Archive for January, 2013

Hugo & Victor Chocolates – Unbagging and Unboxing!

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013
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We passed by the Hugo & Victor boutique recently looking for Madagascar chocolate for our annual chocolate tasting. Spotting a display of Carnet de 6 Chocolats, I purchased one to take home to try. (I also purchased a bar of Madagascar chocolate…more about that later.)

Out of the Bag

Out of the Bag
www.DiscoverParis.net

Carnet means book in French, and this little book containing six different chocolates would provide a good sampling of the type of chocolates that this company produces.

Carnet

Carnet
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Opening up the book, I saw six ganaches. A brochure listed their names: Voie lactée, Montezuma, Praliné Feuilletine, Poivre de Tasmanie, Palet or, and Framboise. If this were truly a book, it would make nice reading!

Carnet de 6 Chocolats

Carnet de 6 Chocolats
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Our tasting notes:

Voie lactée: Tender bite, sweet milk chocolate, unctuous, light caramel taste.
Montezuma: Sweet, cloying. Mango and spice flavors that overpower the chocolate.
Praliné Feuilletine: Ground hazelnut and dark chocolate. Grainy texture, like fine sand.
Poivre de Tasmanie: Spicy, peppery. Tastes like Juicy Fruit gum.
Palet or: Pure chocolate from a combination of the best cocoa beans. Melts rapidly in mouth.
Framboise: Has a nice odor of raspberry and dark chocolate. Strong raspberry flavor. Slightly grainy with raspberry seeds.

We enjoyed these chocolates from Hugo & Victor. As for the bar of Madagascar chocolate, read how that fared in our annual chocolate tasting in the February issue of our Paris Insights newsletter.

Hugo & Victor
40, boulevard Raspail
75007 Paris
Telephone: 01.44.39.97.73
Open from Mon to Wed from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Thurs to Sat from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Sun from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

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An Evening Spent Tasting Champagne and Tapas at the Champs-Elysée Plaza Hotel

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013
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Last Thursday morning I received a telephone call from the director of Le Keller restaurant at the posh Champs-Elysées Plaza hotel. Would I like to attend a champagne tasting? he asked. Each month the hotel features a different brand of champagne (see Le Keller’s Web site for details), and the tasting this month would be held that very evening in the bar of the hotel. I quickly consulted my agenda and found that, indeed, I was free that evening. So I accepted the invitation.

We wrote about Le Keller a year ago for our Paris Insights restaurant review and had a fabulous (though expensive) meal there. This was my opportunity to do some more gastronomic research—and this time, as a guest of the hotel!

Juli Dermit and Fred Duport

Juli Dermit and Fred Duport
New Cosy

Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

I arrived at 6:30 p.m., somewhat early. The jazz duo, New Cosy, had already set up and was performing. The singer, Julie Dermit, sang in such impeccable English that I thought that she was American!

Tony Miellot - Bartender

Tony Miellot – Bartender
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

I sat down in the bar, a pleasant place, at a tall table. Even though other customers had not yet arrived, the bartender, Tony Miellot, began serving me. The tasting proceeded in the following manner: for 51€ you receive three champagnes, each paired with a different plate of tapas. The champagne house featured this month is Gosset, the oldest in the Champagne region (it was founded in 1584). The tapas are served according to their category—froids (cold), chauds (warm), and sucrées (sugary). Theoretically, the champagne that accompanies each group of tapas should be a taste match for that particular group.

Gosset Grande Reserve with Plate of Cold Tapas

Gosset Grande Reserve with Plate of Cold Tapas
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

As Tony poured the first glass, a Grande Reserve, he remarked about the color and fine bubbles of the champagne. I readily agreed with his assessment. The champagne had a light color of straw and the bubbles were very fine. I enjoyed the mineral-like, slightly yeasty taste of the beverage.

Along with the first champagne, I received a tray containing four tapas. These were not your ordinary deep-fried tapas that you would get in a tapas bar—they were all delicate, like the amuse-bouches that you get in a fine-dining restaurant. I particularly liked the Vélouté de potimarron. Served warm in a cup on the platter of cold tapas, the pumpkin soup tasted wonderfully rich as though it had been flavored with foie gras. I thought that the Grande Reserve harmonized very well with this first round of tapas.

Gosset Grand Rosé with Plate of Warm Tapas

Gosset Grand Rosé
with Plate of Warm Tapas

Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

The second champagne was a Grand Rosé served with a plate of three warm tapas. The rosé was pale pink and tasted softer and more fruity than the Grand Reserve. In my mind, it didn’t particularly harmonize with two of the cold tapas, but did go well with the third, a Dé de bœuf mariné aux épices douces, a small cube of beef prepared in sweet spices.

Gosset Celebris Vintage 1998 and Plate of Sweet Tapas

Gosset Celebris Vintage 1998
with Plate of Sweet Tapas

Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

The third champagne was a vintage 1998. It had a surprising taste that one does not usually associate with champagne, a taste of sous-bois, as the French would say. It evoked memories of the scent of the forest after a rain—not unpleasant, mind you, just surprising. In my mind, this is a champagne that should be enjoyed without food accompaniment, as its taste did not complement the sweet tapas with which it was served. As for the tapas, I especially liked the Sablé chocolat, a chocolate cream in crunchy shortbread crust.

Following the tasting, I left on a high note. It had been a fabulous gastronomic experience!

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Memorial to Michel Petrucciani

Friday, January 18th, 2013
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Memorial to Michel Petrucciani by Edouard Detmer

Memorial to Michel Petrucciani
by Edouard Detmer
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

 

Michel Petrucciani was a French jazz pianist who was influenced by Duke Ellington at an early age and performed with Kenny Clark and Charles Lloyd. A memorial is dedicated to him at the intersection of rue Duhesme, rue Versigny, and rue Sainte-Isaure. Place Michel Petrucciani features a sidewalk mosaic dedicated to him by painter, sculptor, and life-long friend Edouard Detmer. The mosaic was inaugurated in 2003, four years after Petrucciani’s death.

 

Place Michel Petrucciani

Place Michel Petrucciani
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

 

Both the square and the mosaic were created thanks to the initiative of residents of the neighborhood, who wanted to embellish the then-unnamed square.

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Vegan Folie’s Cupcakes – Unboxing!

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013
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Box of Cupcakes Unopened

Last Sunday we spotted some delicious-looking cupcakes in the window of Vegan Folie’s, a small vegan bakery on rue Mouffetard that specializes in brownies, cookies, cheesecake, and cupcakes. We stepped in and purchased three cupcakes to take home. At 4€ a cupcake, the price was steep, but we were tempted.

Box of cupcakes opened

Arriving home, we opened the box. The three cupcakes awaited our eager bites!

From left to right:
John Lemon – Ginger and Lemon
Choc Norris – Chocolate
Sid Delicious – Orange Flower

The cupcakes had cute names: John Lemon for the ginger-and-lemon-flavored cupcake; Choc Norris for the chocolate-flavored cupcake; and Sid Delicious for the orange-flower-flavored cupcake. They looked scrumptious!

The looks, however, were deceiving, because the cupcakes lacked flavor. The frosting of the Sid Delicious was not particularly sweet; the frosting of the Choc Norris lacked richness and the cake was somewhat dry. As for the John Lemon, it lacked moistness and sweetness, but it was the better tasting of the three.

In short, the cupcakes were bland. They lacked the richness and moisture that only eggs, milk, and butter can bring to a good cupcake recipe. These were vegan cupcakes, made with vegetable substitutes for the three ingredients that are required for a really scrumptious cupcake.

Vegan Folie’s
53, rue Mouffetard
75005 Paris
Metro: Place Monge (Line 7)
Open Tuesday to Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

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Meet Alexis Chavance, Chef and Co-owner of La Table d’Orphée

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013
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Alexix Chavance, Chef of La Table d'Orphée

Alexis Chavance, Chef of La Table d’Orphée
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

We recently dined at La Table d’Orphée, a neighborhood restaurant whose lunchtime menu represents an exceptional value. Read our review of the establishment, meet the chef, Alexis Chavance, and learn about his talent for creative cooking in this month’s Paris Insights.

Paris Insights newsletter is published monthly as a downloadable PDF file. It is available only to paid subscribers for an annual subscription fee of $30.

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Bonne Lecture…et Bon Appétit!

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Queen for a Day!

Friday, January 4th, 2013
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Monique with Crown

Following our initial tasting of the Galette des Rois on Wendesday, we finished it off today. Monique found the fêve hidden in her slice and wins the honor of Queen for a Day. She also gets to boss me around for 24 hours.

The Fêve

The Fêve

I wanna be King next year!

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Galette des Rois – Unbagging!

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013
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After New Year’s Day, Kings’ cake is a big tradition here. We hustled down to Le Fournil de Mouffetard to buy one.

Galette

The cake is made with buttery puff pastry and frangipane (almond paste) and doesn’t disappoint. Inside the bag is the cake and a cardboard crown. The crown is to be awarded to the person who finds the fêve (trinket) that has been slipped into the confection.

Galette 3

The cakes that I saw in the supermarket had all collapsed. The one that I purchased at the boulangerie held its shape. Its crust had a beautiful brown color.

Galette 5

The almond filling was moist and not overly sweet as some of the fillings that we have tasted. It didn’t take too long to finish off the slice that we had each cut for ourselves.

Galette 4

We didn’t find the fêve, but only ate half the cake. We’ll surely find it tomorrow! Who will wear the crown?

Le Fournil de Mouffetard
123, rue Mouffetard
75005 Paris
Tel.: 01.47.35.07.96

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Paris Insights Monthly Newsletter – Sarah Rozenbaum Sells Vintage Apparel

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013
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Sarah Rozenbaum

Sarah Rozenbaum
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Sarah Rozenbaum sells vintage fashion at her store in the Saint-Ouen flea market, just outside of Paris. Mannequins dressed in 20th century garb display feathery hats, flappers’ skirts, elegant gowns, frilly dresses, colorful capes, and chic purses…it’s all there for the shopper who nurtures a passion for yesterday’s styles.

Read about Sarah and her shop in this month’s Paris Insights newsletter.

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Paris Insights is published monthly as a downloadable PDF file. It is available only to paid subscribers for an annual subscription fee of $30.

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Bonne lecture!

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