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

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!

Sweet Kisses Patisserie Paris – Valentine’s Creation

Just picture it. A French bakery run by a couple passionate about patisserie called Baisers Sucrés – literally translated as Sweet Kisses Patisserie Paris.

After Kévin and Gnagalé Béziers’ Galettes des Rois tasting last month, I was fascinated to find out what the creative couple were dreaming up for Saint Valentine’s Day. So imagine my excitement when I was invited to share in their unique Valentine’s creation at their recently opened boutique in the heart of Paris’s 10th Arrondissement for an exclusive article!

sweet kisses Patisserie Paris

Kevin Bézier is no stranger to teaching patisserie and with a serious line-up of 20-years’ experience at the hotel Lutétia, Georges V and Ritz-Escoffier school, on meeting his wife, Gnagalé the couple created Baisers Sucrés in 2013. As of April 2017, their boutique is more of a showroom for their patisserie consultancy/catering business already based in Bagnolet, east of Paris.

Their showroom boutique is not far from Gare du Nord and Gare de l’Est and around the corner from the 10th’s Town Hall or Mairie: perhaps not the most romantic side of Paris, and when I visited last week during the floods in Paris, the nearest Metro stop at Château d’Eau seemed particularly appropriate.  Needless to say, taking photos for you wasn’t in the best of conditions with such a lack of sunlight but the colourful display of cakes and pastries made up for it.

sweet kisses patisserie Paris cakes

An astonishing showcase boutique it is: from macarons in the window, to all sorts of shining éclairs, cakes (from traditional French “cakes” to patisserie items) and seasonal fruit tarts from lemon to apple or pear tartes aux pommes ou poires. The velvet red cube, “L’entremet Révolution”, is another of their specialities with a chocolate and Earl Grey mousse with a slightly bitter raspberry ganache.

It’s unusual for a patisserie to also sell bread, but I could see it was just as popular with the locals. By the time we’d finished in their lab, most of the oversized brioches, rustic baguettes, and other Viennoiseries – the umbrella term for croissants, pains au chocolat, chaussons aux pommes, and the likes – had pretty much disappeared!  I hear they also make giant Kouign Amman pastries for 6 people.

sweet kisses patisserie Paris bakery

The real star of the show at Baisers Sucrés is the house speciality, carried on from the tradition of the previous boutique, Tholoniat, and it’s here that they’ve been breathing their own new life back into the boutique.

Etienne Tholoniat originally opened the boutique in 1938 and went on to become a Meilleur Ouvrier de France in 1952, spreading her reputation as far as Japan and the Vatican, where Pope Paul VI ordered a sugar basket in Vatican colours. It was her Semifreddo, however, that stole the show and continued with her son, Christian.

Sweet Kisses patisserie Paris Speciality

I watched the Baisers Sucrés dream team in the back lovingly prepare this frozen dessert, spreading a mixture of whipped cream and caramelised nougatine between génoise sponges, then finishing it off like a crème brûlée.

Moreover, we can’t forget it’s also a chocolatier, chocolate shop. I cheekily asked Kevin and Gnagalé if they were tempted to follow the Nutella riotous promotions and reduce their Chocolate Caramel spread – but of course, chocolatiers don’t do that with such quality!

sweet kisses patisserie paris chocolate shop

Which brings us to the Sweet Kisses Patisserie Paris Valentine’s creation they were about to show me backstage in their lab, situated at the end of the most charming Parisian courtyard.

With severe lack of light and yet another downpour, let’s keep it romantic and steer our attention to the glistening cobbles and green plants before entering a tiny sweet haven in the midst of the 10th.

sweet kisses patisserie Paris

First, the wafting smells of traditional, artisanal bread from their gigantic oven had me in raptures. I’d already had breakfast chez moi, but when the sizeable prize loaf was revealed then transported across the courtyard to the boutique, I was hoping I could grab a fruity-nutty slice en route. They make this pain aux fruits every Wednesday and Saturday.

sweet kisses patisserie Paris bakery

Chocolate Valentine Creation

It was time to get cracking on with the first stages of the Valentine’s creation, The Hibiscus Flower, or Fleur d’hibiscus. There were no hearts in the creation; instead they were saying it with flowers – and their love for chocolate as a couple.

Already the chocolate was being tempered to 31°C.

Sweet Kisses Patisserie Paris chocolate tempering

A loaded tray of dark chocolate half sphere shells were waiting in line, as a large pot of simmering water acted as a Bain Marie to melt the tops of each, then plunge them into cocoa nibs coated in silver edible glitter.

sweet kisses patisserie Paris Valentine chocolate

It’s at this point that Chef Kevin shows me a tip. As he’s tempering the chocolate and using a thermometer, he finds the best test is to dip in a ripped off piece of baking parchment and leave it on the counter to see if it hardens correctly.  It’s ready, as he peels a bit off the paper.

sweet kisses patisserie paris chocolate tips

As they both roll up baking paper into mini cornets to pipe out the chocolate, the ingredients now come into place.

The tempered chocolate acts as a delicious glue, holding a half sphere of chocolate filled with a previously prepared dome of hibiscus jelly covering a lemon and Earl Grey sponge.

sweet kisses Patisserie Paris Baisers Sucrés chocolate

Next come the hibiscus chocolate petals, previously prepared using half-sphere chocolate moulds. Each chilled chocolate petal is stationed in line before being sprayed with a coloured white chocolate velours. The effect is magic, with micro particles coating the chilled petals.

velours spray on valentine chocolate

Kevin and Gnagalé prepared 3 different versions: a plain chocolate-petaled flower, a fully sprayed version and this version of just half sprayed on the petals, which the couple eventually decide to choose for the Valentine’s Hibiscus Flower.

sweet kisses Patisserie Paris Valentine creation

On goes the chocolate glue to stick on the petals, followed by quick freezing sprays to hold them in place.

The flower’s dome topping of Pink Champagne mousse perfumed with hibiscus flowers is given a neutral glaze with added silver lustre for that special je ne sais quoi.

Hibiscus flower Valentines Chocolate

Meanwhile, picture the scene as the team is swarming around our table in such a small space, carrying off their latest tarts and cakes to the shop.  Totally distracted I was, watching this pineapple coconut tart being topped with mango and lime then finished off with coconut shavings – a taste of the exotic which I gather is from Gnagalé’s native Senegal.

Pineapple mango tarts at Baisers Sucrés or Sweet Kisses Patisserie Paris

Another tip from the chef came as these lemon cakes were being prepared.  He adds the final touch: a thin piping of butter in the middle to help crack open the cake in the middle.

Isn’t that funny?  In the UK, we’d be in horror with cracks in our cakes but in France, they encourage it!

sweet kisses patisserie paris cake tips

More petals for another dessert were sitting ready for their turn in the lab but back to the Hibiscus Chocolate Flower.  Gnagalé carefully tops each dome with silver leaf and the Valentine’s chocolate is ready to go.

sweet kisses Patisserie Paris Valentine Creation

Hibiscus Flower Valentine’s Chocolate

Now for the cross-section and tasting!  Here you have it in a Hibiscus Flower: a Mexican 66% dark chocolate dome filled with hibiscus jelly with lemon and Earl Grey tea sponge, topped by a silver-glazed dome of Pink Champagne and hibiscus flower mousse, all encased in red chocolate velour petals.

The verdict: a tour de force of textures from the soft, crispy and fondant with light and subtle flavours to be enjoyed at room temperature (since this was still chilled.  It also wasn’t that sweet – something I keep mentioning about why French patisserie is in another league: they don’t add too much sugar so that you can appreciate the flavours.

All that was missing?  A glass of pink Champagne and my Valentine!

hibiscus flower chocolate Valentine Paris

With huge thanks to Chefs Kevin and Gnagalé Bézier for inviting me into their lab and Tholoniat Boutique of Baisers Sucrés.  Now it’s over to you to visit them and taste their specialities for yourselves. I discovered that they’re true to their credo: to share in the pleasure.

Baisers Sucres Sweet Kisses Patisserie paris

Wishing you a very Happy Valentine’s Day with the Fleur d’hibiscus from Baisers Sucrés, or let’s say from Sweet Kisses Patisserie Paris.

Sweet Kisses Patisserie Paris Baisers Sucrés Valentines Chocolate

Baisers Sucrés – Sweet Kisses Patisserie Paris

Baisers Sucrés
Pâtisserie Chocolaterie
Boutique Tholoniat
47 Rue du Château d’Eau
75010 Paris

Métro: Château d’Eau
Tel: (+ 33) 01 42 39 93 12

 

Update!  This has proved so popular with clients that Baisers Sucrés have decided to continue with the Fleur d’Hibiscus, even after Saint Valentine’s!

Curried Cauliflower Soup with Seared Scallops – and a Flooded Seine

This weekend, as we’re waiting for the flooded Seine to rise to its peak in Paris and upstream today or tomorrow, we’re also keeping spirits high – both here and in Burgundy.  First with the Fête de Coquille de Saint Jacques (Scallop Festival) high on the hill in Montmartre and the 74th Fête de Saint-Vincent Tournante wine festival in Burgundy. As I’m not able to go to either of them, I’ve instead made a comprise of the two in a dish: Curried Cauliflower Soup with Seared Scallops.

Paris January 2018 Seine Floods

The Seine Floods January 2018

France’s meteorological service has confirmed that this is now the third-wettest last couple of months on record since data collection began in 1900.  Luckily, it looks very unlikely that we’ll reach the record flooding of 1910, when the river Seine rose to a whopping 8.62 metres.  Even although we live near the Seine next to Saint-Germain-en-Laye, west of Paris, in 1910 the flooding came as far as the bottom of our garden!

The tourist river cruises and all other boat traffic on the Seine in Paris and upstream has been stopped. It’s not difficult to see why by these photos I took on Thursday afternoon.  Already it was approaching close to 6 metres, more than four metres above its normal height. But apart from some RER and metro lines closed, the City of Light is in good hands and the skies are holding off on the forecasted rain – for the moment!

curried cauliflower soup seared scallops

Annual Burgundy Wine Festival Inspiration

This year’s Burgundy wine festival, la fête de Saint Vincent Tournante, is taking place in Prissé, Macon.  I’ve been thrilled to take part in previous festivals – and even interviewed on French radio! Join me in the typical ambience by reading these posts on Clos Vougeot, 2015 and Saint Aubin in 2014: the chosen village gears up to the event by decorating trees, houses, wine casks and the likes with coloured crèpe paper flowers (representing the wine qualities – white flowers or fleurs blanches) and interesting sculptures. As we’re given the list of local wine producers taking part with their special festival blends, we flit between tastings trying to keep warm with stands offering simple dishes that compliment the wines.

In 2014, I distinctly remember a welcoming bowl of curried cauliflower soup with seared scallops.  The French are not known as being soup lovers but this chef was popular that day, as he served out this comforting, healthy soup – with the crème de la crème of seared, almost sweet, scallops fried in front of us and left to sink into the soup as we were holding our glasses of Saint Aubin white wine balanced on a string around our necks.

curried cauliflower soup with seared scallops

Ever since that delicious moment, I have been making this at home as it’s so easy to reproduce.  When it comes to curry, the French never serve it hot and spicy: instead it’s usually only lightly fragranced with curry powder – perfect so as not to overpower the scallops, as we’re left to appreciate their nutty flavours in browned butter and hint of turmeric. I’ve recently discovered a Scottish Hebridean smoked salt from the Isle of Lewis which, topped to finish, is a most subtle compliment to finish it all off – and, if you have my book, Mad About Macarons, it’s brilliant served with a mini curry Tikka Macsala macaron!  The spicy curry’s fire is put out by the balancing sweetness of the macaron shells.

Curried Cauliflower Soup with Seared Scallops

 

curried cauliflower soup with seared scallops

seared scallops in turmeric and smoked salt

 

curried cauliflower soup with seared scallops
Print
Curried Cauliflower Soup with Seared Scallops
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 

A lightly curried cauliflower soup given the French touch with sweet, seared fresh scallops in turmeric and Scottish smoked salt.

Course: Main, Soup, Starter
Cuisine: French, Scottish
Servings: 6
Calories: 139 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 1 large cauliflower weighing about 1kg/2lb, leaves & core removed, cut into florets
  • 1 tbsp curry powder (or ground cumin)
  • ground pepper
  • 2 tsp salt fleur de sel
  • 900 ml /30fl oz chicken/veg stock
  • 6 fresh scallops
  • 20 g /0.75oz butter unsalted
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp smoked salt optional
  • fresh coriander leaves & dried onions for garnish and curry macarons!
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy based pan and add the onion. Cook gently for 5 minutes without browning. Add the cauliflower florets and curry powder and sauté in the oil for another 5 minutes until the curry coats the florets. Add the pepper, salt and stock (the stock should be at the same level as the cauliflower, just enough to cover).
  2. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for about 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
  3. Blend until smooth.
  4. Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat and once foaming, add the turmeric and scallops. Sear them for about one minute on each side (depending on their thickness – please don’t overcook as they’ll turn rubbery). Top with a pinch of smoked salt, if using. You may want to cut the scallops in half.
  5. Pour the soup into bowls, add a scallop each to sink into the soup and serve with crispy onions, fresh coriander and a mini curry macaron (optional! Recipe in my 1st book, Mad About Macarons)

Recipe Notes

Food & Wine Pairing:

What wine to accompany this curried cauliflower soup with seared scallops? A chilled glass of white Burgundy or a Chenin Blanc.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

Cheers! Santé !

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Putting on The Ritz Paris Teatime

Teatime at the Ritz in Paris was on my perfect French afternoon tea bucket list all during its four long years of renovation. Even as the luxury 5-star hotel was undertaking its €200 million face-lift on Place Vendôme, I still featured the Ritz in my recipe book, Teatime in Paris, knowing that they would unveil something exceptional. Together with our clinging French attire, my friend and I were excited to let time stand still and put on a Ritz Paris Teatime!

Ritz Paris Teatime new Salon Proust

Tea in the Salon Proust

Winter in Paris is perhaps the best time to indulge in the ultimate French afternoon tea. It takes place by the fireplace in the salon given homage to Marcel Proust, under his watchful portrait’s eyes.

Ritz Paris Teatime Salon Proust

Author Marcel Proust came to the Ritz’s opening party in 1898 and chose it as his second home. He apparently took to the corner spot right next to the fireplace, finding endless inspiration for his novels using the hotel’s elegant surroundings and intimate salons of the literary and aristocratic elite.
Here he felt that “nobody would push you around”.

Ritz Paris Teatime at the Salon Proust

As soon as 2.30pm chimes, the loaded silver Champagne bucket beckons at the entrance to the open-curtained, cosy salon. Would you pick a flute of Reserve Barons de Rothschild Blanc or Rosé to add even more sparkle to the occasion?

Ritz Paris Teatime with Champagne Rothschild

The shiny marble table mirroring the impressive floral display is suddenly hidden, groaning with golden-framed glass boxes containing a whole range of biscuits, petits fours and cakes from yesteryear (les biscuits d’Antan).

Marcel Proust looks on wide-eyed, swooning over his childhood favourite sweet treats on overflowing tiered plates. He no doubt would have loved what’s to come from the talented head pastry chef, François Perret.

Ritz Paris Teatime Salon Proust

It is a journey through the flavors of my childhood memories which I grew up with and which developed by taste buds.”

Chef François Perret insists, too, that he doesn’t use sugar to excess. This is my kind of pastry chef!

Exceptional teas from the TWG Tea Company in Singapore are given pride of place over pages and pages in the menu. The tea sommelier has picked out black, green and white teas, including semi-fermented, fermented teas and herbal infusions. I would recommend the Ritzy Earl Grey with added cornflowers. Non- tea drinkers are also spoiled for choice with the likes of hot chocolate, five different coffees, as well as iced and cold drinks.

Ritz Paris Teatime teas

A Right Ritz Paris Teatime

Afternoon Tea at the Ritz is distinctly French in the Salon Proust. There are no patisseries or pastries as such; instead typically refined biscuits and petits fours from yesteryear plus mini tarts and cakes.

It’s the scalloped, humped madeleine teacake that takes centre stage from start to finish, as made famous by Proust in his novel, “In Search of Lost Time” (A la Recherche du Temps Perdu). Even the tea service evokes a golden madeleine motif: Chef Perret helped to design the French white limoges porcelain made by Haviland.

Ritz Paris Teatime Madeleines de Proust

Service is immaculate and convivial, as each element of this Parisian teatime is given a touch of relaxed ceremony. A mini madeleine arrives in a bowl for starters, then sumptuously immersed in lemon-infused milk – we’re asked to leave it to infuse for a minute to enjoy the experience at its best.

Three tiers of treats arrive, competing for centre stage: we’re introduced to each layer in order, starting with a quirky teacup as top tier. They’re all biscuits and petits fours that would have traditionally been served in the brasseries of the time: sponge fingers with cocoa nibs, Russian cigarettes, Florentines.

Ritz Paris Teatime Table

The second tier highlights biscuits such as Spritz, buttery Pailles au framboises (nothing like the French packet ones!), airy allumettes of egg whites and lemon, marshmallow bears. The bottom tier is devoted to tarts and cakes, with the lightest sugar tarts on a brioche base (I hear they’re now serving old-fashioned lemon tarts), pink praline meringue, marble cake and giant tuiles.

A most memorable treat is perhaps the “Pain au Chocolat”. Not at all appearing like the classic viennoiserie that we see in Parisian boulangeries, Chef Perret has played with the simple French childhood goûter (after-school 4pm snack) of a baguette sandwich filled with a couple of chocolate squares, cleverly transforming it into cocoa-nib-covered dark chocolate breads served with a platter of cocoa butter, coconut butter, whipped cream, and jam.

Pains au chocolat butters ritz paris teatime

The Madeleine du Ritz arrives hidden under a bell, unveiled as delicately perfumed with orange blossom and lemon-glazed. So not to completely ruin your surprise, they change the flavour combination every now and again.

Recipes for madeleines and tuiles are included in Teatime in Paris, just in case you’d like to recreate a ritzy teatime at home.

With all that tea, even a trip to the restroom was discrete ceremony, where the tap water glides from golden swans.

Tea break Ritz Paris restrooms

I’d missed the bill arriving, which was yet another wonderful touch (their discretion, that is – not that I’d run off to the bathroom!); elegantly and discreetly placed at page 46 inside an old edition of A la Recherche du Temps Perdu, where Proust describes that perfect taste of a childhood memory through a Madeleine and some tea.

Ritz Paris Teatime check Proust book

Don’t be fooled by all the light biscuits and mini cakes: it’s just not possible to finish everything that’s presented (well, without needing a golden crane option at the end to lift us out). A box of untouched goodies are yours to take home, plus yet another finale: the most exquisite tiny tea caddy containing a Rooibos and yuzu tea with precise instructions to infuse 5g for 400ml at 90°C for 3-4 minutes, s’il vous plaît.

After such a Ritz Paris Teatime, it’s quite easy to take a stroll indoors and lose yourself in the sumptuous corridors leading to the Hemingway Bar. To access the bar, temptations continue with this elegant shopping gallery.

Ritz Paris Shopping gallery

With teatime starting at 2.30pm, by the time you’ve enjoyed an afternoon of it by the fire in such lush surroundings, it’s extra magical in Winter to come out to the sparkling lights of Place Vendôme.

So, what do you think of having a Christmas Ritz Paris Teatime?

Teatime Ritz Paris Christmas

Open every day: 2.30pm-6pm

French Teatime (Thé à la française): €65; Champagne Teatime: €85
Salon Proust
Ritz Hotel Paris
15 Place Vendôme, 75001 PARIS
Tel: +33 (0)1 43 16 33 74

Metros: Opéra or Tuileries

 

Note: This teatime was in experienced in November 2016 but the original version of this article was finally first published for Paris Perfect in February 2017.

Relais Desserts Yule Log Presentation, Paris 2017

This week, the elite group of top pastry chefs had us floating on the Seine for their annual Relais Desserts Yule Log presentation of Bûches de Noël. You’ll remember me talking about the Relais Desserts group here before, as they organise the charitable event, the Fête du Macaron or French Macaron Day each Springtime.

relais desserts yule log presentation paris 2017

Even the boat’s pristine top deck looked covered in shiny festive glaze with seats of whipped meringues. Meanwhile, I was already in a daze to get started  downstairs: there was a LOT of patisseries to get through and their stars of pastry to meet. So, ready for a bumper gourmet edition? Grab a cup of tea and join me on the sweet voyage.

 

Presided by Frédéric Cassel on the left below, Relais Desserts invited us to taste the bûches/yule logs, meet the chefs behind each creation, ask questions and enjoy the tasting notes.  As I do in my patisserie recipe books, each creation suggests how to serve it: either chilled or, as in most cases, to take out of the fridge for 15-30 minutes beforehand in order to appreciate all the flavours and textures.  Recommendations for the perfect drink to accompany them are also given, although this one is easy for a festive meal if you like bubbles.

relais desserts yule log presentation Paris 2017

 

Each yule log was presented by collection. Have you ever seen chocolate paper before? This listing was printed on paper made by 45% of recycled cacao shells.

cocoa paper

I’m a sensitive cookie. If you’re like me and an obsessed gourmet, can you imagine walking in to one long room filled with the most outstanding French pastry chefs in one spot? I was overwhelmed yet bubbling to discover each creation.

 

Dried Fruit & Nuts Collection (Fruits Secs)

relais desserts yule log Bernardé

Sporting the renowned collar of a Meilleur Ouvrier de FranceNicolas Bernardé doesn’t give a name to this yule log but certainly provokes the goose-bumps, just thinking of the flavours: NOISETTES-MANGUE-PASSION.  It’s a mountain of hazelnut sponge, mango-passion fruit compote with a passion fruit cream, crunchy hazelnuts from Piemont and a Gianduja crème légère. Enjoy it with Earl Grey tea.

 

Relais Desserts Mercotte Roussel

The beaming smiles of Mercotte and Christophe Roussel were in full tasting swing. Mercotte – France’s wonderful answer to Mary Berry – is TV presenter of La Meilleur Pâtissier, patisserie blogger at La Cuisine de Mercotte, and on the jury for Christophe Roussel’s prestigious Amateur annual pastry challenge, Le Défi Patissier, of which I was most flattered to join them as guest on the jury last year in La Baule (read all about it here).

 

relais desserts yule log Christophe Roussel

Far removed from a traditional yule log, Christophe Roussel, also the star of La Baule and la Guerande, evokes icy snow with his ICEBERG. Served chilled, it’s a most refreshing end to any festive meal. Topped with glistening choux buns, break into creamy vanilla, toasted hazelnuts from Piemont with a zesty touch of orange.

 

Jean-Philippe Darcis ‘s ALESSANDRIA (top left below) is best served with a good pure Arabica coffee, to accompany the Gianduja mousse, Ristretto cream with a cappuccino marshmallow, hazelnut sponge and chocolate-hazelnut crunchy crumble. Attention: it’s a limited edition, with 300 examples for Christmas.

Relais Desserts Yule logs Dalloyau Lenotre, Darcis

Jean-Christophe Jeanson prefers to keep his UNE SURPRISE Bûche secret. Made for Lenôtre Paris, even the packaging evokes a mysterious snowy forest in Lapland.  I wonder if Laurent Duchêne was asking if he could reveal it?

Again on a snowy and marshmallow note, Nicolas Boucher’s KUKLA (bottom right) is for Dalloyau Paris. Its  chocolate cover evokes a matryoshka doll, revealing a variation on a theme of a pavlova: an almond meringue base with confiture au lait with a financier heart of mango-passion fruit compote and vanilla cream.  Glazed in white chocolate, this frozen bûche is surrounded with a citrus marshmallow. Recommended with a mature dark rum.

 

Chocolate Yulelog Collection

relais desserts yule log Pierre Hermé

I managed to catch an enigmatic smile from Pierre Hermé, as he looked on to his GÂTEAU DE NOËL ÉCORCES. Together with artist Sylvianne Lüsher who designed the clay base, it’s an ephemeral piece of art – and at only 20 examples being made for Christmas, it’s a cracker of a limited edition! A log within a log, encompassing Viennese chocolate sponge, dark chocolate and raspberry Chantilly, raspberry compote with dark chocolate salted butter shortbread. Three out of the four portions are dark chocolate: one is raspberry red to give the artistic finish.

 

relais desserts yule log Hévin Paris

Following on from last year’s French Touch collection (see my post on it here), Jean-Paul Hévin has been inspired through time, paying homage to designer Gerrit Thomas Rietveld with his GÉOMETRIK.
A crunchy almond praline with poppy seed base is topped with a Peruvian Grand Cru chocolate mousse smoked with pine, topped with a hazelnut sponge and caramelised laurel-infused mousse.
A special tip for clean-cutting this Christmas is to cut the yule log with a warmed knife.

 

relais desserts yule log marc Ducobu

Marc Ducobu‘s MERVEILLEUX NOËL brings the classic chocolate yule log from Belgium with new notes based on meringue, Chantilly, Caribbean chocolate ganache, with different chocolate crispy textures.

Vianney Bellanger (above right) brings his chocolate CAROUSSEL from Le Mans, evoking childhood with a crunchy chocolate crumble, plus the more rare criollo cacao variety in a chocolate mousse from the Dominican Republic. It comes with a chocolate crème anglaise (light custard) with crunchy pearls.

 

relais desserts yule log Jeff Oberweis

Jeff Oberweis concentrates more on after Christmas when the traditional yule log changes time to New Year’s Eve, known here as SAINT-SYLVESTRE.  Inspired by Salvador Dali’s melting clocks, it’s ticking with Madagascan dark chocolate mousse with a Gianduja crunch, plus a Brazilian milk chocolate cream topped on a chocolate almond sponge.  I think it’s about time we visited Luxembourg with only 2 hours by TGV from Paris. After having lived in Guatemala, he knows a thing or two about chocolate!

 

Spicy Collection (Épices)

Relais Desserts Yulelogs Pignol Lyon

Jean-Paul Pignol‘s BELLECOUR pays homage to the silhouette of Lyon’s famous square and his Madeleine de Proust of childhood memories: devouring clementines from under the Christmas tree.
The warming hint of spices are in a soft sponge, a crackling nutty contrasting texture with a Peruvian chocolate mousse which is interlaced with the most deliciously acidic note of clementine marmalade and confit. After discussing macarons and Lyon with Chef Pignol, I have to return soon: on my last gourmet trip to Lyon (see my post on Lyon’s patisseries) I didn’t even try his speciality, La Tarte Ecossaise!

 

relais desserts yule log arnaud larder

Arnaud Larher is already celebrating 20 years’ anniversary since opening his first boutique in Montmartre, 1997.  With a mixture of nostalgia and his favourite recipes comes ÉPICÉA.  It’s a yule log filled with 66% dark grand cru chocolate and gingerbread mousse, orange marmalade on a gingerbread base and all topped with a glaze and 80% dark chocolate Chantilly cream.

 

Citrus Yulelog Collection (Agrumes)

relais desserts yule log Mulhaupt

Thierry Mulhaupt brought this dazzling ÉTOILE from Strasbourg and Colmar to take the chocolate brownie to new heights. An almond brownie is topped with the most succulent Maltese orange caramel and topped with a 66% dark chocolate mousse with orange marmalade.
He also makes a savoury bûche (salmon, lemon, broccoli as a starter) and has just published a new book on Bredeles Salés, filled with savoury recipes for aperitif nibbles.

 

relais desserts yule log Luc Guillet

Luc Guillet must have been inundated with fans since I couldn’t find him before I had to run off.  To celebrate his first Christmas in the family business, his CÉSAR is inspired by his Asian travels, with fragrances of yuzu, black sesame, chocolate and caramel.

 

 

relais desserts yule log presentation 2017 Bouillet

Also hailing from Lyon, Sebastien Bouillet brings on a touch of circus fun with his CHAPITEAU. Toasted popcorn and 44% milk chocolate mousse with hazelnut are topped with a beautiful yuzu cream and yuzu jelly that tickles all the senses. For more on his boutiques, see my article on Lyon here.

 

Yulelog Fruit Collection

relais desserts yule log presentation 2017 Paris

Claire Damon, the only woman chef in the group, has logged herself with a self-portrait in INITALES CD.  Evoking her childhood memories of freshly cut hay at the end of spring, she evokes a taste of summer on the plate this Christmas. Be transported with a compote of handpicked wild blueberries from Auvergne, a light sponge of rice flour and an airy mousse fragranced with cut hay. There’s even a touch of crunchy wild clover. She healthily suggests a modest glass of still water to accompany it.

 

relais desserts yule log presentation Paris 2017

Claire Damon has the spoon! With Laurent Duchêne, Arnaud Larher, Sebastien Bouillet

 

relais desserts yule log laurent duchene Paris

It’s the famous Black Forest Gateau that inspired Laurent Duchêne this year with his SOUS BOIS FORET NOIRE. The fun visual of being in the woods mixed with the legendary ingredients are taken to new heights with a light chocolate sponge, Tanzanian 75% dark chocolate creamy mousse, griotte black cherry confit and a Madagascan vanilla Chantilly.

 

relais desserts yule log Frederic Cassel

Frédéric Cassel continues the tradition of exchanging gifts, and his BOITE CADEAU continues the charm with 14 Christmas boules garnished with all sorts of delicious speciality surprises from his patisserie in Fountainbleau. It’s a limited edition, with 100 examples available this Christmas.

 

relais desserts yule log Michel Pottier Grandin

Called Royale, referring to the royal burgh of Saint-Germain-en-Laye where Michel Pottier runs the Patisserie Grandin on rue du Pain (quite aptly named as the original bakers’ street to King François I’s château, just around the corner). As I live in the area, check out my introduction to Saint-Germain-en-Laye and a DIY Chocolate & Pastry tour in his royal town.

Serve chilled, Royale’s lime and raspberry mousses nestle between an almond sponge, topped with toasted meringue with a fresh raspberry coulis or sauce. I like the mini macarons as a slice guide, so there’s no cheating.

relais desserts yule log richard Seve

Richard Sève beckoned me over with a square of red chocolate. I felt like Charlie in a chocolate factory. It’s no surprise, then, that he’s due to open a new lab and chocolate museum in Lyon at the end of this month.
He made the chocolate using whole fresh strawberries without any added sugar to continue the pleasure of summer over the Christmas table. His COLIBRIS, referring to the exotic birds that feed off the rare nectars of tropical fruits and flowers, adds the most intense yet light natural strawberry ganache with a compote of mango and passion fruit to an airy sponge.

 

relais desserts Coco Jobard

To finish off my early festive log, meet the talented Coco Jobard, food stylist and recipe editor for the association’s new forthcoming book, Haute-Pâtisserie for Relais Desserts, due to hit the bookshelves on 26 October. You mean – there’s more?

So, after all that, am I the only one to have this inexplicable urge for Champagne?