Monday, October 3, 2011

Blame the Chocolate

I've been trying to be a more responsible parent lately - prioritizing being home for Baby Oil's nap times and all that jazz.  But today was so warm and sunny, it reminded me of those halcyon days of August (all of two months ago, I know) in which I wandered the streets of Paris in search of delicious surprises.  Fortunately, my friend Mira back in DC chose today to issue me a challenge of sorts - visit the six chocolate shops featured in this Food & Wine article.  Like I would say no. 

The truth is that I've thought for a while, and I think reflected here before, that I really haven't done chocolate justice.  I've focused on pastry and, of course, les macarons, and I really haven't explored the world of French chocolate.  Dually inspired by the weather and this new challenge, Baby Oil and I set out to experience Jean-Paul Hevin.

Except, really, when have I ever gone out in Paris and only eaten at one place?  En route to the store, I started getting a little hungry.  I even considered getting something here:

What's so wrong with that, you ask?  Looks pretty good, right?  There's really nothing wrong with it, except that it's actually McDonald's.  Seriously. And even I have standards. 

But I did succumb to temptation when I passed Michel Cluizel just a few blocks away from my destination.  Michel Cluizel is a cornerstone of French chocolate, having been in business for over 60 years.  One of the places on my challenge list is actually his son's shop, so naturally I felt that I needed to pay homage to the father.  Or whatever excuse I came up with in the moment to entire this beautiful shop.

I ordered two macarons - chocolate and cassis - both of which were outstanding.  I'm talking I-want-to-go-back-there-and-eat-myself-silly excellent.  I also picked up a few small chocolates which I'm saving to share with Mr. Oil. 

I underestimated exactly how warm it was going to be today, so by the time I finally arrived at Jean-Paul Hevin, I was hot, sweaty, and really wishing for some nice cool ice cream.  I think when the Food & Wine folks did their research, they probably did not have a 9 month old who woke up from his nap right when they arrived.  So they probably didn't have to get the intimidating chocolate girl to agree to put the stroller in the back so they could check out the cafe, only to realize that this cafe was not intended for children, what with steep stone stairs and no high chairs.  Also, it was a thousand degrees up there. 
That's a chocolate shoe on the left!

Plus, chocolate is more fun to share. So I picked out two dessert items - they have fancy chocolate shop names but I'll just call them Delicious Thing On the Left and Delicious Thing On the Right - and brought them home. Here they are.

Sorry for terrible picture quality - but you really should be drooling now

Delicious Thing on the Right wins. Big time.  Very rich and chocolate-y, leaves your mouth with that chocolate tingle.  DTotL was also delicious, a little heavier and slightly less sweet.  

My brain is all over the place tonight, and I think I'm largely distracted by the book I'm currently reading - Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo.  I thought I should read some French literature, and I got this for free on my Kindle.  Total page-turner!  Plus, whenever I think of Alexandre Dumas, I think of the 1990s movie The Three Musketeers, with Chris O'Donnell playing an adorable D'Artagnen, and that also makes me happy. Just saying - brain all over the place. Blame the chocolate.