Ah, chocolate. That delectable, delightful, deleterious-to-a-diet creation of dark deliciousness that we turn to when we need a little mood lift, or are just craving something chocolate. Some French will quietly agree that Belgian chocolate is the best, namely their pralines, and I always stop in at Pierre Marcolini for some fantastic flavor combinations like pure ganache flavored with fresh thyme and orange zest, and soft chocolate caramel with a blend of four spices. Pure delight!
These beautifully displayed pralines at Hugo & Victor in Paris’s 7th are a delicious example of Belgian expertise. As a cross-cultural example, the genius behind the place is Hugues Pouget, a Frenchman. I snapped this pic when the only sales clerk disappeared to the back room in search of a container of a particular an ice cream flavor for some Aussie tourists. Turns out photos are forbidden (must be in cahoots with the folks at La Grande Epicerie) and I think the clerk suspected I was up to something because she was very attentive after her return.
The sampling of chocolates comes in a little-black-book presentation.
Delectable treats were neatly packed inside, but I have yet to figure how to transport them home without inflicting some sort of damage. Milk chocolates and pralines and ganache, oh my!
Today, a new generation of French chocolatiers gets points for creativity and flair as well as flavor. Like something out of the movie, Kings of Pastry, chefs offer up some amazing chocolate creations like these tribal masks by Gilles Peyrerol at his eponymous shop in Vaison-la-Romaine.
And this Lotus flower. Imagine the “high” from eating this!
Back in Paris, this caramel mousse and chocolate torte was as pretty as it was delicious. (More collateral damage–maybe I should have eaten it right there on the sidewalk outside the pâtisserie.) Belgian or French, which one is better? As with any important decision to be made, there’s only one way to find out. Research!!
Have a favorite chocolate treat? Leave a comment below and share what you love!