Thursday, 17 March 2011

Paris Chocolatier - Pierre Cluizel's Un Dimanche à Paris

Un Dimanche à Paris

Our latest trip to Paris did not start well.  Nothing to do with Eurostar, which for me remains the best way to reach France.  It was the jaw-dropping exchange we witnessed en-route.  A fiery French red-head, irritated by the 20-something Brit gobbling crisps in the seat opposite, finally exploded.  With exquisite rudeness she informed the, rather slim, girl that if she continued she would triple her size by the time she was 40!   The whole carriage was now on fight alert.  Presumably in shock, the Brit flounced off to the buffet - perhaps not the best choice in the circumstances.  I'm sure she spent the rest of the day thinking up pithy responses she could have made, rather than the predictable "ugly" and "old" adjectives she tossed over her shoulder.  We, meanwhile, sucked in our tummies as we thought of our plans for a gastronomic blow-out day in Paris.

We visited some old friends and found some new.  This is a new one, and what a find.  For me the old, venerable Parisian chocolate shops can be a bit stuffy and predictable.  The new generation can be style over substance, but this one delivers on all levels.  I was alerted to Un Dimanche à Paris by the Paris-based pastry chef and writer David Lebovitz.  Having worked at Berkeley's Chez Panisse, he knows a good thing when he tastes it.  Pierre Cluizel, son of Michel, has spread his wings and opened what is best described as an all-about-chocolate store, or "concept store" if you must. 

On the ground floor is a chocolate shop/bar/pâtisserie where you can enjoy a daily changing hot chocolate while you narrow down what you want to take away.  A glass-fronted kitchen sits alongside where the chocolatiers demonstrate their technique.  Service in the shop is utterly charming and seductive. There is also a restaurant with a chocolate themed menu and upstairs a salon for coffee and teas, and that chocolat chaud served in china pitchers, if you want to linger over the delicate pâtisserie.  To top it off you can order a cocktail mixed to help you better appreciate the subtleties of chocolate. Oh, I almost forgot, and a teaching kitchen offering courses in working with chocolate.

Having enjoyed the superb hot chocolate at the Bar and sampled the truffles we moved on to a Macaron Cassis.  I can now vouch for how good the pâtisserie is, though the exquisite filling was perhaps a little too generous.  Les gâteaux looked amazing but would have to wait for another visit.  It was the simple truffes au chocolat rolled in cocoa powder which truly seduced us.  Mindful of Madame's warning and with memories of a delicious lunch, our petit paquet de truffes remained on the luggage rack until we could eat them at home ... in private ... and sparingly of course.

Un Dimanche à Paris
4-8 Cour du Commerce Saint André
Paris 6ème (Metro: Odéon)