Angelina’s: chocolat chaud this good should not exist
This is my second-to-last post about Paris, because I’m getting too behind about the delicious delicacies that I’m sampling here in China! I decided not to write about the third “cooking class” at Chantilly, because it was a bit of a disappointment… we took the RER to take the train, walked 45 minutes at power walking speed to Chateau Chantilly (which was nice, but we didn’t get to see much, since we went straight to the kitchens), where we met a round, cheery guy in a chefs hat, put on ridiculous paper chef’s hats with drawn-on pleats and no top, and whipped cream. That’s what creme Chantilly is… just whipped cream. Damn, I didn’t mean to tell the story. But yes, that was about it. We whipped cream (did I mention it was by hand? We did get to mix it with caramel, raspberry and cocoa and pipe it into choux, but I’m leaving this out). So. Moving on.
Now, I don’t actually have that great a sweet tooth: I find that yogurt and fruit with a little honey with my breakfast satisfies it. Up until I was twelve, I didn’t even like chocolate, which most people find physiologically impossible. I still prefer an austere, bitter corner of a dark chocolate bar to that overly sugary confection commonly known as birthday cake. But hot chocolate… that’s another story. It’s my weakness. At home, I crave it all the time… but I compromise by using skim milk and organic cocoa powder (I even tried carob, but that’s another story). Unfortunately, after my experiences in France, I’m not sure I can ever have hot chocolate again. And where, might you ask, do you find this sublime hot chocolate? Only at the most touristy, expensive tea salon in the most touristy, expensive area (the Louvre): Angelina. Normally I try to avoid places like this, but after hearing and reading too many rave reviews, I knew it was a must.
The place opens at 8:00 AM, and we wanted to avoid any possible crowds, so we got there around 9:00 to find the place empty. But what a PALACE! At least, that’s how it felt to a group of American girls living in a drab concrete dorm… the place was white and decked out in gold-rimmed mirrors. It posessed a rococo-esque sense of charm, which is not my cup of tea (bad pun), but in this context it was perfect for the moment.
The most famous thing on the menu, their “African” hot chocolate, is ridiculously expensive… almonst 7 euros. Is it worth paying 12 $ for hot chocolate? In this case, I would say yes, yes, a million times yes! Then again, I was the only one who didn’t order food. I had heard about this chocolate being so thick and rich that it was impossible to finish, and I wasn’t much in the overstuffing-my-stomach-with-pastries-mood. Didn’t stop my friends, though. Everybody ordered hot chocolate, one friend with a lightning-fast metabolism ordered a pain au raisin AND a tartine with honey, one girl ordered a giant chocolate macaroon, another ordered a chausson aux pommes, and everybody else got the breakfast, which cost 16 euros (fresh squeezed juice, bread, butter, jam, hot chocolate, and a plate of fresh pastries). Originally we wanted to try one of their specialty pastries (such as the montblanc– meringue covered with chestnut puree and whipped cream or the millefeuille), but they weren’t out of the oven yet. The waiter spoke to us in English even though we had ordered in French, and as soon as he took our menus away, trays and trays of various colorful confections were carried past our table on trays. We forced ourselves to look away. Next time.
And then the chocolate arrived. I understood why it had been so expensive: in addition to the intensity of the chocolate, it came in a jug enough for almost 3 mugs of chocolate! A bowl of fluffy whipped cream was also supplied. And then I lifted my spoon and took a sip. I’m telling you, this chocolate was perfect for people like me, who only eat molten chocolate cake so they can drink the inside. I usually don’t even put whipped cream on my drinks, all you needed was a dollop for it to melt and create white streaks in the thick, brown mass. It coursed down the jugs like sludge until they were empty, and even then we continued to scrape the hardened chocolate off the sides. I have no idea how they made it, either. I get the feeling they melted about a pound of the best quality dark chocolate, added a little cream to make it liquid, and served it. Any ideas?