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.

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.

Angelina’s New Yule Log & Festive Collection 2016

Angelina’s new yule log for Christmas this year will certainly grace any elegant festive table for a traditional French bûche dessert. And for fans of their famous African Hot Chocolate and Mont Blanc, there are more surprises in store.

Angelina Paris Rue de Rivoli

The highlight for me was not just being invited to taste and share Angelina’s new yule log with you, but I was equally bowled over to be able to talk with the pastry chefs themselves.

Angelina’s New Yule Log, the Paon Blanc

Created for Angelina by head pastry chef, Christophe Appert, the Paon Blanc (white peacock) takes pride of place for this year’s festive centre-piece. The rare and beautiful white peacock was particularly chosen as an artistic symbol of the Belle Epoque era, echoing the style of the famous tearoom in Rue de Rivoli since 1903. For more about the background of Angelina, see my article here.

christophe Appert, Head Pastry Chef Angelina new yule log

Angelina’s new yule log is sheer elegance on a plate, the Paon Blanc fanning out delicate notes of citrus and the exotic with passion fruit, mango and coconut. As light as the peacock’s feathers, this is always appreciated after a festive meal and its perfect play of not too much sugar encourages the delicate fruity notes and white chocolate to shine through.

Let’s look at its sophisticated layers: underneath the white peacock’s coat of coconut and white chocolate and golden powdered feathers, lies a crisp crumble base finely topped with coconut butter/white chocolate.  The heart of the yule log contains layers of joconde almond biscuit (sponge) interspersed with three different jellies: orange, passion fruit and mango.

It’s all covered in an airy vanilla mousse – and my favourite part is the circular, surprising zing of a lemon and lime cream which I’m so glad that Chef Appert added after his first few drafts, as for me it’s the winning touch! I have to add that I’m not a white chocolate fan – but this is so fine with a perfectly dosed overall balance that the white chocolate, although present, is a wonderful background suggestion.

Gourmet Advent Calendar

yule log angelina christmas advent calendar

The traditional Advent Calendar evokes chic illustrations of the tearoom in Rue de Rivoli, with a surprise behind each window. Each day discover the likes of milk chocolate almonds, white or dark chocolate pralines,  Napolitains and Giandujas (chocolate-hazelnut).

The advent calendar is on sale as of 16 November.

angelina christmas gift boxes

Gift Boxes (Coffrets)

Angelina have thought of everything this Christmas, and their selection of gift boxes includes the new white-peacocked festive edition. Fans of Angelina’s famous African Hot Chocolate are spoiled with a festive edition with added cinnamon, a box of 19 chocolates, and a jar of chestnut paste to continue their Mont-Blanc theme.  A new Christmas tea (Thé de Noël) from China and Sri Lanka is also given the white peacock treatment with orange peel and flavoured with gingerbread and flower petals.

christmas yule logs angelina Paris 2016

More Yule Logs

Angelina’s new yule log still has it’s traditional bûche family alongside it: the Choco Intense, The Tentation Passion and the Mont-Blanc.

Did you know that the emblematic Mont-Blanc pastry was created by Angelina pastry chefs in the 1910’s based on a popular hairstyle that women wore at that time: a short bob?

Saturday 17 December

Mark your calendars if you’d like to surprise your loved ones with a personalised note around the festive white peacock theme. A Calligraphist will be at both stores to write something for you with her plume on an Angelina card. Free event.

  • Boutique in Rue du Bac: 11am-3pm
  • Tearoom in  Rue de Rivoli: 3.30pm-7pm

Spotlight

Meet Florent Martinot, pastry sous-chef, who joined Angelina in June 2015. Originally from the gourmet Capital of Lyon, a town where he grew up around delicious confection specialities and where he realised his vocation after falling and saving a pain au chocolat rather than his teeth as a youngster. He’s worked with Sebastian Bouillet, Dalloyau (specialising in chocolate), Hermé (managing the opening of a new chocolate shop in Alsace), then finally Hugo & Victor (R&D) before his calling to Angelina.

Florent Martinot pastry chef Angelina

Sous pastry chef, Florent Martinot

Christmas Macarons

Last but not least, are the macarons!  This Christmas, there’s nothing plain about their vanilla macarons which are coated in gold powder to top off the White Peacock theme with panache – not ganache.

angelina vanilla christmas macarons

With thanks to the pastry and press teams at Angelina for a wonderful festive tasting and for trying so hard to evoke a Christmas ambience in sweltering 30°C + temperatures of our Indian Parisian Summer in September! The Christmas collection, including the limited edition Paon Blanc, is available as of 26 November.

Angelina
Rue de Rivoli
75001 Paris


P.S. Let me show you this beautiful illustration of Angelina’s Paon Blanc bûche by a newly discovered artistic friend, the talented Isma of MesArticlesduJour. This conjures up the feminine, light touch of Angelina, don’t you think?

buche paon blanc Angelina's new yule log 2016

Easiest Nougatine Recipe

As the world is going nuts, it’s time for a crunch with a French salted caramel nougatine!