Bonjour chocolat chaud!

ImageDeciding to have a rest from éclairs today,I got back to my original mission which was to find the best hot chocolate in France. I have had difficulty with this since they have been very hit and miss. Which has resulted in éclairs taking over. I am not complaining!

Today, even though I just wanted to sit in the sunshine and possibly get even more sunburnt (special hello at this point to those of you freezing in Tasmania!), I wandered to Saint-Germain-des-Pres to visit Les Deux Magots. Now, the café does not have the most appealing name –  ‘The Two Maggots’. Clearly it was not well considered as far as public appeal is concerned. But, ghastly name aside, and no maggots in sight, I ordered chocolat des Deux Magots a l’ancienne. 

This bitter but sweet (a very good balance of both) was sublime. As far as drinkability goes, I would put this ahead of Jacques Genin. Just. It was not as thick, but I was able to consume more before I felt like falling into a sugar coma.

I would give it two maggots out of two. Definitely.  

Jacques, Jacques, Jacques…

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I am nestled in Jacques Genin for this live blog. Heralded as one of THE chocolatiers globally. However my research has given me the bum-steer on this one. There were supposed to be éclairs. There are not. Luckily there is chocolat chaud. And mille-feuille. I might just survive. The surroundings are very classy. My Converse sneakers for the first time feel out of their depth. They are hiding under the chair.

This had better be good.  A 40 minute walk with blisters was undertaken to get here. They are taking their time but apparently (according to already proven to be untrustworthy research), the mille-feuille is prepared when ordered to ensure flakiness. And it is France. Nothing happens quickly.

Oh it’s here. And it comes with a glass of water which makes me suspect thick chocolate! Oh, hello! We have a clear leader for best hot chocolate ever. It tastes thick and rich but it is not too much. It still makes you try to chew it, it is that good. And I have a whole pot of it all to myself 🙂

If a breeze comes through the door, my mille-feuille may blow away it is so light. Pastry like dust. Oh my goodness. I doubt I will ever eat a pastry like this again. Perfect does not even begin to cover it.

And the chocolat chaud? I want it in an IV drip! And two complimentary chocolates – are they waiting for me to burst? I may be stuck in this armchair all day. Dammit! So very la-di-dah…if this is heaven, I’m getting christened. Paris je t’aime.

10 kilometre stroll = more room for ‘research’

ImageEaster Sunday seemed like a good day to take a break from my search. The sun was shining, most patisseries were closed, so I thought I would seek out some culture and walk to the Petit Palais gallery. According to Google this return trip was just over 10kms. And I made cracking pace. I figure the faster I move, the harder I make a pickpockets job. I have also developed a very convincing ‘don’t mess with me look’. I walk past people while they are trying to take photos, I huff when people step in front of me. I think this makes me seem more local and less polite Australian.  

So back to the walk. Ended up with blisters, hot due to too many layers and the gallery was closed even though it’s website said it was open. But this exercise has no doubt burnt off calories…and that means I have room for hot chocolates and éclairs. And strolling along the Seine was beautiful.

Today, since yesterday was tiring, I am having a day in my apartment to plot my café and patisserie crawl for the week. Hot chocolates are set to be a bigger focus since they have not been strongly represented on this blog to date.

Stay tuned: I have big news coming next week…

An extra special find at Versailles

ImageVersailles is steeped in the opulent history of past times. It is probably the best example of greedy excess that I have seen, but breathtakingly beautiful at the same time. So it seemed fitting that one of the most heralded producers of hot chocolate should be nestled in the palace complex. Angelina. 

After asking our guide to get us back in the palace after we had exited, she was able make this happen and then helped find Angelina. What a lady!  Fellow traveller, Teresa, and I settled down and drank Angelina’s famous chocolat chaud through a straw. Yes, a straw. It was thick! Perhaps foolishly, I ordered an éclair as well (two birds, one stone – I need two stomach’s). The éclair was sublime and the hot chocolate was like no hot chocolate I have had before.  It was more like chocolate soup!

A happy time and worth giving up walking through the gardens for it! And I think Teresa now understands the obsession I have with éclairs and chocolat chaud…

Search leads me 1000 feet up in the Pyrénées

hot chocolate. very good

Off the beaten track. That’s where I found myself looking for hot chocolate. An overcast, bitter day added to the challenge with me showing great bravery (self-evaluation). I didn’t think this would be an easy search, but I did not expect to be travelling up into the Pyrénées mountains in an open train carriage with fog flowing past my face. But I was promised fantastic hot chocolate, so I pulled my scarf up a little higher and braved it.

After 40 minutes of shivering, I was not rewarded with spectacular views of France and Spain due to previously mentioned fog, but I was presented with possibly one of the best hot chocolates I have ever had. It was a REAL hot chocolate.  Thick and not too sweet made from melted chocolate. A little cup of joy. Apparently it was better with a nip of brandy, but I am a traditionalist. However, with a third of this chocolately goodness left, I tried the brandy. And ruined it. I could have cried.

It was worth nearly chattering my teeth out. Definitely.

Too much of a good thing

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The life of an éclair and hot chocolate hunter seems to be feast or famine (and slightly messy). Today was a feast (and makes me feel nauseous thinking back). I said I would find éclairs and hot chocolate and today I did. Two éclairs and one chocolat chaud. Not at the same time, but I might as well have from the heavy feeling I now have in my stomach.  Anyway, enough about poor me!

Rather than overwhelm with all three, I will talk about the chocolat chaud since it has yet to make and appearance. Now, the good blogger that I am, I forgot to get the name of the brasserie, but, should you ever find yourselves in Biarritz, it is across from  Henriet chocolate shop and Maison Adam (macarons) – a top t-junction!

The chocolat chaud was smooth.  Rich, creamy and went down a treat. We were pushed for time otherwise I may have ordered a second. It looked very watery but was surprisingly thick in flavour. I am struggling to adequately describe it. It was dessert on it’s own. I could not have managed cake with it (however an éclair followed 30 mins later). I have half a coach on éclair alert now.  Very useful indeed.

Today is the day…

ImageToday is a very exciting day – the adventure begins! But one thing you are probably all wondering is how I start both my day and this journey (‘journey’ now I sound like a Masterchef contestant). Well it important I fuel myself…a hot chocolate and a muffin (in lieu of an éclair) do the job nicely. 

The next 24 hours will also involve a lot of sitting. I am well practised at that! It is one of my favourite things to do (in the absence of a couch because I actually prefer laying on that. Miss you already couch :(. 

So you can all rest easy knowing I am well fueled and practised for the mission ahead. It’s pretty much like the olympics for me. Without the cheering and sweating!

Au revoir