December First

On the first day of December I decided we needed a little treat. In the form of chocolate. Preferably melted and hot chocolate. I just finished a month of French classes that I squeezed in between the trip to London and journeying back to the US for much of December and January. With class over and the sun shining I thought we’d head over to the Marais, get a bit of souvenir/holiday gift shopping done, and then wander our way up to Jacques Genin chocolate shop. I had read about this shop in various spots on the web as being notable for caramels, chocolates and also pastry. I happened to walk by it one day last week and the quiet and relaxed yet chic café set just beyond the vending counters put in my mind the idea of chocolat chaud and it proved to be a tenacious little thought. The shop is large for Paris and though it is spare and mostly cream and  glass, it gives a homey impression, that of being in a salon, or living room. There are a few counters set out with his famous caramels, in different flavors that appear to be seasonal, and a few different chocolate treats in bags, such as mendiants, small discs of chocolate inlaid with nuts and dried fruit. A glass case held a variety of chocolate bon bons in a multitude of flavors: tea, cinnamon, vanilla, etc.  I went looking for lavender, my favorite, but with no luck. They were all shaped the same, as a “palet” which is popular with French chocolatiers in my experience: square and flat with a cocoa butter transfer sheet on top to designate flavor. There seemed to be a plate out for sampling, which is the mark of a good and proud chocolatier. Down a few stairs there is a cluster of large round tables, about 8, surrounded by squashy chairs or sofas. We arrived just before a long line began forming between a set of velvet ropes placed for the purpose, giving a discordant night club air. The menu presented various cold drinks, as well as tea and coffee, but we knew we were after the hot chocolate, which was available as is, with whipped cream, and as a mocha concoction. One could order a selection of caramels, an assortment of chocolates and several pastries of the day. We ordered a vanilla mille‑feuille and a St. Honoré as well as a hot chocolate each. The goodies came from the upstairs kitchen, on a tray carried by a waiter with impressive speed down a wide circular staircase. Continue reading