Saturday, October 20, 2007

Happy to be in Paris

There is no denying that the Métro strike is irritating: how cruel and inhuman to shut down the only line that leads directly to the Salon du Chocolat at Porte de Versailles.
But, somehow or other, Paris always brings a smile to my face.
I walked down this street after chatting with Michel Chaudun, who must be the city's warmest and happiest chocolatier. He isn't taking part in the Salon du Chocolat because he doesn't need to: the crème de la crème of Paris society comes through his glass door each day. His chocolates are expensive at 98 euros a kilo (about $60 a pound) but their exquisite freshness sets them apart, even at the highest level of Paris chocolate.
Michel produces around 300 kg (660 lbs) of chocolates every day in his doll-sized workshop, known in French as a laboratoire, and just about all of this is sold the same day. He insists on filling each box of chocolates to order to prevent the chocolates from "contaminating" each other (his word). Even his display case is designed so that the chocolates are not shut in. "Chocolate needs to breathe," he says. Once you buy them his chocolates keep for up to three weeks, preferably just below room temperature, "but it's up to my customers to eat them as quickly as possible," he chuckles.
That's not to say that Michel Chaudun's loyal customers are stuffing themselves with a pound of chocolates every day. The beauty of enjoying chocolate in Paris is that it's perfectly all right to stroll into a deluxe boutique and order une petite gourmandise, which might be one or two ganache-filled chocolates or a mini-box of Michel's little square truffles. My latest discovery is his Veragua, a simple but extraordinary combination of dark chocolate, praline and caramel.

When chocolate is this finely balanced, a little takes you a very long way - a good thing when your Métro line has shut down and there is no Vel'ib for miles.
Michel Chaudun, 149 rue de l'Université, 7th, 01 47 53 74 40.


dorie said...

Rosa, I'm with you, I love Michel Chaudun's chocolates, particularly his little paves of ganache. I don't think M. Chaudun is as well known in America as other Parisian chocolatiers - but he should be!

Lucy said...

Oooh, I've been there! Michel was warm and chatty, happy and patient to put up with my broken French and his chocolates are EXQUISITE Rosa!

Bloody Metro. HOW rude!

Dana said...

What a nice pick-me-up on a rainy morning somewhere that's *not* Paris -- lovely chocolates to dream about.

Glad you found a bright side to the strike ;)

Rosa said...

Dorie, I love the paves but there are so many ganache fillings to explore as well! I kind of like it that Michel Chaudun is not well-known to Americans - it feels like more of a secret, doesn't it?

Lucy, the combination of Michel's personality and the natural mood-boosters in chocolate make his shop one of the loveliest places to visit in Paris.

Maybe if those Metro strikers ate more chocolate they wouldn't be so miserable?

Dana, sorry you can't taste them, it must be frustrating. There are always advantages to walking in Paris rather than being underground!

Rose said...

The next time I go to Paris, I know excately where I 'll be heading.

Rosa said...

You won't regret it, Rose, even if you spend (and eat) a little more than planned!

sweetpea said...

Hi Rosa - nothing to do with chocolate: I am expecting a fresh 8-10 pound rooster in about 5 weeks. Of course this begs consideration of coq au vin. Any chance you could post something on this quintessential french classic. I am particulary interested in a version from a region that calls for a white wine rather than the traditional red. Also would you use any thick bacon for lardons, or something else? Hope you can help!
Cari Trousdale
St. Paul, MN USA

Rosa said...

That's an interesting request, Cari! The thing is, roosters are not so easy to come by any more. I will make inquiries and try to post a recipe in the next few weeks - even if I have to make it with regular chicken!

sweetpea said...

Thanks for even considering my request. And yes, I know roosters are hard to come by. My local co-op in St. Paul, MN found a local farm to raise a dozen or so and we were expecting delivery two weeks ago. However, a virus took hold in the coop and they were not fit for eating. So, another hatch is expected to be ready the end of November. I was one of a lucky dozen people to get my name on the list. Hope you find something, my google searches are not helping much with the white wine version.