Happy Saint Honoré from Paris!

The words, Saint Honoré Paris, mean more than the ever-so-chic luxury shopping street in the first arrondissement. Saint Honoré – the patron saint of bakers – is now given a double tribute at the Mandarin Oriental, the most modern of the Parisian Palace hotels, just around the corner from Place Vendôme.

Saint-Honoré-Paris-street

This week, la fête du Saint Honoré (16 May) was honoured in true Parisian Mandarin Oriental style, with celebrations centred around the famous Saint-Honoré pastry, originally invented by Chef Chiboust on the eponymous street back in the 19th century (1847 to be precise).

Whilst the location of Chef Chiboust’s original patisserie isn’t known, thanks to the Mandarin Oriental hotel on rue Saint-Honoré, it’s now an address (that I’m personally glad to see, as it was previously lacking) which honours the patron saint with their very own signature pastry, completely re-modelled in the hotel’s modern style.

(Did you know that the actual location of the hotel used to be on the same spot as a circus?  See my article all about the Bento Teatime and the true story of Chocolat the clown, who was made famous here.)

saint honore paris pastry mandarin

It’s a double whammy, as such a contemporary re-model of the pastry classic (originally designed by David Landriot) doesn’t stop there.

The Saint Honoré celebrations also announced the opening of l’Honoré, the start of a new style of a healthy-eating detox menu experience from breakfast, lunch to teatime – served in the re-looked stylish lobby and the more discrete cosy alcoves.

Mandarin-oriental Paris

Butterflies follow us around the hotel: starting from the reception area with 138 Swarovski butterflies, representing each of the hotel rooms, to every stylish nook and corner.

saint honore paris

Michelin-starred Executive Chef, Thierry Marx – one of the pioneers in France by indicating vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free or nut-free on his menus here – takes it a step further with l’Honoré by offering menus to cater for those with dietary requirements, or for those who simply like a particularly healthy but gourmet option.

l'honore restaurant mandarin oriental paris

Photo credit: Alexis Anice

Let’s get back to the party! Chef Thierry Marx and his prestigious pastry team had exceptionally created SIX different flavours of their signature Saint-Honoré pastry just for the occasion: including Matcha green tea, praline, and rose-raspberry. I’ve put in a word that they continue them during the year, so fingers crossed!

Saint Honore pastries Paris

But there was no time to stop and marvel at the Cake Shop’s window. Out in the leafy courtyard during a brief Parisian heatwave, Chef Thierry Marx was kicking off the Saint Honoré celebrations – starting with a demonstration of a giant Saint-Honoré savoury pastry.

Thierry Marx Demonstration Saint Honore

Renowned for his molecular gastronomy with touches of Asian exoticism, chef Marx explained his techniques with an impressive, speedy precision – interspersed with his charismatic sense of humour we’ve loved watching over the years as jury on the first few episodes on French TV’s popular Top Chef on M6. He’s my idol. He may be a celebrity chef but he’s a most modest human being and helps others to succeed.

He fires off a number of baking tips: from how to create the lightest puff pastry in the blender; to the preparation of an avocado and mascarpone cream with a hint of spice, while he pipes it out like luxurious clockwork using a special Saint Honoré piping tip. Finishing flourishes of the most delicate garlic flowers, spots of preserved lemon compote and lime zest are added before popping on the crab-filled choux with scallop coral hats. Et voilà!  As he sprays the masterpiece with ice, he announces that the tasting begins.

Saint Honore Paris by Thierry Marx

Before we know it, he hands us our aprons and we’re in Giraud’s hands to learn how to make a sweet Saint-Honoré cocktail.  Each cocktail coupe is decorated with their Saint-Honoré signature mini caramelised choux. Our tasting group is given a doser, the vanilla syrup, caramel and coconut water – and we learn to shake that ice shaker like a pro, right up to how to pour the cream to rest on the top.

The final touch is edible glitter, which I find difficult to get it in the glass. If you find glitter in their hedges, that’s still my cocktail masterpiece (well, it was my first ever homemade cocktail!)

saint honore paris cocktail

All change to the next workshop: with the lovely Anne-Charlotte giving us the job of decorating the ready-prepared caramelised choux bases.  Our hardest job was decision-making: what cream to use (vanilla vs pink rose)? What piping tips (starred, plain)? What toppings (raspberries, blueberries, chopped nuts, whole almonds, chocolate marbles)?

saint honore pastry

What fun – and to discover how each of us had different ideas on the decor. Here’s the lovely Chelsea (left), winner of the Meilleur Patissier (French TV’s answer to the UK’s GBBO) with her floral raspberry look, and lifestyle blogger, Merys with the healthy detox blueberries, showing off the pastry’s interior with vanilla pastry cream.

saint honoré paris celebrations

Celebrations continued into the evening, with a gigantic meters-long Saint-Honoré pastry – which needed four bakers to carry it while dodging the firework candles!

Meanwhile, here’s my Mandarin Oriental Saint-Honoré. Now I’m wondering how I could have piped out one of these beautiful butterflies: just imagine that stuffed raspberry on its side, fluttering about.

Saint Honore Paris pastry

If you’d like to make the easier classic version of the Saint-Honoré pastry, then it’s the final recipe in Teatime in Paris, as part of the special tea party chapter!

Saint Honore Teatime in Paris

Cheers to Saint-Honoré and to your year ahead of happy baking!

L’Honoré
Detox Menu (Breakfast, Lunch & Teatime)
7am-7pm
Mandarin Oriental Hotel
251 rue Saint Honoré Paris

Lebey 2017 Paris: New Gastronomic Sensations

This week I was thrilled to discover some incredible French gastronomic sensations at the Lebey 2017 in Paris. If you love your food and are willing to try new tastes, then this is for you.

It was a win-win: thanks to an invite from Il Gelato del Marchese, I was reunited with my favourite gourmet Italian ice cream, plus learn from 40 or so top French producers showing off their creations at the 4th annual afternoon of workshops as part of the Lebey 2017, the Oscars of French gastronomy.

Taking place in the sumptuous Pavilion Gabriel just off the Champs-Elysées near Place de la Concorde, it’s surprising just how a few steps away from the main route can lead you to a tranquil park to appreciate Paris in its full mid-April bloom of Springtime.

Paris blossoms

What is the Lebey?

For the past 30 years, the Lebey has been a reference Guide (in French) of the best restaurants and bistros in and around Paris – and more recently has included London and Belgium on its restaurant guide radar.

For the 4th consecutive year, Les Lebey de la Gastronomie 2017 are gourmet “oscar” awards given to the five best annual culinary creations, first voted by 1200 restaurants of the Lebey Guide, then selected by a group of critics at the influential École Ferrandi. Just to give you an idea of the prestige involved, chefs included Michaël Bartocetti (Shangri-La) with a frozen Corsican honey concoction with lemon and eucalyptus, and Beau Clugston from one of my favourite Parisian restaurants, Le 6 Paul Bert, featuring sweetbread with lobster! Winners were announced at the end of the workshops during the prestigious dinner laid on by chefs such as Eric Fréchon (le Bristol) and Claire Hetzler (Ladurée).

Meanwhile, I was a happy bunny making the most of the workshops in a short space of time, surrounded by the newly-sprouting candle flowers on the horse-chestnut trees!

Italian ice cream in Paris

I’ll leave you to read all about my tastings at Renato Squillante’s Il Gelato del Marchese in much more detail here, where I discovered how incredible parmesan ice cream could be – but also more savouries such as olive, artichoke & walnut, and mustard!  Here was just a selection of some of their luxury ice creams and fruity sorbets (you have to try the passion fruit, with the odd crrrrunch and perfect acidity). The Marchese’s Maîtres Glaciers produce ice creams and sorbets that are all certified vegan and made with top quality healthy ingredients using mineral water, unrefined sugar, and no colourings or preservatives are in sight.

French cheese tower Lebey 2017

As you can imagine, there were many producers featuring caviar, cured hams (charcuteries), red meats, butter, and fromage!  What’s a French gastronomic experience without cheese? This spectacular tower from La Ligue des Fromagers Extraordinaires incited feelings of asking Antoine to marry me again, just so we could have this as our wedding cake. We’d cut it saying Cheese! (OK, that was bad). I’m also Mad About Cheese.

Lebey 2017 tea cheese tasting

Looking at the list, I made for Comptoirs Richard, as it was teatime. For a coffee and tea company, I didn’t expect to see so much cheese here too! They were pairing them with organic herbal teas (Tisanes), something I remembered from my first experience with green tea by Théodor Paris – remember this post?

Lydia Gautier has created such associations for teas and cheese for the Comptoirs Richard, such as a fennel and liquorice-based infusion (Délicieuse Flânerie sur les Quais) with soft Sainte-Maure de Touraine Chèvre goat’s cheese. For cow’s milk, what about an 18-month matured Comté with an infusion of Lime Blossom, Camomile & Orange Flower (Sieste Royale aux Tuileries)? And who would have thought that ewe’s milk cheese such as Ossau Iraty would go so well with a spicy mix of cinnamon, ginger & cardamom (Nuit Folle à Montmartre)?

Miel-Honly Honey Cavist

At first glance, this looked like an enticing array of portable honeys in clever sachets for picnics. But what was astonishing speaking to founder Alain Coutant here, was that he’s not an apiculteur or beekeeper – he’s a “Caviste de Miels” for the newly created Honly. After a few mini tastings of diverse honeys with different textures (creamy smooth vs slightly grainy) and flavour combinations such as rose & honeysuckle; marzipan/pâte d’amandes; Lime or Linden blossom/Tilleul), this is honey from all around France for the serious, tasting terroir above all like one would appreciate a good wine.  As I taste one of the honeys, he asks if I get the “animal” element, as it was harvested near a bergerie. Nope. Baah, I still have some work to do.

Nishikidori Lebey 2017 paris

According to the Lebey 2017 list of producers, I thought this stand would be around pepper via Le Comptoir des Poivres. The Japanese line-up of bottles, however, was simply intriguing! I still have so much to learn about Japanese food and although haven’t yet been to Japan (it’s on our bucket list SOON!), I do know that I adore their fascinating culinary flavour associations. Thanks to Krystel from Nishikidôri, she helped kickstart my learning experience with tastings of the most sublime miso, starting with a Miso Dengaku, popular with grilled aubergines. I can just imagine this with a simply sliced Daikon radish salad.

She notices my eyes light up as I imagine how I can cook with the various vinegars and condiments with soya, smoked soya, yuzu, ponzu, hot pepper, bonito, seaweed – until she totally gets me at white miso with vanilla. I can envision it being transformed into … macarons! Pastry creams, too.

Their Paris shop opens in 2 weeks, although I don’t yet have the details BUT if you follow me on Instagram and Facebook I’ll let you know. Just remember I’m first in that queue for the Vanilla white miso for making macarons – it has been a while since I’ve been so excited on a new incredible flavour!  (Have you tried the pistachio, green tea and wasabi macarons yet from Mad About Macarons?)

Montagny wines Burgundy Lebey 2017 Paris

You know me by now, I’m sure.  There were also many wine producers and this one caught my eye: Montagny Premier Cru from Millebuis. This small area of Bourgogne of the Côte Chalonnaise is not as well known as the big boys but isn’t it great to discover great quality wines that are super value for money?

Tasting the first of 3 white wines on show, Les Coères, it’s so mineral using Chardonnay vines in a chalky soil (only 34 hectares) and a bit up front acidic for me – ideal if you love oysters but the Vigne du Soleil was indeed full of sunshine, mellower and much easier to pair with food such as roasted chicken.  I fell in love with Les Chaniots. Although following the exact techniques for Les Coères, their older vines nearby are deeper and the difference in soil gives it a stunning long creamy aftertaste.  (Incidentally- have you visited the annual Burgundy Wine Festival of Saint Vincent?)

Speaking of creamy …

pistachio ice cream Il Gelato del Marchese

As it’s now Wine O’Clock in Paris, let me leave you with my absolute favourite of Italian pistachio ice creams from Il Gelato del Marchese. Next time you’re in Paris, you must pop into their luxury boutique on rue des Quatre Vents in the Saint Germain quarter.

Macaron Digital Kitchen Scales Giveaway!

If you don’t have them already, digital kitchen scales are an essential item for home cooks and bakers.
Do you love baking cakes or have a precise approach to cooking? Then weighing your ingredients accurately will help you produce consistently successful results each time. In fact, don’t even start making recipes that require precise measurements (such as macarons and patisserie) without them!

digital kitchen scales for making macaronsWhat’s more, digital scales are also great at economising on washing up, as you can weigh each of your ingredients directly in the bowl or saucepan you’re using.

Grams or Ounces = Same Language

As baking in France and in the UK (and rest of Europe) is measured in metric GRAMS (millilitres and kilos), the recipes here on the blog and in both my books are also given in grams.

However, if you’re used to baking with imperial OUNCES (fluid ounces and pounds), it’s so easy to change weight measurements with digital kitchen scales by a simple tap on the UNIT button.

Why Do I Need a Digital Kitchen Scale?

digital kitchen scales TerraillonWe’re told in France that baking or making patisserie is a science. Let’s not get all technical, but yes, it’s a chemistry and if you miss anything from 20g to 50g of flour or sugar in the oven, it can be a disaster (believe me, I’ve been there!). Making macarons or pastries require EXACT quantities to the nearest gram (or 1/8 ounce), so you’ll need digital scales to weigh your ingredients precisely.

CUPS are not an accurate enough measurement to enable us to bake or cook CONSISTENTLY well.  For example: one cup of plain (all-purpose) flour isn’t the same weight as whole wheat flour or gluten-free flour, for example  – and a cup of almond flour (ground almonds) isn’t the same weight as a cup of plain flour either.

Likewise, you can’t just throw in 4 egg whites and hope for the best that it’s 150g if a macaron recipe asks for it. It may just work, but next time you try it could go wrong since 4 egg whites could be anything between 120g and 160g. Although some recipes (such as muffins, pancakes and bread) can be forgiving, measurements have to be precise by WEIGHT – not volume – in order for recipes to work successfully each time.

I could go on – but do you get the picture?

So imagine my joy to discover these stylish MACARON digital kitchen scales by Terraillon.  But were they up to it, being so lightweight?

“Macaron” Digital Kitchen Scales

Ever since these shiny raspberry-coloured scales arrived a few weeks ago, I’ve been constantly testing them – and they have passed with flying (and glossy) colours!

To choose the best digital kitchen scales, I find that Terraillon’s Macaron Scale ticks all the right criteria boxes and more:

Digital macaron scales Terraillon

  • The LCD display is easy to read and buttons are large;
  • It measures in BOTH metric and imperial weights, so if I’m following a recipe in ounces or in grams, I can switch back and forth at the touch of a button.  That way we’re speaking the same international kitchen language;
  • It’s ACCURATE to the nearest gram or 1/8 ounce – and measures liquids too;
  • It’s full 5kg (11lb) CAPACITY is a lovely feature. Some of Terraillon’s macaron scales go up to 3kg (9lb) capacity, which is still more than enough for making pastries at home. My last scale would go into overdrive if I placed a heavy glass bowl on it but this one is much more bowl friendly as a result;
  • It has a TARE function, which means being able to reset it to zero so you can add and weigh more ingredients in the same bowl. Just switch back to zero to weigh the next ingredient. This economises on washing up;
  • It doesn’t mention on the guide, but weight is indicated for a whole TWO MINUTES.  This is a feature I love compared with my last (and expensive!) scale, since often I’ll be measuring out icing (powdered) sugar and I run out towards the end.  By the time I get another packet, the scale used to switch off.  This scale doesn’t thus saves me the hassle of re-weighing;
  • Although they rely on batteries, the macaron scale uses only TWO standard AAA batteries – my previous one used a whopping four and yet this one lasts so much longer.  It also warns you when you need to change batteries too, although it still hasn’t run out after 2 months of constant use;
  • Its sleek DESIGN is slimline, it’s super lightweight, easily transportable with an integrated handle, and the surface area is wide enough to accommodate standard bowls and pans. Although I chose raspberry, it comes in 12 more delicious glossy colours from shiny liquorice, plum, bright grenadine, mojito, frosted silver, to white meringue, for example, so would look stylish in any kitchen colour theme. It’s also so easy to clean at just a wipe of a cloth.

 


macaron kitchen digital scales

Digital Macaron Scale UK Giveaway

This Macaron Digital Kitchen Scale could be yours!
The lovely people at Terraillon are giving away a Macaron Scale (value of £20) to TWO lucky UK readers.

TO ENTER, it’s easy:

1. FOLLOW me on Instagram (or Facebook). If you are already, then you can choose to sign up to receive monthly newsletters, or email alerts (choose from daily, weekly, monthly);

2. LEAVE A COMMENT below saying why you need these digital scales, and what colour you’d prefer (choose from the Macaron Digital Kitchen Scale range here).

GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED.  Congratulations to both Bea Trundle and Joy Murphy, whose names were picked at random and have won a set of Terraillon Macaron Digital Kitchen scales each.


Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post and was given a Macaron Digital Kitchen Scale by Terraillon for the purpose of a review. I am not required to be positive and, as always, all opinions are my own.

Corsican Veal Stew with Red Peppers

A warming easy casserole that’s even better reheated next day and fabulous served with pasta (plus glass of red!).

Christmas Macaron Tree & New Email Alert Service!

At last!  Many of you have been asking me to bring back the email alerts since I took it down due to spam problems. So here’s my Christmas present to you, thanks to Cédric Bonnard my web guru, who helped me get a brand new one up and running!  Now you need never miss a blog post – just click the pink email notification button in that right hand corner —>
or sign up here to receive updates to le blog or recipes – and you can choose whether to receive them daily or weekly!

It has all been a bit crazy the last few days.  I was so hoping to make a second bûche de Noël as, by the time I’d finished it, it was so dark and I gave up on photos and just enjoyed it with the family!  Now that we’re leaving for Corsica to spend time with Antoine’s family, there’s no time left. I shall be better organised for you next year, promise.

Merry christmas macaron tree

When I realised I had some egg whites left, I piped out a batch of 3 different sizes of pistachio macarons  (a bit quickly, I have to say) then simply sandwiched them with decadent layers of pistachio pastry cream (using egg yolks so now I have more egg whites I can freeze before I go!).

I made a big one for the photos here but simply 3 macaron layers are sufficient. If you want to be more organised, then ideally have the macaron shells prepared in advance (even stored in the freezer) and prepare the trees at the last minute. Decorate with berries of your choice.

All details about making macarons are in my first book, Mad About Macarons – but don’t forget that there’s a whole chapter on making macarons in my new book, Teatime in Paris, plus more recipes for éclairs, Réligieuses, Saint-Honorés, tarts, millefeuilles, financiers etc.

Merry Christmas Macaron tree

Don’t forget to dust on some food glitter – something which has stuck to my cell phone, as I quickly took photos of it for Instagram…  It’s catching!

Have a very Merry Christmas and good luck with all your delicious preparations.  Before I leave, I’ll post my new concoction – a great festive dessert to serve with your salted caramel macarons – Apple Gingerbread and Caramel Trifles, coming up next…

New Email Alert Service – Daily or Weekly

Don’t forget to sign up to the new e-mail alert service so that you don’t miss a post.  You can even choose whether to receive it as it comes (daily) or weekly!  How cool is that?

Jean-Paul Hévin: New French Touch Chocolate Collection 2016-2017

Thank Hévin for chocolate! Jean-Paul Hévin demonstrates stylish savoir-faire with his new French Touch chocolate collection for this holiday season 2016-2017.

New French Touch Chocolate Collection

Seven main ingredients are used by Hévin to give us that festive French Touch this year: fashion, joie de vivre, style, creativity, humour, terroir, and tradition – all illustrated in the following seven pure chocolate creations for Christmas and New Year. With FOUR new bûches in the collection, Hévin designs his chocolate yule log pastries around the quality of his chocolate first.

Bûche Fashion

new french touch chocolate collection 2016

Hévin has always had an fashionable element of la mode in his chocolate and this Bûche Fashion firmly puts it in the bag, as the saying goes (same in French: l’affaire est dans le sac). Not quite a “trunk”, this is a rather compact handbag for any chocoholic who appreciates a pure intense Venezuelan chocolate sensation. Could our hands be too hot to handle this chocolate handbag? You could also show you’re “well heeled” with his famous chocolate stiletto sculptures!

Bûche Cancan

new french touch chocolate collection 2016 Cancan Buche

A festive Bûche Cancan represents the French Joie de vivre party spirit. Like the Cancan dancers, the Tonka base has an exciting crunch, topped with frilly layers of chocolate and almond sponge, with a gutsy Peruvian Grand Cru chocolate mousse. A dark cherry jelly adds a suggestive lingering aftertaste.

Bûche Grand Style

new french touch chocolate collection 2016 Buches edible decorations

Be transported to the regal gardens of Versailles with the Bûche Grand Style, especially designed to be easily transportable abroad for any stylish party, even if it’s next day to the USA. Based around a chocolate mousse (Grand Cru from the Equator), its subtle aftertaste brings out the pistachio in the chocolate gianduja base.

Bûche Rève or Dream

new french touch chocolate collection 2016

Creativity is given to Jean-Paul Hévin’s personal favourite Bûche Rêve – with dreams of a child being able to reach for the moon at Christmas. It’s the most complex: an orange crème brûlée is subtle but just enough to distinguish some balancing acidity and I loved the texture with the crunchy almond chocolate base. Although candied ginger is in there, it’s just a suggestive hint, all billowing around a Brazilian Grand Cru chocolate mousse.

new french touch chocolate collection 2016 Buche Reve

Jean-Paul Hévin, Meilleur Ouvrier de France (MOF). Spot the orange crème brûlée?

Table Centre, Lumière

His French Touch continues with an ingredient of humour, demonstrated by a table centre-piece Lumière, as a chocolate candle – of course, not to be lit!

new french touch chocolate collection 2016 Lumiere table centre

New Bordeaux chocolates put terroir (soil, climate etc. that distinguishes chocolate like wine) in the limelight with a Grand Cru from the Equator.

Bordeaux chocolates new french touch chocolate collection 2016
The same chocolate is highlighted in a new festive macaron range, Cocorico. Hévin pays homage to the traditional French sporting cockerel mascot, Cocorico (Cock-a-doodle-do!), symbolising the French pride of their country and culture.

Hevin macarons new french touch chocolate collection 2016

This image of Jean-Paul Hévin to present the new French Touch chocolate collection sums up his quirky humour. I wonder what Renoir would have preferred for a festive dessert at this rather famous lively lunch on the Seine or Déjeuner des Canotiers in Chatou?

renoir-hevin-french-touch-painting

The French Touch festive collection is available as of 6 December.

Which one would you choose?

Jean-Paul Hévin
Avenue de la Motte Piquet
75007 Paris

Update! For more yule logs new this season in Paris, read my article at Paris Perfect!