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 soon..  (Update June 2017: They’ve now opened at 6 rue Villedo, 75001 Paris, Le Comptoir des Poivres). 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 – and now they’re at the Terrasse of the Hotel Marriott on the Champs-Elysées.

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!

Pascal Caffet’s New Festive Pastry Collection on Praline

I have great news for praline lovers since they’ll be spoiled this holiday season: Pascal Caffet’s new festive pastry collection 2016 is entirely based on his winning praline theme.

Known by his Meilleur Ouvrier de France (MOF) peers as the King of Praline, you’ll understand what they mean if you’ve gone into the charming boutique in Paris’s 16th arrondissement and tasted just one of his pralines. Join me for a taste here.

This Christmas, one new bûche (yule log) takes the spotlight, surrounded by a team of other festive treats in store.

New Festive Yule Log

Pascal Caffet's new festive pastry collection 2016 - new yule log

The new sublime Bûche Féérique is indeed magical with layered waves of intense praline, a perfectly balanced compote of blackcurrant from Burgundy and smooth chestnut from Naples. It’s topped with an airy Madagascan vanilla mousse then glazed with blackcurrant.

Personally, this was one of my favourites of all bûches I’ve tasted for this season, as the play of textures with the chestnut and fruit are all harmoniously dosed so that every layer’s flavours shine through. The blackcurrant gives that acidic depth, and the whole sensation is surprisingly light.

Pascal Caffet's new festive pastry collection: buches de noel

Four other classic yule logs feature in Pascal Caffet’s new festive pastry collection: 70% dark chocolate from Guatemala (Splendide); Venezuela (Etincellante, Merveilleuse); and 40% milk chocolate with lime (Lumineuse). All feature chocolate from La Chocolaterie de l’Opera®.

Splendide (pictured above as a large yule log) is for pure chocolate lovers who love that extra textural crunch of almond praline at the bottom.  The chocolate mousse has almost a hint of smokiness to it which comes from the cacao plantations, with a mix of Guatemala and Madagascar.

Even if you prefer dark chocolate like me, the Lumineuse will be a real family pleaser since although it’s made with milk chocolate, the play of flavours create a festive explosion to any meal. How does hazelnut praline with a light vanilla and lime mousse, vanilla caramel, milk chocolate lime mousse and grilled hazelnuts sound?

Life is a Box of Chocolates

Pascal Caffet's new festive pastry collection - chocolate pralines

I spied a selection of chocolates – what do you think about an edible chocolate box?  As Pascal Caffet says:

The best chocolate is the one that we love.

A Piece of Christmas Cake

Pascal Caffet's new festive pastry collection 2016 - spiced Christmas cake

I’m not such a cake fan – unless it’s like this: syrupy moist and full of flavour.Also part of Pascal Caffet’s new festive pastry collection is the Spiced Christmas cake. It’s his take on the traditional gingerbread with star anise, cinnamon, orange and candied Corsican clementines.

The cherry on the cake for praline lovers is Pascal Caffet’s new cookery book, simply called “Praliné“, which  came out 21 October. Most of the 100 praline recipes are easy enough for us home bakers while there’s a section dedicated to the more challenging recipes if you feel like taking the plunge as a pro.

The festive collection is available in any of his boutiques in and outside Paris as of 25 November.

Pascal Caffet
13 Rue Duban, 75016 Paris

Metro: La Muette


Disclosure: I was invited by Pascal Caffet’s team to simply taste the new season’s yule logs in store.  I was not compensated and was not obliged to write a positive post.  As always, opinions are entirely my own.