Monday, June 2, 2014

Sunday Paris Foray Mostly about Chocolate Shops (and Greek Galettes)

My last hours in Paris turned into a choco-centric foray, from our haven near the Eiffel Tower into arrondisements V and VI. Did my niece Rachel kinda plan it that way?

"Sonia Rykiel"
First we stopped in at the beautiful Hotel de Matignon gardens at 36 Rue de Babylone, which were open to the public on this quiet Sunday morning. Then on to 37 Rue d'Assas, the Christian Constant shop. I had read about the killer hot chocolate there, but did not expect a full-fledged patisserie with beautiful chocolates and petits gateaux in such an odd location. And I wouldn't have thought from perusing his 3 trendy restaurants on the Rue Saint Dominique that Christian Constant was a master chocolatier as well -- another star chef with a multi-market brand...One tantalizing tart (chocolate ganache w/thin-sliced bananas) was named "Sonia Rykiel" in honor of his 84-year-old designer friend. Rachel gave it a thumbs up!

Nicolsen Chocolate
Fast forward to the Rue Mouffetard where we entered a mesmerizing alley of restaurants, boulangeries, crepe places, and chocolate shops --including Nicolsen ("L'Artisan du Chocolat") at #112, w/products hand-made in the company's laboratoire in Chavenay from single-origin chocolate from around the world....and with an inviting smell of chocolate not as prevalent in other such shops. Purchased some dark chocolate bars w/orange and eclats de feves (cacao nibs). Then lunch!

Mr. Antonis in action!
I had also read about long lines for crepes at Aux P'Tit Grec at #68, so here was a chance to check out "a Greek Place" in Paris. Quelle surprise! It was all about Mr. Antonis from Thessaloniki, who updated me on the subway system being built there while he built me an amazing galette sandwich on a hot round grill. It was a Greek galette -- part gyro-type sandwich, part French crepe. Brilliant!

Rachel enjoying her galette
The galette itself is made with buckwheat and is thicker than a crepe. My sandwich was filled with tarama, feta, onions, lettuce and tomato. He built others (4.50 - 5.50 Euros each) like Galette du Chef w/cheese of your choice and chorizo, which he expertly folded into cones and wrapped while I watched and we chatted. By the time I ate my lunch and looked around, there was a crowd of people inside and out awaiting Antonis' creations.  Ordinary gyro sandwiches with pita bread pale next to the galette experience -- you have got to try it!

Angelina's Chocolat Chaud

Time was now of the essence, and I still had not located any large green (pistachio) meringues.So we did the next best thing: stopped by the Pierre Herme shop located near St. Sulpice (72 Rue Bonaparte), also with a line out the door. But wait we did, so I could score a tin of "Preparation" for hot chocolate (13.50 Euros). Just stir it into boiling mineral water. Will the result be as good as Angelina's?

Eat me with a spoon!
And, yes, I did break down and buy 2 macarons for the road at 2.10 Euros each (about $2.95). Settled on Infinite Rose, and how could I not try the green Olive Oil and Vanilla model? No box for just 2 macarons, just a little cellophane bag. So they did not travel well to the airport, but made for a sublime special dessert nonetheless on my 9-hour ride home -- even if I had to eat them with a plastic spoon.

Much to think about on that ride home, like my next trip to Paris. No more baguettes for me till then!

NOTE: Was happy to satisfy my craving for tarama, a Greek dip/sauce made from fish roe. I not only saw it at the Beauvais Market, neighborhood Franprix, and The Grand Epicerie -- but there were several variations everywhere, not just the classic pink. More on that another time...

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

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