Monday, January 23, 2006

Treats from Paris

There are few things more satisfying than welcoming friends home from far away places. There are stories to be told and photographs to be shown, of course, but anyone who ever took part in Show and Tell during grade school will tell you that 3-D objects often make for the best presentations, so the experience is all the sweeter when they come bearing surprises. Recently, we've been spoiled by two different friends who have returned from Paris, each of which came back with a few thoughtful little gifts for us.


The first surprise came from Pierre Hermé's shop: a lovely selection of macarons. We carefully opened the box, and inside, nestled together, were chocolate, rose, white truffle, and, my favourite, églantine and marron (dog rose and chestnut) macarons. They were amazing with afternoon tea.

chocolate treats

This beautiful box of chocolates comes from Jean-Paul Hévin. There are four kinds: milk chocolate, dark chocolate, milk chocolate with caramel, and dark chocolate with coffee. They are thin and delicate, like little chocolate Eucharist wafers, and, although most brands of chocolate claim to melt in your mouth, these actually do, and in the most luxurious way.

four fruits preserve

Next, we also got a small container of four fruits preserve that comes from an amazing fromagerie in the 17th arrondisement. We tried to go there in August 2004, but like so many other fine Paris establishments, they were closed for the summer holidays. Anyway, now we're really sorry we didn't get a chance to visit because it turns out they make their own preserves, which they keep in large jars behind the counter. Kazi brought us back a small container of a mixed berry with cranberry confiture and we made short work of it. It was fantastic with our morning toast.

Confiture fleurs d'ajoncs

Finally, Hermine brought us back this ever-so-exotic confiture fleurs d'Ajoncs. We're not exactly sure how to translate fleurs d'Ajoncs but they're native to Bretagne and especially to Belle-Isle (a place which is particularly dear to Hermine and her family), they're apparently an important part of the local folklore

Fleurs d'Ajoncs

Dans la ville des meunières
Pont-Aven, pays d'amour
Au bord du ruisseau d'eau claire
Fleur d'ajonc chante toujours.

Où sont donc les belles filles
Que l'on nomme "Fleurs d'Ajoncs" ?
Et si fraîches et si gentilles
Dîtes-moi: où les voit-on ?

Et les tailles les plus fines
De tout le pays breton,
Frémissantes et câlines
Dites-moi où les voit-on ?

Les plus belle collerettes
De toute le pays Breton
Et les plus fraîches brunettes
Dîtes-moi, où les voit-on ?

Quand un garçon se marie
Dans tout le pays breton
Pour trouver femme jolie
Dîtes-moi où les voit-on ?

and they're delicious as a confiture: delicately floral, with hints of almond and honey overtones. We also love the DIY labels.

Thanks to our generous friends, our January has been that much warmer, that much sunnier. We hope to repay the favours very soon.


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