“Enjoy chocolate to the full, without any comnplexion or false shame, and remember: man cannot be reasonable unless he has a little folly”.
“They call Patrick Roger the Willy Wonka of Paris, a genius of his craft. Roger makes contemporary chocolate using home grown quince and herbs, lime flavoured ganache, basil, jasmine and szechuan peppercorns. He pops off to Ghana and other exotic destinations, to buy beans at the source. When he’s in town he’s often in the window of his Saint Germain boutique putting the finishing touches to a giant choco-sculpture; which his friends demolish with gusto when he’s done.
For April, Patrick suggests 3 little chocolate gianduja stuffed sardines, sitting in a hand-painted sardine tin. And carps with tender white chocolate eyes, staring, daring you to eat them. Coming next: Roger’s chips?
Three little boys are the lucky mascots on Patrice Chapon’s exquisite collectors chocolate boxes. He found them in an English antique shop while working as a patissier to HM Queen at Buckingham Palace. Now Chapon has three eponymous boutiques in France, his Easter collection a colourful spin on the delicious eggs, fish and chocolates that are traditional at this time of the year. Like tiny jewels, praline eggs nestle in a lavender box, they look wrapped but it’s Chapon’s unique hand painting, so you don’t even have to unwrap them. I ate mine before I got home, had to return for more, and could not resist Les Irrésistibles which won the Grand Prix du Chocolat at the Mairie de Paris 2003. Ask for the caviar chocolates, if Chapon has fresh caviar he puts it into thin slivers of choco- wickedness.
Pierre Herme recently declared March 20th Saint Macaroon Day and there were lines around the Place St. Sulpice as he offered six years of nostalgia with fragrant Apricot, Olive Oil, Pistachio, coffee, chocolate and Rose creations; free. You’ll still have to wait in line, even when you pay. Herme’s new collection (which he insists is not a collection but unique seasonal themes) has lots of humour and a nod and wink to his friends at Agent Provocateur. From March-September “Fetish” is the word. Each month, for ten days the now super-slim, Hermes is reproducing flavours that have become a fetish with his followers. So expect Carrement Chocolat (6-17th April). Signature chocolates to look for include Choc Chocolate and Chloe. To be enjoyed with a glass of champagne Rosé de Saignée Dry (Duval Leroy)
Hevin I’m in Hevin and never was a chocolate maker more aptly named than Jean-Paul Hevin. With eight boutiques, three in Paris and five in Japan, Hevin just published Délices de Chocolat (Flammarion) a delicious tome filled with his chocolate cake and galette recipes. eclairs, macaroons, brownies. “The way to successful chocolate making is to use the best of basic materials”, insists Hevin. If you know where your cocoa beans come from and you’re half way to Hevin.
A big fat cocoa-bean is Pierre Marcolini’s logo, he hails from Belgium and has boutiques in London, Paris, New York and Tokyo as well as seven in his native country. The beans of this Master Chocolatier come more or less from his suitcase, witness to his travels in Java, Ecuador, Venezuela, Madagascar and “of course Mexico from where chocolate originated”, he tells us. They call him the “best chocolatier in the world” and he’s won more awards than you’ve had hot chocolate. His extensive collection has about 60 varieties, say, violet, liquorice, cinnamon, Earl Grey tea, passion fruit, honey. Marcolini says there is some truth in chocolate being an aphrodisiac, “it contains theobromine, methyl-xanthine and phenylethyalanine, which together act as a stimulant inducing the emotion of falling in love”.
Boissier is not just a chocolate boutique it’s an institution, the BCBG tea-room (and lunch is served) patronised by rich ladies of the 16th arrondissement, since 1827 when Bélissaire Boissier first set up shop.. The ladies shop ‘til they drop on Avenue Victor Hugo and then meet up, to compare notes chez Boissier. Staff in starched pinnys serve a selection of house favourites including Bélissoire chocolate mousse cake and chocolate macaroons. Other specialities include chocolates flavoured with Earl Grey tea and Ganache nature Equater – 80% heaven. Christian Vautier continues the tradition of the Maison, using fresh herbs for his Basilic Ganache 64% chocolates.
231 rue Saint Honore, 1st (Metro: Palais Royal)
T: 01 55 35 35 96
69 rue de Bac, 7th (Metro: rue de Bac)
T: 01 42 22 95 98
108 Boulevard Saint Germain, 6th (Metro: Odeon)
T: 01 43 29 38 42
89 rue de Seine, 6th (Metro:Mabillon)
T: 01 44 07 39 07
72 rue Bonaparte, 6th (Metro: Saint Sulpice)
T: 01 43 54 47 77
184 avenue Victor Hugo, 16th (Metro: Victor Hugo)
T: 01 45 03 59 11
27 rue de Longchamp, 16th (Metro: Kleber)
T: 01 47 27 34 36
258 boulevard Saint Germain, 7th (Metro: Saint Germain des Pres)
T: 01 45 55 66 00
Le Chocolat par Michel Chaudun,
149 rue de l’Université, 7th (Metro:
T: 01 47 53 74 40
37 rue d’Assas, 7th
T: 01 53 63 15 15