A perfectly light dessert that celebrates summer in France.
Queues for ice cream are inevitable when the Parisian summer sun heats up the City of Light. But there’s a hidden corner of Paris where we can taste the highest quality Italian ice cream in style, right in the heart of Saint Germain-des-Prés.
Il Gelato del Marchese is tucked away on Rue des Quatre Vents, just behind the crossroads at Odéon in an area known as the Chocolate quarter, due to its high concentration of chocolate and pastry shops.
On passing this pristine golden and white ice-cream parlour after it opened in December 2014, I remember first gazing in the window, wondering if the caped gentleman at the counter was the Marchese or Marquis, with such an alluring air of mystery.
The mystery was unveiled when I was happy to meet the lively Marchese himself, Renato. Together with his wife, Veronika Squillante Montoro, the dynamic duo with savoir-flaire have created a luxury brand in the heart of Paris’s 6th arrondissement and it’s already taking off with a boutique newly opened in Saint Tropez, a new larger laboratory in construction near the Canal Saint Martin, a recipe book due to be published in October and many more surprises in store.
Now certified Vegan, Il Marchese’s ice creams and sorbets are all made with top quality healthy ingredients using mineral water, unrefined sugar, and no colourings or preservatives are in sight.
Veronika provides that extra touch of elegance with her choice of porcelain and delicate glasses to complete the plush furnishings.
Thanks to my friend, Maggie, who insisted I taste a selection of savoury ice creams before the sweet, as I would never have normally dared at teatime – would you? What a revelation! Spoonfuls of delectable savoury ice creams to tickle the senses arrived with water, but imagine tasting these on mini toasts with a glass of Champagne or Prosecco in hand: Tomato-Basil sorbet, Artichoke-Walnut Cream, Olives, and Mustard ice creams.
They also whip up the most incredible salmon ice cream which is not only good on small toasts as an aperitif, but they suggest mixing it into hot tagliatelle pasta, as with their parmesan ice cream.
My personal favourites were olive, imagining it on the terrace in Provence with a glass of chilled Rosé (a refreshingly cold tapenade sensation), and the mustard which, like my mini curry macarons from the savoury chapter in Mad About Macarons, it provokes a spicy-sweet tremble!
When I first tasted the Marchese’s pistachio ice cream last year just after the book launch of Teatime in Paris around the corner, I admit that it has been hard act to follow elsewhere. Using the finest quality pistachios from Iran, it’s not just its exquisite taste that hits the spot but if anyone knows how I shy away from anything that says pistachio without the right natural colour (see my previous blog article), you’ll understand how this is such an important factor too.
As the tasting continued, the Sencha green tea was recommended as an ideal partner with all the ice creams and sorbets, a special selection by La Confrérie du Thé.
New flavours appear sporadically according to season and creative artistic flair. The day I arrived, the menu selection was a traditional but tremendously tasty Tiramisu, to an unusual – slightly tart – Ricotta Cacao; then a crunchy passion fruit sorbet, with a finale of chocolate sorbet using 70% dark chocolate from Italian chocolate makers, Domori, based in None – all served with the most delicate (albeit sweet) Chantilly cream, Matcha green tea cakes, light ginger biscuits, and mini cornets.
The Marchese’s ice-creams pop up around Paris at the most luxurious addresses, such as at the Italian Embassy, Rue Faubourg Saint-Honoré, and now they have a pop-up boutique at La Grande Epicerie, part of Bon Marché’s Rive Gauche chic department store until 22 August, where I hear the Pear and Ceylon Cinnamon sorbet is melting customers.
Artisanal cones (cornets) are made on the spot. I never normally choose a cone but when they’re as good as this all the way until the last crunchy bite with its hint of honey, I’m not just going for a plain little paper tub to carry out!
I couldn’t resist popping in for another dose with the family; this time pure sorbet in the weekend heat – a taste of mango and their new Detox Vegetal sorbet. It reminded me of what Renato said:
It’s more than ice-cream; it creates an emotion.
I found myself giggling at such a surprise concoction of predominant cucumber and apple, with cheeky hints of lemon and ginger – were there herbs in there too? You have to try this refreshing cocktail and tell me what you think are the ingredients!
To finish off your afternoon, walk up Rue de Condé to the Luxembourg gardens and sit at the Medici Fountain to complete the luxury taste of Italy in Paris.
Update 31 May 2016: Il Gelato del Marchese ice creams are now also available on the Champs-Elysées Terrace of the Hotel Marriott.
Il Gelato del Marchese
Italian ice-cream parlour/tea room or take away
3, rue des Quatre Vents
Tel: 01 46 34 75 63
Open every day: 12 noon – midnight
This week sees the start of Paris’s popular annual amusement park situated on the left side of the Tuileries Gardens. The Fête Foraine des Tuileries is open free to the public between 25 June and 22 August (update: 24 June – 27 August 2017) with a choice of 80 paying attractions.
With excited, bustling holiday crowds and entertaining wafts of candy floss (Barbe à Papa), waffles (gaufres), toffee apples (pommes d’amour), doughnuts (beignets), and marshmallows (guimauves), there’s something for everyone – and for those of you like my daughters who love the high-sensation rides, you won’t be disappointed. I find it hard enough to even watch them!
As my teenagers are screaming to their heart’s pulsing content, you’ll find me strolling in the rest of the more civilised Tuileries Gardens. Did you know you can see Sacré Coeur from the raised part of the gardens on the Orangerie side? I can’t believe I missed this before.
Jardins de Tuileries Facts
The Tuileries Gardens were first landscaped under Queen Catherine de Medici (widow of Henri II), who began the building of the Tuileries Palace in 1561 on the right bank of the River Seine. The word Tuileries refers to the tile kilns that previously existed on the site.
The Palace was the Parisian residence of the French monarchs from Henry IV to Napoleon III. Before then, it was the Louvre Palace, originally built as a fortress in the medieval period then turned into a royal palace under Charles V in the 14th Century until the Louvre became a public museum in 1793.
King Louis XIV transformed the Tuileries Palace residence in 1666, when he commissioned his favourite gardener, André Le Nôtre, to design a vast new park with elevated terraces around a central axis. It was opened to the public in 1667, while King Louis moved to his new Palace at Versailles.
In 1871 the Tuileries Palace was set on fire and although destroyed in 1883, we continue to enjoy the splendour of the gardens today which is more or less as Le Nôtre designed it with its some 63 acres (25 hectares) and water basins.
Summer is the perfect time of year to stroll under the regimented shady avenues of lime blossoms and fill up on their heady fragrance.
Heading towards the elevated northwest corner of the gardens towards Place de la Concorde, is the Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume, a museum of contemporary art. There are currently 3 photographic exhibitions taking place, including the works of Josef Sudek.
There’s also a café inside but their new terrace was beckoning …
The museum’s new terrace café, La Boîte à Images, has been open since end April and is a quiet haven to sit in the shade in the gardens for lunch or for an afternoon goûter or mid-afternoon snack.
This is where the locals are coming for a civilised summery picnic lunch, weekend brunch, after-work plate of charcuterie, or just a glass of wine. I was invited to choose from their selection of popular large salads (including quinoa), fresh baguette sandwiches, tuna Bagnat, or large Croque-Monsieur on oversized pain de campagne with a choice of crisps or side-salad. Iced fresh apple & mint juice was welcome, as was just a taste of the chilled Sauvignon Blanc (well, I wasn’t driving!).
As my daughter and I sat down, we were enjoying the animated game of pétanque going on next to us. The café can lend you the boules to play and join in the fun too.
And I would thoroughly recommend a sweet stop here, with a dark chocolate or raspberry tartlet and Earl Grey tea (with Angelina teabags). I also saw the most tempting ice creams and sorbets too without the well-known queues in rue de Rivoli!
So, what kind of flâneur or stroller in Paris are you? Would you find a chair or two and opt for an afternoon nap, tease the wool with a regal view over the octagonal basin to the Orangerie museum, or would you be on one of those crazy summer amusement rides?
Terrasse La Boite à Images
Open same hours as the Jeu de Paume Museum:
If you’re looking for just one pastry street in Paris, most Parisians with a sweet tooth will guide you to the Rue du Bac – also known as Paris Pastry Street. Situated on Paris’s Left Bank (Rive Gauche) in the 7th Arrondissement, it has been a shopping street for centuries.
Birthplace of the Millefeuille
It’s also where the classic French Millefeuille pastry was invented by Adolphe Seugnot in 1867. Today the Pâtisserie Seugnot no longer exists but to make up for it, it’s now a street branching out with such a concentrated plethora of high-end pastry and chocolate shops that Rue du Bac is known more as Paris Pastry Street!
Last year saw the opening of the new event, Le Bac Sucré, created by Florence Mazo Koenig and inaugurated by the Mayor of the 7th, Rachida Dati. The event highlights the creative artisans’ savoir-faire and celebrates their creative sweet magic – this year through summer fruits to bring out the Paris sunshine!
Officially opened last night by Josiane Gaude, deputy mayor with the organising team, the Bac Sucré event kicks off today until Sunday 19th June. So here’s a tasting of what’s especially in store over the next 5 days from the participating patisseries and chocolate shops around the area.
Pastry chef, Philippe Conticini opened his first patisserie here in Rue du Bac. Popular for his award-winning Paris-Brest (a praline cream choux pastry wheel), his pastries are all designed to evoke the sweet dreams of childhood (I’ve written a lot about his pastries on le blog lately! From Yulelogs, choux buns, even literally falling for his pastries, to the BHV tea salon).
As the event this year centres around fruits and new fruity sensations, receive a surprise fortune cookie with any seasonal fruit pastry, such as the Fraisier, Raspberry or Strawberry tarts.
93 Rue du Bac, 75007 Paris
Particularly known for its legendary Mont-Blanc pastry, there will be Mont-Blanc lollypop (sucette) workshops over the weekend.
Special Edition: “Un été à Paris” – a raspberry compote, a light vanilla mousse, topped off with raspberries and redcurrants on the most deliciously crunchy praline crumble base.
108 Rue du Bac, 75007 Paris
Tel: (33-1) 42 22 63 08 or sign up directly at the boutique.
Patrice Chapon will be giving demonstrations how he makes his chocolate from cocoa bean to bar this Saturday 18 June. Hour-long sessions can be booked online here. Hurry as they’re free and only 8 people maximum per group are permitted in the tight workshop area behind the boutique.
There are no special editions for the event but try a cornet of mousses from the bar – including the Venezuelan 100% Chocolate Mousse (I recently made the recipe here on le blog), or his prize-winning chocolate with a salted dome (chocolat au dôme de sel).
69 Rue du Bac, 75007 Paris
Last year, the highlight was the launch of Dalloyau’s surprising savoury Réligieuses (double decker filled choux buns), which are still available on order at the boutique here – but the Réligieuse star for Father’s Day on Sunday is the Papa Poule, filled with a vintage rum cream. This year two more new macarons are in the spotlight from pastry chef Jeremy del Val, amongst seasonal favourites such as orange blossom, rose-raspberry, lemon, and Earl Grey (Bergamot tea).
Special Editions: Strawberry-Yuzu and Raspberry-Grapefruit macarons.
63 Rue de Grenelle (just on the corner of rue du Bac), 75007 Paris
Famous for his melt-in-the-mouth caramels (particularly exotic fruits) and fruit jellies, last year he surprised us with more fruit jellies (I think I polished off the tasters of rhubarb jellies!) and even vegetable jellies!
His pastries, including a Millefeuille, are also just as legendary but these are enjoyed at the main boutique and tea salon in the Marais, on rue de Turenne. During EACH of the five Bac Sucré days, free demonstrations take place at 3.30pm Wed 15th-Sun 21st – no reservations needed!
Special Editions: Fruit jellies (kiwi, pear, blood orange, pineapple, lychee, raspberry, mango-passion)
27 Rue de Varenne, 75007 Paris
Boulanger Eric Kayser has followed the last three generations in his family as an artisanal bread-maker.
Special Edition: Sweet honey bread with raspberry chips.
18 Rue du Bac, 75007 Paris
Recently renovated, Le Bon Marché classy department store at the end of Paris Pastry Street of Rue du Bac is renowned for its gourmet food hall, luring us from stands of cheeses and cured hams to its bakery and patisserie sections. Their pastries are exquisite, from billowy lemon meringue tartlets to the latest seasonal temptations.
Special Edition: Almond crumble choux bun, with apricot cream, Madagascan vanilla cream (crème légère) and poached apricot.
Le Bon Marché
38 Rue de Sèvres, 75007 Paris
There are even more patisseries, bakeries and chocolate shops on and around the corner to enjoy: Acide Macaron, Des Gâteaux et du Pain, Hugo & Victor, Boulangerie Galland, Foucher Chocolatier, and Secco bakery… now you can see why it’s referred to as Paris Pastry Street!
Bac Sucré Event
Rue du Bac
7th Arrondissement Paris
Wednesday 15- Sunday 19 June 2016
For the full programme, visit BacSucre.com
This article is published with Bonjour Paris.
I almost want to keep this address a secret. Last week I discovered this new patisserie, Foucade, in Paris – the difference is that all pastries here are entirely gluten-free. Opened just since December 2015, tucked between the Madeleine church and Rue Saint Honoré, this stylish bright violet boutique oozes chic. From the inviting entrance with violet hydrangeas, #healthy ‘ashtags and intriguing pastry postcards splashed on the window, the pastry counter leads through to a quiet and secluded tea salon.
I met the boutique’s energetic founder, Marjorie Fourcade, who explained the concept behind Foucade. Discovering she was intolerant to wheat and dairy (lactose) plus problems related to sugar, she worked together with nutritionists for three years. The result was the creation of this healthy “Patisserie Positive”.
The focus is on top quality products for a total gluten-free cast with the majority of pastries also dairy-free (sans lactose). Marjorie insists on using natural ingredients with contents both low in fat and sugars – without forgetting the utmost detail to taste and flavour.
An emphasis is on fresh fruit and vegetables – yes, vegetables. There are no food colourings used: to achieve the vibrant crimson red on a Fraisier, for example, her Japanese pastry chef, Saori Odoi, adds beetroot juice. I could even taste the beetroot’s subtle presence, which is unusual in a classic strawberry French pastry, but hey, I’m flexible.
As everything is totally healthy, my excuse was to try as many pastries as I could fit in their extra large pastry box, especially interested to taste with the family at home and test out their reactions.
Each Foucade pastry comes with its corresponding postcard, detailing the nutritional facts – a touch that is no doubt appreciated by any sensitive Celiac sufferer or anyone prone to food allergies. For us, we were simply curious to know more behind the pastries.
All pastries are very much reduced in sugar, allowing each ingredient to shine. Let me give you a sample tasting:
La Citronnée – Acidulée! With an 81% reduction in sugar compared with its traditional gluten versions around Paris, we were preparing our cheeks for a complete puckering session. WRONG! (I think the most puckering sensation I’ve had with a lemon & lime tart is at Carette.) Although still tart, the creaminess of the lime, lemon, and yuzu were all slightly sweetened by a hint of basil. The crunchy texture of the tart base of unrefined almonds finished it off beautifully. My girls were impressed that they’d also had a +269% dose of vitamin E, at that.
L’Eclair Spicy – Spicy it is. The choux dough is so light, made with colza and chia grains, topped with a crunchy almond and hazelnut praline. The apples are sautéd in three spices and the Chantilly is particularly heady with a strong kick of cloves, which makes for a totally new éclair experience.
L’Opérette Puissante (dairy-free) – This is the ultimate dark chocolate treat and powerful it is. With a mixture of 70%, 85% and 100% raw cocoa, with a light crunchy mixture of buckwheat and chia grains for the most deliciously healthy protein boost. I thought my girls would find it too “raw” and lacking sugar, but they totally loved it – it’s true that it’s robust in chocolate and so a little goes a long way!
Speaking of buckwheat, Marjorie insisted I buy a packet of the Foucade special gluten-free granola. As I normally make my own breakfast oat granola with no added sugar except roasted in maple syrup, I was expecting (more or less) the same thing. I’m still trying to get my taste-buds around it and, even although there’s no label on the packet to list the ingredients, I can tell there’s a strong play of buckwheat in amongst all the lovely nuts and cranberries. Personally I prefer buckwheat in galettes (traditional Breton savoury crêpes) or a lighter version in their Opérette. Their cute mini moist lemon cake (Cake pur citron) was more my cup of tea – although buckwheat in granola is so intriguing I may become hooked!
One particular pastry which struck us at first as being a total classic surprised us the most. Described as “Authentique”, it’s cheeky ingredients made it our overall winner:
La Rustique – a crunchy base of chestnut flour and brown rice, sweet potato and cinnamon purée and topped with baked apple. We loved the different textures and although not powerful, the hint of sweet potato is a clever touch. At 145 calories, it’s apparently 64% less than its traditional pastry, with 40% less sugar and has 97% more Magnesium and 44% more vitamin C! No gluten, no egg, no nuts and no soya.
If you’re a demanding gourmet who pays particular attention to well-being and are sensitive to the most natural ingredients, then add Foucade to your best patisserie list on your next visit to Paris.
Maison de Pâtisserie Positive
17 rue Duphot
Tel: (33-1) 42 36 11 81
Tues-Fri 10am-7.30pm; Sat 11am-7pm
See my article about the top 100% Gluten-free Pastries in Paris at Bonjour Paris.
Rain in some Kirsch in these dark chocolate and cherry macarons!