Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Denise Acabo

I bought this cabosse (cocoa pod) at the New York Chocolate Show last November. It looked different then. Brilliantly colored and much bigger than the dried up, dark bean you see here. I was told it would not stay colorful, but would rot quickly.

The best way to keep a cocoa pod, is to put it in a very low oven for at least 24 hours. Over time mine has shrunk even smaller and if I shake it, I can hear the fêve de cacao (beans) jumping around inside. Now I can join a Samba percussion group and shake my rattle. YAY
Back in the Paris confiserie of all confiseries (candy stores). The chocolate mecca for amateurs of France's meilleure (best) chocolat is the tiny shop, Denise Acabo in the 9th ème, on 30, rue Fontaine. I'd never seen copper chocolatières (chocolate pots) like these in the window -- maybe from Africa? The cabosses here are faux, made of plastic.But these bouchées au chocolat are definitely REAL. Bouchée means filled chocolate in a big version. The French sometimes skip lunch and have one entier bouchée instead. And if you have a big mouth, you can eat it in one bite, vous en faites une seule bouchée.
Some French people prefer to eat many small chocolates to one big one - more variety, unless it's a Rocher or good plain dark ganache. Once you bite into a big bouchée, you have to finish it, as the filling dries out. But with small bonbons chocolats, the outer coating prevents the interior from drying. No other country does bouchées au chocolat. They feel guilty when it comes to eating chocolate.." Hmmm..
Every Paris chocolaterie offers a variety of these bouchées au chocolat. I like them because you can buy just one in a fancy shop and not break the bank... Buying the best French chocolat is a heck of alot more economical than buying French couture. Merci, Dieu! Denise Acabo's shop, l'Etoile d'Or (the golden star), is famed for carrying French chocolate brands you can't find anywhere else in Paris. Le grand maître de Lyon, Bernachon in particular + Le Roux, Dufoux, Bonnat, Boyer, Fabrice Gillotte (not a relative, malheureusement ) and others. Her tiny shop is a delight and an adventure! Denise herself is pretty unique in Paris. Outfitted in navy blue Anglaise schoolgirl uniform with jupe Écossaise (Scottish plaid skirt) and nattes rouge (red braids), her passion for chocolate fills the shop. Let her help you choose from 30 different tablettes (bars of chocolate).
Here Denise is showing me her special 19th century-style wrapping paper, le papier d'Epinal, full of visual jokes. When you turn it upside down the images tell a different joke. Of course I saved this piece of paper, but could I find it yesterday? No! must be in my closet somewhere...
And why is it when you get a chance to take a picture of someone or something you rever, you get the camera shakes? If you'd like to own some cocoa pods vicariously, you can always treat yourself to a chocolate tree in Ecuador and help save the Rainforest.


  1. Now you've done it! I am in a FIX for chocolate!!!!! What fantatic photos -- and great great capturing of the pots!! I ADORE that gentle coloring you used!!

  2. I love your subtle color blending on the pots! great job!!

  3. So glad you found happiness at Denise Acabo's little sweet shop. And you got the shakes because you were so excited to be surrounded by all that chocolate...which is completely understandable!

  4. Anonymous2:07 PM

    Oh to drown in a sea of your watercolours & the chocolate you just blogged about. And all while reading your blog. Thank you for leaving a comment on my blog, it means that I was able to find yours!!

  5. carol it is nearly ten in the evening here in France. I am having a chocolate attack and you didn't even mention Maison de Chocolat!! I raced downstairs, and found a bar of chocolat but nothing worthy enough to mention on your post....oh my not fair...can you attach a candy machine to your blog please, or a mail order???

  6. actually, i never seen a dry cocoa pod before. fresh ones are so brightly yellow, van gogh would probably love painting a cocoa plantation:).
    i think i've read somewhere in your blog you came to brazil once, did you? have you been on ilheus, bahia? now it's a tourism point, but the city used to be one of the biggest producers of cocoa, and has a rich and not very sweet history. there are still cocoa plantations there, and some are even open for visitation.

    ...and like everyone else, i'm TOTALLY craving chocolate now. i hate you :)

  7. WIth this post about chocolate and the previous about art stores/supplies, I feel like I've died and gone to heaven! Perfect combination!

  8. Anonymous8:37 AM

    I was just in Due Trio last week! How did you know? I'm missing Paris even more now.

  9. Anonymous1:06 AM

    This is my favorite chocolate shop in Paris. Denise doesn't speak a word of English, but somehow we communicated through chocolate.

    It's not the fanciest or biggest shop in Paris, and I went to about 10 or more chocolate shops, but it is by far the most charming, and the chocolate and caramels are exceptionally good, and sold with love.

    So if you only get to one shop, make it this one, and needless to say I left the shop with a small fortune in chocolate and caramels...

  10. Anonymous10:57 PM

    The best chocolate shop in Paris for reasons far beyond the superlative selection of sweets. Quintessentially Parisian and the most charming experience you may ever have. Don't miss the Bernachon "Jour et Nuit" chocolate bar if she has it.


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