Monday 8 April 2013
Clotilde's Edible Adventures in Paris
I've been a fan of Clotilde Dusoulier for some time, since I found her wonderful blog, chocolatenandzucchini several years ago. Clotilde has now written several books, but I've never come across any in Australia before. You can only imagine how quickly I snapped up a remaindered copy of Clotilde's Edible Adventures in Paris on a recent trip to my favourite remainder store, Clouston and Hall in Canberra- but then I don't think I've ever left their shop empty handed.
Clotilde Dusoulier is a native Parisian who endlessly explores her own city, and here in Edible Adventures she is kind enough to share her treasures with the rest of us. I devoured this book on our car trip home from Canberra. Written for Americans, there is a lot of basic information- don't call waiters garcon, or snap your fingers (really does anyone actually do that?), try to use some French, especially in greetings, and if you don't have a reservation you will often miss out on eating at the best restaurants during the busy periods- particularly Friday and Saturday nights. Clotilde helpfully suggests a typical conversation for booking a table in a restaurant. Further advice is scattered throughout the book- favourite picnic spots, tips on navigating the different supermarkets, and seasonal treats available throughout the year.
This 2008 book is divided into two main sections. The first Eats lists Clotilde's restaurant suggestions for each of the 20 arrondissements in central Paris. Her suggestions cover brunch, lunch and dinner suggestions ranging from casual to gastronomic dining experiences, as well as salon de thes and wine bars. There is something there for every taste and every budget.
Part two, Shops, covers so much. Markets. Bakeries. Pastry shops. Chocolate shops. Candy (lolly) shops. Ice Cream shops. Speciality providores for cheese, meats, fish, spices, teas and honey. What else could you want?
I'm familiar with many of the shops that she lists and agree fully with her choices. I'm more than happy to try some of Clotilde's suggestions on my upcoming trip. Some that particularly called to me:
Semiliquid caramel bites at Patrick Roger (the Savage glimpsed on Patrick Roger's site). OMG. I am so there.
The "remarkable" marron glaces at Debauve and Gallais, about which I only learnt this week from the equally remarkable Carol at Paris Breakfast.
The Violette and Quartre Epices at Belgian master Pierre Marcolini. Clotilde advises that the French believe Belgian chocolates to be "too rich, too sweet, and, well, a bit pedestrian", but that Pierre's chocolates are so good he has made a name for himself in Paris. She also recommends his pates de fruits and his chocolate-covered guimauves (marshmallows). I don't normally like marshmallows but Parisian marshmallows are the bomb.
Delicabar, the first floor restaurant at Le Bon Marche, quite close to our flat, where the outdoor patio is an oasis for chic summertime lunches.
The specialty loaves at Eric Kayser- hazelnut and turmeric, fresh fig- or the bread of the month.
When I pop into Poilane for an apple turnover/chausson aux pommes, I will want to try the punitions too, "pale blond butter cookies worth selling your soul for".
If we get to Du Pain et des Idees (they have a gorgeous website too, with an aural slice of Paris boulangerie chatter) I would love to try the stuffed bread rolls- goats cheese and figs, banana and chocolate or apple and almond.
And if we venture back to Montmartre this trip then perhaps we could take in a slice of lemon pound cake (quatre-quart au citron) or a goat cheese and hazelnut bread at Coquelicot.
Perhaps when Mr Wicker goes to Stohrer to try their exemplary eclairs, I will need to sample the baba au rhum (Nicolas Stohrer is said to have introduced it in France whilst he was pastry chef to Louis XV, his patisserie is the oldest in Paris, trading since 1730!) or the house speciality of puits d'amour (well of love) a pillow-shaped, caramelized custard tart named after a late-nineteenth century operetta.
Pain de Sucre has sublime tartlets- fig and thyme, ricotta and wild strawberries) and revamped classics-orange flower callison or a mango eclair.
Clotilde names Pierre Herme as her macaron provider of choice. They were my favourites last time too. "A relentless alchemist of flavours..... his luxurious and whimsical creations are a feast for the eye, the taste buds, and the intellect Herme was the first to introduce fashion concepts into the stiff world of French patisserie."
I'm not sure if we'll make it to the 9th to find Aurore-Capucine, but their crackled macarons sound extraordinary, as does a coconut and geranium dome or a puffy raspberry turnover, and their products are a riot of colour, or as Clotilde says "a profoundly handcrafted, flamboyant look, as if assembled from velvet, silk, and fake pearls by an eccentric duchess".
Whilst in the 9th Arnaud Delmontel may provide us with a feuillete de seigle au miel- a flaky roll made with rye flour and slightly sweetened with honey, or brilliantly simple inventions such as a lemon turnover called bichon and glossy edible sculptures!
I'm quite keen to try some of Paris's more exotic treats this time- La Cafe Maure at La Grande Mosque de Paris appeals. As does La Bague de Kenza, serving Algerian style pastries, "aromatic delights filled with nuts, figs, or dates, and flavoured with honey, rose water, orange blossom, mint, citrus or vanilla." Yes please.
I saw Ble Sucre on French Food Safari recently, it looks magnificent, and well worth the trek out to the 12th to try the best madeleines in Paris. Clotilde tells us that they sell perfectly done classics with a handful of original creations too. She has apparently fallen head over heels for the chocolate bar with crunchy specks of salted caramel, and why not.
Edible Adventures in Paris really has something for everyone planning a trip to Paris. Indeed, we're positively spoilt for choice. I can't wait.