There is only so many plastic Effiel Towers one person can have in their life. Which means on my recent trip to Paris to see my lovely friend I by-passed the tacky souvenirs and went for much more fun and memorable treats to bring home from my trip. I picked up a bar of chocolate for each day I was away and at various points in our exploring. Which I think you would agree is a much more fun way to remember your trip than flashing plastic.
My cousin is particularly good in agreeing to join me on my mad brain foodie adventures. Normally I will pitch it to my cousin and straight away I will get the answer, ‘Yes, when?’ When I saw that there was a dessert bar coming to London where a range of desserts and delights were on offer, I knew we had our next cousin trip planned.
The Café at Café Royal is home to the first dessert restaurant in London, created by Executive Pastry Chef, Sarah Barber. The dessert restaurant features a selection of themed tasting experiences. The menus, including ‘Sarah in Wonderland’ and ‘Childhood Memories’ inspired by her childhood memories, and her grandfather, a previous Head Chef at Café Royal.
There is a super cute term of affection in French, ‘Mon Petit Chou’ which literally means my small cabbage or more a term for sweetheart. On my recent trip to Paris, I tried my first Choux de Creme (choux buns filled with delicious custards, cracked surface and flouncy tops) at Popelini. From the first sight, I knew I wanted to have a go at making my very own little treats on my return from my foodie adventures. I thought that the phrase ‘mon petit chou’ sums up the craggy surface of these buns looking like the leaves of a savoy cabbage with a sweetheart centres.
This post is long overdue and a true test of my insane willpower (which is surprising for this subject). I have been holding on to four special chocolate bars for about a year for a time when I can sit down and properly appreciate them. What better time to tuck into them than Easter weekend, or the Chocolate Festival of Joy!First, is a bar that I received as a gift through the post from my parents who were on a tour of California for my mum’s 60th birthday last year. Before they set out on their travels I set them a list of must visit places
First, is a bar that I received as a gift through the post from my parents who were on a tour of California for my mum’s 60th birthday last year. Before they set out on their travels I set them a list of must visit places on their adventure, one being Dandelion Chocolate Factory in San Francisco. I had been introduced to their chocolate through a Paul A. Young tasting and been a fan since. I was getting photos of luxurious hot chocolate and liquid chocolate being poured by hand into awaiting moulds, which only made me more envious I wasn’t there to experience it myself.
However, a parcel with many star-spangled stamps landed on my doormat and the contents made me beyond happy. Nestled around a poster of the bean to bar process was a bar of Dandelion Chocolate flown all the way from San Francisco just for my enjoyment. Haven’t I got the best parents.
I always think there is something sacred about sliding your finger along the back seal of a wrapper and exposing the treasure that lies beneath. The 70% Mantano, Venezuela, the beans for this bar come from Coperativa Flor de Mantuano, a small-scale, women-run cooperative on the northern Venezuelan coast. All of Dandelion’s single-origin bars are made with just cocoa beans and sugar, no added cocoa butter, lecithin, or vanilla. In turn, this bar, where the beans have been roasted at a high temperature for a short time, result in an earthy, deep developed roast flavour where the chocolate could easily be bitter however is lacking in any acrid after taste just a pleasant lingering flavour. A bar for an adult palate but can be savoured slowly.
For a while now I’ve lost my blogging mojo. I needed to find my spark again for writing and trying out new recipes. Perfectly timed, my lovely friend Marine invited me to visit her in Paris for the weekend. I used to work with her before she moved to Melbourne for a year then settling back to her homeland and in the capital being accepted on to a pâtisserie course. I may have arrived armed with a list of foodie spots that I wanted to tick off my pâtisserie bucket list, Marine was very kind to oblige and found some places that Marine hadn’t visited yet.
Our first stop was an Instagram favourite of mine, Popelini the home to rows of beautiful choux craquelin, choux buns with exciting fillings and a crispy crackled surface. They just looked so pretty lined up ready to be devoured.