Read The Chocolate Thief Online

Authors: Laura Florand

The Chocolate Thief (32 page)

Laura Florand’s
Favorite Chocolate
Worth a Trip to Paris
Okay,
Paris
is worth a trip to Paris. But if these chocolate shops were in the world’s ugliest city and it was being bombed by aliens, they would be worth a trip
there.
Jacques Genin
133, rue de Turenne
75003 Paris, France
011 33 1 45 77 29 01
 
The first thing you notice as you step into this
chocolaterie
is the sublime space. Rough arches of exposed stone blend with red velvet curtains, white rosebud-embossed walls, and a spiraling metal staircase to create a setting of exceptional beauty. (It’s the inspiration for the setting in my third book, in fact.)
While Jacques Genin has supplied chocolates to the top hotels in Paris for years, he is a relative newcomer with the general public, as his
salon du chocolat
only opened in 2008. Considered by many to be among the best in the world, his chocolates are presented in flat metal boxes that frame the beautifully printed squares of luscious ganache infused with herbs and spices—ganaches that melt in your mouth in sensuous ecstasy. Take your time the first time you bite into one of his chocolates, because the memory will stay with you for the rest of your life. But don’t stop with the chocolates. If you have the joy of being in Paris, sit down at his tables to sample his famous
millefeuilles
(made to order and worth the wait), his
éclairs au chocolat,
and all his other delicious pastries. And if you have never considered yourself a lover of caramel or
pâtes de fruit,
try his and you will be converted.
For some behind-the-scenes looks at Jacques Genin’s
laboratoire,
check out my website,
www.lauraflorand.com
, where I share some of my research for the Chocolate series books. With generous enthusiasm and a true passion for his work, Jacques Genin welcomed me into his chocolate workshop and answered every question I could ask. And he has, without a doubt, the most beautiful
laboratoire
in all of Paris, in itself worth a look.
Michel Chaudun
149, rue de l’Université
75007 Paris, France
011 33 1 47 53 74 40
 
Michel Chaudun’s tiny shop in the 7th arrondissement of Paris provokes the giddy delight of stepping into some old museum crammed with artifacts from around the world—only in this case, they are all in chocolate: from the massive sculpture of a Mayan warrior to the bust of an Egyptian pharaoh, from a Hermès purse to strings of sausage so utterly realistic you could offer them at the dinner table and no one would realize the trick until they tried to cut into them and the chocolate fragmented around the knife.
Another of the world’s very best chocolatiers, he is famous for his chocolate sculptures as well as his whimsy. And as for flavor . . . take one bite of his very famous
pavés
and you will melt right at the feet of that Mayan warrior. Sensuous bites of ganache delicately dusted with cocoa, these are as simple and as sinful as chocolates get. Don’t try to hoard them for months or even weeks. (You know you want to eat the whole box anyway!) They are at their best when you buy them and need to be enjoyed at their peak.
The utterly charming Michel Chaudun also welcomed me into his world for my research for the Chocolate books. Take a look at
www.lauraflorand.com
for glimpses of his tiny
laboratoire
and this passionate, generous man in action.
 
As you’ll notice, the preceding chocolatiers are so good, so famous just on word-of-mouth, and so very focused on local artisan production that they don’t need to have websites. And as of this writing, they don’t. For chocolates you can order, read on.
Can’t Make It to Paris?
When I can’t, I order my chocolate from these . . .
La Maison du Chocolat
 
La Maison du Chocolat is a legend. It was founded in 1977 by Robert Linxe, who came up to Paris from the Basque region in 1955 and changed the taste of Paris chocolate by replacing the popular nut- and fruit-laced fillings with pure heavenly ganache and, in so doing, became my personal hero. By bringing ganaches into the forefront of French chocolate-making, he has made the world an infinitely better place.
These days, La Maison du Chocolat has boutiques all over the world, and that’s our good fortune, because the quality has never faltered and it is possible to order these legendary chocolates shipped straight to one’s door. (The price, you say? Hmm . . . perhaps you thought I was exaggerating Sylvain’s assessment of his own worth when he sells his chocolates for over a hundred dollars a pound? No, no, I’m
toning him down.
) Michel Chaudun was chef chocolatier here before he set off on his own over twenty years ago. Jacques Genin was head pâtissier here when he was 33.
These days, the creative director is Gilles Marchal. Try his tender, intense ganaches, and the way you think about chocolate will never be the same. And if you’re in New York? La Maison du Chocolat has not one but four beautiful chocolate shops that you can step into to experience your own magic moment in Paris.
L.A. Burdick
 
Whenever anyone in the United States makes me very, very happy, I order them chocolate from L.A. Burdick. Born and raised in Boston, Larry Burdick spent time both in Switzerland and France before establishing L.A. Burdick Chocolate in 1987. His cafés in Cambridge and New Hampshire have been around for a while, but they have two recently opened spaces in Boston’s Back Bay and New York’s Flatiron district as well.
For the rest of us, best of all is that they operate a thriving mail-order business and you can have chocolates only my heroes could snub (because, you know, nothing another chocolatier can make is as good as what
they
can do, ever) shipped to you. Tiny bites of dark chocolate, laced delicately with fig and port wine; exquisitely delicate chocolate-enrobed salted caramels; truffles infused with lemon, pepper, and rum . . . and if that isn’t enough, each box comes with at least one of their impossibly cute, tiny chocolate mice. If you have a child in the house, you may as well give up on tasting the mouse yourself right now.
The classic mice can be varied through the holiday seasons with the cutest chocolate ghosts known to the living, turkeys, snowmen, adorable tiny bunnies, or, my personal favorite, honeybees.
Or let me let you in on a little secret . . .
Miel Bonbons
 
Ferrandi- and Le Nôtre-trained chef Bonnie Lau opened her shop, Miel Bonbons, three years ago in the very out-of-the-way corner (for chocolate) of Carrboro, North Carolina. Since then, she has drawn followers from all over the United States. There is something delightfully charming and comforting about these chocolates—despite exotic flavors like mango mint and coconut curry—as if exoticism and quality have been synthesized in a chocolate you can cozy up at home with. They are larger than the thumbnail chocolates so popular among Parisian chocolatiers, and you can savor over two or three bites unafraid that they will disappear in your mouth before you have quite finished enjoying the flavor.
Rich, dark ganaches pair with whimsical and sophisticated flavors, giving the whole jewel box of a shop the appeal of finding the treasure in Jeunet’s
Amélie.
And amid all the ganaches, don’t miss Bonnie Lau’s dense, intense salted butter caramel chocolates. Every chocolatier gives her chocolate the stamp of her personality, and Bonnie Lau’s are fanciful, warm, adventurous, and reassuring.
 
 
Check out my site,
www.lauraflorand.com
, for more tours of chocolate shops, behind-the-scenes looks at chocolate making, and even occasional giveaways of the best chocolates out there.
KENSINGTON BOOKS are published by
 
Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street
New York, NY 10018
 
Copyright © 2012 Laura Florand
 
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the publisher, excepting brief quotes used in reviews.
 
KENSINGTON and the k logo are Reg. U.S. Pat. & TM Off.
ISBN: 978-0-7582-7908-8
 

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