The Hottest Paris Food Tour

Do you love your food and planning your first visit to Paris? Then a warm, tasty introduction to traditional French foods is a delicious way to start your trip. I recently discovered that The Paris Guy has an evening food tour, that’s quite literally the hottest Paris food tour in the Marais!

While most walking Paris food tours focus on markets, ingredients, bread and cheese plus the sweeter side (like I used to lead in Saint Germain-des-Prés) on chocolates, pastries and macarons while walking, discussing and tasting in and between boutiques, Le Marais Paris Food Tour concentrates on primarily sit-down restaurant tastings of oysters and Champagne, wine, cheese, galettes (savoury crêpes) with cidre, Boeuf Bourguignon, more wine and crème brûlée – and that’s not all.

HOttest Paris Food Tour

Thank you to the Paris Guy for sponsoring this post by inviting me to experience Le Marais Paris Food tour. As always, all opinions are entirely my own. Affiliate links are included in this post, as The Paris Guy has kindly offered my readers 5% off their tours in Paris if you use the unique code, MADABOUTMACARONS.

The Hottest Paris Food Tour

The Hottest Paris Food Tour in the Marais kicks off with a warm welcome early evening near the metro, République. Our English-speaking guide for the 3-hour walking tour was Erica.

Hottest Paris Food Tour The Paris Guy #parisfoodtours

Our group was made up of a maximum of 12 so, along with the food tastings, anecdotes and history thrown in, it ended up being a fun social evening too.

Oysters and Champagne

To get us in the French mood, the POP sounded as our bottle of Champagne was opened with some explanations on the French’s famous bubbly. Platters of N°4 and N°3 oysters arrived in this lovely seafood bar. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see I love flowers and so this was a perfect spot to appreciate them too.

Hottest Paris Food Tour #parisfoodtours

A touch of smoked salted butter served with the most delicious bread is delicious – but be careful: go easy on the bread in the initial stages, as you need to pace yourself on this food tour!  There’s still more to come.

Sipping on Champagne, I also loved the refreshing minty touch to their carafe water. If you know me, however, I usually prefer more Champagne than grabbing (or “crab-bing”) that bottle of water!

hottest paris food tour #parisfoodtour

Crab a bottle!

See anemones at the Parisian seafood bar?

Hottest Food Tour in Paris

See Anemones in front of this seafood bar in the Marais?

Say Cheese – French Fromage!

Normally the Paris Guy Food Tour starts with the Oyster tasting with Champagne but exceptionally, as it hadn’t yet opened at our meeting time, we started with the cheese. With over 1000 cheeses in France, no savoury tour is complete without it!

Hottest Paris Food tour

I’ll leave you to discover the cheesy stories and tips on the tour but the tasting platter had a good variety of many of my personal favourites. If you’re a couple, ensure you both have a taste of the stronger types together (just saying…), absolutely delicious served with fig jam (see my Corsican fig jam recipe here).

Hottest Paris food tour Marais #paristravel

Walking past many landmarks in the Marais, such as the Mairie of the 3rd arrondissement above, we headed for the famous rue des Rosiers in the Jewish quarter. The speciality? Falafel.

Falafels, deep-fried chickpea balls, are one of those deliciously “Did you know that they’re vegan?” types of foods that we enjoyed outside (the only tasting outdoors on the tour), with finger-licking sesame sauce coupled with a vibrant, festive ambience.

hottest paris food tour #Paristravel

Galettes – Savoury Crêpes

Next up on the tour was a walk to a cosy Crêperie. Typically served in Brittany and in Normandy, traditional wafer-thin buckwheat galettes – savoury crêpes – are enjoyed with cider served in giant cups. We tasted a couple of varieties: Forestière (chicken and mushroom) and the popular Complète with ham, cheese and egg washed down with some Cidre Brut.

hottest Paris food tour #Paristravel #Parisfood

I did tell you you need to pace yourself! Our last stop was a most relaxed setting in a quiet, slightly hidden Parisian Brasserie for not one but TWO finale tastings.

hottest Paris Food Tour restaurant tastings #paristravel #Parisfoodtours

As more wine was served, so was a generous tasting of Boeuf Bourguignon, a typical hearty beef stew from Burgundy, slowly cooked with mushrooms and carrots in Burgundy wine. Served with purée (also wonderful with Gratin Dauphinois), this is the ultimate French comfort food.

French culinary favourites on the hottest paris food tour

This is when Amelie Poulin would adore coming here too.  Her favourite part of this Parisian dessert, crème brûlée, is cracking the burned sugar surface and discovering the eggy vanilla cream underneath.

Incidentally, I have a recipe for a milk chocolate crème brûlée here.

hottest paris food tour creme brulee finale #paristravel

As we said Au Revoir to Erica, our cheerful Paris Guy guide, Paris by Night awaited outside. The 17th Century Eglise Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis was glistening in all its glory before heading back into the metro home on rue St Antoine.

hottest Paris food tour Marais

Hottest Paris Food Tour – 5% Reader Discount!

Looking to try traditional French food in Paris on your first trip? Prefer to sit more in restaurants than mainly eat outside? Then this is the ideal evening walking tour – indeed, literally the hottest Paris food tour for couples, solo travellers, families with older children and amongst friends – and great as gifts too if friends or family are going to Paris!

Just don’t forget to bring your appetite…

Hottest Paris Food Tour

 

DisclosureThank you to the Paris Guy for sponsoring this post by inviting me to experience their Le Marais Paris Food tour. As always, all opinions are entirely my own. Affiliate links are included in this post, as the Paris Guy has kindly offered my readers 5% off their tours in Paris if you use the unique code, MADABOUTMACARONS (also includes their tours in Italy).

Melting Meringue Snowballs

I promised to make a festive dessert for the holidays – even if our Christmas tree isn’t up yet.  Let me introduce you to Melting Meringue Snowballs that are so simple to make and assemble, plus can be prepared in advance.  What’s more, the inside has a generous surprise awaiting. Now it’s just over to you to ‘throw’ a party!

Melting Meringue Snowballs

The recipe may look long but please don’t be put off.  It’s just all explained in detail and so worth the effort.

Thanks to the hosts, Terraillon France, I was invited recently to a special Noël pastry demonstration given by Chef Alexandre Favre at the Michalak Masterclasses, run in their new workshop behind the pastry boutique in rue du Faubourg Poissonnière in Paris’s 10th arrondissement.

French meringue snowballs

For me, this was a meringue revolution! I’m not the biggest fan of meringues as I normally find them too sweet – so imagine my surprise when meringues had been piped out using upturned silicone cake moulds to make a large hollow inside.

French meringue snowballs

Chef Alexandre’s boule de neige meringues were sensational mini meringue snowballs – as he had smaller moulds and piped them out as more realistic snowballs without any swirly effects.  As my moulds were slightly larger, I piped out a spiral effect to make them into larger, rather melted meringue snowballs.

Two separate desserts were prepared during the demonstration, including these impressive Mont Blancs with pear, lemon jelly and praline on lemon cake bases.  I was so smitten with the tart lemon jellies that I added them to my melting meringue snowballs to add that zingy acidity to make the meringues slightly less sweet.

Mont Blanc Poire Marron

The result? The lemon just makes it! Although the lemon jelly recipe calls for sugar, it doesn’t even need it if you prefer a tart surprise inside. TIP: If you’re using organic unwaxed lemons for the juice, grate the lemon zest, place in a zip-lock bag and freeze. You’ll love this for an even quickly-made Moist Lemon Almond Cake, for example.

Chef Alexandre uses the French meringue method for his boules de neige snowballs – just like I use in my recipe for Parisian macarons in both my books. I find it so much easier to work with and there’s no need to fuss about with a thermometer. Why make things complicated when you can keep it simple?

Melting meringue snowballs

Equal quantities are measured out of the egg whites (like the macaron recipes in my books, I use egg whites that have been stored in the fridge for 3-4 days), sugar then whisked together until soft, firm peaks. Then the icing sugar (powdered sugar) is folded in using a good spatula.

Don’t forget that measuring out your ingredients using a good digital scale is vital in French patisserie (read my article here to find out why). Incidentally, I use Terraillon’s Macaron digital scale for precision in my baking.  After constant use for over a year since I’ve had it, the batteries finally gave up on me yesterday.  The good news is that this kitchen scale let’s you know STRAIGHT AWAY with “Battery” flashing up so that your baking is kept consistent.

melting meringue snowballs

The new Terraillon silicone piping bag comes with a variety of exciting tips, easily clipped on to the bag’s holder. To push the batter or whites in the piping bag, use a patisserie scraper (corne en plastique). I used a simple plain tip to pipe out around the moulds.

Two hours later, once the meringues are left to cool, they easily come off the silicone moulds – with a most beautiful hollow ready to fill!

Melting Meringue snowballs

Each meringue base just needs to be filed off using Terraillon’s new microfilm grater, part of their new baking utensils range. This way your melted meringue snowballs can sit perfectly upright without falling over.

Melting meringue snowballs

Surprise!

Split the meringue in the middle and you’ll appreciate how the hollows means less dense sweet meringue and more delicious fillings.

Melting meringue snowball

It’s not just a Melting Meringue Snowball – it’s generously filled with toasted hazelnut praline, bitter lemon jelly, unsugared vanilla cream and I added a candied chestnut (marron glacé) just to complete the French-style festive touch.
melting meringue snowballs filled with praline

Again, weighing out the ingredients carefully, the praline can be made in advance and kept at room temperature for up to a month. Separate the meringues into couples and in each half, fill with praline and lemon jelly; the other half, fill with unsugared vanilla cream and drop in half a candied chestnut (marron glacé).

Melted meringue snowballs

Stick them together with the vanilla cream, add a tiny dollop on top of each melting meringue snowball and top with some gold leaf and white chocolate shavings.

Melting meringue snowballs

Melting Meringue Snowballs

5 from 4 votes
Melting Meringue Snowballs
Melted Meringue Snowballs
Prep Time
40 mins
Cook Time
2 hrs 10 mins
Total Time
2 hrs 50 mins
 

Melted Meringue Snowballs, generously filled with roasted hazelnut praline, lemon jelly, vanilla cream and candied chestnut for a special French festive dessert, inspired and adapted by Chef Alexandre Favre during a Michalak Masterclass by Terraillon in Paris.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Keyword: easy meringue method, Filled meringues, French meringue,, Meringue fillings, Praline cream meringues
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 290 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
French Meringue:
  • 100 g (3.5oz) egg whites (I use 3-4 days aged whites)
  • 100 g (3.5oz) sugar
  • 100 g (3.5oz) icing/powdered sugar
Hazelnut Praline:
  • 50 g (2oz) sugar
  • 100 g (3.5oz) hazelnuts
Vanilla Cream:
  • 100 g (3.5oz) Whipping cream 30% fat
  • 1 vanilla pod/bean - seeds scraped (or 1/2 tsp powdered vanilla)
  • 50 g (2oz) mascarpone
  • 4 candied chestnuts, cut in half
Lemon Jelly (Optional):
  • 100 g (3.5 fl oz) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 25 g (1oz) water
  • 7 g (0.25oz) sugar (optional if you prefer a more tart lemon surprise)
  • 2.5 g (one sheet) agar-agar
Instructions
French Hollow Meringues:
  1. Using an electric whisk or a stand-mixer, beat the egg whites at medium speed until the whites start to foam.  Add 1/3 of the sugar then increase speed until the meringue starts to form.  Gradually add the rest of the sugar while beating until the peaks are soft, shiny yet firm.

  2. Stop the mixer and fold in the icing sugar using a spatula until well incorporated. Transfer the meringue to a piping bag with a plain 10mm tip then pipe out spiral mounds around an upturned silicone mini cake mould.

  3. Bake in a cool oven at 80°C fan for 2 hours (according to the chef but I can't make my oven that low - so baked at 110°C fan/130°C/250°F/gas 1/2 for 2 hours. As the meringues were bigger than his minis, it still worked out well at 2 hours.  After 2 hours, switch off the oven, open the door and leave inside for 10 minutes. Remove to cool then lift off the moulds.

  4. Once cool, grate the wispy tops off half of the meringue shells to smooth in order to let the meringues stand upright.

Lemon Jelly:
  1. In a small saucepan, bring the lemon juice and water to the boil. Add the sugar (if using) and the agar-agar.  

  2. Pour the mixture immediately into mini silicone cake moulds (preferably the same size as the meringues) and leave to set in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Once set, they're easy to remove from the moulds.

Hazelnut Praline:
  1. Toast the hazelnuts under a hot grill for a couple of minutes. When cooler and able to handle, rub the hazelnuts between your hands to easily take off the skins.

  2. Gradually heat half of the sugar with a few drops of water in a small saucepan until it starts to melt. Add the rest of the sugar and leave to melt until a golden caramel forms.

  3. Immediately transfer the warm, liquid caramel to a food processor and mix together with the toasted hazelnuts until it forms a soft paste. Transfer to a piping bag.

Vanilla Cream:
  1. Using an electric whisk or a stand-mixer, whisk the whipping cream with the vanilla on high until it thickens. Whisk in the mascarpone then transfer to a piping bag.

Assembly:
  1. Separate the meringue shells into couples for each Melting Meringue. Pipe in the praline into one half, top with the lemon jelly. In the other halves, pipe in the vanilla cream and add half a candied chestnut.

  2. Stick both halves of each meringue together with the cream.  Add a tiny blob of cream on top and garnish with white chocolate and gold leaf.

Recipe Notes

Decorate with gold leaf and white chocolate shavings. Sprinkle each meringue with the meringue powder, following grating of each base.

 

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

Serve with a semi-sweet Champagne to celebrate.

With huge, special thanks to Terraillon France for hosting the event and to Chef Alexandre Favre for such a wonderful festive demonstration and meringue inspiration from the Michalak Masterclass in Paris. Now it’s over to you – Express Your Chef!

Melting meringue snowball

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Melting Meringue Snowballs

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*****

I’m thrilled and totally over the moon to be voted as BEST FOOD BLOG IN PARIS 2018 and feature on the cover of Expatriates Magazine.
A HUGE thank you to YOU, my readers and friends for all of your support this year! You’re the best! Copies of the magazine are being distributed this week around Paris so don’t forget to pick up your free copy.

 

 

 

__________________

Disclaimer: I was invited by Terraillon France to watch this demonstration. I was not compensated for this post and not obliged to write about the experience. As always, all opinions are my own. Huge thanks to Chef Alexandre Fevre for permission to use his recipe.

Renoir Tour: Chatou – Carrieres-sur-Seine

Want to avoid the Parisian tourist crowds and venture out of the city for something a bit different?  This Renoir Tour between Chatou and Carrieres-sur-Seine is a must walk along by the Seine when the weather is as beautiful as this – and expect a few surprises!

Renoir Tour Chatou Carrieres

Only 10 km west of Paris, Chatou is remarkably quick to get to by express commuter train. A few visitor friends from abroad have been surprised to discover that coming to les Yvelines is such a breath of fresh air. So, what’s better than taking one of the four Impressionists’ walks in the area, compiled by the Office de Tourism?

The Renoir Tour lasts about 1h30. Here’s our map at the ready so let’s do it together now. Sitting comfortably?

Renoir Tour Chatou - Carrieres

Part of the boucles (buckle) de Seine, following the Impressionists

Renoir Tour: Chatou to Carrières-sur-Seine

The Renoir Tour starts at the Hameau Fournaise, situated on the Impressionists’ Island on the Seine in Chatou looking over to Reuil Malmaison. There are a few buildings, notably the Fournaise Restaurant and Fournaise Museum. This houses temporary exhibitions and a permanent collection of what life resembled at the end of the 19th century.

It’s a time when bourgeois Parisians and artists were attracted outside Paris by les Guingettes, the good life on the banks of the Seine – drinking, eating simple, hearty food and dancing – thanks to the new railway line that brought them to Chatou.

renoir tour chatou carrieres

Pierre-August Renoir was a regular at the Restaurant Fournaise in the summer, painting a few portraits of the owner’s daughter, Alphonsine.

During the summer of 1879, it’s here that Renoir met Aline Charigot who became his wife. She figures in perhaps his most famous painting, “Le Déjeuneur des Canotiers”, painted in 1880.

Renoir tour Chatou Carrieres

It never ceases to amaze me that Renoir and his friends were here.  Here on that balcony under the orange-striped awnings. Each time I look up at it, it’s as if we can hear the laughter and the clinking of wine glasses echoing along the Seine.

Renoir Tour Chatou Carrieres

It doesn’t stop there.  Just a few metres away is another billboard showing us the other Renoir masterpiece painted in 1881, “Les Canotiers à Chatou”.  Next door, the boating workshop is worth a visit, as they prepare the same boats. Just smell the wood and the varnish!

Renoir tour chatou carrieres

Sadly the restaurant doesn’t open for teatime so I tend to bring my own box of macarons with me! Now the actual 4km walk begins by crossing over the bridge, past Notre Dame church and a walk right down to the Seine along the pretty Quai du Nymphée.

Pass the Barrage de Chatou, the hydroelectric dam. This feat of engineering was re-constructed in 2013. In the distance are the locks for the barge traffic plus a fish ladder. Keep your eyes out for some magnificent birds.

Renoir Tour Chatou Carrieres

Making the most of the glorious birch yellows and golds along the walk, the view over to the Impressionist Island includes the club-house of the 9-hole golf Ile Fleurie. Thankfully the Seine levels have gone down since I was last there, as I tend to shoot most of my balls in the river!

Renoir Tour Chatou Carrieres Sur Seine Walk

Turn left into the Parc de la Vallière, listed as one of the prettiest gardens in France. Designed by Le Nôtre, it took its name from Louis XIV’s favourite mistress, who stayed in Carrières-sur-Seine from 1661 for 9 years.

Renoir Tour secret walks just outside Paris

The park in summer at Carrieres, inspiring Monet’s painting – Secret Paris

At the entrance to the park, is the billboard showing the exact location of Monet’s painting, Carrières-Saint-Denis (1878) in the Musée d’Orsay.

Renoir Tour Chatou to Carrieres sur Seine

Carrières-sur-Seine was previously known as Carrières-Saint-Denis, as the rocks that were used to build the royal chapel of Saint-Denis came from Carrières. It’s possible to visit the Carrières, although this is currently only 3 times a year. Thankfully I took part in the visit very recently so I’ll post it soon before the next French tour.

Renoir Tour Chatou Carrieres

Why mushrooms? Because the carrières were also used as Champignonnières. Caves are perfect for mushroom-growing and, although they don’t grow as many mushrooms here now, local mushroom producers are not far away and sell their excellent fresh champignons blonds, full of flavour, at our local markets in les Yvelines.

Speaking of mushrooms, have you tried these recipes yet? Mushroom Cappuccino, mushroom truffle savoury macaron filling, Blanquette de Veau?

Renoir tour Chatou Carrieres sur Seine

The majestic Mairie sits at the top of the park. Incidentally, did you know that locals from Carrières are called  Carillons (masculine) or Carillonnes (feminine), which translate into “Chimes” and “Ringing,” respectively.[1]

Renoir Tour Chatou Carrieres sur Seine

This is where this walk took on new meaning recently. During a discussion with my friend, Emilie at the Saint-Germain Boucles-de-Seine Tourism office, I realised that for years I’d completely missed a little street just across from the park and the Mairie.

Follow the little lane of Rue Victor Hugo and the house at N°14 shows us a first glimpse of les maisons troglodytes, houses built into the limestone.

Renoir Walk Chatou Carrieres Cave Houses

Following the lane further emits a relatively spooky ambience.

These mysterious caves echo Medieval times when the first habitants settled while looking for stone for the eventual gothic buildings constructed in Paris.

Renoir Tour Secret Paris

I wonder if we can open that door?

No doubt is has centuries of stories to tell.

Renoir Tour Chatou Carrieres

The curious built-in rock dwellings serve as cellars, caves, barns or garages.  Just walking around, however, it’s not that obvious when everything is closed. Silent. Muffled.

Secret Paris Renoir Tour Walk Along Seine

Imagine that this is just 10 km and about 20 minutes by train from central Paris?

Renoir tour Chatou Carrieres

This is my kind of Disneyland.

Renoir Tour Chatou Carrieres

Further up the lane is private property but the view across to the Park from rue Victor Hugo is testament as to the Impressionists’ love for the area.

Renoir Tour Chatou Carrieres

Venture up the hill past the Mairie, the trickling fountain

Renoir Tour Chatou Carrieres

and at the top of the steps on Passage de Fanil is another billboard depicting “Le Village” painted by Maurice de Vlaminck.

Renoir Walk Chatou Carrieres

Just across the road is a renovated beauty, complete with rose-tangled balcony. Imagine the view over the Seine overlooking the west of Paris and La Défénse?

Renoir Tour Chatou Carrieres

By this time I can imagine you’re peckish for a French teatime goûter? Venture up to the centre of the village, enjoying all the little lanes and steps.

renoir tour chatou carrieres

Simply follow the fragrances of chocolate, tarts, éclairs from Le Carillon Gourmand (Maison Boé). They make macarons just on the weekends so, for the sake of art, I took a coffee éclair (recipe in my book, Teatime in Paris) for you to enjoy in the park before returning back to Chatou.

Renoir Tour Chatou Carrieres

Follow that barge and continue back on the same walkway along by the Seine.

Renoir Tour Chatou Carrieres

How to Get There

RER Line A (red) from Paris to Chatou (direction Ouest, Saint-Germain-en-Laye).
For more information on the area, boat rides on the Seine etc. visit the Saint-Germain Boucles de Seine Tourism Office in Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

Renoir Walk Chatou Carrieres

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Paris Chocolate Star Denise Acabo – A l’Etoile d’Or

A l’Etoile d’Or – meaning “At the Golden Star” – there may be golden stars hanging up around the best Parisian chocolate and candy shop but the real star in Paris is Denise Acabo.

Surfacing out of the Paris metro at Blanche station, the Moulin Rouge cabaret signals Pigalle, the border between the 9th and 18th arrondissements. Before being lured up the hill to visit Montmartre, a visit to Denise Acabo’s tiny boutique awaits just 5 minutes’ walk away in the other direction in the 9th.

Le Moulin Rouge Paris

A l’Etoile d’Or is tucked away on the left in Rue Fontaine. Together with my curious chocolate-loving French friends from the south, we excitedly study the shop window.

It’s filled with cello-taped press reviews since Denise Acabo opened A l’Etoile d’Or in 1993 plus, amongst porcelaine cups and a chocolate pot (moussoir), tempting concoctions of chocolate quotations from famous personalities since chocolate became fashionable; to today’s researchers and doctors.

Denise Acabo Chocolate Shop Paris

Us girlfriends gravitate towards the alluring advice from Italian Sex Doctor, Salonia Andrea:

Chocolate is an aphrodisiac; women with a weakness for a daily dose of the black square (of chocolate) have a more and satisfying sex life.

All of a sudden, already in full swing, Denise Acabo comes flying outside the door to welcome us inside. She looks ready to dance a Scottish Ceilidh in an extra-long kilt with cleverly comfy shoes. As David Lebovitz aptly puts it in his “Great Book of Chocolate”:

The sign on the door should read ‘Beware of flying pigtails”.

A L'Etoile D'or Denise Acabo Paris chocolate star

No wonder there are so many articles already written about this Parisian star of chocolate. Denise Acabo leads us in, apologising for the loud music and asks her charming assistant to turn the volume down. “I adore listening to music,” she confesses. We unanimously urge her to keep it playing as it is.

Hm. Verdi’s Requiem. Are we at the Golden Star to experience a form of death by chocolate?

A L'Etoile d'Or Paris chocolate star

Denise Acabo buzzes around, wondering where to start first, speaking French at 100km an hour (this is when I wish I could compare it to words a minute had I listened to Mum trying to teach me shorthand).

Down-to-earth banter is interspersed with her passion for each chocolate in store and a constant cheeky humour. Don’t be fooled by the schoolgirl attire: she isn’t shy at using more adult and familiar French words and refreshingly tells us what she thinks.

We’re smitten.

At the golden star Denise Acabo

Every centimetre of her shop is groaning with French gourmet magazines and books, plus fun facts and anecdotes to accompany her personally selected treasure trove of France’s top chocolate and confiserie.

Bernachon trusts only Madame Acabo to sell their exquisite hand-made chocolate (made from scratch, from bean to bar) outside Lyon, and the delights from France’s gastronomic capital (read my article here) are well represented with not only their chocolate tablets and filled chocolates, but also les Coussins de Lyon – literally soft velveteen green ‘cushions’ filled with curaçao liqueur.

It’s not just Bernachon: she also stocks Bonnat chocolate bars, Henri Le Roux’s famous ‘CBS’, Caramel au Beurre Salé (salted caramels – more about this in my book, Teatime in Paris) plus Jacques Genin’s flavoured soft exotic caramels.

Denise Acabo candies or confiserie in Paris

Madame is proud to tell us she’s now 82 years old, adores people and has always sported her plaid uniform look. “Before I used to wear the tartan cravates et tout,” she says. “Now I’m a little more décontractée” (relaxed). Is it since she got over the gas explosion in the building and then re-opened in 2015?

We don’t even mention it: there’s so much to talk about what’s in those glass jars of chocolates and bonbons.

Denise Acabo chocolate candy shop Paris

She presses some innocent-looking chocolate raisins in our hands.

Silence.

I bite through the outer coating of dark chocolate that crashes into a soft, explosive golden raisin with a warming glow of Christmas. “Oh My God!” my mouth utters, taking me completely by surprise.

“That’s exactly what Meryll Streep said!” says Denise and tells us that a princess (whom shall remain anonymous here) picks up her order by the hundred kilo weight.

I was seeing stars with such a light but distinct taste of Sauternes wine coating the mouth, the chocolate not overpowering the flavour.

Denise Acabo candied rose petals for Champagne

We’re already wondering how the sugared violets or rose petals will stand up to the day’s walk around Montmartre later – especially as she’s gone to all the trouble to accept only the unbroken, perfect petals. She wraps them with bubble wrap and we continue around our walk dreaming of each petal (or crumb?) topped with Champagne.

Denise Acabo takes us back in time with the golden stars such as Louis XIV’s favourite barley sugar bonbons, various flavours of Les Anis de Flavigny from Burgundy, traditional oblong iced marzipan Calissons from Aix-en-Provence, soft or hard nougat with toasted nuts, pralines, Amandes de Sicile.

A l'Etoile d'Or of Denise Acabo Paris

Asked what were her own personal favourites in store, she replies with a simple “I love absolutely everything here, as I’ve chosen each individual chocolate or bonbon carefully. I only stock what I truly love.”

Nobody can sway her gut decisions what are the best products in her opinion.  She tells us she constantly receives chocolate samples and yet only a small fraction of them are accepted into her boutique. Many of them are just awful, she exclaims with wide, sparkly eyes.

Denise Acabo chocolate wrapping of French traditional cartoons

Look carefully around the shop and you’ll see that each and every chocolate and candy is gift-wrapped in special brightly-coloured cartoon paper.

Denise explains that she is the only shop in France that continues this tradition of using les Devinettes d’Épinal.

A l'Etoile d'Or Denise Acabo devinettes

The cartoon-style images are What-am-I guessing games, full of colour. Even different producers of the images approach Denise Acabo, asking her to take on their devinette paper.

“But just look at this,” she exclaims, as she takes out a giant, creased and folded cartoon paper. It’s sporting far too much white and not enough colour or devinettes.

“Pfah!” and she throws it back into the wooden drawer.

Denise Acabo Paris chocolate Pigalle

I spy a Corsican corner, eyeing my favourite tastes from my husband’s Island of Beauty: jams with Corsican clementines, plus chestnut honey and confiture d’Angélique (angelica jam).

Explaining I’m an Ecorssaise (she liked that – merci Emmanuelle!), I wonder if she can find a Scottish and Corsican speciality using les Ecorces de Clementines Corse or something.

Whether she’s on the case or not, we’re steered to the health virtues of angelica, thanks to Monsieur Thonnard who produces the exceptional Angelique de Niort.

Denise Acabo chocolate candy paris shop

We’re off again, as she tells us that Angelica is an excellent fortifiant… As early as the middle ages, angelica was given to weaker children to suck on and give them strength.

Did you know that in the 14th century, angelica was grown in Monastery gardens to prevent the plague (la peste), but these days it’s also known to help cure respiratory problems and digestive troubles?

Denise Acabo Paris A l'Etoile d'Or

Madame Acabo shows us the same healthy angelica beckoning underneath a thin coating of delicious chocolate. We guess she’s taking this on a regular basis, with such energy, enthusiasm and character.

Meanwhile, back on the golden stars, my mind and eyes wander to Meryll Streep’s favourite Perles de Lorraine (caramel with mirabelle plum liqueur), hoping to bump into her for a rendition of Abba in flares and avoid questions like what it was like to film with Clint Eastwood – or does she wear Prada?

Denise Acabo A l'Etoile d'Or Paris chocolate

One word of advice: ensure you give yourself time to visit A l’Etoile d’Or, as anything under 20 minutes is just not realistic if you want to discover the stories behind the chocolates and candy – not to mention have the urge to buy most of the shop’s contents!

Denise Acabo oozes such contagiously cheerful chocolate-induced endorphins that you’ll most likely leave elated and be planning your next trip for a taste of more.

 

A l’Etoile d’Or
30, rue Pierre Fontaine
75009 Paris
Tel: 01 48 74 59 55

Metro: Blanche (line 2)

Monsieur Fine Bouche: French Gourmet Meal Delivery near Paris

Mention meal delivery and my clichéd image to date has been of oversized plastic containers on the back of screeching mopeds, risking life and limb to get extra fast food delivered – often with the contents merging in to its carton box and arriving just as soggy as the deliverer. So imagine my surprise when I discovered quite the opposite: a rather secret French gourmet meal delivery service in our neighbourhood, just west of Paris.

Monsieur Fine Bouche delivers freshly-prepared top quality restaurant meals at the perfect temperature using locally sourced fresh ingredients, direct to your doorstep (see zones near Paris*) within just 40 minutes by a chic waiter in a black suit.

French Gourmet meal delivery near Paris

French Gourmet Meal Delivery near Paris

I was thrilled to be invited along with my real-life Instagram friend, Geni Mermoud, to taste a 3-course menu of my choice from Monsieur Fine Bouche’s website, with each separate menu item prepared directly in front of us by jovial Chef Alexis Jordan at their impeccable kitchen in Saint-Germain-en-Laye. It’s just like a restaurant, except the clients are either at home, at work, in a park – just an astonishing 40 minutes’ away from receiving their meal after passing an order.

The choice of dishes change according to season but Chef Jordan continues his signature dishes, of which I tried two of them. There’s something for every taste: from healthy starters (entrées), mains (les plats), sides, salads, cheese or charcuterie platters, desserts, childrens’ menu options, and meals low in calories for those watching their weight.

French gourmet meal delivery near Paris

French gourmet meal delivery near Paris

The Signature starter dish, Salmon Gravlax with citrus caviar was a meal in itself. The salmon was extra succulent, marinated in coarse sea salt and dill, then plated beautifully on top of a waffle with a refinement you’d get in a French restaurant – if not more. Quite honestly, I’ve been surprisingly disappointed in some Parisian restaurants when a couple of slices of salmon arrives thrown on a plate with a wedge of lemon and tickly toupée of dill on the side – something we could easily do at home.

Instead, this arrives already plated with the citrus caviar a subtle, extra je ne sais quoi taking the dish to another level along with its bells and whistles.

French gourmet meal delivery near Paris

Monsieur Fine Bouche: French gourmet meal delivery near Paris

Meal Delivery Taken to the Next Level

It’s not just the food we found top notch: they’ve taken their delivery operations to the next level using high-tech gadgets (including car batteries, thermometers, and special ovens) so that the food arrives at the perfect temperature.  You ordered a medium-rare steak? It arrives via their delivery cars cooked to perfection, just as it was prepared in their restaurant-style kitchen.

They’ve also cleverly sourced the containers so that the meal comes as close as possible to serving each dish as it would be prepared in a restaurant.

As Geni said, “It’s like James Bond bringing you a meal!”

With asparagus season in full swing, sourced from the Ferme de Nangeville in the Central Loire, there are a few dishes to get asparagused. Fish dishes vary but this swordfish (espadon) was melt-in-the-mouth, served with a parmesan tuile, on a bed of polenta, roasted fennel and topped with sunny Provençal vegetables. Geni went for the most tender lamb, that just fell off the bone.

Heat Your Own

You can, however, ask for dishes to arrive unheated, so that you can do the rest at home (I thought of this as a sneaky cheats’ way, making guests think you cooked the dishes yourself!).  Precise re-heating instructions are personally adapted for each dish, depending on your oven at home. They prefer using a warm oven at around 120°C for, say 20 minutes, than to blasting the whole lot in the microwave, though!

Chef Jordan’s Signature Dessert

To be honest, I couldn’t even manage dessert at lunchtime and so, in true Monsieur Fine Bouche style, I took home Chef Jordan’s signature dessert, packaged neatly for my picnic later: La Feuillantine of 2 Chocolates and Passion Fruit with crunchy praline, topped with a white chocolate surprise including crackling sugar (sucre pétillant).  It’s how I love my dessert: not too sweet, light and with layers of different textures.  Divine!

French gourmet meal delivery near Paris

French gourmet meal delivery near Paris

Great for Picnics too!

Main dishes range from €17 to €23 and a gourmet Signature Menu comes at €35, including an artisanal fresh fruit  juice from Alain Milliat. Even their gourmet water options are well sourced:  Saint Géron sparkling and – for those of you who like to name-drop at the table, the still water is served at the Matignon – Treignac from the Corrèze.

Although they have options of French wine and Champagne, the beauty is to have a restaurant-standard meal at home with your own bottle – although their new Mojito cocktails do look rather tempting.  Also great for business lunches – they even accept ticket-restaurant lunch vouchers.

Free Delivery Zones Near Paris

* Monsieur Fine Bouche delivers free of charge to the following zones, a wide spectrum of towns west of Paris:
Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Poissy, Chambourcy, Fourqueux, Mareil-Marly, Marly-le-Roi, L’Etang-la-ville, Le Pecq, Le Vésinet, Chatou, Le Port-Marly.

My Conclusion

Personally, I don’t need a chic-looking waiter to deliver: what matters is the quality of the food – all beautifully homemade – and delivery. Value for money is excellent, and with delicious variety to their choice of seasonal dishes. How they manage to deliver to your door with dishes plated with such care and cooked to perfection is simply genius.

It’s impressive how big a zone they cover in this area and totally in love with their concept of a French gourmet meal delivered direct to you in 40 minutes after just a few clicks – it’s just enough time to get the wine organised, and even then they’ve got you covered!

* I’m excited to give you a PROMO CODE! *
Just mention MadAboutMacarons and receive €10 off your first delivery!

MONSIEUR FINE BOUCHE (MonsieurFineBouche.com)

Open: Tuesday-Sunday, 11am-2pm & 6pm-10pm

 

Disclaimer Note: I was not compensated for this post but invited to taste a typical menu. All opinions, as usual, are entirely my own. Although not required to be positive, I’m sharing this as I believe in the quality on offer to my readers.

Macaron Day Paris 2018 – Plan your Visit!

As our thoughts are happily turning to the much awaited, budding arrival of Spring on 20 March, it’s also the official date of Macaron Day Paris.

Macaron Day Paris 2018
starts the weekend of 17 March and continues to Tuesday 20 March.

Macaron Day Paris

Initiated by the ‘Picasso of Pastry’, Pierre Hermé (Vice President of Relais Desserts), Macaron Day is a charitable event which is organised by the high-end pastry chefs of French pâtisserie throughout France, Europe and the World over who are all members of Relais Desserts.

Macaron Day Paris 2018

Photo courtesy of Relais Desserts

Macaron Day Paris: The Motto

The motto is simple: One donation (un don) for One macaron.
Donations go towards the association, Vaincre la Mucoviscidose – Fighting Against Cystic Fibrosis. Their volunteer workers rally around the Relais Dessert boutiques with their tins and each time you add your donation, you pick the macaron of your choice. Last year the Association raised a fabulous €50,000 and so this year, let’s help them top it!

To assist your planning of the perfect macaron day (or weekend) in Paris, each participating boutique for Macaron Day is listed below as well as opening times. N.B. some boutiques are closed on Sunday or Monday.

Pierre Hermé

With a gourmet choice of about 20 macarons which will be available for tasting, you’ll probably be glad there’s a queue on Macaron Day at Pierre Hermé, just so you can decide on a few!

About 20 delicious flavours will be available for tasting, such as:

  • Rose, Jasmine and Fresh Mint in the Infinitely collection;
  • Ispahan (rose, raspberry & lychee), Licorice and Violet from the Signatures collection;
  • or new Lemon, Honey and Orange Blossom flavours from the Garden of Atlas collection.

Don’t forget the all-time favourites too. Mine are Mogador (milk chocolate & passion fruit) or his Infinement Vanille (Madagascan Vanilla), Montebello (pistachio & raspberry), and Yasamine (jasmine, mango & candied grapefruit)… but I’ve kept the best until last:

There’s a NEW SIGNATURE MACARON FOR MACARON DAY PARIS: Garden of Lima with lucuma nut and caramelised ginger.

Macaron Day Paris Pierre Hermé

Photo courtesy of Pierre Hermé: New Signature macaron “Garden of Lima” with lucuma nut and caramelised ginger.

4 rue Cambon, 75001 Paris (Saturday & Sunday: 10am-8pm)
39 avenue de l’Opéra, 75002 Paris (Saturday & Sunday: 10am-8pm)
18 rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie, 75004 Paris (Saturday & Sunday: 10am-8pm)
72 rue Bonaparte, 75006 Paris (Saturday & Sunday: 10am-8pm)
Publicis Drugstore, 133 avenue des Champs-Elysées, 75008 Paris (Saturday & Sunday: 10am-10.30pm)
89 boulevard Malesherbes, 75008 Paris (Saturday & Sunday: 10am-8pm)
Le Royal Monceau Raffles, 37 avenue Hoche, 75008 Paris (Saturday & Sunday 3-6pm)
Lafayette Gourmet, 35 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris (Mon-Saturday: 8.30am-9.30pm; Sunday 11am-6pm)
185 rue de Vaugirard, 75015 Paris (Saturday: 10am-8pm; Sunday 9am-5pm)
58 avenue Paul Doumer, 75016 Paris (Saturday & Sunday: 10am-8pm)
Printemps, Parly 2 shopping centre, Le Chesnay (Saturday 10am-8.30pm; closed Sunday)

 

Sadaharu Aoki

This Japanese-French pâtisserie is highly Japanese but I can assure you that the Japanese macaron language helps gets the ooh and aahs of communication going, macaron-munching style! Try spectacular flavours such as Matcha Green tea; Black Sesamé; Genmacha; Hojicha; Earl Grey; or I find this perfectly acidic citrus Yuzu macaron always hits the spot.

56 Boulevard de Port Royal, 75005 Paris (Tues-Saturday 10am-7pm; Sunday 10am-6pm. Closed Monday.)
35 rue de Vaugirard, 75006 Paris (Tues-Saturday 11am-7pm; Sunday 10am-6pm)
103 rue Saint Dominique, 75007 Paris (Tues-Sat 11am-7pm; Sunday 11am-6pm)
Lafayette Gourmet, 35 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris (Mon-Saturday 8.30am-9.30pm; Sunday 11am-7pm)
25 rue de Pérignon, 75015 Paris (Tues-Saturday: 11am-7pm; Sunday 11am-6pm)

Macaron Day Paris Dalloyau Macarons

Dalloyau

This historical institution, on the go since 1682 from the original boutique in 101 rue du Faubourg St Honoré, now has ten boutiques in and around the City of Lights offering a range of Paris macaron flavours.

For Macaron Day, Dalloyau are on a floral theme, with 2 NEW FLAVOURS: Fraise-Griotte-Coquelicot  (strawberry-black cherry-poppy) and Rose-Framboise (rose-raspberry). Both new seasonal flavours will continue after Macaron Day Paris for another 3 months in their boutiques:

5 Boulevard Beaumarchais, Bastille, 75004 Paris (Saturday & Sunday 9am-8.30pm)
2 Place Edmond Rostand, 75006 Paris (Saturday & Sunday 9am-8.30pm)
63 rue de Grenelle, 75007 Paris (Saturday & Sunday 9am-8.30pm)
101 rue du Faubourg St Honoré, 75008 Paris (Saturday & Sunday 8.30am-9pm)
Lafayette Gourmet, 35 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris (Mon-Saturday: 8.30am-9.30pm; Sunday 11am-7pm)
69 rue de la Convention, 75015 Paris (Saturday & Sunday 9am-8pm)
Galeries Gourmandes, Atrium du Palais des Congrès, 2 Place de la Porte Maillot, 75017 Paris (Saturday: 11am-8pm; Sunday 10am-8pm)
18 Place du Marché, 92200 Neuilly-sur-Seine (Saturday & Sunday: 9am-8pm)
67 Jean-Baptiste Clément, 92100 Boulogne-Billancourt (Saturday: 9am-7.30pm; Sunday 10am-2pm)
21/39 rue d’Alsace, 92300 Levallois-Perret (Saturday 10am-9pm. Closed Sunday)

 

Laurent Duchêne

With at least 15 macarons to choose from including the great classics, I’d also pick the more unusual flavours such as his Chocolate-Yuzu or Mojito macarons. For Macaron Day Paris, his NEW SIGNATURE MACARON is Le Limoncello, with Limoncello cream and jelly with a hint of basil.

238 rue de la Convention, 75015 Paris (Tues-Fri: 8.30am-2pm, 3pm-7.30pm; Saturday: 8.30am-7.30pm & Sunday: 8am-1.30pm)
2 rue Wurtz, 75013 Paris (Monday-Saturday: 7.30am-8pm; closed Sunday)

macaron day Paris

Photo courtesy of Jean-Paul Hévin, Paris

Jean-Paul Hévin

Try Jean-Paul Hévin’s new macaron, Annam: between two Grand Cru chocolate hulls from Vietnam, discover a chocolate ganache, tangy chocolate taste, yellow fruit notes. This new creation plus all the other chocolate favourites will be available in all Jean-Paul Hévin stores around Paris.

231 rue Saint Honoré, 75001 Paris
41 rue de Bretagne, 75003 Paris
3 rue Vavin, 75006 Paris
23 bis avenue de la Motte Picquet, 75007 Paris (all 4 boutiques open Mon-Saturday: 10am-7.30pm. Closed Sunday)
Lafayette Gourmet, 35 Boulevard Haussemann, 75009 Paris (Saturday: 8.30am-9.30pm; Sunday 11am-6pm)

 

Arnaud Larher

There are 4 new macaron flavours that I confess I haven’t yet tasted, but hope to try them out on Macaron Day:

  • Chestnut cream filling with pieces of candied chestnuts and black currant;
  • Praline + milk;
  • Yuzu fruit ganache spread, featuring the Yuzu citrus; and
  • Olive oil-based ganache filling;

Otherwise choose from his classic selection of exquisite flavours: my favourites are Pistachio; Mango-tangerine; or Coffee and chocolate cream laced with strong coffee.

93 rue de Seine, 75006 Paris (Saturday: 10am-8pm; Sunday: 10am-7pm)
57 rue Damrémont, 75018 Paris (Saturday: 9.30am-1.30pm & 3.30pm-7.30pm; Sunday: 10am-1.30pm)
53 rue Caulaincourt, 75018 Paris (Saturday: 10am-7.30pm; Sunday 10am-1.30pm)

Macaron Day Paris 2018 LeNotre

Photo courtesy of LeNôtre, Paris

LeNôtre

The legendary house, LeNôtre will donate 25% of its macaron sales and courses from its “Ateliers de Gaston” (Gaston’s Workshops) to the Vaincre la Mucoviscidose (Fight Cystic Fibrosis) Association.

10, rue Saint Antoine, 75004 Paris (Mon-Sun 9am-9pm)
15, boulevard de Courcelles, 75008 Paris (opening times as above for all boutiques)
22, avenue de la Porte de Vincennes, 75012 Paris
61, rue Lecourbe , 75015 Paris
44, rue d’Auteuil, 75016 Paris
48 avenue Victor Hugo, 75016 Paris
121, avenue de Wagram, 75017 Paris
Parly 2 Commercial Centre, Centre Commercial, 2, avenue Charles de Gaulle, 78150 Le Chesnay (closed Sunday)

Christophe Roussel

This boutique, Creative Duo with Julie (Christophe’s adorable wife) at the bottom of the Montmartre hill, has a most sumptuous selection of macarons to choose from..

Try their Pistachio Morello Cherry; Caramel Coated with Dark Chocolate; Passion Fruit and Tarragon; or Lavender Apricot, making us dream of a hot, fragranced summer in the South of France. One of my all-time favourites, however, is his Cheesecake macaron – you have to try it!  On second thoughts, try them ALL!

 5 rue Tardieu, 75018 Paris (Mon-Fri 10.15am-7pm; Saturday and Sunday 10.15am-8pm)

 

Enjoy yourselves, happy tastings and make a charitable weekend out of eating macarons for your donations during Macaron Day Paris.  Not only is it gourmand, but it’s all in a good cause.  Why not share your macaron experiences together on the MadAboutMacarons Facebook page? I look forward to hearing from you.

Happy Macaron Day Paris – or make yours the perfect Parisian macaron weekend and let’s top last year’s target!