The Other Side of Pays Basque: Biarritz

After a long week of work drafting business plans and letters for Martín Berasategui, all I wanted was le weekend sans ordinateur. To kick off my non-manic monday, I started with perfectly grilled txipirones at Bar Jean in Biarritz. This defines “bien marcado.” No-nonsense, get-it-right-or-don’t-do-it-at-all, garlicky goodness:


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For the past week and a half I’ve been in pastelería. Hasta la pasta, fishy hands! Truth be told, I really wanted to work with Juan, the chef de partida. He is organized, logical and methodical. Sure all the jefes have their moments of berating you on the line if you sprinkle a few too many carrot brunoise but there is rhyme and reason to his madness.

Tejas de Chocolate

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Picnic on Monte Urgull

I finally made it to Don Serapio today. Marti suggested we pick up some goodies and take a hike up Monte Urgull for a picnic. It’s a quaint gourmet store full of imported goods as well as local, artisanal treats like hand-churned butter. Of course I grabbed some to try. We loaded up on some jamón, cecina de león, queso de idiazabal y pan for the picnic. I guess I don’t have to be in Paris to faire le picnic!


The ciabatta pan was decent for Spanish bread. iQue sorpresa! Crunchy outside, hollow ‘knock’ and a hint of yeasty goodness.

Pan y queso

A lover of charcuterie, I jumped at the opportunity to try cecina de león (cured beef leg) per Marti’s recommendation. The texture was similar to jamón serano but not quite as dry. There was a subtle smokey flavor to it that lingered at the end–nice touch.

Cecina de León

Of course we splurged on a bit of jamón bellota because there’s no rival to this king of hams. So rich, so nutty, so smooth.


Of course I saved one piece for my last bite because when you are without chocolate to end on a sweet note, bellota is a suitable substitute. Such great, thin slicing on the butcher’s part as well. Bravo!

Sunny Bellota

Though a bit chilly, the hike up the “mountain” warmed us and the sun did peek through the clouds a few times. It was a beautiful view and a perfect way to spend a friday afternoon, eating and conversing with two fellow food enthusiasts.


Maison Georges Larnicol

After a delectable lunch at Le Comptoir (post to follow), mes amis wanted to make a pâtisserie visit in the Odéon area. We accidentally stumbled upon a new Maison Georges Larnicol! We soon joined the crowd of ‘curious Georges’ that stood peering through the window display at the two MOFs inside, one of which was Georges Larnicol himself! The Maison was set to open in the après-midi the following day so of course we returned the next day. Here is what we found:

Comme Gaufre?


Pour Maman



I could see how the chocolate décor may be a nice touch to a holiday party or serve as a fancy gift...mais pour manger? I’m skeptical. I spoke with Chef Larnicol and he said all of the chocolate is shipped from the home base in Bretagne. What kind of extreme bubble wrap do you think they use in order to ship all these delicate chocolate sculptures to Paris? Olala…

By the way, if you plan on buying something to eat and enjoy, stay away from the macarons! Ick. As I’ve said, I prefer ones from Dalloyau and Pierre Hermé.

However, these praliné ‘eggs’ and ‘mussels’ were pretty good:

Des Oeufs
Des Moules
Look out for Chef Georges Larnicol as he claims to have plans for future shops in 2011 in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Seattle, San Francisco, London, etc.

Chocolate Week

This week has been a very decadent week. Beaucoup de chocolat. Here’s a look at what I’ve been up to:

I wish I had added a bit more glaze for a shinier sheen. I chose a simple design that in the end reminded me of an awkward starfish. Oops!


Here is a picture of my friend Neha’s Bavarois. Magnifique, mademoiselle!

Neha’s Bavarois

The cakes we’ve been making lately (Fraisier, Bavarois, etc.) have incorporated a few new techniques such as making Bavarian cream. But for the most part, it seems like a review of basic pâtisserie. Just as we thought we could get comfortable…we had to temper chocolate.

Chocolat Café et Truffes

The first day of chocolate tempering was the hardest: milk chocolate. It was a novice’s work so I won’t even bother posting our hideous, not-so-delicious Praliné et Muscadines. Even the dark chocolates featured above are not sufficient with chef’s standard of brillant. They can always be shinier.

Well I suppose if I keep working with chocolate and practice, practice, practice, perhaps one day I can be like Chef Daniel Walter and know just from looking, whether the chocolate needs to be heated or cooled a few more degrees. We call him Monsieur Chocolat for a reason.

Done with chocolate [tempering] for the week and of course like any other day at Le Cordon Bleu, I’m craving salty [Spanish] jamón…