How could you resist? Week 2 of the French mid-term school holidays and the 20th Salon du Chocolat Paris kicked off yesterday.
The kids ruled (my excuse, anyway) so it was time to head over to the Porte de Versailles for a taste. Arriving in the vast upstairs gallery, most people were making for the chocolate dresses. Hey, did someone pinch that meringue at the bottom? It wasn’t me, I promise…
The fashion show parades at 3pm and 5pm, when the crowds form around the central podium. That’s when I ventured around to visit other attractions, including the ground floor, full of chocolate from around the world. The last time I came here was with talented artist, Carol Gillott of ParisBreakfast fame: her fabulous artwork was in full view behind Fréderic Kassel’s pastry stand – although I don’t understand how I missed it. It’s huge here – and not for nothing I lost Carol last time, too!
Jean-Luc Decluzeau, chocolate-maker and passionate historian put this sculpture together, celebrating how chocolate came to France around the 17th Century. This represents the court of Louis XIV. It’s made with 500 kilos of Leonidas chocolates – including 2300 pralines – representing 300 hours of sweet labour.
Personally I had my eye on a leg: I’d be quite happy with the seat alone, weighing in at 35 kilos!
This time, macaron-lovers would certainly be happy. These gluten-free treats were … everywhere.
And even more macarons from a huge central stand devoted to Pierre Marcolini‘s chocolates – including a White Bar, serving cocktails. I intended to return but became carried away… His chocolate macarons are top of my list, for sure.
By lunch time, the kids and I were starving. Looking around for a sandwich…. all we could find were these savoury macarons from les Macarondises (Paul, the only savoury boulangerie stand had sold out – my 12-yr old daughter Lucie has decided she’s setting up a stall next year). That was definitely a first: savoury macarons for lunch. Well, it was a gluten-free sandwich or few: salmon-dill, goats cheese-honey, foie gras and gingerbread and foie gras with chocolate (but of course). The salmon was our winner with chèvre-miel a close second.
We followed it off with another box for dessert from Les Macarondises. Do you know what? I much preferred the savoury ones – they were so much less sweeter and full of flavour, just enough filling, not too much. Perfection.
Before I knew it, I bumped into Christophe Roussel, the most friendly chocolatier-pâtissier in Montmartre. He didnt have a stand this year being busy as a new Dad but was one of the judges – you must check out his new chocolate Eiffel Towers, called iTowers! Then just around the corner, Philippe Urraca, one of my pastry chef heroes, a Meilleur Ouvrier de France, s’il vous plaît, was demonstrating how to make chocolate truffles.
Enough name-dropping (and grinning in a photo with him together – more are on Facebook and now on Instagram).
Look at Sadaharu Aoki’s stand: preparing the Tokyo Macaron Yaki – a large chocolate macaron sandwiched in between green tea waffle batter.
Every stand has something going on. So much to take in, smell, taste, then bring out the wallet and pocket money… this is when I realise my kids love good, dark chocolate.
Not only exquisite chocolate, but the best in artisanal lollipops, full of flavours such as the classic of salted caramel, chocolate-pear, green apple, honey, chocolate-nougat, chocolate-pistachio…
Chocolate mousse – the traditional chocolate mousse bar run by the famous house, Chapon – here’s Patrice Chapon’s recipe for his 100% cacao Chocolate Mousse.
Then the more chocolate, chestnut, coffee, praline flavours of macarons from Laurent Duchêne. Then I was tempted by his Baba au Yuzu… just finished it tonight, split with the girls to taste. Thanks to Carol Gillott for tempting me with a photo of it in the morning – this was the final straw and had me legging it to le Salon!
Not forgetting that pastry chefs and chocolatiers are real artists, there was a huge emphasis also on chocolate artwork as well as the sculptures. Here, Romain Duclos demonstrated his artwork, ‘Valse Chocolat’ showing the movements of chocolate through 15-second vibrations every 1.5 minutes underneath the table. At one point, the vibrations were so powerful, we could have been in Iceland watching some kind of chocolate eruptions. Wonderful imagination.
Then back to art on canvas – macarons. Carol Gillott should have a stand of her amazing macaron and pastry watercolours. Just saying for the next Salon du Chocolat Paris …
Next door, the kids posed for a Giant King Kong in chocolate, were particularly taken by a chocolate owl who was weeping, then we gazed up at these painters still preparing something for the following few days…
Hubby was brought up in Africa and so spooky masks are something I’ve tried to avoid. Now that these are in chocolate by Chocolats Colas, I could live with that…
Suddenly we heard the crowds again: the next fashion show was parading around with chocolate dresses. Meanwhile, this little girl was up to a few tricks and treats: watching attentively as the strawberries were dipped into the most tempting of melted chocolate.
By now we were flagging. I’m sure you are too by now? There are more photos on the other social network channels (I’m starting to give it a go) for those of you who need more chocolate.
By this time, giant macarons were rather on the big side – even for macaronivores.
What would you go for, now that Autumn is here: lemon, praline, coffee, speculoos (cinnamon), crème brûlée, chocolate?
There’s still time to get to Le Salon du Chocolat Paris – it continues until Sunday 2nd November!