A quick hour train ride away from Paris and I felt like I was in another country and it was exactly as I expected. Cows, fields of green grass, and an immediate downpour of rain. I was in Normandy for the first time and breathing in as much fresh air as I could fill my lungs with!
I had been invited to join the last two days of the Fabulous Feast in Normandy Trip organized by Delicious Connections to photograph their exciting adventures!
The rain shower had just let up when the whole van of food discoverers pulled up at the train station in Le Mans to pick me up, complete with a huge grin from the owner of the Chateau where we were staying, Charles-Henry, and long time friend of Patricia’s, the owner of Delicious Connections. Regaled with stories of the countryside and the winery they had just visited nearby, we made our way back to Chateau de Saint Paterne, a family owned little hotel in the most magnificent setting.
Traditionally French with a gorgeous yard, fabulous food, and access to Normandy and the Loire valley, it is a wonderful place to stay- I might have been dancing in circles in our room and lounging outside to catch some much needed sun that would peek through the clouds every once and awhile.
The next morning we were off to the market in nearby town Alencon and there was just something about it! I’d visited several markets before but this one felt really special. It was bustling with locals doing their daily shopping and I think we were they only ‘tourists’ there. The produce was outstanding, covered in dirt from the fields, lush rich healthy colors, and incredible quality. A quaint little market that was everything you imagined one would be in the French countryside.
oh how I wished I lived nearby so I could have bought eggs from this lady! Best advertising ever!
And then there was the apple guy, with crates upon crates of different varieties of apples and bottles of cider.
With our knowledgeable guide, Charles-Henry, we picked up produce for a cooking class and the meals they would be cooking at the Chateau for the next few days.
Then it was off to explore the city, including this cute chocolate shop, Chocolats Glatigny.
There we tried a regional specialty, a chocolate with a ganache center and a hard meringue shell.
The next stop was a lovely little town for lunch. In France there is a designation of “les Plus Beaux Villages en France,” and this one was most certainly beautiful! It was made ever so sweet too by the clear skies that awaited us after dodging thunderous rain and hail(!) on the drive over.
Lunch was at a little cafe that had been around for quite awhile. After we’d finished eating, our waiter motioned us upstairs where he showed us artwork that had been painted directly on the walls by starving artists to pay for their meals.
The afternoon ended with a cooking class in the family’s private kitchens at the Chateau where we learned how to make (and flambe with Calvados) apple chicken in cider, a vegetable torte encased in cabbage leaves, and a frozen meringue and cream dessert called Vacherin that was customary to the region.
The cherry on top was that the meal we prepared was served to all the guests at dinner that night!
Here is the recipe we made for dessert. The finished dessert tasted much like ice cream and is great to make-ahead and keep in the freezer for any occasion. A special thanks to Delicious Connections, and Charles-Henry and Ségolène de Valbray of Chateau de St. Paterne for the recipe.
VACHERINS MAISON ST. PATERNE
4 large meringues with almonds (either purchased or made at home- each meringue should be about 6 inches in diameter)
1 cup crème fraîche
4 eggs (pasteurized)
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
In a bowl, mix the egg yolks, crème fraîche, sugar and vanilla.
Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold gently into the egg mixture.
Crush the meringues into big pieces and add them to the above preparation. You might not use all of the meringue, just watch the consistency. Any extra meringue is great to serve with the finished dessert.
Put in the freezer in crown molds (round molds) and serve with chocolate sauce or a red fruit coulis.
It was such a wonderful trip and I’m so thankful to Delicious Connections for having me along!
Now usually there’s a bit of a heads up when something opens: construction, a coming soon sign, maybe a news article, but this one seemed to pop up literally overnight. One minute I’m jumping on the train to go to Normandy and the next, a text from a friend saying Fou de Patisserie is opening a boutique on Rue Montorgueil (a street I live off of and walk down almost every day).
Now my first thought was hmmm– what could they be selling because Fou de Patisserie is an incredible magazine that is focused entirely on pastry with amazing pictures and loads of recipes. (They will send the magazine all over the world too.) I seriously texted my friend and said, are they just going to be selling the magazine, surely not! It’s great but I don’t see it paying the rent.
And no, this is a brand new idea actually and a nice deviation from the crop of mono-product shops that have been opening up in the past years. The Fou de Patisserie Boutique will not be selling just one type of pastry like eclairs or macarons, but a variety, and even better than that… lots of different pastries from… a mix of the top pastry chefs in Paris. Just think- a place to go and sample handpicked pastries from several different fabulous patisseries. Made fresh and brought in each morning!
THIS IS HUGE!
And so. dangerous.
Therefore my resolve of just buying one pastry changed from two to three in a matter of seconds.
Currently at the Fou de Patisserie boutique are the following pastries in the case:
Le Baba au Rhum by Cyril Lignac, rum cake with creme chantilly
L’Equinox by Cyril Lignac, vanilla bourbon whipped ganache, center of salted caramel on a praline speculoos biscuit and covered in white chocolate
Le Phil’goût by Philippe Conticini, chocolate, hazelnut, and craquounet
Le Cheesecake Cassis/Mandarine de Sicile by Jonathan Blot, sable cookie made with Sicilian almonds, ricotta mousse, confit of cassis and mandarine from Sicile
La Tarte au Chocolat et Thé Earl Grey by Jonathan Blot, tart shell of pate a sucrée with cocoa powder and fleur de sel, chocolate ganache infused with earl grey topped with whipped ganache, toasted hazelnuts and cocoa nibs
L’Eclair Caramel/Beurre Salé by Christophe Adam (l’Eclair de Genie), pate a choux, salted caramel ganache
L’Eclair Parfums de Saison by Christophe Adam (l’Eclair de Genie), pate a choux, and a selection of seasonal flavors, made exclusively for Fou de Patisserie Boutique
Le Mille-Feuille by Hugues Pouget (Huge & Victor), puff pastry, ganache, lightly whipped cream with Madagascar vanilla
La Tarte au Citron-Vert by Hugues Pouget (Huge & Victor), pate sablée, almond creme, lemon/lime curd, and italian meringue
La Tarte Pistache/Pamplemousse by Olivier Haustraete (Boulangerie BO), pate sucrée sablée, light frangipane cream, pistachio, and grapefruit slices All are 5.90 euros and made fresh daily. They’re kept in refrigerators behind the pastry case- probably a nifty storage solution in a tiny Paris space. Let’s just note that I barely made it past the glazed Madelines by Gilles Marchal.
So ordering got difficult as my first selection of the super cool looking cheesecake turned into a quick addition of the Chocolate Earl Grey tart and then because the lady that was helping me was near them and the customer before me had bought them and because I love them, a financier. whoops. :-D
The cheesecake was so light and delicate with the perfect crust and right amount of flavor from the cassis/mandarine.
Chocolate upon chocolate with a subtle note of Earl Grey tea and a nice contrast in textures between the ganache and cream. And bonus- the crust wasn’t hard to get through like so many tart crusts can be.
Along the other side of the boutique is a selection of chocolates and caramels. Unrefrigerated goods are at the front in the store window just begging you to grab one without even asking.
Am I happy about this shop opening? NO! Because I will be there seriously all the time! This is NOT good. New life goal: try all the offerings at the boutique and any new rotations.
The oldest pastry shop down the street, Stohrer, will probably still get my visit for the classic no frills caramel eclair though. :-)
Fou de Patisserie Boutique – 45 rue Montorgueil, 75002 Paris
Open Tuesday to Friday from 11am to 8pm, Saturday from 9:30am to 8pm and Sunday from 9:30am to 1:30pm
This has been a little bit of a debate with my expat friends here in Paris. Coffee just isn’t done very well here, at least from our opinion. With that being said though, there are actually a lot of good local coffee spots that have been popping up. So lately we have been on the hunt for best places and a list is definitely forming.
So far we have HolyBelly in the 10th, Coutume, Ob-la-di in Oberkampf area (I posted this one on my Instagram this week and it has by far been my favorite), Telescope in the 1st, Craft Coffee in the 10th (be sure to stop by La Fabrique a Gateaux!), Ten Belles by Canal St Martin, Lockwood near me at Sentier, and Boots Cafe, a tiny spot with just three tables in Old Cordonnerie.
There’s also, Shakespeare and Co. a great place to stop in when you’re in need of some friendly English speaking and a good book.
Our test for good coffee is if sugar needs to be added or not.
Right next door is the bookstore that has been open since 1951 and has been a huge center for anglophone literature. You can see beds on the inside nestled between bookcases where artists and poets used to live. And right across the street, le Notre Dame!
Shakespeare and Company le Cafe and the Bookstore!
37 rue de la Bucherie
A little walk today through Paris from my apartment by Rue Montorgueil down through the Marais and over to Ile St Louis and the Latin Quarter before stopping for coffee at Shakespeare and Co. I love how Paris is a walking city and you can see so many different things just walking for an hour or so. It’s super bleak here at the moment and I’m really looking forward to the sun coming out and warmer weather, but a good cup of coffee and amazing friends always makes things better. :-)
In the first picture is a super cute little choux pastry spot called Odette. This location overlooks the Notre Dame down a small Parisian street that you can see in the second photo. It’s a little off the beaten path and a great place to stop for a petite bite of something sweet and an espresso.
77 Rue Galande, 75005 Paris
Just in time for Valentine’s Day! I had a little rendevous at my friend Cara’s place from le 5eme Etage. The goal was to A. make a heart shaped tomato tarte tatin that I’d had milling around in my brain for the last couple of weeks. It’s terribly easy and I was curious to see if the tomatoes would work in a fun and festive heart shape. B. was to FINALLY master these silly little cakes that looked extra tasty in my Bouchon cookbook.
For Christmas my mom had given me the special mold that was made specifically for these cakes so I really wanted them to work out, but after two attempts with the recipe that came on the back of the package, I was just about ready to give up and use the mold for something completely different, and perhaps a bit more satisfying.
Luckily enough Cara had the Bouchon cookbook! woo! It’s fabulous, but a bit heavy, so I’d left my copy in the US. I puzzled at the recipes for a bit and oddly they were quite different. Flour ratios, sugar, chocolate, all different. So in my last attempt (the very last.. three times is completely enough times for me to try a recipe.. maybe 2 too many times haha) we decided to go with the cookbook recipe and see how it went.
But.. I was a bit tired haha so even though the ingredient amounts were the same, I switched up the method (without realizing until it was far too late to go back) and added little frills for Valentine’s day. :-)
To start, half of the butter (70g) and all of the chocolate, to melt over a bain marie. We used two different types of bittersweet chocolate.
Once melted, take off the heat and slowly whisk or stir in the remaining butter.
Set aside and combine flour, cocoa powder, salt, and dry vanilla powder (if using) in a separate bowl. Whisk together.
In another bowl (you should have 3 now), whisk together the eggs and sugar until a little lighter in color and foamy. Grab a helper and pour in the still hot melted chocolate/butter while whisking. Add the dry ingredients and stir together. The batter will be pretty thick. Allow to rest in a cool place for about 30 minutes.
Fill the molds to the top. There is no need to butter the molds because we’re using silicone and there’s a high butter content in the cakes which will help them not stick! Bake at 160C or 350F for 20 minutes. Take out and press a fresh raspberry in the top and return to the oven for another 10 minutes until fully cooked.
Bouchon in French means “cork” like a wine bottle cork. The mold that was made for this recipe was specifically designed to make them in this cork-like shape! Do try them in a mini cupcake pan though! Just keep an eye on the baking time, because it will probably be a bit less. I would also lightly spray the cupcake pan just in case.
Now the hard part, wait about 10 minutes, then carefully flip by placing a flat baking sheet lined with parchment on top, then gingerly grabbing the mold and flipping the whole thing over. You might need to give a little push on the top of the cakes to help them come out, but otherwise they should pop out pretty easily.
Take a square of parchment and fold in half then cut out a fun little heart or other design. Place on top of the cake and dust with powdered sugar.
Bite sized and ridiculously chocolaty with a little raspberry to cut through the decadentness! Happy Valentine’s Day to You & Yours!
Mini Chocolate Cakes (Bouchons)
Recipe amounts from Bouchon. Method and a couple twists by moi! Try baking them in a mini cupcake pan if you do not have the special Bouchon mold. Reduce the time by about 5 mins though and keep an eye on them, touching the sides to determine how cooked they are. The Bouchon mold can be bought at William’s Sonoma.
140g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
50g All Purpose flour
50g unsweetened alkalized cocoa powder (Dutch processed)
pinch of salt
75g eggs (about an egg an a half, whisk two together then weigh)
160g granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla paste, or pinch of vanilla powder
110g bittersweet chocolate (60-70%)
Over a bain marie, melt half of the butter and all of the chocolate. Off the heat, stir in the remaining butter.
In another bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and if using the vanilla powder.
In a third bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until a little lighter in color and foamy. Grab a helper and pour in the hot chocolate mixture quickly, whisking as you add it. Stir in the dry ingredients and let sit for about 30 minutes in a cool area.
Preheat your oven to 160C or 180F and fill the Bouchon molds to the top. If using a mini cupcake pan, lightly spray with kitchen spray before filling, just in case! Fill just about to the top as well, a little more than 3/4ths full.
Bake 20 minutes then remove from the oven and press in a fresh raspberry and bake an additional 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes (I set a timer). Then place something flat on top that’s lined with parchment and flip!
Dust with powdered sugar and Enjoy!
Happy Valentine’s Day!