Paris, France. City of lights, city of romance, city of croissants, cheese, baguettes, wine and all things nice. And of course, city of chocolates. With a city full of chocolateries, how does one go about choosing his or her favorite? La Maison du Chocolat will never steer you wrong, and Pierre Hermé will please you with both chocolates and macaroons. Michel Cluizel is fortunately available in the US, and Christian Constant‘s hot chocolates will make you faint with delight. I fell in love with Patrick Roger’s beautiful chocolaterie in St. Germain des Près on my recent trip to Paris. Patrick Roger, who won the title of Best French Artisan in 2000, showcases his artistry and creativity in this modern St. Germain store.
Although he is famous for his delicate chocolates, he is also known for his amazing store window displays. Think back to that scene in ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’ where the oompa loompas frolick about the flowery marshmallow meadows, and ornate gingerbread houses line the everflowing milk chocolate river. Patrick Roger creates a similar wacky display in his store using chocolate and confectionaries, only the oompa loompas have become baseball sized vegetable-themed creatures standing in front of a 4 foot tall chocolate house with an intricate roof made of thousands of round chocolate tiles. A chocolate rooster stands atop the tall steeple, looking down at the chocolate nibs road below. Foot ball sized cacao nuts made entirely of chocolate decorate a corner of the showcase, and other fun and colorful edible adornments liven up the space to create a culinary Grimm’s fairy tale fantasy world.
Except for the gasps and sighs that will inevitably flow out of your mouth, the boutique is a quiet and peaceful space. The courteous staff will allow you to silently peruse the beautiful store as you lose track of time in this chocolate dimension. On one wall you can find shelves of prepackaged truffles, noisettes (chocolate and caramel covered hazelnuts) and amandes (chocolate dusted almonds). On the back wall there are infinite stacks of flat rectangular chocolate bars, each labelled with the name of the country from which the cacao beans were harvested from, and the cacao percentage number. I was surprised to find the amazing variety of chocolate bars- Peru, Venezuela, Papua New Guinea, Ecuador, Trinidad and Sao Tomé just to name a few.
In the center island are rows of golden tin trays filled with Roger’s breathtaking creations that the staff with delicately collect for you. He is a master of blending exotic flavors and spices with his chocolates, finding that perfect balance between the 2 such that one does not overwhelm the other. I tried the lemon basil, the passion fruit, the ginger, and the sesame flavored chocolate squares, and they were all sublime.
Other flavors that I would love to try on my next visit to Patrick Roger are the jasmine flower, Szechuan peppercorns and anise. They also sell a variety of chocolate assortments that are pre-packaged in their beautiful signature turquoise green boxes. The sight of Tiffany’s robin’s egg blue colored boxes used to make my heart flutter. Now it’s Patrick Roger’s mesmerizing sea green packaging that gets me panting with joy.
Chocolaterie Patrick Roger
108 boulevard Saint Germain, 75006 Paris
Random chocolate quotes:
‘Nine out of ten people like chocolate. The tenth person always lies…’ –John Q. Tullius
‘If one swallows a cup of chocolate only three hours after a copious lunch, everything will be perfectly digested and there will still be room for dinner. ‘
–Brillat-Savarin (famed French gastronomer)
‘Las cosas claras y el chocolate espeso. (Ideas should be clear and chocolate thick.) ‘
‘I have this theory that chocolate slows down the aging process. It may not be true, but do I dare take the chance?’ — Anonymous
‘Man cannot live on chocolate alone, but woman sure can’ –Author unknown
‘If you get melted chocolate all over your hands, you’re eating it too slowly’ –Author unknown
‘Researchers have discovered that chocolate produces some of the same reactions in the brain as marijuana. The researchers also discovered other similarities between the two but can’t remember what they are ‘ — Matt Lauer