Friday, February 26, 2010

February Tour: In the heart of chocolate darkness

Before I moved to Paris, I had only a vague understanding of the city’s layout and, more important, its sweet spots. Now I can feel (and taste) my way around. And whenever I have to do an errand in the first arrondisement, I prepare myself for lusting after things I can’t afford on rue St-Honoré, but taking solace in the fact that I can at least splurge on something sumptuous: chocolate—in solid or liquid form—at one of city’s, nay country’s, best chocolatiers.

Let’s start with the old master. Nestled between the luxury boutiques flaunting fine lingerie and crazy haute talons, Michel Cluizel (201, rue St.-Honoré) has been making chocolate since 1948, though his daughter Catherine now manages the store. Among the delights for you to discover: a wall-mounted fountain spewing molten chocolate, giant bowls filled with truffles and macarolats (a chocolate version of the macaron) and 99% cacao chocolate bars. Pas mal!

Further up the street is Jean-Paul Hévin’s modern and refined tea salon/chocolate shop (231, rue St-Honoré)—top 3, if not my very favorite, chocolatier. Dainty macarons and pretty cakes welcome you along one wall (or you can indulge upstairs in the tranquil salon de thé), but the bonbons are hidden in the back. With cocoa sourced from Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia and Madagascar, and ingredients like cinnamon, caramel and champagne whipped into the dark chocolate ganache, they’re nothing if not sublime.

The selection at Pierre Hermé’s 4 rue Cambon boutique is more limited than at rue Bonaparte, but don’t despair. While you won’t find towering cakes like the Plenitude or Isaphan, you will find all the incredible macarons and chocolates your heart might desire.

Finish off the decadence by sitting firmly on your butt at Angelina’s (226, rue de Rivoli). You might have to battle some tourists and none-too-friendly waitresses for a seat, but a pitcher of their chocolat Africain more than makes up for it. It’s rich and chocolaty, smooth and velvety, thick enough to coat your tongue, and almost thick enough to stand a spoon up in it. It’s, oh what’s the word… heaven?


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

on my first trip to paris I printed out a list of the best chocolatiers in town, and thats how i decided to sight-see the city rather than landmarks. I would get one signature chococolate from each place to go, take it to the nearest park or museu, and eat it. Choclates from the square at st. suplice to montemarte have 'sweetened' my memories. Though, now that I actually live here I have to make an effort to avoid those sweet places...
great post!

Stella said...

These places all sound so wonderful. The only chocolate place in my town makes chocolates from hydrogenated fats and mediocre chocolate, so I stear clear of that place. We are planning a possible trip to Paris (still narrowing down), so I'm bookmarking this.

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