With the best intentions of updating my blog regularly while I was in France, it just did not happen 🙂 But now I am back home and sorting my photos of the eclairs I did try on my French sojourn.
In typical fashion when there are eclairs nearby, I moved quickly on my arrival in France. The setting of my first éclair, was a small park where I sat in the (low UV) sun and ate lunch, with the éclair tucked away for dessert. This park was a little scant in the inspiration department for a photo background, so I had to settle for where I was sitting which faced a children’s green frog toy. Admittedly, this is not my best shot. And it was a precursor for what lay ahead.
Things took a nose dive when I started eating the éclair. I was not rewarded with the smooth, creamy crème pâtissière that I have come to love, encased in light and sweet choux, rather a stodgy choux with what seemed like ‘Yogo’ dessert filling. That’ll teach me to rush for the first éclair I see!
Well, this was day 1 after all, so I reassured myself that I had much more time to find eclairs…and that I did 🙂 This day was still lovely though, with a quick stroll on the way home to a lovely park. Ahhh, France in spring time.
I love Honey Badger and all its sweetness. I am especially a fan of their Mörk hot chocolate – mainly because I have a stash of it at home. But like tea, hot chocolate is always nicer when some else makes it*.
Recently, I went to Honey Badger for lunch (the shakshuka is yummo), but was mainly there to try their nama hot chocolate. I had no idea what nama chocolate was, but it is pretty much ganache chocolate with double the amount of cream. So it’s healthy because cream comes from cows so it’s natural…and natural fats are good…and I am sure the cows were grass feed, happy girls…so the key message here is it’s healthy…OK? That is sorted. And ‘nama’ is pretty much the sound you make when you eat it….nammmmmaaaa.
I am also a fan of DIY hot chocolate, which is what the Honey Badger nama hot chocolate is. Stab it, dunk it and swirl away. You can add as much chocolate as you like, which means all of it, obviously. Personally I could have had another four pieces to really give it a boost. It probably does not pass Mörk as my favourite at Honey Badger, but it’s good all the same.
*Other people can make good hot chocolate providing they have good quality chocolate and know what they are doing…otherwise it can be disastrous.
After a long hiatus, my blog is back – right at the end of winter! I have kept up the search, but there has been a real lack of newcomers on the hot chocolate scene locally. And a few old favourites have changed management, and the hot chocolates have suffered.
But I have some very exciting news – I have found Hobart’s best hot chocolate…possibly Australia’s. There is daylight between this hot chocolate and the others. In one sip I was immediately transported back to the cafés of Paris. So where is this heaven-on-earth establishment? It’s called A Tiny Place, located in Battery Point, just off Hampden Road on Francis Street (it’s all cute and blue).
This is serious hot chocolate. A bowl (yes, a bowl) of it is a sufficient morning tea. It is thick, rich, and best consumed with a spoon (!). And did I say it’s the best I have had in Australia?!
But aside from hot chocolate, A Tiny Place offers amazing French and Asian inspired food in beautiful surroundings (so stay for lunch or dinner…or breakfast, lunch and dinner!). The walls are adorned with beautiful chalk artwork, tables are set with satin napkins, and the staff are clearly proud to be part of Hobart’s classiest café.
Please go there 🙂 You won’t regret it.
A Tiny Place
20 Francis Street, Battery Point
*photo lighting credit: Tegan
Today it was time to sample some final hot chocolate before my trip comes to an end. I managed to fit in two 🙂 A few days ago, I caught up with the lovely Halaina, in Freiburg, and she gave me some tips on places to visit in Munich. This included Chocolaterie Beluga which is near the Viktualienmarkt. After wandering in the wrong direction for 30 minutes with no sign of the store, I decided to consult my map. After having it confirmed my directions were up the creek, I set off in the right direction. Nothing like not knowing where you are in a new city. I found some other spots Halaina had recommended while I was ‘lost’.
I found the Viktualienmarkt and had a good look around. If I lived in Munich, I would shop here for food everyday – assuming I lived in the area (not likely), that I had a lot of time on my hands (also unlikely) or that I could be bothered cooking from scratch everyday (that would depend on the day I was having – I said the same about Salamanca when I moved to Hobart and haven’t done that once). The vital piece of information Halaina gave me was ‘I’m sure it’s under the Louis Hotel’. That was key to finding it. I was there 5 minutes before opening time, so I waited with three other people (a good sign). I was not missing out on one of the two tables. And I didn’t.
So I plopped myself down and asked for a hot chocolate (now, if I could read German, I would have known this is not how it works). No. You select your hot chocolate ‘block’ from the shelf (about 30 options) and then they bring the hot milk. Then the process is pop the block in, stir, and drink. Heavenly. Loved it. I chose orange and chilli flavour…and have hazelnut, sea salt caramel, honey, ginger and more orange snd chilli in my hand luggage 🙂
So thank you, Halaina, for the tip. It was well worth the stop and getting ‘lost’ in the process.
Tucked away in a quiet street behind the cathedral in Strasbourg is Bistrot & Chocolat.
My experience started with the waiter (who resembled Russell Brand and was as equally charming), asking me how I like my hot chocolate – which is as strong as possible. Nearly instantly I started to worry how strong this might end up being and if I was up to the challenge. I was offered a hot chocolate not yet on the menu as it only arrived from Venezuela last week. 100% cacao, with chai spice flavouring and a hint of banana. Sounded intriguing. Would I like a little bit of creme on top? Why not.
It arrived, with more than what I would call a ‘little bit of creme’, and sprinkled with what tasted like curry. Interesting.
After I made my way through the cream, I hit the chocolate and picked up the banana flavour which really balanced the chocolate.
Why didn’t I look for this place earlier? There is a whole menu to try. This was the first hot chocolate I have ever eaten with a spoon!
The bitterness outweighed any sweetness (and given it was 100% caoco, there wasn’t really any sugar hit), but time was definitely needed to drink this. One to savour through both necessity and to prolong the sheer enjoyment.
Then I started to ponder about how I could recreate this at home…well, unless I get myself a Venezuelan chocolate supplier and steal the spice recipe, I probably can’t. But it would not be the same experience drinking/eating it everyday. That’s what makes searching for hot chocolate special – you really value a good one when you find it. And you have a reason to revisit.
To begin with, you would think I would have learnt my lesson about putting èclairs in precarious positions to take photos. But no. I haven’t. However, this time I got lucky and the èclair did not fall off the window sill and down four levels. I have learnt in the past week that it is acceptable to sit food on window sills – but that is another story.
So I have made it to Strasbourg. And have nearly walked my feet off exploring (but also trying not to get lost) this beautiful city. The streets seem to never end, with each one full of new surprises and amazing buildings. And in some of these buildings are patisseries, and of course, èclairs.
All day I had resisted the urge to buy an èclair (thought I should have lunch first -sensible), but after walking for what seemed like an eternity, it was time. I spotted a patisserie yesterday that looked good, but do you think I could find it today? Of course not. So I ended back near the cathedral and saw another patisserie – being completely exhausted and tired of trying to find yesterday’s elusive patisserie, I went in. I will blame my slightly jumbled french on fatigue, but even still, I don’t think I deserved the look the woman in the shop gave me. I have ordering èclairs down pat, I was just having a moment. No customer service award heading her way anytime soon.
I toddled back to my hotel (which was out of hot water today – awesome surprise that woke me up for the day!), completed the hazardous photo shoot and ate my èclair. It was just what I needed. Super yummy and rich. I could feel my batteries recharging with every bite. Tomorrow I will try to find the other patisseries I saw today 🙂 Back on the hunt. Hot chocolate tomorrow too 🙂
The next leg of my holiday, brought me to Tours, and to my host family for my language homestay. Total immersion for a week. And by total, I mean total. For some reason I was under the impression Martine, my host, spoke some english. I was wrong. English = zippo. This has not presented too many problems but would have been handy when I fell down the stairs or when the power went off. The fall required me to use every reassuring word that I know 😦
When I arrived at my homestay, I spent two hours with Martine’s son, Laurent, and his girlfriend, Solange (not Beyonce’s sister). We managed to speak the whole time in French, which I was impressed with. I mentioned my blog to them, so Solange sent Laurent out to buy èclairs! I find when I tell people I like èclairs, they seem to appear. I love this country! These were the type of èclairs I love – simple but amazing. I had both chocolate and café èclairs (we had quite a few – I was not being greedy). These were so good I picked up three more a few days later to share with Martine and Gèrard. We are bonding over cakes, tea and èclairs. Who says you need a common language? 🙂