Upon arriving in Paris, I had previously read about/heard of three famous French patisseries: Pierre Hermé, Ladurée and Fauchon. Almost all that information was gleaned from the few French blogs I had been reading insatiably from the time I made the decision to move. I even ventured into PH during my interview weekend in January 2008, but only purchased a few souvenir bars of chocolate – my French was non-existent and the thought of interacting with the staff to order a macaron terrified me.
After getting here and gathering enough French to confidently handle the restaurant encounter, I am slowly venturing back to explore these giants of Parisian patisserie. I have made several, unphotographed ventures into PH. The rue Vaugirard shop feels a bit like an edible art museum, and I have to stop myself from wanting to taste one of everything. Neither my wallet, nor my waistline are that flexible. However a trip sometime soon to try the newest ‘collection’ of macarons (released as part of ‘le Jour du Macaron’ on March 20th) will be absolutely necessary. For the blog, of course.
I did recently combine culture and chocolate. Conveniently for me the Edvard Munch exhibit was taking place right next door to the flagship Fauchon store in Place de la Madeleine. In fact, the Pinacotheque is trapped between two Fauchon boutiques, kitty-corner from each other, around the block from the Madeleine metro stop.
Although primed for it by Camille, I was still surprised to see so much more than sweets at Fauchon. There were fancy cheeses and sausages, as well as specialty terrines and patés to purchase and take home. They also had a café service with small salads and snacks that once ordered, could be eaten while sitting at bar lining the shop window, prime real estate for people-watching in the square.
Most important for me, however, were the sweets. Not just macarons (for which I prefer Hermé), but the cakes and éclairs that were offered in seemingly endless varieties of flavors, shapes, colors and artistic inspiration.
Most impressive in both size and advertising innuendo was the ‘Éclair Electro-choc’. We decided, after seeing this sign, that we had to have one.
Really? Who turns down 28 centimeters of pleasure? With three different kinds of chocolate? It was, by far, the largest éclair I have ever seen, and was hilariously decorated with EKG waves in pastry cream.
It actually took us a while to stop laughing before we decided to dive in. It was an experience. The three gradients of chocolate went from the milkiest chocolate at the ends (33% cocoa), gradually increasing in chocolate content towards the middle (67%), and incredibly decadent in the center (85%) it took four of us to finish it, although Camille and I did most of the dirty work. Rich and satiating, it was the best éclair I have ever had. I have heard that the Fauchon caramel éclair is also delicious, but there was no way that I could have tried another, else the EKG might no longer be a joke. Reasons to return are always welcome.
24-26 Place de la Madeleine
Metro: Madeleine (lines 8, 12, 14)