Tag Archive | Hot chocolate

Le meilleur chocolat chaud à Milan?

Bar Manhattan

I may have found it. On my first (and only) try.

The afternoon after we arrived in Milan, my friend D and I stopped for a late lunch at Bar Manhattan, a bar/café on Corso Buenos Aeries.

With shiny walnut counters, little down-lights in the ceiling, and red backed chairs and table-tops, the café was the embodiment of understated European elegance. Burgundy-vested waiters didn’t bat an eye when we asked for some menus in English, and frequently checked in on us.

I was served a hot chocolate in a glass, the top half piled with whipped cream and dusted in cocoa. At the first teaspoon I was won – the cream was sweet and velvety, not like the airy stuff you spray from a can. I dipped my long-stemmed spoon lower and was delighted to discover a thick goo, the same colour of the one at Café de la Paix. It was delicious and dark, like a block of 90% chocolate.

I stirred in some of the cream, as with Angelina’s hot chocolate, sweetening and slimming the beverage (though I couldn’t resist lapping up spoon after spoon of it plain – like pillows on my tongue, I felt as though I was burrowed deep into a cocoon of feather-light mattresses and doonas).

Unlike the chocolat chauds de Paris, this one wasn’t served with a glass of water, and I slowed as I sipped, struggling to finish as I grew tipsy on cocoa. The chocolate began to solidify around the circumference of my glass, globular as it rested in my silver spoon somewhere between a liquid and a solid. Soon I would have to chew it!

At €4.20, it’s far better value than any of Paris’s famed hot chocolates, and is the main thing I’d recommend to anyone going to Milan.

Le meilleur chocolat chaud à Paris? part quatre

Laduree - Rue Bonaparte

On Monday, Mr Frog and I sampled the last of his recommended hot chocolates – Ladurée.

The salon on Rue Bonaparte is not what you’d expect from a Parisian salon de thé – the ground floor is decorated in a Chinoiserie style with leafy bamboo and flowers painted on the wall, echoing Ladurée’s pastel pinks and greens. In contrast, the top floor is very dark and intimate. It is all blue, with dark carpet and thick, tasselled curtains and plush little armchairs printed in blue and gold. Warm and cosy, it is a perfect hide-out for a rainy winter day.

So would the chocolat chaud measure up?

The waiter came with the traditional two glasses of water, two china cups on saucers and two metal jugs of hot chocolate, and poured each of us a cup from our respective jugs. I smiled in anticipation as the liquid seeped thickly from the spout of the jug and pooled in the bottom of my cup, the volume rising steadily. It was reminiscent of Les Deux Magots – molten milk chocolate.

Then I took my first sip . . . nothing. I took another one, trying to savour the texture in my mouth, but it left me unmoved. At Café de la Paix and Les Deux Magots I hadn’t been able to keep the smile off my face, and even though Angelina could not match, it was worlds above Ladurée, and I still enjoyed my chocolate’s silky texture and taste.

The Ladurée hot chocolate had somehow managed to have all of the texture and none of the flavour of the first two. It tasted dusty and stale in comparison to the others. Little spots of fat glistened on top of the liquid, like in a soup that has used butter or oil, and I found it harder to drink as I continued.

It was like Cadbury chocolate in comparison to Lindt. As a child I liked Cadbury but, as an adult hooked on dark chocolate, Cadbury now tastes like wax to me. However, Lindt milk chocolate takes my breath away– like velvety cream as it melts on my tongue. I pause and savour Lindt, whereas I eat Cadbury very quickly to try and capture the same rapture.

The Ladurée hot chocolate was like this – although it was thick, I found myself taking bigger and bigger gulps as I chased the memory of more intense flavours at other cafés. If it weren’t for the texture, I would have found it very difficult to rank this chocolate above those that standard cafés sell for €2.50 – €4.00.

So I wouldn’t recommend this €6.50 hot chocolate – spend another €0.50 and go to Les Deux Magots, or if you would prefer something thinner and satiny, spend an extra €0.40 and go to Angelina.

That being said, Ladurée is still worth a visit – the salons de thé are a Paris institution. Although the salon at Rue Bonaparte isn’t very French, the salons on the Champs-Elyseés and Rue Royale have chic patisseries and comfortably elegant salons like Angelina, with dim lighting, moulded walls and carpeted floors. And the beautifully presented pastries and macaroons are easily a good enough reason to enjoy the ambiance.

But, if I was going out for a chocolat chaud, I’d go elsewhere.

Rankings so far:

  1. Les Deux Magots
  2. Café de la Paix (second because the price is higher, though the quality is just as good as the first and the taste is more intense)
  3. Angelina
  4. Ladurée

Le meilleur chocolat chaud à Paris? part trois

Yesterday Mr Frog and I continued on our quest to find the best hot chocolate in Paris.

Angelina, a salon de thé on Rue de Rivoli, is another place famous for its hot chocolate (as well as its Mont Blanc gateau, though I didn’t get to try that). I’d only ever peered in through the windows before, drooling over the beautifully arranged patisseries in the elegant boutique, white with mirrored counters.

So I was surprised to enter a rather comfortable salon. Yes, it’s still beautiful with murals lining the walls, which were reflected by mirrors of identical shapes and sizes on the opposite walls. But the lighting was dim, there was plain carpet on the floor, and the wooden tables and chairs cushioned with brown leather looked more like furniture you would see in somebody’s home than in a chic salon de thé (admittedly, a very stately manor home, but a home, nonetheless). It was cosy and homey, and I would have felt just as comfortable there in my runners and jeans as I felt in my post-work suit.

As for the chocolate – part of me wished that I had tried this one first. Because it was a lovely chocolat chaud, and if I had have had it first I would have thought it was wonderful. But I knew the instant I poured that it couldn’t match the others. After experiencing the indulgently thick texture of the hot chocolates at Les Deux Magots and Café de la Paix, I was disappointed to have a beverage that was clearly a liquid, and not a borderline solid, as the others now seemed to be in comparison.

Although it was thinner, Angelina’s hot chocolate was still lovely and rich, served in a jug with a pot of whipped cream on the side. I loved stirring the cream into the chocolate and watching the liquid marble as the cream melted, but this didn’t thicken the result as I’d hoped it would. It did create an interesting experience though – the flavour was milder and more velvety at the top of the cup, and grew darker and more intense as I progressed. It was like all of the chocolate had sunk to the bottom, like the sediment in wine.

So yes, it was a beautiful hot chocolate, but it takes third place under Les Deux Magots and Café de la Paix. The price was €6.90, compared to Les Deux Magots €7, but I don’t think the difference in price is enough to make up for the difference in quality.

I’m glad I went, but I don’t think I’ll be going back.

Well . . . maybe just once to try the Mont Blanc gateau.

Le meilleur chocolat chaud à Paris? part deux

  • Fondue – melted cheese or chocolate into which bread or fruit is dipped
  • Derived from the verb fondre – to melt

After getting rather tipsy at The Frog and Princesse, Mr Frog and I went to Les Deux Magots, a café reputed for having the best hot chocolate in Paris.

After my experience at Café de la Paix, I was interested to see whether Les Deux Magots could deliver.

Les Deux Magots

We arrived around midnight and were greeted by an older, portly man in a black, three-piece suit with a white shirt and a silky bow-tie, who instructed us to sit “anywhere”. At this time on a Wednesday, there were only two other occupied tables.

Les Deux Magots

As we waited for our hot chocolate, I looked around the room. The café is brightly lit with rows of red leather booths bordered by white pillars. At the top of one of the central pillar sit Les Deux Magots, two Asian statues which have been there for over a century.

After starting as a drapery in 1813, then becoming a wine merchants by 1884, Les Deux Magots was refurbished and transformed into a café in 1914, and it became a haunt of many figures of the literary world – from Oscar Wilde to Ernest Hemmingway to moi!

Mr Frog was cruelly forcing me to speak in French when our chocolats chauds arrived. Our waiter lowered a tray holding two tea cups, two glasses of water, and a large china jug of hot chocolate.

I poured and inhaled, trying not to swoon as the chocolate oozed into my cup. I stirred it with my spoon and, like oil, the liquid held the pattern of the swirl as I took my first sip.

The chocolate invaded my mouth, clinging to every surface. I suddenly found myself thinking of my childhood Easters, when I would break up my largest Easter eggs in the same bowl and devour them, piece by piece, over the coming weeks. It tasted like I held melted them all and was drinking the result straight from the bowl. This beverage wasn’t like the milky concoctions you find at Starbucks – it was pure liquid chocolate. Fondue.

So, which chocolat chaud was better? It’s hard to say – they both had the same gooey texture, and rested on the back of my teaspoon rather than dripping off. Although they were both intense, the chocolate at Café de la Paix was darker – I needed two glasses of water to get through it. At Les Deux Magots, I easily managed with one. And I still think the hot chocolate at Café de la Paix would go very well over vanilla ice-cream, whereas I wouldn’t dream of diluting the one at Les Deux Magots with anything.

I suppose it depends on what you’re looking for – Café de la Paix was much larger and luxurious, and Les Deux Magots was more intimate. The service was more attentive at Café de la Paix, though that could have been due to the late hour at which we visited Les Deux Magots. And, at €7, Les Deux Magots is slightly better value for money. Let’s just say I’d be happy to try them both again.

Le meilleur chocolat chaud à Paris?

Last night I had hot chocolate at Café de la Paix at the Intercontinental Hotel.

Located right outside metro Opéra, it was very expensive (luckily I wasn’t paying, but Google told me the chocolat chaud is €8), and very beautiful – bathed in yellow light, the ceilings were painted, there were golden columns around the room, the tables were set with white linen tablecloths and sparkling glass-wear and the chairs were backed with deep-red velvet or leather, depending on the section.

When I was invited to have a hot chocolate on a Sunday evening, I was expecting a more casual affair, so I tried to walk behind my friend so the waiters wouldn’t see my sneakers. No one commented, but I did feel as though I should have dressed up.

We sat on leather armchairs in the bar/lounge, and ordered two hot chocolates.

We were served with two teacups on saucers, a bowl of sugar cubes, two small, stainless-steel teapots and two long glasses of water.

I take my chocolate very seriously, so I wasn’t sure if this would live up to its reputation as I poured . . . and gasped at the thick darkness of the molten chocolate. This wasn’t a beverage! This should have been a sauce for ice-cream, or foreplay.  ;p

I inhaled the heady scent as I took my first sip, and actually moaned in delight as the chocolate coated my mouth and my throat. It was incredibly intense, and I soon understood why it was served with water – it was so rich that I started drinking it teaspoon by teaspoon.

A teapot of chocolate and two glasses of water later, I left very happy.

I’m happy to recommend this as the best hot chocolate in Paris, but if anyone has one they want me to compare it to, I’m happy to do the legwork.