Very few things excite me more than the opening of a new chocolate shop except the possibility of meeting Barbra Streisand. I read a few weeks ago Alain Ducasse was opening a new concept chocolate shop and I was in a fever pitch marking off the days in my calendar.
Le Chocolat de Alain Ducasse is the first bean to bar chocolate shop in Paris. Ducasse has partnered with pastry chef and chocolatier Nicolas Berger to bring the art of chocolate making in France to a whole new level. It took six years to find the ideal space large enough to hold the shop plus room for the large, heavy roasting machines and storage space for the large sacks of cacao beans. A former factory in a courtyard in the heart of the Bastille is where they landed. After the space was secured, it took Berger about two months to develop the recipes, although he already had a clear idea of what he wanted to do in his head, so it was a matter of executing the recipes and perfecting them.
I was lucky enough to meet the handsome and affable Nicolas Berger the day I was there. He offered me a sample of a raw crushed bean and a roasted bean, so I can tell the difference. The raw chocolate had almost no taste and the roasted bean had a nut like taste to it. The cacao beans are roasted in a coffee-roasting machine. He also told me that the process of making of the finished product, starting with the roasting of the beans, takes approximately 24 hours.
The publicist kept on feeding me samples of the various chocolates and each time she would say “ Would you like to taste…” the words barely leaving her lips, I instantly said “ I would love to” and clearly it was a chocoholic’s fantasy fulfilled. The country of origin chocolate bars, which are pure dark chocolate, were dark and rich with a hint of a berry taste to it. One of my other favorites was the pistachio praline made with Sicilian pistachios. It had a slightly creamy but crunchy texture to it, which was divine. Although the chocolate is expensive- 14 euros for a standard tablet- it is some of the best chocolate I have had in Paris in the seven years I have lived here. (And I have consumed A LOT of chocolate in those seven years). The cacao percentage starts at 35% for milk chocolate (which is very high for milk chocolate) and graduates to 75% in the dark chocolate. The tablets come in 44 flavors and other items offered are chocolate and gourmet ganache, praline, cocoa for hot chocolate, and truffles.
I also loved the industrial look of the shop and the dramatic showcase in the middle with rounded glass and brushed bronze trim. I am a big fan of plain packaging and liked the brown cardboard box with black cord and the little metal rivet on the envelope for the chocolate tablets.
The dangerous thing about Le Chocolat de Alain Ducasse is that it’s walking distance to my apartment.
Le Chocolat de Alain Ducasse
40 rue de la Roquette, 75011
I am pleased as punch to announce the launch of Eye Prefer Paris Tours, which are 3-hour walking tours I will personally be leading. The Eye Prefer Paris Tour includes many of the places I have written about such as small museums & galleries, restaurants, cafes & food markets, secret addresses, fashion & home boutiques, parks, and much more.
Tours cost 195 euros for up to 3 people, and 65 euros for each additional person. I look forward to meeting you on my tours and it will be my pleasure and delight to show you my insiders Paris.
Check it out at www.eyepreferparistours.com
New! Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes
I am happy to announce the launch of Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes. Come take an ethnic culinary journey with me and chef and caterer Charlotte Puckette, co-author of the bestseller The Ethnic Paris Cookbook (with Olivia Kiang-Snaije). First we will shop at a Paris green-market for the freshest ingredients and then return to Charlotte's professional kitchen near the Eiffel Tower to cook a three-course lunch. After, we will indulge in the delicious feast we prepared along with hand-selected wines.
Cost: 185 euros per person (about $240)
Time: 9:30AM- 2PM (approximately 4 1/2 hours)
Location: We will meet by a metro station close to the market
Class days: Tuesday,Wednesday, Thursday,Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
Minimum of 2 students, maximum 6 students.
Click here to sign up for the next class or for more info.
I am happy to announce the sale of a new set of prints of my Eye Prefer Paris Photos. I am offering 20 of my most popular and iconic images for sale including my doors, architectural details, statues, and monuments. They will make great gifts for all your Francophile friends, relatives, and colleagues but don't forget to buy some for yourself.
Click here to see photos and for full details including sizes, prices, and shipping. Here is a sample of some of the photos.