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dec 07 2009

Edible Advent Calendar: Week 1

(Meg Zimbeck)
(Meg Zimbeck)
(Meg Zimbeck)
(Meg Zimbeck)
(Meg Zimbeck)

PARIS TREAT Dec. 6:

Pain des Amis

There's much to love inside the handsome hundred-year old bakery Du Pain des Idées. So much, in fact, that I wrote a post about it recently. However much I may love the apple turnover or the banana pain au chocolat, the foundation of my craving is this bread. Christophe Vasseur's pain des amis (friendship bread) is a long and rectangular loaf that's sold by weight. The chewy interior, slightly charred bottom, and nutty fragrance have contributed to Vasseur being recognized by Gault Millaut as the Best Baker in Paris. The locals who line up for their daily bread all seem to agree. A 250 gram hunk of pain des amis costs €2 ($3).

Du Pain des Idées, 34 rue Yves Toudic, 10th arrondissement, 011-33/1-42-40-44-52

PARIS TREAT Dec. 5:

Camembert from Quatrehomme

For food writer Jeffrey Steingarten, a good Camembert "represents the pinnacle of human achievement in the field of soft and semisoft cheese." Finding the real stuff—a cheese that smells properly of God's feet (les pieds de Dieu), is almost impossible inside America. While in Paris, be sure to visit this cheese shop to taste a creamy Camembert. Aged on the premises by master cheesemaker Marie Quatrehomme, these raw milk rounds are only sold when perfectly pungent and oozy. A full round in its little wooden box costs €4.80 ($7.25).

Crèmerie Quatrehomme, 62 rue de Sèvres, 7th arrondissement, 011-33/1-47-34-33-45

PARIS TREAT Dec. 4:

Gourmet marshmallows

I love a good s'more as much as the next girl scout, but these here are marshmallows at their best. Made without preservatives by Didier Mathray and Nathalie Robert—two pastry chefs who used to work for Pierre Gagnaire—these guimauves will surprise you with their bright flavor and melty interior. The pistachio is hugely popular, but my personal favorite is "le whiskey." One of these, roasting over a campfire and destined for a chocolate/graham cracker sandwich, would make the s'more to end all s'mores. But you don't need a fire to enjoy it—merely €1 ($1.50).

Pain de Sucre, 14 rue Rambuteau, 3rd arrondissement, 011-33/1-45-74-68-92

PARIS TREAT Dec. 3:

A sachet of chocolate marvels

Patrick Roger is one serious chocolatier. He travels the world to select his raw ingredients, and then creates bite-sized marvels for his Paris chocolate shop. A sachet of 4 or 5 chocolate confections costs under 5€ ($7.50). My current obsessions are the "Instinct" with almond praline and the "Delhi" with lemon and basil.

Patrick Roger, 108 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 6th arrondissement, 011-33/1-43-29-38-42

PARIS TREAT Dec. 2:

A chocolate mousse bar

The Patrice Chapon shop window in the 7th arrondissement presents chocolate from São Tomé (fruity, spicy, long on the palate), Ecuador (notes of jasmine and dried fig), and other exotic spots, for only 4€ ($6) each.

Step inside the shop—decorated with traditional brass molds—to find plenty of other delicious things.

Patrice Chapon, 69 rue de Bac, 7th arrondissement, 011-33/1-42-22-95-98

(Thanks to the food blog Serve it Forth for the heads-up. This spot is now a favorite haunt of mine.)

PARIS TREAT Dec. 1:

A classic apple tart

This beautiful object looks like a whole poached apple, yes? But a slice reveals hundreds of fine layers. The core has been replaced with a caramelly compote, and the stem has been re-inserted.

This dessert would be right at home in a three Michelin-starred restaurant like Le Bristol, where Fabrice Le Bourdat once worked as a pastry chef. Here, in his bakery in the neighborhood known as Quartier d'Aligre, it costs only 3.30€ ($5.50).

Blé Sucré, 7 rue Antoine Vollon, 12th arrondissement, 011-33/1-43-40-77-73

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