-ground cornmeal and steel-cut oats to my Paris pile, items which can be bought there but rarely on the first attempt. I am also taking a jar of “Better Than Bouillon”, as pre-made stock is not available and I hate those little cubes that taste like they came straight from the chemistry lab.

I hope you are all checking things off your list and staying in good humor. This cartoon from the New Yorker reminded me to smile or take off my party hat. And I do so love a good hat.

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Here are some more pics from Paris in December, to keep you feeling the cheer!

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Bouche de Noel- yum

Buche de Noel- yum

no idea what they are but too pretty to eat

no idea what they are but too pretty to eat

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Fa la la la la la la la la la!

 

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Filed under chocolate, Christmas, Galeries Lafayette

Food Tour in Saint- Germain

I have been so happy to have my good friend Laura visit me this week from Houston. And look what she brought with her!

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We have had a wonderful time running around Paris in the sunshine. Early September in Paris is one hundred times nicer than in Houston, where it still feels like summer.

Wednesday we took a food tour in Saint- Germain. How could that be anything but fabulous? I had taken a food tour in Montmartre several years ago and throughly enjoyed it, so when I saw this one advertised by the same company, Paris By Mouth, I knew it was the perfect way to spend a morning with my foodie friend.

Our tour met at the famous Poilane bakery, where our guide bought bread, apple tarts, and their famous “punitions”- butter cookies. Although the shop is tiny, they were very sweet to let us come in and take pictures.

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love the wheat door handles

love the wheat door handles

and the wind mill light fixture

and the wind mill light fixture

beautiful and delicious bread

beautiful and delicious bread

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please to leave "le chien" outside

please to leave “le chien” outside

back room has a chandelier made of bread

back room has a chandelier made of bread

Next stop was to the shop of master chocolatier Patrick Roger, who creates chocolate sculptures as well as chocolate candies.

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back to school chocolates

back to school chocolates

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We sampled six different chocolates while we were there. My favorites were the Szechuan ginger and the lemon basil.

Our guide took us next to the Saint- Germain market, an old covered market. The cheese counter was owned by a woman called Twiggy who was happy to practice her English with us. Our guide bought six cheeses- two goat, two sheep, and two cow. I was crazy over one that had truffle mixed into it. Oh my gosh yum.

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We also bought a little meat from a very jolly butcher.

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he was quite chatty with our guide

he was quite chatty with our guide

Finally, we took all of our treats to a small wine shop, where we sat down in the back room to sample our cheese and meat with a bottle of red and a bottle of white.

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Our final stop was to a relative new-comer to Paris, a shop that makes tiny cream puffs to order. The pastry is brought over several times a day from where it is made, and the cream is piped in when you order it.

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I had caramel cream put into mine, but you could also order plain or chocolate cream. Or one of each- it’s Paris.

After our three and a half hour tour, we were happy and definitely didn’t need any lunch.

I highly recommend the Paris By Mouth food tours. You don’t have to be a big walker, but you do need to enjoy talking about and eating lots of delicious food in gorgeous Paris neighborhoods. Which pretty much seems like that would be anybody with a pulse, right?

A bientôt , mes amis!

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Poilâne bakery at 8 rue du Cherche Midi, 75006
Patrick Roger chocolate 2-4 Place Saint Sulpice, 75006
Marché Couvert (covered market) de Saint-Germain at 4/6 rue Lobineau, 75006
La Dernière Goutte wine shop at 6 rue Bourbon le Château, 75006
La Maison de Chou pastry shop at 7 rue de Furstenberg, 75006

 

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Filed under chocolate, food markets, Paris, pastries, Saint Germain des Pres, Uncategorized

Strasbourg- A Christmas Wonderland!

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We celebrated Mark’s birthday last weekend with a day trip to Strasbourg, which sits very close to the German border.  We took a TGV that departed Paris around 8:30 Saturday morning and was supposed to arrive in Strasbourg around 11:00.  However, we had our very first bad train experience (technical difficulties) which included sitting in the middle of nowhere for a half an hour, hearing an announcement in French (the only part of which I understood was “this is not good news”), returning the direction from whence we came for a short time, unloading part of our train and then loading them onto our part of the train, riding very slowly through the countryside, and finally arriving in Strasbourg at 1:45.  We didn’t have any plans for the day (other than our lunch reservations, which we had to cancel) so the delay didn’t really matter, and we considered it just another adventure.  I did regret two decisions I had made that morning, however, which were not to bring reading material or snacks.  Yeah- I got pretty bored and hungry on the way.

We did get to see snow on the ground on that long journey, though!

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It wasn’t falling from the sky- just covered the ground- but it was very pretty.

Strasbourg is said to have the oldest Christmas market in France, and it was spread throughout the entire town.  Each had its own decorations and lights, and endless quantities of hot spiced wine, which tasted wonderful on that very cold day.

Yum.

Yum.

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chocolate nativity scene!

chocolate nativity scene!

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Twas a very fun and festive day.  We were home and in our jammies by 10:00, feeling as though we had been to another country for the day.  Or maybe even to the North Pole.

Happy shopping, mes amis.  If I do much more, I fear that Air France will not let me board my flight on the 21st.  Maybe I should just buy one of those fancy French trunks and send it all home in style?

Ho Ho Ho!

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Filed under chocolate, France, shopping, travel

Another Day of Decadence in Paris (Dare I?)

Mark warns me about gushing too much here about This Wonderful Life In Paris, and I do try to be sensitive to that issue on this blog (really, I do.)    But since I just shared  the trials and tribulations associated with simply trying to replace the flippin’ sugar in my pantry, I figure I can safely tell you about this fun day I spent with a friend not too long ago.  I can, right?

There is a really cool store here in Paris called Merci, which is larger and more open than most stores here, and is full of wonderful clothes and dishes and decorative accessories.  The best thing about it, however, is that 100% of the profits go to charity in Madagascar.  When I was looking for information about the store I came across this article, which is full of fabulous photos and details about the store.  Please check it out.  Until I read it, I had no idea that the owners also own the children’s store Bonpoint, whose windows I am always sharing here because they are so clever.

This Fiat 500 is part of the store’s decor.  When I was there it was painted a gorgeous blue and toted a simple red suitcase on the back.

I would love this under my Christmas tree.

Frontal view

While the Fiat was in the courtyard just outside the entrance , this precious little mini-van was inside the store.

This awesome bike was also in the store.  Love the handy-dandy wine carrier!

Everything about this store makes me wander around it slack-jawed at how beautifully designed it is.  I wish they would come to my house and work that magic.

Although there is a cafe at the store (of course there is), my friend and I scooted on over to the Marais and had lunch at Rose Bakery, which is a precious little place with delicious home-baked goodies you can take home.  Hint: if you go to the Marais location, be sure you have at least three people in your party or you will be seated in a narrow passageway between the kitchen and the front of the bakery (which is where you want to be), next to humming refrigerators and industrial- sized bottles of food stuffs.

Despite the imperfect ambience, we both enjoyed our  pizza and wine.

Yum.

Here is the front of the bakery, with its  gorgeous steel and glass door and window.  Unfortunately, it is also directly behind a strip of motorcycle parking spaces.

Immediately upon leaving the bakery, we realized that we were perilously close to one of the most stylish chocolate and pastry shops in Paris, where one can actually sit down and enjoy rich hot chocolate and amazing pastries.  “One” =”We” and yes we did.  It was so wrong.

The shop is called Jacques Genin, and my friend and I had been dying to go there ever since David Lebovitz tempted us with his blog post about it here.  So we blame it all on David, who is responsible for leading us into temptation on other occasions, as well.  Bad David.  Bad.

So wrong. Should have gone with tea.

There were other acts of indulgence on that wonderful day, but (thankfully) not of the gastronomic variety.  I will save those for the stuff of future posts, I think.

We all owe it to ourselves to have days like this every once in a while, don’t you agree?  Please tell me you do.  And that you don’t judge me for my gluttony and any other unseemly conduct that may or may not have occurred on that day.

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Filed under chocolate, decorating, Marais, Paris, pastries, shopping

Another Paris Fashion Show (Or “Haute Chocolat”)

I know what you’re thinking.  Another fashion show, Kate?  Really?  Yes!  Except that this one would be perfect for ….Cocoa Chanel!  Because this fashion show was part of the Salon du Chocolat and all the fashion was crafted from chocolate!

OK.  That was a really chirpy intro, with three exclamation points and all.  But it kind of goes downhill from here.  You have been warned.

If you are a devoted reader of Mais Oui Paris, you surely recall that I attended the Salon du Chocolat last year and my post on it included  pictures of dresses on display.  I didn’t realize at the time that those dresses were actually modeled each day of the Salon in a real fashion show.  Having already “done” the Salon du Chocolat, I wasn’t really interested in returning until my friend at Out and About in Paris whipped us all up into a chocolate frenzy about the fashion shows.  I felt like I owed it to you all to return and capture the wonder of models in chocolate.  And so I took the 80 bus farther than I had ever taken it- to its terminus at Porte de Versailles, and joined the line of bobbing umbrellas slowly filing into the building.  Before I got there I witnessed this funny scene: a little girl trotting behind her distracted mother was horrified to watch her bag of chocolates empty on the wet sidewalk.  When Mom turned around in response to the shriek, she didn’t look too happy either.

Anybody else thinking of Caddyshack?

It was really pouring by the time I joined the end of the line, which seemed to be moving at a snail’s pace.  When I finally approached the entrance I realized that all us were being fed into one (of about 5) doors, and further advancement revealed that the ticket booths were so close to the entrance that the lines were all converging into one wet, wiggling mass of humanity.

Yep, they all entered through one door.

 Of course, all the Frenchies were effortlessly sensing how to cut into the ticket lines as they entered the building, which further slowed the process.  I was frustrated, but did my yoga breathing and thought about how lucky I was that I wasn’t pushing a stroller, as so many around me were.  Finally I was able to buy my ticket and enter the giant hall.  By this time it was 4:20, 40 minutes before the fashion show was to start, and almost 2 hours after I skipped out of my apartment with visions of chocolates and caramels dancing in my head.  I walked straight ahead to the area where the fashion show would happen, and found that another show of some type was just ending.  I hoped that perhaps the audience would empty their chairs and allow some of us who were pushing ourselves through the standing crowd to nab a seat, but that was wishful thinking.  Those people sat through 45 minutes of awards to the top chocolatiers (all in French, of course), which included a short interview with each one, followed by a reading of the judges’ comments , culminating in an official photograph of the smiling chocolate- maker with his award.  Even more surprising is that most of us who were standing as close to the stage as we could get (which required standing as close to each other as we could possibly get) also stayed for the entire awards ceremony.  Not only was it boring, it was hot.  I stood there with my coat draped over my arm, my tote bag (for umbrella and free chocolate) at my feet, my purse strapped across my chest, and my camera in hand.  Each time someone in front of us surrendered and pushed through us to escape the misery, the rest of us wedged ourselves in the additional space, desperately hoping for a viewing space to open up for the show.  Sadly for you, and for me, the space around me never opened up for a view.  The reason for this was primarily because I had the misfortune of standing behind The Biggest Man In France.

And his camera was huge, too.

Is it any wonder that I couldn’t get a single good shot?  I don’t know who that dude was, but I hope he has a rockin’ blog.  Or works for Vogue or something.  Because my iPhone camera and I were relegated to pictures like this:

Pitiful, I know.  I am so sorry.  These two fashion shows have made me think I have to get some press credentials.  Either that or make very good friends with The Giant.  And I was miserable the whole time I was taking these terrible pictures, too.  I don’t think the guy standing behind me could have possibly been any closer, and I was praying that whatever was prodding me insistently back there was not part of his body.  Seriously.  The good news is that my friend was able to get some good pictures,(presumably without being violated in the process)  and you can see them here.

I guess I could have made this short and just sent you to her page at the beginning of this post, but I wanted you to know how hard I tried.  And remember that I don’t even like chocolate all that much.  When I was finally able to extricate myself from the man behind me, and push through all the people behind him, all I wanted was to get the hell out of that place.  But I made myself wander around a bit.  Soon the dresses were back on display, and I was able to really get a good look at them.  I think this one was my favorite.

For those of you wondering how the chocolate creations were able to be worn, I’m sure they all had special linings on the inside, so that those hot bodies were not right up against the chocolate.  It’s a good thing, because as hot as it was in there, those models could have become very saucy indeed, had the dresses warmed up.

So that, mes amis, was my ill-fated trip to the 2012 Salon du Chocolat.  Can I have a pass for 2013?  I’m not sure I can survive another one.

Thank you and good night.

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Filed under chocolate, Salon du Chocolat