Elixia Chocolat Limonade Artisanale

This week on the Fabulous Misadventures of Foodette in Europe, watch Foodette get locked out, and then reacquainted with her apartment, enjoy the trials and tribulations of the French home repair system, get entertained by Dillinger in fine style at a hotel, and cry while eating peanut M&M’s in one hand and swig Beaujolais Nouveau with the other. Hashtag classy, my friends. Hashtag classy. Yes, getting locked out of my apartment justifies being one week late. However, now that we’re back to our regularly scheduled programming, we can celebrate my return by talking about something as awesome and as magical as a unicorn on fire. The opposite of Chevy Chase. The finesse of skinny jeans and cowboy boots. Chocolate lemonade- sorry, chocolat limonade, from a company bold enough to call itself Elixia. This shit is real.

I all but screamed like a toddler when I saw this at the Chocolate Salon, an event that sounds exciting but in reality, was a giant shopping mall full of chocolate and full of people whose average height put me somewhere around ass level. Nevertheless, I escaped with two treats, one of which was this artisanal carbonated beverage. Surprisingly, their booth was sparsely populated, presumably due to peoples’ fear of life-changingly wondrous drinks.

However alluring the tantric combination of chocolate and citrus fruit may sounds, though, it is regrettably a pairing best left to the recesses of the mind, much like Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy fanfiction. To put it simply, Elixia Chocolat is the “Two Princes” of lemonade. It’s clever, it’s catchy, it’s ground-breaking in its enthusiasm, and it even has an element of class. However, its kitschy undertones forever relegate it to the bottom shelf of sodas, and consequently, early 90’s jams. There simply isn’t any substance to it. Hardcore critics call it abrasively unappealing, for me, it performs as a novelty and then quietly dies.

Elixia tastes kind of like a Tootsie Roll, and kind of like Perrier, and kind of like Sprite, but nothing like any of the three in particular. It’s bitter, tangy, and a little depressing. I wanted to like it as much as I wanted to put effort into the post I’m writing about it, and we can all see how well both of those turned out. Ultimately, both the sexy frothy brown lemonade and sexy writing block were poured down the sink. Hey, is Girls on Netflix?

Le Coq Rico, Paris, France

The cat was out of the bag- or rather, the chicken out of the rotisserie, so to speak. This Thanksgiving, it seemed as if we were not the only ones to “discover” Montmartre’s cloistered Le Coq Rico. Surrounded by chatty French and American families, the small restaurant was bustling despite the chill. My excitement had only grown as the temperature had dropped in the preceding days, as I am a firm believer that roast chicken goes best with frostbite. Entering the restaurant ushered by the brisk wind only heightened my anticipation. Le Coq Rico, owned by famed Parisian restauranteur Antoine Wasserman, specializes in the classic brasserie and outdoor market specialty, roast chicken and little else. 

Reviews for Le Coq Rico have been mixed, ranging from unimpressed to raving, so I went in with an open mind and an empty stomach. My need for schmaltz-laden potatoes and crispy skin overrode my internal Zagat server, and off I went, three famished family members in tow. In retrospect, I’d rank my experience somewhere in the middle of the hubbub- Le Coq Rico is right to stick to chicken and its various accoutrements, but is somewhat lacking in other essential areas.

The decor is simple, and not as chillingly minimal as I’d initially anticipated. In retrospect, it looks like the inside of a very well-kept, pristine white chicken coop. We started off with a bottle of the 2011 A. Keintzler Riesling, tight and fragrant, with a smooth, phenolic development over the course of a few hours. The restaurant favors this small family vineyard- many of their whites were from the Alsace-based Keintzler. We chose to whack up an order of the famed gésiers, crispy giblets ‘n’ bits platter that unfortunately never arrived. It was later discovered that they had forgotten the appetizer. For our main course, the poulet de Bresse, which the menu describes as serving 2-4. While this could be seen as a cost-driving tap dance, it was certainly practical for our needs. In fact, with the sides, the chicken almost yielded too much food, even with a party including a hungry student and a protein-loving weights enthusiast. 

The main course was extremely enjoyable, yielding and naturally sweet, soaking up its savory gravy with ease. It was served simplistically, adorned only by bursting whole cloves of garlic, a sweet and strong accompaniment with each bite. If you’re looking for something a little more formal than gnawing on poulet roti in the middle of a bustling market (my preferred atmosphere of choice) the 90 Euro poulet de Bresse is a fantastic example, providing your company can divvy up white and dark meat without killing each other. Yes, 90 Euro, when taken out of context, can seem a bit dear, but divided by 4 people with plenty of sides to go around, makes it one of the better fine-dining deals in Paris. With the tender chicken, perfectly cooked, we split two plates each of macaroni gratin and frites, the latter crispy and double-fried, the former peppery and comforting, but served somewhat stingily in what resembled an individually-portioned ramekin for a side dish.

After the chicken, it was almost unfair to order desserts. And had the macaroni or the gésiers been on the dessert menu, I am positive I would have chosen them. We opted to share two desserts between the four of us, a monolithic île flottante (at a chicken-themed restaurant I am inclined to wonder why they chose not to include the sibling to this famed dessert, œufs à la neige, or eggs in the snow) in a puddle of vanilla creme anglaise with a scattering of chopped almonds, and Brioche French toast with chestnut ice cream and autumn fruits. With the île, the classic garniture of caramel was missing, compelling its white-on-white counterparts to strikingly resemble the restaurant interior. This was vapid and soft, with a light, sugary flavor. 
The French toast really missed the mark for me– it had a dense, granulated crust around it, like crushed up Captain Crunch, and the deluge of powdered sugar and creme anglaise drizzled on top made it more reminiscent of a diner dessert than a delicate end to the meal. With so many rich ingredients, a more minimal touch would have been preferable. The toast was surrounded by autumn fruits- a fun selection of pineapple, pear, apple, melon, and grapes, some soaked in mulling spices. Combined with the boozy chestnut ice cream, I would have preferred the fruit alone.

If your savory side is singing out for a little chicken and formality, I wouldn’t hesitate checking Le Coq Rico out. Otherwise, you may be better off picking up a chicken from one of many of the stands dotting Paris. However, as Thanksgiving dinners abroad go, this was incomparably better than frozen turkey!

Foodette in Gay Paris: Foodette Meets Kouignette

Bretagne is best known for three things: sweets, cream, and butter. When these combine, the result is magnificent. One of the most classic treats of Bretagne is the Kouign-amann, the love child of a croissant and French toast. When made well, it has a crispy, crackly outer layer, shredding into thin pieces of sugar and dough as it hits the teeth, with a custardy, flaky inner core, sweet and buttery.

Even better than the Kouign-amann is the Kouignettes, the miniature version of the pie-sized platters below. After all, it’s not every day that you can house an entire pie’s worth of buttersugarbread in one sitting, so the miniature (often flavored) ones combine the versatility of a cinnamon roll and the moderation of your cardiologist (not). I prefer these for their variation and petite size. While on a trip to Bretagne this weekend, I picked a few up at a well-known bakery and chocolate shop to taste back home. There were five- but I asked them to leave one out of the bag for research purposes. Just to be sure they were good.

I picked up praline, salted caramel, almond and chocolate, pistachio, and orange cointreau. For the most part, the store had classic flavors mixed with more regionally-inspired ones, like the cointreau and caramel (another Breton specialty) but I really wished they’d incorporated Calvados or caramelized apples into one of the cakes. Regardless, they were all very tasty, with chewy, crispy outer edges, slightly waxy, and soft middles. My favorite was actually the pistachio. I’m a sucker for those crumbly, nut-butter-esque fillings like marzipan, and this was nutty and brilliantly green to boot.

The orange cointreau ended up being a hit back home, with a much more restrained sweetness and huge chunks of candied orange rind. This was the Kouignette that brought out the best of the salted butter, giving the pastry a natural creaminess. The chocolate and caramel-based flavors fared less successfully, to my surprise. There lacked a balance in them that the pistachio and orange pastries had, a dulled acidity that overwhelmed the pastry, resulting in a sugar-heavy, somewhat boring flavor.
The almond and chocolate was so chewy that I found it difficult to tear apart with my teeth. These might have been better warm, but lacking the microwave to do so (#parisproblems) I ate them cold. Their sticky, thick texture was indulgent, but ultimately lacking the balance that would have made them more satisfying. However, the idea of sticking different flavors into these sweet pastries entices my curiosity. I’ll have to try making these when I get back to the States!

Le Jardin d’Orante Pomme et Speculoos Applesauce

After a busy few days, I’m back in the saddle again, so to speak. I have spent most of my week at school and at SIAL, a biannual international specialty food show that just happened to be in Paris this year and at this time. I wish I could tell you that I planned this all in advance, but I am just not that smooth. And I didn’t plan the Salon du Chocolat taking place next week, either. Needless to say, it’s been hectic, but amazing- I have so many wonderful new products to show you!

For starters, there’s this thing. A burgeoning food trend in France (can anyone tell me if this has extended to the rest of Europe?) is slapping speculoos on pretty much everything, as I’ve mentioned. I have never been so happy, or so secretly ashamed, to tell you that literally 13% of my refrigerator contains speculoos-infused items. This coming from the girl who “forgot” to buy toilet paper this week after seeing a 2-for-1 deal on mint-flavored water. Pathetic, but I wear it with pride.

This little number is the Le Jardin d’Orante’s applesauce receptacle, nothing new there, crammed with exactly one speculoos cookie as per the package’s diagram. I wish all ingredient lists came with rebus-like easy math. The applesauce is thick and sweet, your basic Mott’s-esque flavoring, with a smooth texture and slight pulpiness.

The problem lies in the speculoos. It’s not chunky and doesn’t make its presence known from a textural sense. It’s a lot like flavored water or seltzer- the essence of the flavoring is incorporated into the base, but it’s indistinguishable in appearance from its non-screwed with equivalent. However, I can’t in good faith attribute any of the resounding complimentary flavors- cinnamon, brown sugar, nutmeg, and ginger, with speculoos. The cookie itself is greater than the sum of its parts. Without that inimitable texture and crunch, it’s just spiced applesauce. I applaud the ingenuity on part of Le Jardin d’Orante, but if I’m craving applesauce and cookies, will stick to the old-fashioned, albeit gross method of mashing them in applesauce with my bare hands.

Foodette in Gay Paris: Delicacies in Languedoc-Roussillon

I am working on a couple of big restaurant reviews this week, so I’m keeping today’s post short and sweet. Here are some more of the things I’ve been eating in Paris, as well as a selection of the food I ate while in the Languedoc-Roussillon region last weekend.
Delicious pasta carbonara.

Last week, when Miss Love was here, we took another day to peruse the Louvre and stopped for a snack at the miniature Angelina cafe (Le Café Richelieu) in the center of the museum. We shared two pastries- one classic, the acclaimed Mont Blanc, and one quirky, an apricot and pear tart with caramelized pastry and a lemon-thyme caramel on top. I don’t think I’d ever tried a Mont Blanc before, and this was definitely the place to try one. The noodly hazelnut strands on top and the fluffy, neutral whipped Chantilly cream and meringue base were delicious and perfectly balanced, with a clean, nutty flavor.
A creamy, delicate center.

The apricot tart was interesting, but not quite what we expected it would be. The caramel was more of a gelée on top and the fruit encased inside, like a terrine. It was certainly a unique presentation as it came off looking like a savory dish. All of the elements were well-prepared- the pastry was crispy and sweet, the fruit was fresh and tender, and the flavors were congruent, but the caramel gee was a little strange to get used to.
Later on in the week, I picked up these sweet, fresh marshmallows from an outdoor market. They came paired in a few different flavors, but the bag I picked up had loopy strands of anise and violet ‘mallows. 

Over the weekend, I took a trip to Languedoc-Roussilon with my group, to visit Collioure and spend a few days on the coast. It was stunning, and the food was fresh and tasty. This was my first meal after a five-hour train ride, and it was well-deserved and sumptuous- steamed mussels in a Banyuls sauce and strange, wavy fries.

This is a selection of some of the sweets I saw and ate in Perpignan and Collioure. On the upper left-hand corner, marzipan bananas! To the right, you’ll see some delicious pastries called Rousquilles. I am officially obsessed with these. For starters, Rousquilles look like perfect handmade doughnuts, but are structurally superior because they are covered not with a sugar glaze, but with salty, sulfurous meringue. They are traditionally flavored with either almond, lemon, or anise and have a tender cookie base. The number of these that I have consumed in one sitting with tea is less than ten, but more than five. On the bottom half, we have a selection of traditional Catalan pastries, and a gigantic meringue cookie.

This menu was at a little stand in Perignan. I didn’t order anything, but I did take note of the fact that the “complet” preparation, with an egg on top, is available with everything except an omelet. Apparently it’s universally acknowledged that egg-on-egg action is not okay.

I wanted to get this, but did not have the nerves to trust what was basically the grounded equivalent of a food truck’s take on duck confit and foie gras on a baguette with fries on top. Next time.
This was the last meal we had before we left Collioure, in Port-Vendres. Traditional Catalan roast chicken with an olive, onion, eggplant, and basil sauce. Delicious! An amazing vacation, and I’m looking forward to posting some photos from my recent trip to Sauternes as well as some Parisian restaurant reviews.

Foodette in Gay Paree: Picard Roundup

People love posts about grocery runs to Trader Joe’s. They like to read about peoples’ foreign shopping sprees. Hell, they even tolerate watching asinine haul videos that look as if they were scripted by a bored Uwe Boll during a scene phase. So, in that vein, I thought it would be fun to showcase food from one of the most amazing discount grocery stores the world has ever seen. No pressure, Picard, no pressure. Yes, Picard, no relation to the Jean-Luc franchise, is a store that specializes in one thing and one thing only: frozen food. And they have freaking everything. Frozen cubes of ready-made sauces. Defrostable cakes. Frozen toothpaste. Whole roast chickens. Premade galettes that are definitely better than mine.
And the crazy thing is that all of it is delicious. Miss Love and I went on a grocery run to Picard when we arrived to stock up on staples like meat and appetizers, and we were impressed with almost everything we tried. One of our first meals when she arrived was simple- tikka masala-seasoned chicken and a mashed potato and artichoke heart dish. It was almost too easy- baking the chicken and mashing the incredibly awesome individual potato canelles in a saucepan, whose poppable shape definitely conjured up thoughts of deep-frying. The result? One of the heartiest and tastiest meals we ate, and it took basically no preparation at all. It ended up costing us around 8 Euro for four servings, so it was economical as well as delicious.

We also needed a snack beforehand, so we noshed on these tasty little “steamer-ready!” shu mai with pork and shrimp. We didn’t have a steamer, which I imagine would have been the most optimal form of preparation, nor did we have the hindsight of putting them in the freezer for 24 hours (Picard has a funny habit of giving you defrosting instructions 24 to 48 hours in advance) so we microwaved them with a wet paper towel on top, and they were tasty and tender, especially with the zesty sauce of indeterminate origin.

Because it was Miss Love’s first night cooking at home with me again, we decided to have two desserts. Our first was very, very special, not something you’d expect to see at a grocery store. A frozen pomme d’amour, the French take on the classic candy apple treat, but instead of an apple center, it featured a green apple mousse surrounding an apple gelee, cheesecake center, and speculoos base. All the flavors came together remarkably well, and the visual presentation was breathtaking, especially with the little vanilla pod stem!

We also shared some ice cream that looked delicious and promising- caramel bergamot with pieces of caramel and shortbread. Unfortunately, the bergamot flavor dulled after the first few bites, leaving only sticky sweet caramel, with little salt to balance out all the sugar. The shortbread pieces were also nonexistent.

This is a pizza that we ate the next day for lunch. The ingredient list described it as having 48.9% dough and 51.1% toppings, and I believe that to a T. Seriously, this thing was packed with fresh, tasty vegetable and meat toppings, as well as balls of fresh mozzarella. And speck! Crispy, salty speck ham. The only issue was that it was unwieldy in size- not small enough for one person to eat in one sitting, but not easy for two people to share. If I made one of these again, I might serve it with a salad or something on the side.

Another tasty appetizer, translucent buns stuffed with whole shrimp and a careful dot of green onion. 

This technically wasn’t from Picard, it was from the Monoprix down the street, but we really enjoyed it. This is a flammekuche, a traditional Alsatian ham and onion tart. 
These salmon tartare cylinders came in packaging almost as difficult to unwrap as a CD package. Luckily, the results were worth the effort, especially when eaten in this bitter orange jam and Dijon mustard salmon sandwich with duck bacon. 

Finally, for our last meal, we enjoyed our favorite tikka chicken again, atop a pile of mixed vegetable quinoa. I normally am not partial to quinoa, but this was a fantastic exception. Three minutes in the microwave and it was hot, fluffy, and stuffed with tender veggies. Leaps and bounds above Green Giant! It was delightful and so easy. Picard is definitely somewhere that I’ll go again, and I can’t wait to see how I can use their other ingredients and dishes.

Pizza Hut Chèvre-Miel

It has been a long and trying week- thank you to everyone who emailed or commented on my post with words of support and encouragement. Many people came out of the woodwork to offer their condolences, and I am forever grateful to have heard your comments and to have interacted with you. Luckily, Miss Love was with me for a substantial amount of time, and we have been having a fantastic vacation together to make up for lost time.

Obviously, with our love for all things meta and bizarre, one of our first dates in Paris, a city resplendent with Michelin star-rated restaurants, gourmet tasting menus, and plenty of delicious cheese and wine, was to eat takeout from Pizza Hut. Because America, and also because chèvre miel. “Chèvre miel?” you say, trying to recall the latest American Pizza Hut promotion with Chèvremielarama, complete with stuffed pepperoni crust and cheese ooze, or the coveted Chèvre Miel Meal for Eight Pack released in 2008, but stop trying. It doesn’t exist outside of France. 
And yes, it means what you think it means. There is goat cheese on this pizza from Pizza Hut, the company that brought you pizza with a cheeseburger crust and space pizza. Baked goat cheese drizzled with honey. And yes, you’re still alive, and Darth Vader was Luke’s father the whole time. Mind blown yet? I should also mention that this pie was presented to me by my server like a bottle of 1982 Lafite-Rothschild, box open, hopeful beam upon her face that I would not scoff and discard such a masterpiece of lactose mediums.

It gets weirder, like some sort of reverse classicist restaurant franchise. Ye Olde Pizzae Hutten circles the pie with stuffed crust Cheesy Fun Bites, attached at the bread like hangnails, surrounding the mother pie like suckling puppies and breaking off if you even so much as look at the pizza the wrong way. Luckily, the pizza part of it tastes pretty decent, even if the crust bites are the Two-Face of a generally well-maintained Harvey Dent pie. 
Seriously, they are both awful and easy to eat, two bites of salt, semi-melted string cheese, and a hasty melange of spices. There is no reason, unless you have a rare salt lick deficiency, to be eating these bites. They lack balance and flavor, merely offering the comforting texture of solids to occupy your mouth while waiting for the molten hot pizza to cool. They’re a little dry, but Pizza Hut has a solution for that, and that solution is more oil. Peppered lubrication in single-use packets, to be precise.

As I mentioned, I was kind of smitten with the pizza part, at least as smitten as anyone can be with a sweaty triangle of various dairies. The components- an herbaceous cream cheese sauce, crispy mozzarella-esque cheese, and thick rounds of creamy goat cheese with honey, were well-balanced, if depressing to look at once free of its crust lesions. With each bite, the salinity and sweetness had a tasty equilibrium, neither one overly cloying or sharp. Ultimately, though, the poor quality of the mozzarella, stringy and tough, made it unpleasant to eat more than a slice or two. The combination is bold for a franchise, and in the right hands, could make for a wonderful pizza pie. However, with Pizza Hut, it lacks the care and higher-quality ingredients to devote to this pie alone. How else can they serve La Louisiane and Big Spicy Texan pizzas? How can they sleep at night?

Birthday treats in Paris (Pierre Hermé and Sadaharu Aoki)

It’s official. I’ve turned 22 in one of the most beautiful cities in the world and I’ve spent the day exactly as I would have liked- walking around Paris, enjoying some incredible pastries, and surreptitiously photographing the dogs of strangers. #aspergianthug #clickthelink It’s been a fantastic day so far, and the best is yet to come. For now, I’ll give you a glimpse of what I’ve been eating today. True fact: I haven’t eaten a single pastry since I arrived. I wanted this to be my glorious coming-out party, and rather than scoff down sweets at an average boulangerie, I was saving myself for the big guns.

I started out the morning by hitting up two of the patisseries on my bucket list, Sadaharu Aoki and Pierre Hermé. I’d been to Hermé before, but never with a disposable income and a lack of parental guidance. Needless to say, I highly recommend surging into the vast selection of Pierre Hermé with completely unbridled lust. It’s varied, meticulous, and delicious.
I restrained myself and left with a macaron and one of their seasonal pastries, the Ivoire, although items from their Infinitivement Citron line tempted me with their sunny colors. I ultimately chose this pastry for its slightly bizarre ingredients- its mascarpone and balsamic vinegar with candied fruits kept me from splurging on the $160 tomato and olive buttercream cake.

While a textural  and visual masterpiece with the perfect balance of crunch and fluffy cream to soften the sharper edges, I thought the flavor execution could have been dialed up to 11, so to speak. The acidity of the lemon in the mascarpone and vinegar was present, but overshadowed by the thick circles of white chocolate and caramelized mille-feuille pastry. I would have liked to see a sharper salinity to counteract the sweetness of the candy and fruit compote. 

And of course, I had to get a macaron. The Bonaparte boutique had plenty of flavors, but ultimately, one of their seasonal cookies won me over. The Jardin Sauvage, with dark chocolate and lime zest, had a razor-sharp balance that I’d desired in the Ivoire. Salty, sweet, and sour, it was like eating a piece of tamarind candy and fine dark chocolate.
I ate these in le Jardin du Luxembourg, just as the sun began to peek out from behind the clouds.

At Aoki, I bought two pastries that I knew would pair impeccably with the birthday tea I splurged on yesterday, some fine Lapsang Souchong. Its smoky, meaty flavors really enhanced the first pastry, Aoki’s acclaimed salted caramel tart.

This is everything that I want my caramel to be. It’s aggressively salty, sweet, smoky, and viscous, suspended somewhere between liquid, solid, and utter goo. It held up remarkably to the 45 minute schlep and crowded, hot Metro ride home, and its thick biscuit base and chocolate piping encapsulated the caramel with no leakage. That’s what I call fine construction. When I bit into it, all hell broke loose. Needless to say, there’s no way I can eat a normal Twix or Snickers bar again. This is pastry gone wild. Don’t let its compact size deceive you- one is very filling and even a little overwhelming.
And finally, I knew I needed something to jam a candle in as an obligatory Happy Birthday prop.That something was making me salivate since I read about it in Yelp reviews of Aoki- the black sesame éclair. This was my favorite of today’s bounty, and I felt as if I could eat at least three of them. It’s literally perfect- it’s well-balanced and skimps in no part of its composition. Often, with these whacky flavors, you’re sacrificing quality for shock value. Not here. The choux dough is as expertly baked as any Genin or Stohrer example, and the pastry cream is smooth and creamy, coating every tastebud as the nutty, intense flavor of black sesame and black sugar sets in. I could see myself getting at least one of these a week. These will definitely haunt my dreams long after I leave Paris, and are an easy reason (one of many!) to come back often.

It was a wonderful birthday, and there’s plenty more to come. Thanks for joining me!

Foodette in Gay Paris: What I’ve been Eating

I thought I’d give you a glimpse into my diet here- it’s a little different than what I’m used to back home, but still delicious! My goal has been to try a new cheese every time I need it at the grocery store, and with the low prices and wide selection, that’s not difficult to achieve.

In addition to eating cheese, I get a fresh baguette or loaf of bread from the bakery down the street each morning. There are two of them- the trick is picking the one that doesn’t publicly humiliate a patron who, say, asks for “un” baguette at six in the morning instead of “une” baguette and has, “Oh, ewe ‘ood like wahn baguette, laydee?!” scathingly screeched at her. Needless to say, I go to the other one, the one that gives bread and doesn’t ask questions. And I always ask for “une” baguette.
With that delicious bread, I make sandwiches, accompanied by fresh fruit and coffee. And this is usually how my day begins.

For lunch, I have been sticking to basic dishes with plenty of leftovers, like pasta and this failed attempt at crepes above, as well as my latest all-purpose sandwich combining my favorite things (hot sauce, fresh raspberries, eggs, meat, and cheese) that ends up costing around $1.40 if I’m careful.
What can I say? I’m glamorous and smart.

My cheese selection has varied, but I’m most partial to mild, soft cheeses, like this Basque Tomme Noir and gooey Petit Munster.

However, when I have a big lunch, I usually go all-out and have a lot of protein and of course, potatoes on the side. This was from a visit to a delicious farm- I met all of the animals, and then I ate them. Roasted duck with bacon and house potatoes.
And despite my love for all icy beverages, I’ve developed a taste for tea, especially Kusmi’s offerings and the famous French tea house, Mariage Freres, whose haunting bourbon vanilla tea starts or ends a day with finesse.

Berthillon? Don’t mind if I do. There’s always room for dessert. This wasn’t the authentic Berthillon- their original location was closed for renovation when I went, but there are plenty of licensed Berthillon retailers to satisfy your creamy cravings. None of that knockoff stuff! This was a sweet, fresh cone of gianduja, with chunks of orange rind and nut, and salted caramel. So there’s a week in the life- can’t wait to show you more of what I’ve been cooking!

McDonald’s Le Charolais

Happy National Cheeseburger Day! Apparently, it’s also Happy Get Groped near a McDonald’s by a Guy Resembling Rob Pilatus Day, which if I’d known about in advance, would have surrounded myself with bikini models and Sinclair Sexsmith, but you live and you learn, I suppose. And get touched by strangers, but that’s all in the past now. But everyone knows that the objectification of women goes best with a side of fries, so here’s Le Charolais, McDo’s answer to the McDouble back home.

Surprisingly enough, McDo also has the McDouble and McChicken in addition to this little gem, but this is for when you’re feeling classy and want a burger to go with your McMacarons and McEspresso, both of which exist and are embarrassingly delicious. I initially thought that “Charolais” was one of those corporate neologisms designed to be a hybrid of “charred” and something Franco-sounding and chic, but to my surprise, my two-dollar burger has origin, baby, and champion origins at that, sourced from Ireland and the south of France. The Charolais cattle are a noble, prize-winning purebred line who would likely be ashamed to discover that they’ve been made into something eaten by me.

In addition to a pedigree, the Charolais has PGI-protected French Emmental cheese, lettuce, and a Dijon-pepper sauce on a fresh miniature ciabatta. This has more “local” food keywords than most Brooklyn restaurants, and it’s got the flavor to prove it. Almost every component is flavorful, with a distinct, defined sharpness unusual to fast food. Normally, food like this is enjoyed for its monolithic, consistent properties. After all, a Big Mac is the same in every language, but this is another story entirely.
For its low price point, this is excellent. Any pricier, though, and I’d have been a little peeved. The quality didn’t match up with the ingredients. The cheese stood out the most, with a very nutty, slightly sweet note. The mustard and pepper sauce was tangy and strong and despite its modest quantity, went a long way in enhancing the burger. Unfortunately, the beef was so overshadowed by its accompanying components that they swallowed it completely. Letting it stand for itself was a noble goal, but regrettably a failure in execution. It was drastically underseasoned and dry. And the components were delicious, but didn’t quite come together with the same level of syzygy of the McDouble. I’d try this again, and use it as a tool to blow people’s minds, but for a consistent sandwich, would stick to my old favorite. Sometimes the classics win out!