On Wednesday I needed a pick me up.
Is there a better place than Le Bonbon au Palais when your spirits need raising? 19, rue Monge 75005
Plus it turns out Le Bonbon is a one-stop-shop for a vast variety of caramels. How did I miss this? Go spoil yourself.
I caught owner Georges Marques in the midst of giving a lecon on caramel lollipops. I did not know that the very best sucettes/lollies, Les Niniches come from the Quiberon in Brittany. How did I miss this?
Georges is a big fan of Les Caramels d'Isigny.
"Normandy has the best butter you know", he told me.
Then of course there are the caramels from Brittany where the fabulous sel de Guerande is harvested. Georges reminded me that Henri Le Roux invented this heavenly sauce, caramel au beurre sale, in 1977. Did you know that 'soft' caramels are the hot trend these days? I suppose it is nice to keep all your teeth in your mouth. How thoughtful of the confiseries. Georges prefers the traditional harder/dur caramels but offers both in his shop.
The newest kid on the block at Le Bonbon au Palais - caramel au beurre salé guimauves/marshmallows. Woo woo
I'm a fan of these because you can buy just one and get 4 bites out of it. They're an 1 1/2" square but they do not come from Caramel land in the North West (Brittany or Normandy) sadly.
I was eager to try out this creme de Caramel a la Fleur de sel from Breizh /Brittany (a hotbed of crepes and caramel). I must go there soon!
Back in the reseach lab this tasty sauce passed the 'Standing Spoon' test with flying colors. Not a good thing it turns out. I prefer my sauce liquidy like Le Roux' (sans Almonds) or Frederic Cassel's.
Here's something I haven't seen before - nougat CBS!?
La piece de resistance in Georges eyes is this well kept secret caramel of Nevers, Le Negus.
Surprisingly, it's a hard candy. But let it rest in your mouth. Once the outer shell dissolves, inside awaits a chunk of very soft out-of-this-world caramel. TDF (to die for).
The tin is traditional old French candy style and worth hanging on to (designed in 1904). You'll only find this candy at 2-3 places in Paris by the way. I dated a guy from Nevers for 2 1/2 years in NYC and he never once mentioned this candy from his home town. I'm making up for lost time hanging out at Le Bonbon surely...
Do visit French candy websites online. Every single one of them has a 'historie' tab giving you loads of fun info on how they started, where and when like Maison Armorine.
Les Caramels d'Isigny has this fab map of all the caramels and flavors in France. An essential reference for caramel lovers don't you think? They say Arabs invented caramel in the year 1000. Who knew?
If caramels are not your thing I'm sure Georges will find something else for you to taste like these dents de l'ours/ or bears teeth - pistachio and melon marzipan with a chocolate almond on top.
Next week the Salon du Chocolat opens on Wednesday at Porte de Versailles. Georges is head of the new Forum de la Confiserie at the show - a separate floor on the rez-de chausée. Please stop by and say Bonjour if you go (stand E1).
I shall be coloring my hair caramel au beurre sale especially for the show. Why not? If you can't make it to the Salon please stop by Le Bonbon. Say you're from PB and you'll get extra tastes I bet ;))