Friday, August 6, 2010

Fauchon - Paris, France

How can I describe Fauchon to those of you who don’t know what it is? I’m not quite sure. Perhaps it can be compared to the American Dean & DeLuca. Frommers calls it a “hyper-upscale mega-delicatessen,” while TripAdvisor calls it “a haven for food lovers.”

To me, it is a place that I go when I really want to splurge on pastries. There are three actual “Fauchon”s in the square: one is a small goods store, one is a tearoom, and one is a food counter. These are truly bad descriptions though.

The “small goods stores” sells speciality chocolates (handmade), dried and candied fruits (including whole pineapples), speciality teas (you can smell them before buying), speciality coffees, jams, jellies, speciality mushrooms, speciality rice, and various packaged goods, including cookies and drinks. I personally really enjoy the experience of shopping for tea here, as you can smell their varieties. They have endless options, from sweeter, floral teas to darker, more herbaceous ones.

Upstairs is the “tearoom,” where you can actually sit down for a meal. There is a prix fixe menu option, though be warned, it is much more expensive to eat in the tea room than the “food counter.”

The “food counter” that I am talking about is probably the most famous of the “Fauchon”s. Just across the street, this store sells expensive caviar, specialty hams and foie gras, wine, chocolate, jams and jellies, prepared foods (including salads and couscous), and pastries and breads. The boulangerie/pâtisserie part is definitely my favorite. The pâtisserie sells beautiful éclairs (I prefer to look rather than eat, since they cost an extremely hefty sum compared to your normal éclair) that are decorated with rainbows and Mona Lisa’s and other artistic designs. There are also various cakes and mousses and tarts.

So what have I tried?

Well, upon a visit with a friend, we split a baba au rhum, which was very non-traditional, but delicious. It came with these two adorable little droppers, full of extra rum (in case the dessert didn’t have enough alcohol for your taste, I suppose).

Fauchon’s take on the traditional chantilly was delicious; although not quite as airy, it was still light, and full of vanilla flavor. The only thing that made my stomach ache was the price: 7€50. A little hefty, especially considering that a regular pâtisserie would sell a baba au rhum for less than half that price! But, for those of you who enjoy cute keepsakes, the cute glass that the dessert comes in is yours to take home, so I suppose you’re paying for the “gift.”

On another trip, I tried the baba au fraise et melon avec chantilly de citronelle infusée. It was heavenly. It tasted like a garden in my mouth. The chantilly was light, airy, and carried the lovely scent of citrus, and the melon and strawberry went so well together in their light syrup. The pastry was perfect. It could not be improved.

I also tried a chocolate mousse type of dessert with a nougatine, or some sort of crispy hazelnut type of filling. It was a little too sweet and rich for me, although with a cappuccino from the counter, it was perfect.

From the boulangerie, I tried a Kougloff, which was delicious. I’ve never had this type of thing before, but it was essentially a small cake/very large muffin in terms of size and crumb texture. It was soaked in some sort of orange blossom water and then dipped into course sugar. It was so fragrant!

I couldn’t stop myself from eating it, hence why the picture here is but a fourth or sixth of the original thing. My apologies. I went and bought another one, but ate that as well before I could get photographic evidence of its existence. Again, I’m sorry. Though I don’t regret the decision to eat it before anyone else could.

24 - 26 place de la Madeleine
Paris (8ème), France
Metro: Madeleine
Tel: 01 70 39 38 00

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