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Welcome to delicious Destinations, a GourmetStation blog. Through the charater of T.Alexander and occasional real-life guests, our aim is to share with you light-hearted fun ideas about food, gift giving, entertaining and culture. At the same time we would love you hear from you. Please share your experiences from home or abroad.
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Pâtisseries délicieuses …
Posted: May 14, 2012
Scoping through magazine articles awhile back, I am came across one with a pastry challenge…for anyone visiting Paris and I immediately thought of my friend Colleen, who authors this week’s blog.
Colleen Watson- Guest Blogger
She was headed off to Paris and I didn’t know if this Pastry challenge would be of interest, but she immediately was excited about the opportunity and the result….well read and find out…as Colleen accepts the Paris patisseries challenge. Take it away Colleen.....
Pâtisseries délicieuses …
I could be happy sitting in a café all day watching the Paris world pass by with only my drink order changing from café crème to a vin rouge.
But this trip, my good friend and frequent traveling companion, Mark Stine (yes, the very same blogger who generally graces this space) sent me a list of several of the top pâtisseries in Paris. I decided I was up for the challenge.
So, on one of the warmer days toward the end of my trip, I set out with my traveling companions to begin the adventure. From where we were staying near the Tour Eiffel, we decide to go to the furthest away and work our way back. We took the metro, conveniently located a couple of doors down from our hotel to the Métro République. We followed our Paris map a couple of short blocks south of the Pl. de la République off of the busy Bd du Temple to Jacques Genin.
Standing behind the glass cases, Arthur Dieupart motioned us over and gave us our first taste of the best chocolates in my memory. Smooth and creamy ganaches, we purchased several of the small lovely boxes, each holding nine squares of the most interesting flavors with herbs and spices (jasmine, ginger, mint, tea) and others equally interesting (grapefruit, rose). Even the more typical kind was not of a typical taste.
But, we did come for the pastries!
Jacques Genin has a delightfully inviting tea room on the other side of the circular stairs that lead to the loft kitchen where all the pastries, chocolates, jellys and caramels are made fresh each day … and throughout the day to replenish what has been sold. We decided on the Saint-Honoré, a surprise from the typical that featured a delectable, flaky pastry topped with vanilla whipped cream alongside three cream puffs of chocolate, caramel and vanilla. It was a perfect selection with the café crème (oh, and more chocolates).
Pulling ourselves away from the inviting ambience, friendly staff and delicious smells, we left to walk to the next shop on our list, Pâtisserie Pain de Sucre.
Located on rue Rambuteau, also in the Marais, just three blocks northeast of the Centre Pompidou, this shop is owned by Nathalie Robert and Didier Mathray. These two met each other at Pierre Gagnaire's three-Michelin-starred restaurant in the pastry kitchen, of course. They opened Pain de Sucre together and continue to work as a team, creating wonderfully fabulous confections.
The bright, well-appointed space is just what you’d imagine when thinking pâtisserie. As we enter the shop, the first things we notice are the cases filled with inviting pastries and macaroons. We quickly notice the ornate and amazingly fairy-tale ceiling perfectly suited to the space. The shop is busy with customers unable to make decisions because everything is so well presented and looks so inviting, concoctions so well appointed they looked like artwork. Even the marshmallows are tempting!
We move on toward our final stop of the day, La Pâtisserie des Rêves located in the posh 7th arrondisement and created by chefs Angelo Musa—a winner of the Pastry World Cup and a Meilleur Ouvrier de France—and Philippe Conticini, partnering with hotelier Thierry Teyssier. (They have another shop in the 16th arrondissement, 10-minutes from the Palais de Chaillot, which includes a salon de thé and an atelier des choux.)
We step into a small space crowded with late afternoon shoppers clearly picking up pastries for after dinner pleasures. Everything in the shop is artfully designed, from the color-coordinated walls, fixtures and packaging, to the interesting glass domes under which contain deliciously appealing delicacies.
True to their creativity, Phillipe Conticini’s Paris-Brest is different than most, with six small puffs of pastry (choux) nestled together in a circle, each containing rich chocolate-praline. The addition of the chocolate adds a wonderful flavor to the smooth crème and goes way beyond the typical. Definitely one to try!
And so, with a sugar over load and a desire for some substantive food, we walked back to our “neighborhood” and stopped at a corner bistro that offered us our customary glass of Bordeaux and the special of the evening, a fresh fish in … wait for it … puff pastry!
We woke up the next morning, our last day in Paris, and decided we couldn’t go home without at least a dozen more boxes of chocolates from Jacque Genin. We made our way over to the shop, which, on this day, was teaming with customers. By the end of it, we (and all the others) had nearly wiped them out. We met Jacques, a most sincere, warm and charming host, and had another pastry and café crème. This time, the lime … divine!!
......And so the Paris patisseries challenge was met by Colleen and her bonvivant friends…I however was a lucky recipient of one of the boxes of chocolates from Jacque Genin…two words...tres’ magnifique! I am not ashamed to say…I ate all of the chocolates in one afternoon...I did however recycle the cute chocolate tin and filled it with a necklace that I gave to my daughter. If you can’t make it to Paris anytime soon..may I recommend the internet..make a list of all of the pastry shops in your area..and spend an afternoon in Pastry pursuit! Bon appetit!
14 French Movies Every French Major Must See
Posted: September 24, 2011
Whether you're a French student or not, you're probably like me...constantly seeking new and high quality film. The French know their way around a kitchen, they make great wines, and they're also excellent at movie making.
Best Colleges Online have compiled a list of 14 movies every French student should watch - and that includes you. I won't spoil the surprise of the list by saying anything except a few words about #14 - bottoms up.
La grande illusion (1937)
We would be remiss not to include one of the greatest French films ever made. La grand illusion is not only a cinematic masterpiece, but an engaging look into France’s history and society in the WWI years. Focusing on a group of officers taken prisoner during the war, the movie reveals their class relationships and struggles as they plot an escape.
Click here to see the rest of the list! Enjoy.
50 Best Books for French Majors & Francophiles
Posted: July 17, 2011
Wikipedia: Francophile - A Francophile (or Gallophile) is a person who has a strong positive predisposition or interest toward the government, culture, history, or people of France. This could include France itself and its history, the French language, French cuisine, literature, etc. The opposite of a Francophile is a Francophobe (or Gallophobe) – someone who dislikes all that is French.
Sound familiar? Are you a Francophile or do you know someone who is? Now there is a collection of 50 great books for those in love with France. Book categories include food, culture, history, fiction and travel. Top book for food:
This rich resource is brought to you compliments of Accredited Online Colleges - AccreditedOnlineColleges.com
Keep it Simple: French Home Cooking
Posted: September 6, 2008
Visitors to France often associate French cuisine with the rich sauces and ornate plate presentations - the sort you're bound to encounter if you dine in Paris's Michelin-star restaurants, but equally satisfying, is a home-cooked meal in Brittany.
Our friend, Huguette lives in the little town of Chartres-de-Bretagne located several miles from Rennes, capital city of the Brittany region. Rennes is the sister-city of Rochester, New York. Located in the northwestern region of France (practically due west from Paris), the Brittany region is well-reknowned for its picturesque coastline, fishing villages, Maine-like beaches, and great seafood. The rugged peninsular coastline cedes to a tangled boulder-laden forest - which inspired stories of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.
We are always eager to visit Huguette. In addition to being an adept conversationalist, a resolute gardener (when she's not traveling), and a welcoming host, she's also a good cook. With what always appears to be a minimal amount of time in the kitchen, she puts a satisfying meal on the table.
So what is her secret? Simplicity. You've probably read it a dozen times. The key to good cooking is great ingredients and nowhere is this more true than in France. But more important - and it's a fault (for which I've often been guilty), some of us beginners complicate excellent basic ingredients with too much fuss.
Any good meal begins with a trip to the local market and bakery. Chartres-de-Bretagne has its weekly market within walking distance from Huguette's home. During our weekend, we had a chance to visit not only the local bakery, market and butcher shop, but the local school children's garden display surrounding city hall. The theme was the meaning of gardens. Gardens not only create beautiful surroundings but produce some of the food that will end up on Huguettes's table. (including the cherry jam we slather over our morning baguette). "I had SO many cherries this year, I was giving them away to everyone who stopped by."
Here's just one menu sample of Huguette's well-planned meals:
L'Heure de L'Apero (Cocktail Hour)
(Huguette buys her pre-rolled puffed pastry, seasons the lightly basted pork and slips the pastry-wrapped roast into the oven at 350 degrees) Meat courses are often served in their own reduced 'jus' rather than a heavy butter and flour-based gravy.
Cheese and Salad.
Everything is better with butter. Huguette admits that she is not a great consumer of sweets, but having been brought up on Norman butter (she's originally from Normandy), she will not pass up this essential ingredient.
What is the added benefit of such tasty and simply prepared meals? Not so many dishes, pots and pans, and more time to spend chatting over a cup of expresso in the garden. Although I haven't gotten anywhere near mastering the art of simple cuisine, at least I've found a good role model.
Next time we visit, Huguette has promised to make us 'boudin noir' - blood pudding sausage with onions, potatoes and slices of apples. In the meantime, she's given us a hint of things to come with a satisfying plate another sort of sausage accompanied with mashed potatoes (butter included!) Simple delicious!
Seaside Treats From France
Posted: June 16, 2008
Tasting the local seafood can be one of the greatest pleasures of a
Before I au paired in France, the only mussels I had tasted were the
Even though ‘moules-frites’ is often offered as a starter, don’t be
As with all popular dishes, people develop their own strategies for
As for all those etiquette lessons about not dunking your bread in the
I think one of the reasons French people love this dish is partly
France Today – The Magazine of French Culture & Travel
Posted: October 1, 2007
GourmetStation can bring you French dinners delivered to remind you of Paris and a lovely dinner at a sidewalk café on Champs-Elysées. It will get you close, but if you need to get a little closer, try this web site - France Today – The Magazine of French Culture & Travel.
If you’re planning a trip, check out their calendar page where you can preview music shows, art exhibitions and more. I enjoyed best addresses; especially the hotel section where I learned about Hôtel Lutetia, a palace hotel at less than palace prices. This link will take you to their gourmet section where you can purchase mostly baked goods from companies located all across the US. If you’re the studious type, try this page where you can download a French Travel Study Guide.
A sister company France-Amérique is America’s only French-language news, culture and community publication for Francophones and Francophiles alike. Published bi-monthly, France-Amérique brings its readers news, French trends, cultural insights and insider travel. Had enough? Let’s go!
Food Adventures in France
Posted: September 15, 2007
There are moments in life that one never forgets - especially when it
The Interminable French Feast
Posted: June 25, 2007
"You must have spent all day preparing dinner",said our neighbor Anne
And the truth is, yes, I did spend all day preparing dinner. So, in case
The answer is "With much reflection!"
The first couple of years in France, I tried to be a good ambassador and
In recent years, some new additions have made life in the "galley"
Keep it fresh: People might excuse a chewy cut of beef, but they will
RE: Meat. Steaks in France tend to be chewy but the flavor
RE: Sauce aka gravy. Sauces tend to be much lighter in France. You've
Tomato sauces (which are used in many American dishes) are not as
RE: Fish. The simplicity rule is truer than ever with fish. If you're
If you're vegetarian, you'll be happy to know that people are often
Cous-cous or semolina (a North-African dish) is one example of a good base
Cheeses: Cheese shops in town tend to be overpriced (in my opinion).
Camembert and other soft cheeses must be left out for a few hours before
When choosing desserts, opt for light and fluffy over two-crust pies or
Here are some ways to spend more time with your guests: Try to have the
Have coffee measured and the coffee pot ready to turn on at the flip of a
Have a flower vase and a pair of scissors set beside the sink in case a
Find a partner in crime "do not be afraid to delegate" but make sure
For a video on a lunch in Normandy from Fat Bell Travelers, click here.
Welcome Guest Writer - Chris Card Fuller
Posted: June 4, 2007
We have received wonderful comments and feedback from Delicious Destinations guest writers. Our goal is to have guest writers from every corner of the globe. I have been searching specifically for a guest writer from France for about two years. The search is over! Welcome, Chris Card Fuller; we welcome your French experience into our food & culture blog. By way of introduction enjoy this bio about Chris and how she came to work in and love the world of food & travel.
When I was nineteen, a palm reader at a cocktail party in Palos Verdes
Estates read my palm. She told me that even though I was helping the
hostess serve hors d'oeuvres, the kitchen wasn't really my bailiwick.
She didn't mention anything about travel and she didn't see France in
By many strange twists and turns in the path of life, I ended up spending
more and more time in France, particularly in Paris & Normandy. The palm
reader was right in guessing that I might find producing a four-course
dinner for French guests to be a daunting task, but well worth the
privilege of gaining an intimate view of day-to-day living in Paris and
the Norman countryside.
Chris Heidrich who launched the site and invited me to contribute my
comments about French living. The Bootsnall.com site for independent
travelers caught my eye back in the late late nineties as the ideal site
for sharing my travel stories with like-minded travelers.
Aside from travel stories about French life, I've also published a
number of travel articles for U.S. newspapers including the L.A. Times and
the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. My collection of travel essays titled
"The Fearful Traveler's Companion" was published in December 2005 by
iUniverse.com A number of hair-raising encounters interspersed with
unusual food thrills included in this first collection are just a sampling
of future stories to be told. My travels have taken me from Appalachicola,
Florida to Yap in the Caroline Islands, from Timbuktu, in Mali, to Phaplu
Bootsnall members are often requested to send in a photo or the name of
their first pair of hiking boots. My first pair of hiking boots I
borrowed from my dad for a trip to Aspen, Colorado. I was sixteen years
old. Aspen is where I first drank a "smoothie" and ate tempura
veggies. My first introduction to snails was in a French restaurant in
Telluride, Colorado. In other words, you don't necessarily have to be
in France to enjoy great French cuisine (but it's well worth the trip,
at least once in your lifetime).
Travel and food, for me, have always been an inseparable part of the same
Paris Logue - An Insider's View
Posted: May 17, 2007
GourmetStation tries to take you to France with our Parisian menu line. Food travel, so to speak. But let’s face it – there is no substitute for being there…for finally completing the journey as your cruise over de Gaulle Airport and take in the city from a bird’s eye view…for gently rolling into the culture and becoming French, if only for a few days.
Well, I’ve got a resource for you as you make your travel plans to Paris. And even if you don’t have a trip on the books, go anyway. Just go. I recommend you read Paris Logue religiously before departing. Chris Cardfuller will give you a comprehensive look at the city from an American’s perspective. Now there are many blogs and books on travel to France out there. But Chris has a unique perspective. She doesn’t skim the top with fluff touristy topics. She drills down to the heart of the city, it’s people, politics and much more.
I especially enjoyed the post by Chris about the 1st 100 days of Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidency which started on May 16th and the practical effect on tourism with potential labor strikes. There’s also Tips & Tidbits – a fast way to get “in the know” with topics like “how many train stations are in Paris.” The answer is seven, but don’t take my word for it, read the post! (The answer is: Montparnasse, St. Lazare, Gare du Nord, Gare de l’Est, Gare d’Austerlitz, Gare de Lyon, and Gare de Bercy)
Travel & accommodations are also favorite subjects. I won’t spill the beans, but Chris wrote a post on places to eat in Paris. What I like about her list is that she has tried them all and they are neighborhood restaurants – the best in my opinion. Thanks Chris – for giving us a peak at Paris through your eyes and you pen. Keep up the good work!