Wednesday, 25 November 2009
About chocolate: French candies and cakes--from an expert chocolate lover
I love chocolate. As far as I am concerned, no meal is complete without a taste. There are many excellent French chocolatiers in Paris but my favorite for gateaux bar none is Jean Paul Hevin. His cakes are stunning and delicious. I think I have tried ten of them. There are three retail shops, and a salon de thé on the rue du Faubourg St. Honoré, near the Place Vendôme. Upstairs, the menu is Japanese style with beautiful photos of each of the offerings to help you decide. My favorites are Caracas, Choco-Passion, Tarte au chocolat, the heavenly and rich Macaron à L'Ancienne and the Raspberry-chocolate cake. No trip to Paris is complete without a stop at this very important locale. His macarons are all variations on the chocolate theme, flavored with lemon, passion fruit, coffee, etc.
For bars of chocolate, however, I prefer Christian Constant on rue d'Assas in the 6th arrondissement. This chocolatier takes great pride in his work and his product shows it. His dark chocolate bars are all distinguished and delicious with beans coming from South America, Africa, Asia, and other hot climates. He knows which are the finest beans and will only use those in his chocolates. The little candies are sensational and are flavored with herbs and flowers. No candies with sweet and cloying centers, these are dark chocolate through and through with hints of flavor such as rose hips, jasmin tea, ginger, to name a few. They are hand made and expensive but worth it as they are the best in the world.
Second to Constant in my book is Patrick Roger with a shop on bd St Germain des Près near Odéon and one on avenue Victor Hugo in the 16th. His chocolate candies are also dark and lovely although some are filled with praline centers which I don't like. His bars, with beans that come from Africa and South America, are all very good. These are extremely expensive candies. The boxed chocolates are lined with a faux paper layer made of chocolate so when you get to the bottom, there is still something wonderful to eat.
Another creator of chocolate bars is the Maison Bonnat near Grenoble. I find these bars at Galéries Lafayette.They are much less expensive than the others I have been talking about. My favorite is Chuao (South America), but others I have tried have been very good as well.