Why not cook up a healthy salad with some festive colours? Great for parties.
When banana loaf could be a French cake. Ramblings on chestnut flour and cakes – and a recipe!
How to make the fluffiest cheese scones for teatime!
Tiramisu macaron shells are given a creative twist to make a gluten free version of the Italian classic dessert
Angelina’s new yule log for Christmas this year will certainly grace any elegant festive table for a traditional French bûche dessert. And for fans of their famous African Hot Chocolate and Mont Blanc, there are more surprises in store.
The highlight for me was not just being invited to taste and share Angelina’s new yule log with you, but I was equally bowled over to be able to talk with the pastry chefs themselves.
Angelina’s New Yule Log, the Paon Blanc
Created for Angelina by head pastry chef, Christophe Appert, the Paon Blanc (white peacock) takes pride of place for this year’s festive centre-piece. The rare and beautiful white peacock was particularly chosen as an artistic symbol of the Belle Epoque era, echoing the style of the famous tearoom in Rue de Rivoli since 1903. For more about the background of Angelina, see my article here.
Angelina’s new yule log is sheer elegance on a plate, the Paon Blanc fanning out delicate notes of citrus and the exotic with passion fruit, mango and coconut. As light as the peacock’s feathers, this is always appreciated after a festive meal and its perfect play of not too much sugar encourages the delicate fruity notes and white chocolate to shine through.
Let’s look at its sophisticated layers: underneath the white peacock’s coat of coconut and white chocolate and golden powdered feathers, lies a crisp crumble base finely topped with coconut butter/white chocolate. The heart of the yule log contains layers of joconde almond biscuit (sponge) interspersed with three different jellies: orange, passion fruit and mango.
It’s all covered in an airy vanilla mousse – and my favourite part is the circular, surprising zing of a lemon and lime cream which I’m so glad that Chef Appert added after his first few drafts, as for me it’s the winning touch! I have to add that I’m not a white chocolate fan – but this is so fine with a perfectly dosed overall balance that the white chocolate, although present, is a wonderful background suggestion.
Gourmet Advent Calendar
The traditional Advent Calendar evokes chic illustrations of the tearoom in Rue de Rivoli, with a surprise behind each window. Each day discover the likes of milk chocolate almonds, white or dark chocolate pralines, Napolitains and Giandujas (chocolate-hazelnut).
The advent calendar is on sale as of 16 November.
Gift Boxes (Coffrets)
Angelina have thought of everything this Christmas, and their selection of gift boxes includes the new white-peacocked festive edition. Fans of Angelina’s famous African Hot Chocolate are spoiled with a festive edition with added cinnamon, a box of 19 chocolates, and a jar of chestnut paste to continue their Mont-Blanc theme. A new Christmas tea (Thé de Noël) from China and Sri Lanka is also given the white peacock treatment with orange peel and flavoured with gingerbread and flower petals.
More Yule Logs
Angelina’s new yule log still has it’s traditional bûche family alongside it: the Choco Intense, The Tentation Passion and the Mont-Blanc.
Did you know that the emblematic Mont-Blanc pastry was created by Angelina pastry chefs in the 1910’s based on a popular hairstyle that women wore at that time: a short bob?
Saturday 17 December
Mark your calendars if you’d like to surprise your loved ones with a personalised note around the festive white peacock theme. A Calligraphist will be at both stores to write something for you with her plume on an Angelina card. Free event.
- Boutique in Rue du Bac: 11am-3pm
- Tearoom in Rue de Rivoli: 3.30pm-7pm
Meet Florent Martinot, pastry sous-chef, who joined Angelina in June 2015. Originally from the gourmet Capital of Lyon, a town where he grew up around delicious confection specialities and where he realised his vocation after falling and saving a pain au chocolat rather than his teeth as a youngster. He’s worked with Sebastian Bouillet, Dalloyau (specialising in chocolate), Hermé (managing the opening of a new chocolate shop in Alsace), then finally Hugo & Victor (R&D) before his calling to Angelina.
Sous pastry chef, Florent Martinot
Last but not least, are the macarons! This Christmas, there’s nothing plain about their vanilla macarons which are coated in gold powder to top off the White Peacock theme with panache – not ganache.
With thanks to the pastry and press teams at Angelina for a wonderful festive tasting and for trying so hard to evoke a Christmas ambience in sweltering 30°C + temperatures of our Indian Parisian Summer in September! The Christmas collection, including the limited edition Paon Blanc, is available as of 26 November.
Rue de Rivoli
P.S. Let me show you this beautiful illustration of Angelina’s Paon Blanc bûche by a newly discovered artistic friend, the talented Isma of MesArticlesduJour. This conjures up the feminine, light touch of Angelina, don’t you think?
Next time you’re in Paris and want to avoid the typical tourist route, take a day trip to Saint-Germain-en-Laye. The town is only 20 kilometres west of Paris and 15 km from Versailles.
It couldn’t be easier to travel from the City, as it takes only 20 minutes on the RER A line from Paris direct to the terminus of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. As we live five minutes away from this Royal Burgh town, I’m finally proud to present it to start off my new series on interesting day trips out of Paris.
Not to be confused with the quarter of Saint Germain-des-Prés in Paris, the town of Saint-Germain-en-Laye is perched on the edge of a forest of 3500 hectares and today has a population of about 43,000. It’s home to the Paris Saint Germain football (soccer) team but before it was a Royal town, home to the Kings of France. Close to my Scottish roots, it was also where King James VII of Scotland (II of England) died in exile. His shrine to the Franco-Scottish Auld Alliance is in the church opposite the castle. The town even has its own tartan, such is the Auld Alliance with the Scots.
Update: I forgot to mention that the town is twinned with the Scottish town of Ayr!
This French Royal Burgh has been a market town since King François I, who decided as of 1526 that there should be two market days. Today there are THREE legendary MARKET DAYS: on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday mornings (check out my Instagram feed, as you’ll see me regularly shop here!)
I joined Victoria’s weekly guided weekend walk, organised by the Tourist Office, tracing the influence of King François I on the town. He stayed in Saint-Germain-en-Laye for over a thousand days – the longest for a monarch choosing between a wealthy choice of fairytale French castles. He left the town with its layout, a pentagon-shaped castle and a centre for trade.
Bread Street (Rue au Pain)
The tour (in French and English) meets up on Bread Street, at the Tourist Office which houses the Claude Debussy Museum upstairs, birthplace of the composer in 1826 (the museum is free of charge).
Rue au Pain, the town’s oldest Medieval street, supplied bread to the castle. Today it’s still home to a bakery, chocolate shop, Pâtisserie and fromagerie. As we’re taken along pedestrian-only cobbled streets, passing boutiques and mansion houses from the 17th and 18th centuries, we learn fascinating facts from taxes to the gradual increase in population. The King had put Saint-Germain-en-Laye on the map.
Today the castle is home to the National Archeological Museum and is currently undergoing renovations. Certain parts now look so pristine, it could have been build last year! The castle dates from Louis IX in 1235, with the oldest part of the castle that’s left, the Royal Chapel, inspired the Saint Chapelle in Paris. Look up and spot numerous reminders of François I’s (F) symbol and the invincible salamander; N for the Napoleon III empire; and R symbol of the third Republic.
The chimney-packed castle roof is open to the public for visits too, on demand, from May-September. I wasn’t lucky this year but as soon as May appears, let’s go up together when the renovations are finished.
Birthplace of Louis XIV
The Pavillion Henri IV Hotel houses the small red-brick pavilion where Louis XIV was born and baptised in 1638. It’s all that’s left of the new castle (Château Neuf) which was demolished in 1776 at the request of Louis XIV’s brother, the Count of Artois. Rather than restore the castle that had run into disrepair while Louis had moved to the new royal residence at Versailles, the Count told the King he much preferred the castle in Maisons-Laffitte. So the people of Saint-Germain-en-Laye re-cycled the “new” bricks for their mansion houses.
It wasn’t just the King that was born here; the hotel is also famous for inventing the Sauce Béarnaise and Pommes de Terre Soufflées (puffed potatoes) after it opened in 1836.
The Grand Terrace, designed by Louis XIV’s favourite gardener, André Le Nôtre, is over 2km long. He worked on this before Vaux-le-Vicomte and Versailles.
For lovers of architecture, there are plenty of explanatory signs in English to learn more about the history and designs of the gardens.
Replanted in 1999, nearly 2000 Pinot Noir vines grow just under the Terrace to make the Vin des Grottes, although this isn’t commercialised. Instead it’s traditionally served at the harvest festival in September.
Just look at this perspective, lined with lime blossom trees. Ready for a walk? Imagine in Louis XIV’s time this wasn’t paved or pathed, there was no grass and no railings with a drop of 13 metres. It was simply sanded so walkers may have felt slightly daunted…
From the terrace, the cherry on the cake is this magnificent view of the west of Paris including La Defense: on clear days like this you can spot Sacré Coeur and the Eiffel Tower. Can you see them plus other Parisian landmarks?
It’s a favourite spot for weekend walks, which leads eventually to the well-guided paths in the forest just outside the gates.
Let’s finish with a partial view of the park in Autumn (taken end of last October).
Add Saint-Germain-en-Laye to your bucket list next time you visit Paris. There’s so much to see just outside the City that’s within easy access. Just to whet your appetite, next up is a sweet tour of the town, including recipes, from gastronomic history to the wealth of award-winning chocolate and pastry boutiques.
François I Tours: 3pm Saturdays (1.5 hrs) 9 April- 15 October
October-April: Various conferences, exhibitions & bigger group tours
For more information, tour reservations & visits, contact:
Maison Claude Debussy
38 rue au Pain
Tel: 01-34 51 05 12