Not Martha

My Vacation Slides: Paris Day 5, pastries and scoldings

real egg shells, allegedly filled with chocolate, broken ends covered with a sticker

This day was filled with going to visit fabulous chocolate and food shops, and being scolded for taking the photo above (more on that later). I made ourselves a route through the city that involved the closest Metro stops (my feet were tired). It was ambitious and we skipped a number of things, but everything we saw was amazing.

Space Invader mural spotting #4

On our way to the fist stop Scott spotted this Invader at about knee-height. It was near this alley, which I really wanted to explore, and housed this, um, Tex Mex restaurant.

a Paris alley, a Tex Mex restaurant

chocolate ballerinas in the window of Roger Patrick

First we headed to Roger Patrick simply because Clotilde’s Edible Adventures In Paris listed it as having fabulous window displays. They were kind enough to let me take some photos but I didn’t get many before other customers came in, and I didn’t want to get in the way.

Here are the dancing ladies from inside the store:

chocolate ballerinas, from inside the chocolate shop

I loved how the chocolate on their tutus was so transparently thin:

light showing through the thinnest part of a chocolate tutu ruffle

pistachio topped chocolate bars

sugar covered fruit jelee

We bought a few things and on the way out they gave us samples of thin chocolates with a layer of lime ganache which was amazing. Not too sweet, and so fresh tasting.

Next to Pierre Herme. They were also kind enough to let me take some pictures but again, I was feeling timid and only got a few.

macarons from Pierra Herme

The people behind the counter were all wearing chocolate brown clothing and different colored aprons that matched the various colors of macarons. It was a nice touch.

deserts on display at Pierre Herme, one is a layered jelly treat, topped with corn kernels and flecks of gold leaf

Kernels of corn and gold leaf. Why didn’t I buy this dessert to try?

chocolate desert domes

Inside Pierre Herme I found a whole bar of Porcelana chocolate. I did a little excited hop (I hope nobody noticed). I first heard about Porcelana chocolate on The Splendid Table. It’s made from beans which are very good, and in short supply as they come from tiny region, you can read more at Chocolate Speak, and find a reivew of the Pierre Herme bar, which it turns out was made by Valhrona!, over at Choqoa. I had not tried Porcelana yet simply because I was too lazy to order it from the internets. I really liked this chocolate bar, but Choqoa found it to be not as good as other Porcelana. I’ll have to seek out more to taste.

Pierre Herme Porcelana chocolate bar

Today we took our own advice and stopped for lunch with glasses of rose. It was our first time ordering on our own and luckily we got a patient waitress who didn’t seem to mind our jumble of shopping bags and umbrellas. I loved these small, wide glasses that we sipped our liter of bubbly water out of (turns out, a liter isn’t too big for two unexpectedly thirsty people).

small water glasses on our lunch table

After lunch we traveled down to La Grand Epicerie at the Bon Marche. First we slipped into Bon Marche to do a little bit of furniture gazing, and passing the cafe I found the sugar cubes that hang on the edge of a mug, these are the things that inspired my tiny gingerbread house project.

a heart shaped sugar cube with a slot that allows it to hang on the edge of a teacup

They had a few other kinds displayed, I really liked the black and white options:

black and white sugar cube rounds, stacked

stacked flat sugar cubes

La Grand Epicerie is a large gourmet store with lots of everything. I was, of course, most attracted to the candies:

display of all sorts of brightly colored dragees

clear plastic shake cups filled with layers of colorful candies

a box of sugar cubes shaped and colored to look like random buttons

bird shaped sugar cubes that also perch on the edge of a mug

I love the perching birds. I tried to get bird or butterfly shaped cookies to do this but couldn’t get the slot width quite right. I think I’m going to take the cookies on again soon.

silver jimmies

a candy colored sugar rose, on an adjustable metal ring

These sugar rose rings were stunning. Wish I’d bought one.

hand rolled tea leaves

there was lots of champagne on display

real egg shells, allegedly filled with chocolate, broken ends covered with a sticker

On the end of the confectionery counter I spotted this flat of real eggshells with shamrock stickers covering what I’m assuming was a hole in the bottom where they’d been filled with chocolate. About .002 seconds after I snapped this picture I heard someone hissing “mademoiselle” and I looked up to see the face of the counter lady looking at me with an amount of angry disapproval that I have not seen since the nuns in my Catholic school years who had successfully hunted down somebody chewing gum. Luckily she was helping somebody else who was standing between her and me so I slipped away. Oops.

I suspected they were perhaps chocolate and praline filled eggs, but I dared not go back inquire. I had seen these real eggshell treats on the Dean & Deluca website ages ago and was always intrigued by them, wondering how they sterilized the eggshells. (You can find a picture of the Dean & Deluca ones here at Blue Badger.) I figured it must be something like an autoclave. Then a few years later Martha Stewart made chocolate filled real eggshells and simply boiled the emptied eggshells. Duh.

But I’d been thinking about these praline eggs for years, which means I really, really wanted to get closer to them. I wanted to own one! But I could change my clothes, bleach my hair and draw a mustache on my face and I suspect that counter lady would recognize me and not let me near.

We formulated a plan over coffee:

shopping bags and bags of sugar on a cafe table

Scott, my ever willing assistant, circled back to spy on the eggs. He reported that she was placing each in a bag, closing the bag, then packing them into cardboard boxes and, gasp, putting the boxes beneath the counter. They were out of my reach. Darn.

shot of a us in line with a mysterious bags

I was a little consoled by our ultimate purchase, mangosteens, which I’ll talk about more tomorrow.

Then we headed to Fauchon. Again, they were nice enough to let me take pictures. At this point were too tired to do much but gawk.

a cake a Fauchon with twists of what appears to be marshmallow on top

Such cute little knots.

a black truffle the size of a baby, seriously

They had this HUGE truffle in the window.

praline confections on sticks

These praline pops nearly had me looking around to see if Bakeralla was in the shop.

We stopped at the nearby flower market on our way home:

my feet and buckets of colorful flowers

That night we met Cakespy and company back at L’As du Falafel for dinner. They told us about Versailles, ice cream, which pastries we should seek out, and a vegetarian restaurant they had stumbled across:

a plate of hummus

You can find a review for Le Potager du Marais at Living on the Vedge. Jessie and company reported the food was great, but unless you’re vegan go ahead and get dessert in one of the amazing patisseries around Paris.

What we learned the hard way

Macarons and the rain: When purchasing macarons from Pierre Herme it’s best to eat them right away if you’re experiencing rainy weather. Maggi reported that they had somewhat deflated and lost their crunch by the next day despite staying in their box. The ones from Laudree held up a bit better.

Previously: Day One arrival and beating jet lag; Day Two big impressive monuments, unexpected meetings, needing to pee; Day Three The Metro, a museum, and French onion soup; Day Four dogs in paintings, startlingly large arches and towers

Next up: forbidden fruit

· comments [31] · 03-9-2010 · categories:travel ·

31 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Lauren // Mar 9, 2010 at 5:47 am

    I was scolded once for taking a photo in a store. (It was a picture of an appliance price tag so I could remember the price.) “Ma’am*, it is our police not to allow photos in the store.” I wish I would have come back with, “Well, it is my policy to take pictures of everything I see.”

    *Ouch – I got “ma’am”ed.

  • 2 Lauren // Mar 9, 2010 at 5:48 am

    Good grief – ‘policy’.

  • 3 Alice // Mar 9, 2010 at 6:05 am

    Hope and Greenwood! But they are the most English of English-ness. Their main shop is round the corner from where I live in South East London (also online http://www.hopeandgreenwood.co.uk). All very Enid Blyton, their staff dress in vintage clothes.

  • 4 Monique // Mar 9, 2010 at 6:12 am

    Love the photos..I thought of your cute houses the mooment I saw the sugars..how cute are those doves? I never knew sugar like that existed I have small cubes w/ flowers on them ..but I have never seen these cute things..
    RE the photos..I just don’t get it..they are there for the public to SEE….what difference does a photo make? The Mona Lisa has been photographed..the statue of David etc..

    I took photos for our annual Firemen’s Fund Bazaar at our local Flea Market.. to make cards.. and 2 women flipped.Now I ask.. But it was for a charitable event..local.. makes Xmas baskets for the less fortunate.She didn’t care at all..said people would copy.

    Dried flower arrangements in baskets..imagine..I’ve never bought one since as gifts for clients.

    Again..love your shots.
    That’s exactly where I want to pop into one day if life permits~

  • 5 Monique // Mar 9, 2010 at 6:13 am

    I’m sorry I meant the moment.

  • 6 Beth // Mar 9, 2010 at 6:51 am

    If I ever have the opportunity to return to Paris, your “day 5″ is how I would like to spend the majority of my vacation there. And the hanging sugar cubes would undoubtedly be my most favorite souvenir. Thanks for sharing so much of this ambitious day!

  • 7 Michelle // Mar 9, 2010 at 7:00 am

    You are making me miss Paris so badly that I’m checking for deals on flights. Fantastic re-cap Megan.

  • 8 Susan Gibbs // Mar 9, 2010 at 7:35 am

    I think this may be my very favorite post ever!
    Fancy Flours has real, pre-sterilized brown egg shells for sale: http://www.fancyflours.com/brown-egg-shells-set-of-10.html

  • 9 megan // Mar 9, 2010 at 8:41 am

    Susan – I’m flipping over the pre-emptied eggshells! And they have silver!

  • 10 Seanna Lea // Mar 9, 2010 at 9:04 am

    I’m with Beth. I would spend my time in Paris just doing the food (and walking to justify the vast quantity of sweets I can consume).

    I love macaron, and it would be lovely to have a variety (as opposed to when I make them and just make one kind).

  • 11 Fakey // Mar 9, 2010 at 10:02 am

    I love the package visible behind the sugar-heart-cup-sitting…things. Touche d’elegance, indeed!

    I shouldn’t read your blog on my lunch break. It fires up deep cravings for delicious stuff, and the corporate cafeteria just won’t cut it.

  • 12 Eileen @ Passions to Pastry // Mar 9, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Is there any place on earth better for picture-taking than Paris? Gorgeous photos! Thanks so much for sharing. It’s made me feel like I’ve been someplace special today ;-))

  • 13 Audrey // Mar 9, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    My mom used to make pudding eggs in real egg shells, but I seriously doubt there was any sterilizing involved. We would peel them and serve them on a bed of green shredded coconut.

  • 14 hundredflowers // Mar 9, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    On the subject of picture taking in stores, I must say it can be very frustrating for shopkeepers and sometimes when something that annoys you happens over and over again, you are liable to over react.

    Many people in the crafts community will agree, your original designs are your intellectual property. Believe it or not, many people do take pictures so that can copy your designs to sell or to save money. Even my incredibly patient mother, who is a florist, has snapped when she has had a day full of picture takers crowding her store and quizzing her on how things are made.

    It is not uncommon for more than half of the foot traffic in her shop to be folks with cameras looking for something inspiring to copy. They discuss out loud with their companions how they plan to copy the arrangements. It is disheartening for an entrepreneur, especially someone who doesn’t know about blogs and how a blog like this could send many more clients their way.

    Also, it can be a cultural thing. In some cultures it is absolutely taboo to take pictures inside of stores. This is very much the case in Korean shops. Shopkeepers may be rude to you because taking a picture is considered very rude as well.

    Sorry, I just had to get that off my chest in defense of the poor beleaguered shop keeper. I have been that person. You don’t want to turn into the Soup Nazi but some days your nerves can get frazzled.

  • 15 nicole // Mar 9, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    i must get myself back to paris…soon!

  • 16 dru // Mar 9, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    If you have time while in Paris, make sure you go to Sainte-Chapelle (both levels) on the Ile de la Cite. They have the most gorgeous stained glass windows.

  • 17 Carolyn J. // Mar 9, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    There are many ways to spend money in Paris, but I would just eat everything in sight until I exploded. I hope you are doing that right now!

  • 18 Evert-Jan (Choqoa.com) // Mar 9, 2010 at 11:57 pm

    hi Megan,

    your article and pictures make me crave to go back to Paris again, which I am actually doing at the end of the month :)
    Thank you for including my point of view at Choqoa.com regarding the Pierre Herme ‘Porcelana’ bar, I was most of all pleased that they were honest about their chocolate.

    Gonna keep reading some more Paris posts here before I go!

  • 19 carole // Mar 10, 2010 at 7:51 am

    About the filled eggs: when I was a kid, we used to prepare such eggs for Easter. The egg shells are not pasteurized or whatsoever. They are simply washed wish dish soap and boiled. You don’t need to do anything else… Then, they are filled with praliné, sometimes flavoured ganache. The ones you’ve seen in Le Bon Marché are traditional ones and are filled with flavoured ganache. Almost every french kid in the 70′s had such chocolates for Easter.
    The small sugars come from http://www.belledesucre.com/index_01.html. They have a beautiful range of small sugar pieces. My sister has a gift shop in Burgundy and carries a nice part of the range. I often send small sugar buttons in my swap packets to US ;)

  • 20 megan // Mar 10, 2010 at 10:36 am

    Dru and Carolyn- Thanks, we’ve returned home and I’m going through my pictures for these posts. But we’ll be back in Paris someday.

    Carole – Why did it take so long for us here in the US to be exposed to chocolate filled real eggshells? I think they’re delightful.

    Hundredflowers – I should have mentioned that lots of other people working in the La Grand Epicerie were happy to let me snap a quick picture. For some reason, taking a picture of those eggs was off limits, but she was so forbidding looking I didn’t want to stop and try to find out why.

  • 21 katy // Mar 10, 2010 at 11:55 am

    Thank you so very much for telling us about La Grand Epicurie. I have to got there on my next visit to Paris. Were you able to leave the store without buying a million viles of colorful candy? Seems impossible not to! I’ve never seen the perched sugar “cubes” before. Thanks for the photos. Very very cool! And those rings. So freaking cute.

  • 22 Jennifer McIntyre @atthebluebarn // Mar 10, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    Love the pictures. Love your trip. Love the descriptions. Reminds me of a story I told my son last year who was going to France and Germany with skool. I showed him pictures from a trip I had with my husband . . . my son asked why I had so few pictures of Paris compared to the other cities. Now I have a clearer answer!
    Jennifer

  • 23 Michelle // Mar 10, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    I’m pretty sure I ate at that Tex-Mex restaurant. The “enchiladas” were really cheese crepes with a tomato sauce. :)

  • 24 Alison // Mar 11, 2010 at 1:30 am

    I stumbled upon your blog through google play. I love it. I love the photos everything, so much so that I had to recommend you as a must read on my blog LOL.

    Thanks for brightening up an otherwise dull work day.

  • 25 Cindy // Mar 11, 2010 at 6:04 am

    Megan,
    Your pictures are fantastic!! Brought back a lot of memories from when I was in Paris years ago. I stumbled upon your site but I am going to put it in my favorites for sure!

  • 26 Jenny // Mar 11, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    Megan,
    Thanks for taking me on your virtual trip to Paris – I eagerly awaited your posts from the road, and you didn’t disappoint at all. Inspirational.

  • 27 jendoop // Mar 11, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    I’ve been lurking for a while, came out to say I love this post. thank you! Now I know I need to read the book about why French women don’t get fat. If I lived in Paris I’d be a complete glutton.

  • 28 Kristen Rask // Mar 25, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    I am trying to be gluten free this week and well this didn’t help. now i want cookies or candy. although everything will pale in comparison to these! Lucky you!

  • 29 friday favorites | sixhours.net // Apr 2, 2010 at 3:14 pm

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  • 30 Sandra Andrews-Strasko // Oct 25, 2011 at 7:55 am

    Thanks so much for linking to Chocolate Speak re. Porcelana chocolate. I really enjoyed your blog and sorely wish that I could take pictures like you. Believe it or not, I’m originally from Seattle and living in Geneva now.

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