The New Paris Dispatch #1

6 August 2017
The Beast Paris

Welcome to a new series bringing you quick news updates from Paris in everything from food and shopping to culture and urban development.   CREAM IS NO MORE  Belleville’s popular coffee shop Cream has closed its doors. It has been purchased by roaster Belleville Brûlerie and, according to a quick exchange with their communication director, will become some sort of a tasting space-slash-coffee shop hybrid. We’ll see when it opens in September. 50 rue de Belleville, 75020 THE BEAST HAS A BIG BROTHER Founded by Thomas Abramowicz (see the food chapter of “The New Paris”!), the city’s best barbecue now has a bigger sister. The Beast 2 is located on rue de Belleville, right next door to cocktail bar La Commune (also in The New Paris) and has all the much-loved dishes and sides as the original location but now with fish, vegetarian, and salad options. They also have a short but sharp cocktail offering and, in addition to The Beast brew by Deck & Donohue on tap, the D&D IPA. But the real surprise here is what awaits downstairs. Son of a Beast is a separate restaurant with a Chinese tasting menu. Thomas wanted to explore how barbecue could […]…

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Pastry Favorite: Kouign Amann

25 June 2017

“I feel like I need something crunchy” was a refrain I heard frequently from my father growing up. For him, a meal was complete when there was some degree of crunch or crackle. When it didn’t, he’d seek it out, rummaging through the cabinet for a handful of nuts or pretzels, some crispy granola or a hard cookie studded with any manner of delicious filling that I’d invariably snatch away from him. Having evidently inherited this penchant, the almost ineffable need for crunch is something I understand intimately. It’s as much about the sensation the sound produces as the taste of the food itself. When I moved to Paris ten years ago and followed my belly around the city to assess the breadth of the bread and pastry offering (sweets first, savory second), the crunch-friendly options were legion but not created equal. As far as breakfast pastries went, I was team-croissant until I had my first, awe-inspiring experience with a still little-known Breton pastry called the Kouign Amann. The two are similar insofar as they both are prepared from laminated dough and a liberal layering of butter, but the KA is denser and, most importantly, crispier throughout thanks to the […]…

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Creativity in Chocolate with La Maison du Chocolat

29 November 2016
La Maison du Chocolat Petrossian Collaboration

One of the chapters of my book that I found the most fascinating to research and write was the one dedicated to sweets, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise for those of you that have followed me over the years. Beyond the beauty of these creations, I was on a mission to understand more about the industry and its evolutions overall. Locals and visitors might have a passing knowledge of the ways in which pastry and chocolate have changed in recent years — perhaps they recognize new flavors or new forms or even more creative packaging — but what I learned is that the shifts run much deeper. One of the references in my research was Nicolas Cloiseau, a Meilleur Ouvrier de France in chocolate and the creative director of La Maison du Chocolat, his home for the last twenty years. What intrigues me about Cloiseau’s work is not only his perpetual task of reinvention and keeping classics “fresh” but how he tries to innovate without steering regular chocolate clients too far off course. He’s adventurous but just so. He’s also smart: he knows that it’s a gradual process to get chocolate lovers to take a break from their reliable favorites and […]…

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Paris Pastry Concept Store: Fou de Pâtisserie

9 May 2016

Short of wine and cheese, little is as tied to France as pastry and in Paris, the options are legion. In between  simple, everyday neighborhood bakeries all across town are the haute outposts for some of the country’s most beloved talents – many with multiple shops to their name. So with such cultural value bestowed on sweets and the savoir faire required to make them, you would think (or at least, I always thought) there would be a one-stop shop in the city to access a variety of them. I adore Jonathan Blot’s cakes at his bakery-tea salon called Acide but it’s in Batignolles (17th arrondissement) and not a quick trip from my home. Pillowy Madeleines by Gilles Marchal are truly divine but I’ll only indulge if I find myself in Montmartre where is sole shop is located. And as much as I love the tartes, chocolates and financiers of Hugues Pouget at his boutique Hugo & Victor, it’s clear across town. Creating a central location for some of the best treats the city has to offer was the abiding mission of Julie Mathieu and Muriel Tallandier, editors of the pastry bi-monthly magazine Fou de Pâtisserie (for which I am a […]…

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In the Kitchen with: chef Romain Meder, Plaza Athénée

1 February 2016

In eleven days, eighteen chefs will gather under the exquisite glass canopy of the Grand Palais to share their cooking with food lovers young and old for the second annual Taste of Paris food festival. In anticipation of the big day, I went into the kitchens of the restaurant Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athénée (just awarded 3 Michelin stars for 2016) to chat with head chef Romain Meder about the event, his cooking and how haute cuisine in Palace hotels compete with the city’s top neo-bistros. La question obligatoire: what is it like working with Alain Ducasse?  There’s nothing like it. He gives us tremendous responsibility and allows us to be autonomous. We mature very quickly working by his side. In some cases, you’re working on the other side of the world — like I was, when he sent me to open Idam Doha, Qatar. You don’t see him all the time so you’re forced to convey his philosophy and his message to local teams and to diners. The opportunity he gave me in Doha was invaluable. It was challenging, of course: open a gastronomic restaurant, a café, several boutiques in museums. I had 51 cooks and a blank […]…

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