A well-deserved congratulations for Pastry Chef of the Year 2013 goes to Benoît Charvet, Pastry Chef at one of my favorite restaurants in France, Relais Bernard Loiseau in Saulieu (Burgundy). He happens to be my favorite pastry chef, ever. In my experience, he’s the best. His creations are stunning works of art, creative, playful and shockingly luscious. They are not to be missed in your lifetime so head over there right now! We went just a few weeks ago and his desserts still come up in conversation. Here are some photos of our desserts.
Vert-vert – pannacotta, pistachio cake, shortbread and cherry (griotte) sorbet, green pea with green anise jelly
Strawberry Carousel – an absolutely amazing dessert! Licorice cotton candy, mint parfait, strawberries and sechuan pepper/strawberry coulis (this photo was taken before they pour the coulis in the center. sorry!) Also, the chef made this gluten-free by request.
Apricot Oreillon – inspired by the apricot viennoiserie but has taken on epic twists, has tahitian vanilla ice cream & apricot coulis with an avocado glaze
Nothing to say except: perfect.
Le Relais Bernard Loiseau
21210 Saulieu – Bourgogne, (Côte d’Or, Burgundy) France
Tel. : + 33 (0)3 80 90 53 53
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted in Bourgogne/Burgundy, pastries, people
These macarons won’t get you fat.
Posted in fashion, pastries, photos
With all MOFs (Meilleurs Ouvriers de France) you encounter in France, you will only experience unrivaled excellence, which is why we love checking them out as often as possible. The pastries and confections of Philippe Rigollot, who is not only a MOF but also a Champion du monde de pâtisserie, blew us away during our last visit to Annecy. I thought I’d share some photos with you. We tried all the flavors of the macarons, chocolate and five different pastries (not enough!). We noticed that they ran out of the Paris Brest every time we stopped by so make sure to grab one of those.
Tarte Mr. Smith
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Posted in chocolate, food and drinks, MOF Meilleur Ouvrier de France, pastries, photos, Rhône-Alpes
English-style Chocolate Chip Pudding with an Orange Puree
Posted in chocolate, food and drinks, pastries
Some of the prettiest and tastiest fusion pastries you’ll find in Paris by Sadaharu Aoki. His chocolates are good, too! (website)
Posted in food and drinks, paris, pastries Tagged with: pâtisseries, paris, pastries, sadaharu aoki
We’ve passed by a little village called Nolay dozens of times without stopping on our way from our house to Beaune. The place seemed unremarkable on the surface but we finally decided to visit it one day to check out the antiques stores on the main road.
As usual and luckily, we wandered around while we were there.
It turns out that Nolay is awesome.
Most people who’ve been here would cite the beautiful, arcaded central market place, which dates back to the 14th century.
The roof is made of limestone (weighing 800 kg/1800 lbs per square meter) and the frame holds everything together with chestnut wood beams.
But to me, the salon de thé right next to the central market place, La Thé dans la Vigne, is Nolay’s real gem.
With delicious home made desserts, light fare meals, fine wines,
an adorable, sweet and hospitable owner (Sylvie Blanchard),
eclectic quirky French decor,
antique books and newspapers in French and English. antique dishware and silverware and housed in a a building that dates back to 1810, you will only feel comfortable and happy in such a warm, cozy place.
Everything we ordered was tasty and since we couldn’t decide which dessert to have, our kind hostess prepared a plate with everything on it, including a bowl of her whisky infused fruit – the latter being delicious but crazy potent!
Le Thé dans la Vigne
8, place des Halles 21340 Nolay France
Télephone :+33 (0)3 80 26 87 31
Open 10:30am to 9:30pm during warm months Tuesday to Sunday. Closed November 30 to April 1. Reservations recommended.
Posted in Bourgogne/Burgundy, Cote d'Or, food and drinks, pastries, people, restaurants, tips, travel and places, travel tip, wine Tagged with: bourgogne, Bourgogne/Burgundy, france, french village, hidden gems, nolay, quirky places to visit, salon de the
This was waiting for us after an amazing meal at Loiseau des Vignes in Beaune, France (region: Bourgogne / Burgundy). We were stuffed already but don’t we always have room for macarons and financiers…and coffee?
Posted in food and drinks, pastries, restaurants Tagged with: beaune, financiers, france, french mignardises, Loiseau des Vignes, macarons, photo
While we’re on the subject of feves, I thought I’d share a recent one I found in a tasty galette du roi from one of our favorite pastry chefs in our area, Jean-Marc Bernigaud, who was previously the pastry chef at Trois Gros, a three star Michelin restaurant in Roanne. Typically, the galettes are filled with frangipane but Jean-Marc told us he was bored and added a different flavor: a delicious apple and noisette filling, unusual but expectedly unique and refreshing, in any case. It had a non-traditional design on top, too.
While my feve isn’t as sexy as the Kamasutra feves, I thought it was cute, a teeny tiny Renault 4L, a super popular car in France from 1961 and beyond. It was Renault’s response to their competitor, the Citroen 2CV (what the French call the deux chevaux (two horses)), which is cuter and iconic of old France. (Read more about the 4L here.)
Back to the feve.
A couple of days after feasting on the galette, I saw the Renault 4L again but this time it was a real Renault 4L and the exact same color as the mini Renault 4L feve!
Posted in cars/bikes/etc, events, food and drinks, pastries, travel and places, travel tip Tagged with: feve, france, french cars, galette du roi, old french cars, Renault 4L
A baker in the Vaucluse area of France has discovered the secret ingredient to a successful Galette du Roi: the same ingredient as most popular products: sex. Specifically, the boulanger put feves featuring various Kamasutra positions. Needless to say, the lines at the bakery rival those of Apple’s new product launches. Sales have obviously skyrocketed. How do the galettes taste? Who cares!
699 Avenue Vidier Maurice Marguerite
84270 Vedène, France
Telephone: +33 (0)4 90 02 37 24
PHOTO/LE DAUPHINE/Manuel PASCUA
Related: La Galette du roi/King Cake for Epiphany, Galette des rois for Epiphany
Posted in events, food and drinks, funny, pastries Tagged with: epiphany, france, french, galette du roi, kamasutra feves, sex sells
We saw this cheesecake in the market yesterday (in L.A.) and were pretty sure “Bakery de France” isn’t in France. So we checked: it’s in Rockville, Maryland! Not knocking it, though; we just thought it was sort of funny and that it looks pretty good.
Posted in food and drinks, outside of France, pastries, weird Tagged with: bakery de france, cheesecake, french pastries, maryland, rockville
After you finish your walking tour of the Palais des papes (Popes Palace) in Avignon, and take the exit just outside the gift shop, you will be facing La Mirande, a luxury hotel with a Michelin star restaurant, cooking school and salon de thé. If you time it right, which is what we always try to do, arrive during tea time for absolutely delicious pastries and tea, coffee or unrivaled hot chocolate.
La Mirande is an elegant, beautiful, 700+ year old converted mansion, previously inhabited by generations of aristocracy. Now, it’s a little more casual. Afternoon tea is served in an bright, comfortable and protected atrium, a perfect place to rest your feet from hours of walking around Avignon.
The afternoon tea at La Mirande is offered for a flat fee of 11 euros, a steal. Just go help yourself to whatever you want. Drinks are ordered and served at the table. When we were there last, we actually didn’t eat much (not like us, normally!) so the waiter charged us less. Sweet!
Mikael Aupert is the dedicated pastry chef at La Mirande.
4, place de la Mirande
84000 Avignon France
Telephone: +33 4 90 14 20 20
Posted in food and drinks, pastries, Provence, tips, travel and places, travel tip Tagged with: avignon, france, La Mirande, tea time
Because pastries rule in France.
Posted in food and drinks, pastries, photos Tagged with: france, french pastries, pastries, sweets
Legay Choc has named itself France’s first gay boulangerie (bakery). The business is best known for its baguettes, brioches, meringues and chocolates in phallic forms.
I just found out about them but they’ve been around for years. They also have a sandwicherie but I’m not sure what shape those come in.
45 rue Ste Croix de la Bretonnerie
75004 Paris France
Telephone: +33 (0)1 48 87 24 61
Email : email@example.com
Metro: Hôtel de Ville
Open: Mon-Sat 9am-6pm
Posted in bread, chocolate, daily life, food and drinks, paris, pastries, tips, travel tip Tagged with: dick shaped bread and pastries, france, gay bakery, Legay Choc, paris
From this just in:
“March 20 is the Jour du Macaron in Paris. This annual celebration, dreamed up five years ago by the famed pâtissier Pierre Hermé, finds pastry shops giving their meringue-y little delights away for free.
Customers are encouraged to make a charitable donation on their way out the door. It’s a sweet idea in celebration of spring and in support of research to treat rare diseases.
The crowds will be large this Saturday at Pierre Hermé, with fans lining up to choose any three of his famous macarons. Tempting flavors for spring 2010 include white truffle with grilled hazelnut and foie gras with chocolate, along with traditional favorites like coffee, caramel, and three kinds of vanilla. But Hermé isn’t the only one sharing his cookies. Heavyweights Jean-Paul Hévin and Sadaharu Aoki are also taking part. Bon macaron!
Free macarons on March 20 at these participating pastry shops
Pierre Hermé: six locations, including 4 rue Cambon in the 1st arrondissement, 72 rue Bonaparte in the 6th arrondissement, 133 avenue des Champs Elys ées in the 8th arrondissement (inside the Publicis drugstore), 40 boulevard Haussmann in the 9th arrondissement (inside the Galeries Lafayette), 185 rue de Vaugirard in the 15th arrondissement, and 58 avenue Paul Doumer in the 16th arrondissement.
Sadaharu Aoki: three locations, including 56 boulevard de Port Royal in the 5th arrondissement, 35 rue de Vaugirard in the 6th arrondissement, and 40 boulevard Haussmann in the 9th arrondissement (inside the Galeries Lafayette).
Jean-Paul Hévin: four locations, including 3 rue Vavin in the 6th arrondissement, 231 rue Saint-Honoré in the 1st arrondissement, 23 bis avenue de la Motte Picquet in the 7th arrondissement, and 40 boulevard Haussmann in the 9th arrondissement (inside the Galeries Lafayette).
Laurent Duchêne: 2 rue Wurtz in the 13th arrondissement.
Arnaud Larher: two locations, including 53 rue Caulaincourt and 57 rue Damrémont, both in the 1″
Posted in food and drinks, news, paris, pastries, tips, travel tip Tagged with: free, macarons, paris, pastries
Meet Mademoiselle Fifi (yes, Fifi). Apparently, she’s the summer mascot at Laduree and is featured on this cute macaron box. Personally, the box looks like dog biscuits should be inside, but… it’s cute, anyway. A box fits 8 macarons and costs 14.70 euros. Laduree
While we’re on the subject of boxes, designer Christian Louboutin got together with Laduree and came up with these boxes covered with macarons and shiny Louboutin shoes and purses.
The macarons will take on a Mediterranean flavor created by pastry chef Philippe Andrieu.
12 euros for a box of 6 macarons. Available in September, 2009.
Posted in art/culture/design, fashion, food and drinks, news, paris, pastries Tagged with: boxes, fifi, laduree, louboutin, macarons, paris
We just returned from Spain and noticed this newsworthy item at the Orly Airport in Paris and thought it would be a sweet tidbit that might come in handy one day: There’s a La Duree Cart at the Paris Orly Airport, so macaron fanatics can grab their last minute fix on their way out of town – or grab some on their way to town, for that matter.
Posted in food and drinks, news, paris, pastries, shopping, tips, travel tip
What’s more perfect than a pain aux raisins dunked into a steamy bowl of café au lait for breakfast in France? Ok, a lot but this is still tops in my book. What is a pain aux raisins? It’s classified more in the viennoiserie category rather than the patisserie category (so it’s not officially a pastry, but anyway…) – and is a rolled up brioche dough filled with custard and raisins, and baked crispy thin on the outside and soft and moist in the inside, finished with a glaze.
When in France, please do indulge in this classic French treat. I can easily eat two of them but I’m American so I can be a pig like that. It’s expected. Thankfully.
See more French Pastries 101.
Posted in cultural differences, daily life, food and drinks, pastries, photos, tips
Tucked away in Chennai, India (southeast coast of India in the northeast of Tamil Nadu), you’ll find an usual and unexpected establishment: a French baking school. The school was created by 25-year-old Alexis de Duclas, a graduate of Essec, one of France’s top business schools, and 24-year-old certified French baker, Antoine Soive, who had previously worked in one of Alain Ducasse’s Michelin star restaurants.
Together, they work toward helping the “Untouchables” in India,* (also called Dalits) the very bottom, absolute lowest level of the Hindu caste system. Their objective is to train and certify the untouchables in the production of French baked goods and pastries, so they will later be more fairly integrated into society and regularly employed. The inspiration to found the school came after a fateful meeting with Ducla and Father Ceyrac, a Jesuit missionary who had worked with Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charities to support children and people in distress in India. Many, many months later, Ducla launched his baking school.
Ducla’s school is the epitome of corporate social responsibility, with social issues being the very core of the business, while still maintaining the ability to literally and figuratively “make dough.” Ducla wanted to prove that humanitarian projects can also be profitable. The school is run by the Charity Education and Rural Development Trust. Classes are also funded by philanthropists from India and France. Ducla’s business manages to make a reasonable amount of profit by selling their products.
Students are chosen based on their “untouchability” therefore they must be from economically weak areas and they must be motivated. That is the criteria for selection to this unique school. Along with cooking lessons, the students are also required to take English, Tamil and Science lessons. The training is rigorous and students are required to wake up at midnight and work through the night. After two years of intensive training they should be ready and equipped to handle anything from a fancy gateau for a five star kitchen, to petit fours for a high end restaurant.
A couple of years after the launch of the school, Ducla opened La Boulangerie, a French bakery/ cafe in Anna Nagar West in Chennai operated and maintained by Untouchables (15th Main Road, Anna Nagar West, Chennai 10 Tamil Nadu, India), serving, croissants, cakes, breads and sandwiches.
*Who are the Untouchables in India?
Untouchables in india are branded as impure from the moment of birth. Approximately 1 out of 6 indians (160 million people) live and suffers at the bottom of the Hindu caste system. India’s Untouchables are relegated to the lowest jobs, and live in constant fear of being publicly humiliated, paraded naked, beaten, and raped with impunity by upper-caste Hindus seeking to keep them in their place. Merely walking through an upper-caste neighborhood is a life-threatening offense.
Nearly 90 percent of all the poor Indians and 95 percent of all the illiterate Indians are Dalits/Untouchables, according to figures presented at the International Dalit Conference.
tags: france, alexis de ducla, la boulangerie, chennai india, Anna Nagar West , untouchables
Posted in bread, business / economy, education, outside of France, pastries, people, products, stories
Can we agree here? Meetings suck. So much so, we’ve decided that whenever we have to conduct a meeting, we will combine it with something enjoyable, something so good that we might forget that we’re actually having a meeting.
Apparently, most of the people we saw at the Hotel Plaza Athenee in Paris last week, had the same idea. Even singer Laurent Voulzy was having a meeting there. (yes, our first French celeb sighting!) Like them, our meeting was held in La Galerie des Gobelins inside the hotel, during tea time featuring yummissime pastries created by World Champion Pastry chef and MOF (Meilleur Ouvrier de France), Christophe Michalak, who, strangely looks like he could be my sweetie’s (heavier) brother.
You’re greeted, seated, then a cart of perfectly lined up pastries are presented to you. You then begin to drool. Choosing will not be easy but if you have the appetite and a few extra euros, choose more than one. Go ahead and be a pastry pig. Life’s short.
I wasn’t a pig, though I would’ve been had I not just eaten a late lunch. I chose a salted caramel religieuse that wasn’t too shabby. My sweetie’s choices had wild forest strawberries (the one on the left was excellent cheesecake-like creamy goodness.) He always has room for at least 10 two pastries and doesn’t seem to suffer any consequences from this sort of voracious and hedonistic behavior, which I find insanely unfair.
We debated about whether these were indeed the BEST pastries we’ve had. I can’t answer that unless I’ve tried ALL the pastries here, so we’ll have to come back to test them all… I can say, however, that I’ve had equally delicious pastries as well as perhaps even better pastries elsewhere. (Of course, they weren’t inside the Plaza Athenee)…
Hôtel Plaza Athénée Paris
25 avenue Montaigne, 75008 Paris, France
Tel: +33 (0)1 53 67 66 65
The tearoom is open from 3pm to 5pm. Expect to spend about 20 to 35+ euros per person (Pastries are 16 euros each).
tags: france travel french pastries Hôtel Plaza Athénée Paris christophe michalak pigging out in paris
Posted in daily life, food and drinks, MOF Meilleur Ouvrier de France, paris, pastries, people, travel and places, travel tip
I’ll be in Paris next week for a chocolate fix and other things so I was trying to find the exact address of Jean-Paul Hévin’s place. I serendipitously stumbled upon these new chocolate abs on his website.
It turns out, since May of this year, you can get Les Tablettes de chocolat (abs of steel, 6 pack abs) without having to work out! Isn’t that excellent news?
In France, the equivalent of the phrase, “abs of steel” is, “les tablettes de chocolat” (chocolate bars). So, chocolatier Jean-Paul Hévin, an MOF in Paris, has taken the concept one step further and has re-invented the les tablettes de chocolat, called “Abdominal bars,” which actually sounds more dietetic, if you think about it. What a sneaky trick. Far, Far, and light years away from being dietetic, these Jean-Paul Hévin chocolate bars seem like the best alternative to going to the gym for some abs. Of course, they aren’t THOSE abs we’re really thinking about.
There are three different kinds of abdominal bars: Pecs, Muscle and Fitness Bars.
Origin : Venezuela
Bean type : Criollo, Trinitario
Nose : powerful, manly
Taste : spicy touches of coffee and dry fruit, floral touches, slight acidity due to the bean fermentation.
Distinctive feature : intense aroma and surprisingly long taste, cocoa finesse.
2,20 € per 40 g bar
Origin : Madagascar
Bean type : Criollo, Forastero
Nose : powerful, intense
Taste : acidity typical of Madagascar, touches of red and yellow berries.
Distinctive feature : intense freshness due to cocoa acidity.
2,20 € per 40 g bar
Origin : Blend of central America and Africa
Bean type : Trinitario, Forastero
Nose : black chocolate, spicy
Taste : spicy, marked chocolate taste
Distinctive feature : sugar-free, suitable for diabetes patients
2,20 € per 40 g bar
Jean-Paul Hévin Chocolatier
23 bis, avenue de la Motte-Picquet
75007 Paris – FRANCE
tags: france travel jean paul hevin chocolate in paris les tablettes de chocolate MOF abdominal bars
Posted in chocolate, daily life, food and drinks, funny, MOF Meilleur Ouvrier de France, news, paris, pastries, people, travel and places, travel tip, weird
Dad-in-law showed me this pretty flowery tomato thing growing in their garden in the north of France but I kept forgetting what it was called so I repeatedly asked him about it. “Just think of the sexually transmitted disease, Syphilis, because that rhymes with Physialis, sort of.”
Rather an unpleasant association, but I guess it works. In the English speaking world, this delicate and beautiful plant is known as Physalis, Chinese Lantern, Strawberry Tomato, Winter Cherry, Bladder Cherry or Cape Gooseberry, and is a relative of the tomatillo in the Solanaceae family.
They are so delicate with a paper-like shell that really does resemble a Japanese or Chinese lantern. Add them to flower arrangements as well as desserts and meals for an artistic and exotic visual impact.
They have a unique flavor. Maybe it’s because I expect them to taste like tomatoes, I’m not sure, but they are a teeny tiny bit like cherry tomatoes and plums with a hint of pineapple and a strange unidentifiable aftertaste.
Note: The unripe Physialis is poisonous, so please avoid those. However, the ripe fruit can sometimes cause intestinal distress so please consume in small quantities…like one or two in a sitting.
tags: france physialis edible flowers potager chinese lantern
Posted in daily life, food and drinks, garden, nature, pastries, photos
Last week in Rennes, we ALMOST met miserable misfortune by NOT stepping into this place, Le Daniel, a patisserie. My sweetie stopped abruptly and said, “M.O.F.!”
“M.O.F.! M.O.F.! We HAVE to go into Le Daniel; he’s an M.O.F.”
“We just ate and I’m not very hungry. How do you know? And…What the heck is an MOF, anyway?”
“Meilleur Ouvrier de France! It’s on the window. He’s the best.”
By some miraculous and divine intervention of nature, my sweetie, who usually can’t find butter in the frig (when there’s only butter and nothing else in the frig), noticed the small print with “Meilleur Ouvrier de France” on the window whilst the three of us walked by briskly on our way to fnac.
“NEVER ignore an M.O.F. THAT is just crazy.”
So, we entered and sampled some things.
Before I go on with this story, I have some explaining to do about the “Meilleur Ouvrier de France.” It means “Best Craftsman (or Worker) in France” and this is a coveted award only given to the very best artisans of France every 3 years (since 1924). There’s a long list of categories so the M.O.F.. can be a pastry chef, a furniture maker, painter, saddle designer, all kinds of “craftsmen.” There’s a stringent process to earn this ranking and those who succeed keep their title for life. Their work is absolute pure quality, the best France has to offer. The people who earn this rank are all passionate about what they do and it shows in their work. So now I know that I should never ignore an M.O.F. You shouldn’t either, especially if you see an M.O.F. who makes pastries!
There are lots of very good patisseries in France (except near our house) but some really go beyond the call of duty and are ahead of others by giant leaps and bounds. Le Daniel was a true M.O.F. When the three of us ate our pastries, there was total silence. It was that good. I got a large salted butter caramel macaron and there are simply no words to do it justice.
We already want to go back. We have to check out his chocolates and ice cream!
By the way, do you know any M.O.F.s??? PLEASE tell me about them!
13, Galerie du Théâtre
Place de la Mairie
02 99 79 33 81
Website: Le Daniel
Posted in Bretagne/Brittany, chocolate, cultural differences, daily life, food and drinks, pastries, reviews, travel and places
If you happen to find yourself in Saint Malo, a small, walled port town in northwestern France in Brittany, and can only do one thing there, make sure it’s visiting what is facing the cathedral, which is a heavenly salon de thé called Bergamote. The tea and pastries and crepes are more sacred than the saints just across the way. It is really not to be missed.
Bergamote exclusively offers Mariage Frères tea, which is considered by many to have some of the best teas in the world.
After a day’s exploring of the fortified city and surrounding beach area, relax and take in the view of Saint Malo’s cathedral from inside Bergamote. Treat yourself to a little bit of heaven with a blend of the finest teas around. The teas are really excellent (I really like the “Eros” blend), and can match perfectly with the luscious house made pastries and crêpes. You will absolutely NOT regret it.
Bergamote Salon de Thé & Creperie
Place de la Cathédrale
Saint Malo France
Tél. 02 99 40 28 14
Open: Wednesday to Sunday 11am – 6pm
July and August open Tuesday to Sunday
Posted in Bretagne/Brittany, food and drinks, pastries, travel and places, travel tip
Cute Chocolate Chick (that disappeared quick(ly))
18, rue de la République
58170 Luzy (Burgundy) France
Posted in Bourgogne/Burgundy, chocolate, events, food and drinks, pastries, shopping, travel and places