Café Renoir, Montmartre Museum Gardens

There’s no denying it: Montmartre is always pretty crowded with tourists and tour groups – and that’s just on weekdays! But it still never fails to amaze me that when you head towards the back of the hill (the “butte”) and follow signs to the Montmartre Museum, you’ll discover a surprisingly much quieter haven in Rue Cortot.
Now opened to the public, for just 4 euros entry into the Museum’s Renoir gardens, you can enjoy the welcome tranquility and relax with a drink or snack in the timeless Café Renoir.

Rue Cortot Montmartre Paris

This week I did just that, avoiding the summer crowds around Sacré Coeur and Place du Tertre during a swelteringly hot afternoon. Thanks to the Montmartre Museum, I was invited for a spot of light lunch at the Café Renoir, which has recently been refurbished.

Café Renoir, Montmartre Museum

café renoir montmartre museumThe sun room has been given a make-over with antiques from La Petite Brocante de Montmartre and touches of dried flowers and plants.  Apparently it was here that Auguste Renoir was inspired to paint Le Bal du Moulin de la Galette in 1876 when he lived here.

café renoir montmartre museum

I could have sat indoors to imagine Renoir painting, but a pretty table in the shade was beckoning with a most beautiful view of the gardens dedicated to the painter, with a view on the famous swing …

cafe renoir montmartre museum garden

By 1pm, I’d already missed the quinoa salad, which was obviously popular in such a heat but when a Moroccan-style chilled carrot salad arrived to accompany a vegetarian quiche (made by Rachel’s Cakes), then that made up for it (part of the €16 menu).

If you know me well, I love good wines and so couldn’t resist a taste of their chilled white (also choice of rosé and red) – I’m looking out for this again and thoroughly recommend their organic Apremont from Savoie by l’Envin – not too dry, bags of fruit and full on the palate.

Café Renoir montmartre museum

All their drinks are supplied by quality brands, with fruit juices by renowned Alain Milliat or Sassy Cidre but as slices of lemon & poppy-seed cake arrived (made by Ryotaro Sato), their own house iced tea with mint was the perfect accompaniment on ice to help bring down the 36°C!

The view from the Café Renoir looks on to my favourite part of the garden: the famous swing, La Balançoire, painted by Renoir in 1876 while he lived here for a year.

Renoir Gardens swing

The painting was presented at the Impressionists’ exhibition in 1877 but hard to believe that it was badly received by the art critics.  The work was purchased by Gustave Caillebotte, Renoir’s artist friend and patron – jolly good chap! Incidentally, I need to visit his home near Orly, outside Paris and take a boat ride à la Caillebotte.

The gardens are so inviting to linger and enjoy the familiar views that would have been seen by Suzanne Valadon and her son, Maurice Utrillo from their painting atelier, which has recently been restored to resemble what it was back in 1912.

Suzanne Valadon artist studio Montmartre Museum

Number 12 Rue Cortot is the oldest house in Montmartre, constructed in the middle of the 17th century.  It was home to a number of artists such as Auguste Renoir, Emile Bernard, Suzanne Valadon and her son, Maurice Utrillo.

It wasn’t until 1959 that it was restored to house the Montmartre Museum, which houses a unique collection of paintings, posters (notably by Toulouse-Lautrec) and drawings that recount the history of Montmartre, including its infamously animated cabarets.

oldest house in Montmartre Paris

Making your way to the back of the museum, you’ll appreciate the views.

Cafe Renoir Gardens

I’ve already visited the museum many times and one of my favourite exhibits are the slide shows showing how life was through photography and film at the time of these various painters.  They also show a memorable photo of the area where the vines were replanted in 1933 for the Clos de Montmatre vineyard.

Around 50,000 visitors celebrate the Fête de Vendanges or Montmartre Wine Festival each year in October. Here’s the unique view up close to the vineyard from the Renoir Gardens of the Museum.

café renoir vineyard montmartre

This year, the museum has also organised gardening workshops. Learn how to plant, seed and take cuttings for your Parisian balcony; or how to cultivate your own vegetables; and how to add edible flowers to your savoury and sweet dishes. This is also great for children, accompanied by an adult.  For more information, consult the Renoir Garden Workshop information site.

Renoir Cafe Gardens Beehives Montmartre Museum

The Café Renoir, Musée Montmartre
12 rue Cortot
75018 Paris

Open every day, 12pm-6pm (May-October) & from Wednesday to Sunday (October-April)

Snack lunch menu: €16

Night opening, 7pm-10pm every Thursday in July & August, and last Thursday of every month (€15 entrance fee, glass of wine included).

Metros: Lamarck-Caulaincourt (line 12); Anvers (line 2)

Best Pastries Rue Saint-Dominique, Paris

best pastries rue Saint-Dominique

If you’ve read my second book, Teatime in Paris, you will have discovered not just easy French teatime goûter recipes, but also the sweeter addresses in Paris – plus some fascinating titbits of history that accompany many of the pastries.

With such a wealth of the best sweet addresses in Paris, imagine how exciting it is to have the most delicious oasis of patisseries, bakeries, chocolate and caramel shops plus Salon de Thé tearooms concentrated IN JUST THREE BLOCKS, all near the Eiffel Tower! What’s more, there are now two new delicious arrivals on the block!

Let me be your online guide to the best pastries on Rue Saint-Dominique – starting at the bottom of the foodie pedestrian street of Rue Cler in the 7th Arrondissement, to the Esplanade des Invalides, an open-air playground for the boules-playing locals. Finish off your sweet stroll by watching them play, or grab a bench in the quieter little parks around it with a pastry box or two and caramels in hand.

Best Pastries Rue Saint-Dominique

best pastries rue saint dominique

Aux Merveilleux de Fred

Right on the corner of the Church of Saint-Pierre du Gros Caillou, marvel at the Merveilleux meringue-and-Chantilly-cream domes freshly being prepared in the window. It’s not difficult to be lured in, door wide open, to this chandelier-lit bakery, where Frédéric Vaucamp has brought back the 18th century specialities of Northern France and Flanders. There are a few boutiques in Paris – remember me discovering the first one in the 16th, just off rue de Passy?

Each Merveilleux meringue cake comes in large, individual or mini, and each take a theme from French society. Choose your size, for example, with a whipped cream and caramel that’s called the Sans-Culottes – meaning “without breeches or pants” – referring to the common people who largely took part in the French Revolution. Cinnamon lovers will enjoy the Incroyables (cinnamon speculoos cream), or why not try the Unthinkable (the Impensable) with its crispy creamy coffee meringue? For a cherry in your cake, go Excentrique.

Don’t forget to stock up for an extra-sticky brioche breakfast of Cramiques, either studded with traditional raisins, sticky “plain” sugar, or with dense, dark chocolate chips.

94 rue Saint Dominique, 75007 Paris
Tuesday-Saturday 9am-8pm
Sunday 9am-7pm (Closed Monday)


best-pastries-rue-saint-dominique-paris

Jean Millet Paris (by Sadaharu Aoki)

Award-winning pastry chef, Sadaharu Aoki has been amazing Parisians with his distinct Japanese influences on French pâtisserie for the past 20 years. The window is enticing enough with Matcha Green Tea croissants and colorful macarons but why not step inside to taste the yuzu citrus and the black sesame macarons in the tranquil tearoom?

Many macarons are tea-infused with Hojicha grilled Japanese tea, and Genmaïcha, a green tea combined with roasted brown rice. Green tea is given another voice with his popular pastry, the Bamboo – Chef Aoki’s Japanese take on the classic Parisian Opera cake, with each delicate layer consisting of joconde biscuit, buttercream, chocolate ganache, syrup and glaçage (glaze) – but in place of the traditional coffee syrup, chef Aoki exchanges it with Matcha green tea and a splash of Kirsch liqueur, adding that special je ne sais quoi to the opera notes – Yo, it has its own pentatonic scale! For more of his pastry tastings, see my previous post here.

103 rue Saint Dominique, 75007 Paris
Tuesday-Saturday 11am-7pm
Sunday 10am-6pm (Closed Monday)


best pastries Rue Saint-Dominique

Lemoine

Stop here for a taste of the other speciality of Bordeaux, the Canelé. As winemakers used egg whites to clarify their wines, the local nuns came up with this delicious idea to use up the egg yolks in the 18th Century and the Canelas was born. Over the years the name has changed but it’s still a fascinating little caramelised crunchy fluted cake with an eggy vanilla and rum interior.

They also have macarons and chocolate but you can’t leave France without tasting a Canelé! The good news is that they can keep for a few days, so prepare your doggy bag for later as there are still many treats to try yet.

74 rue Saint Dominique, 75007 Paris
Monday-Sunday 9am-8pm


best pastries rue Saint-Dominique

If you’re looking for a good, crusty baguette and a choice of delicious sliced breads, pop into the Boulangerie Nelly Julien, 85 rue Saint Dominique and be tempted with even more pastries.

Monday-Saturday 6.30am-8.15pm. Closed Sunday


Best pastries rue saint dominique

Le Moulin de la Vierge

The bakery window says it all: “Viennoiserie – Tout Au Beurre”.

Here you have to taste their Viennoiseries, the delicious umbrella word which covers the best buttery, flaky croissants, pains au chocolat, pains au raisin, apple chaussons to name a few – and typically eaten for breakfast. More butter cakes come in the form of little Financiers (friands) teacakes, plus their selection of traditional pastries. Rows of fresh crusty bread, flutes and baguettes wink at customers behind the cosy lamps on the counter. They also offer soup and sandwiches to either take out or sit in.

64 rue Saint Dominique, 75007 Paris
Thursday-Tuesday 7.30am-8.30pm (Closed Wednesday)

 


notre patisserie Paris near Rue Saint-Dominique

Notre Pâtisserie

Turn right into Rue Amélie and you’ll see why it’s worth a few steps just off rue Saint Dominique. Decked out in turquoise blue and white, this most welcoming new patisserie has been dreamed up by talented pastry chef partners Christophe and Francesca.

Christophe Rhedon, a former pastry chef teacher from the prestigious Lenôtre school and a Meilleur Ouvrier de France (sporting the typical red white and blue collar), emphasises that “Notre Patisserie”, is the result of a family team input. He says, “we’ve been working together like a mayonnaise”, all whisking up creative ideas together, right down to the teapot knickknacks by his Mother-in-Law. I personally adore the chic Parisian wallpaper and the flowerpots on the original steel frames that they’ve kept to remind you of the location’s history: it housed the workers of the Eiffel Tower in the 19th Century.

macaron classes best sweet address near Rue Saint-Dominique Paris

You’ll also be lured in to watch the chefs in full swing producing their picture perfect pastries and brioches from the lab in full view behind the counter.

I was most honoured to have a pre-taste of the exclusive macaron classes for Paris Perfect Rental clients that will run from September. More on the hands-on workshop will be detailed on their website.  For those of you who can’t make it to Paris, then grab a copy of either of my books for a step-by-step guide on how to make macarons at home in your own kitchen. 

7 rue Amélie, 75007 Paris
Tuesday-Friday 8.30am-7.30pm
Saturday 9am-7.30pm; Sunday 9am-1pm (Closed Monday)

 


Thoumieux best pastries in Rue Saint-Dominique Paris

Gâteaux Thoumieux

As the word, “Thoumieux” implies with its play on French words, everything’s better! Just across the road from Chef Jean-François Piège’s famous eponymous brasserie, his cake shop has been taking Paris by storm since 2013 with the famous Chou Chou (a chou bun with a mini chou hidden inside).

Pastry chefs Sylvestre Wahid and Alex Lecoffre play with seasonal inspiration to create artistic treats using natural sugars and honey as well as some gluten free options. You’ll love their fraisier, mango cheesecake or lemon cake with a white chocolate crust. Don’t miss their fresh brioche buns – although my firm favourite still has to be the Chou Chou, which comes in various seasonal combinations.

58 rue Saint Dominique, 75007 Paris
Tuesday-Saturday 8am-8pm
Sunday 8am-6pm (Closed Monday)


best sweet addresses Rue Saint-Dominique Paris

Henri Le Roux

Who would have known that salted caramel is a recent discovery? Not only is this one of the top chocolate shops in Paris but Henri Le Roux is also known as Caramélier. Fans of salted caramel have Henri Le Roux to thank, as he created the CBS© (Caramel au Beurre Salé) in 1977 in Quiberon, the location of his first chocolate shop in Brittany and where salted butter is added to many local specialities. Ever since, salted caramel has appeared the world over and so he wisely registered it in 1981.

Don’t leave Paris without a taste of the CBS, with its deliciously dark and soft half-salted caramel with crushed walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds giving it such a unique texture – and now celebrating its 40th birthday! There are dozens of additional flavours to choose from, including a subtle Sakura cherry blossom caramel to welcome the arrival of Spring. Peruse the mouth-watering range of chocolates (including one with truffle), as well as the caramel (Caramelier) and chocolate (Bonsoncoeur) spreads that are a special luxury on crêpes or simply on the best baguette!

52 rue Saint Dominique, 75007 Paris
Tuesday-Saturday 11am-2pm; 3pm-7.30pm (Closed Sunday & Monday)


best pastries on Rue Saint-Dominique Paris, Karamel

Karamel

Stick with me, as caramel continues to unwrap at the next block! Karamel is the new concept tearoom and patisserie created by another caramel-loving Breton, Nicolas Haelewyn, after a career at Ladurée with the last 5 years as international pastry chef.

Sitting in front of a long glass case of traditional looking pastries, it’s difficult to choose just one, as each masterpiece is intriguing – from the giant 1001 Karamel Mille feuille to some more dainty-looking treats. While I’m pondering, I’m thrown off track with tasting cups of a huge tureen of Teurgoule (or Terrinée), a dark-skinned slow-cooked caramel rice pudding from Normandy as Mum and our good friend, Rena, already tuck in to their pastry choices.  I won’t spoil your surprise of my rather curvy caramelised pear on a tartlet – but open it up and Oh-là-làs are guaranteed! Sharing this somehow would have been difficult (well, that’s my excuse).

The teas by Kodama are all beautifully explained. Amazed at such a surprising match of green tea with lively ginger and lemon, the extra touch was a caramel slipped behind a dainty floral porcelain teacup.

67 rue Saint Dominique, 75007 Paris

Monday-Friday: 7.30am-7.30pm
Saturday 9am-7.30pm
Sunday 9am-1pm


Want to make your own financiers, canelés, madeleines, tarts, millefeuilles, éclairs, choux buns and macarons yourself at home? Don’t forget you’ll find the recipes in my second book, Teatime in Paris!

Saint Honoré Paris: A Pastry Party and a New Healthy Menu

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.

l’Honoré: New Healthy Menu

The Saint Honoré celebrations 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

(Update 24 May) Honoured to try out the new l‘Honoré menu, I plunged right in with a taste of the carrot, apple and ginger detox drink. The detox concoctions change daily, but I would easily drink this every day given the chance: it has the perfect dosage of reviving ginger without it being too strong and the carrot is balanced beautifully with green apple (checking my complexion in the mirror today to see the benefits!).

The 100% vegan options on the menu are a mix of light quinoa style salads to avocado toast but the vegetable burger is more substantial, served in a rice-flour bun with pickles, salad and the most addictive parsnip chips. Spice lovers will adore the green vegetable curry with coconut and delicate rice: I found it hard to imagine that seasonal vegetables without meat or fish would be so satisfying, especially with its fragrant mix of fresh Thai basil and coriander.

honore paris new healthy menu
Dessert options are fruity and light – but if you’re feeling a bit more decadent, you can choose a pastry from the cake shop that sweetly beckons across the hall.  The one downside is that the new plush seats are so comfortable – it’s just too easy to wish to linger for teatime and, as you’re slightly hidden from view (not from the attentive service), it’s tempting to get working on your next project in such a discrete, peaceful haven.

Saint-Honoré Pastries on Rue Saint Honoré Paris

Back to the pastry 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

 

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!

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 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.

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.