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3.17.2008

All we ever really want to do

It’s very hard, let me tell you, to know where to begin. I guess it would be smart to start with Brussels, since that’s where we went first, but then, you know, there’s also Paris.



Sometimes when I write about Paris, I worry that I sound like a broken record. You know - saying the same thing over and over, the same thing I always say, the same thing everyone always says about that lovely, gray city. Sometimes I just want to sit quietly, just me and my thoughts, and not say a word. But I’ve never been much good at that, as you might guess. And though my feelings for Paris change a little every time I go back - they get more nuanced, I guess you could say, and a little harder to explain - it’s always 100% love. It’s hard to keep quiet about that.

For the most part, when I’ve been in Paris, I’ve been alone. As a college student there, I lived with a host family, but I spent most of my hours on my own, wandering the narrow streets, poking into bakeries and reading books in the park. Then, the year after college, when I worked in a French public high school, I lived in a tiny studio apartment with only a garden gnome for company. (My landlord had left him on the small terrace outside my window; his name, I was told, was Vincent.) Being in Paris with Brandon, a partner in crime, someone to chat with on street corners and slump against on the subway late at night, made it feel like a different city. Of course, I’d been in Paris with my mother, and with my dad too, but with Brandon, it was somehow entirely new. It felt strange at first, and awkward, like wearing a dress that’s a size too small. But then I started to like it. And then I liked it even more.

For his part, Brandon had lived in Paris too, with a girlfriend - “My Predecessor,” as I like to call her - for several months a few years ago. Like any foreigner who tries to make a home there, he had his share of pleasures and frustrations in the city, and he was nervous, in a way, about going back. That, in turn, made me nervous in all sorts of ways. But somewhere between the baguettes and radishes and bottles of wine, the crappy French TV shows I forced him to watch, the buttery sole meunière at Bistro Paul Bert and the buckwheat beer at Breizh Café, the flea market at Porte de Vanves and the falafel in the park, the musty apartment we rented and the reddish glow of the street lamp outside, we made it new. We ate, and we talked, and we walked. That’s all we ever really want to do, anyway. That’s what vacations are for. So we did it again the next day, and the day after that.



Before we left, I had mentioned here that Brandon and I had differing allegiances when it came to baguettes. His favorite baguette came from a boulangerie called Martin Marcel on rue Saint-Louis en l’île, the main drag on the Île Saint-Louis. My favorite baguette was from Au Levain du Marais, a boulangerie on rue de Turenne, not far from my old apartment. We were vehement in our respective loyalties. We were willing to duke it out, bare our teeth, do anything, really, to defend our baguettes. So a formal taste test was conducted. And as it turned out, we were both completely defeated - slayed, even - by an outsider, a baguette named Eric Kayser.



I had been hearing about Kayser for years - namely that he was the best bread baker ever - but I never gave him a try. I guess he just seemed too famous, somehow, or too beloved. I preferred to keep my cool distance. Oh, I don’t know. I don’t know what I was thinking, trying to deny him. I have learned my lesson.

I mean, don’t get me wrong. There are many great bakers in Paris, and many great breads. We sampled specimens from l’Autre Boulange, Arnaud Delmontel (whose baguette was named the best in Paris in 2007), Jean-Luc Poujauran (now selling only wholesale, sadly), as well as our old beloved boulangeries, just to name a few. They were all delicious. Some were flawless. (Though not - sob! - the baguette from Au Levain du Marais. It was sort of boring, to tell you the truth. Quite tasty, but meh.) But the best baguette, hands down, fingers crossed, tongue tied, you name it, was to be had at Eric Kayser. The crust was thin and crisp; the crumb was chewy, freckled with shiny air bubbles, and perfectly salty; and when you tore off one pointy end - often still warm, fresh from the oven - and bit into it, it crackled in gleeful protest. (Which, I would argue, is what anything worthwhile, or anyone, for that matter, should do when bitten.) On the matter of the baguette, Brandon and I stand totally corrected.



And then, of course, there was the falafel. I am one of those people who has long maintained that L’As du Fallafel makes the very best in Paris. Or anywhere, for that matter. But Brandon insisted that his favorite falafel proprietor, Chez H’anna, just a few doors down the street from L’As, was far superior. Of course, this called for a taste-off. And while I really, really hate to lose, I have to tell you: Brandon was right.

I am pretty sure that some rabid L’As du Fallafel fans are going to come after me now, cursing and screaming and pelting me with bags of pita, but I am not afraid. I have eaten falafel at L’As more times than I care to count - I first went there in 1999 - and while it is very good, it seems to me that it just isn’t what it used to be. The flavors of the various components - the cabbage salads, the hummus, the fried eggplant, the falafel itself - all taste a little muddled, and everything gets drowned under a heavy cloak of tahini sauce. At Chez H’anna, on the other hand, each component tastes fresh and distinct: even lumped together inside a single sandwich, each item still tastes like itself. Plus, in addition to the usual cabbage, they also throw in shredded carrots, cubed cucumber, and a lovely tomato-based sauce of sorts that tastes a bit like salsa, but with a Middle Eastern bent. (Also, don’t forget to ask for hot sauce - sauce piquante - on top; it’s delicious and, despite its name, not too spicy.) We took ours to a park around the corner and ate them in the sun, and Brandon got hot sauce all over his face, which, on the right person, is really kind of charming.



Now, I know this is running on a bit, and you probably have better things to attend to, like working or sleeping or eating ice cream on the couch, but before I leave Paris behind, I should also tell you about The Great Macaron Decision. I consider it a public service.

One of the first specialty pastries I ever tasted in Paris was the macaron. My host mother told me about them, I think, and advised me to go to Ladurée, the famous and very posh tea salon, to try the best ones in town. In the years since, I have eaten a lot of macarons, but none could equal Ladurée. But now, oh, I don’t know what’s happened. Brandon and I tried four mini macarons - praline, caramel, coffee, and pistachio - and all of them were totally, totally lackluster. They were too sweet, for one thing, and the flavors tasted somehow muted, the way voices sound when you’re listening through a wall. We only finished them because the mangled, uneaten bits on the plate looked too sad to leave there. I guess I should have expected as much - I had been warned - but still, I was surprised. Even when I tasted them with my mother last spring, they seemed more interesting somehow. So sad.

But! On the bright side, I can quite confidently tell you that in my personal address book, Pierre Hermé is now the name that sits beside the heading “Best Macaron.” It’s decided. His - pictured above in olive oil, caramel, passion fruit with milk chocolate, and Ispahan - are what every macaron should be. The meringue cookies were crisp, light, and slightly chewy inside; the fillings were smooth, airy, and rich with flavor; and put together in a single mouthful, they tasted impossibly vibrant, a flavor and texture that made me think of fireworks and symphonies and first love and all sorts of other analogies that make me feel like gagging a little. Suffice it to say that they were very, very good.

I could go on and on, but I guess I should leave it there. That’s enough about Paris, I think. But before I bring this to a close, I have to tell you about one more thing.



When Brandon lived in Paris, his favorite breakfast was a particular brand of granola - the cheap Franprix / Leader Price brand - flecked with bits of chocolate. On our first morning in town, he went out immediately in search of some. I was skeptical. Chocolate at breakfast has always seemed wrong to me somehow. It seemed too decadent and lusty, entirely out of place, like watching a sex scene on television when your parents are in the room. But I have now spent eight mornings eating chocolate granola for breakfast, and I have concluded - with all due gratitude to Brandon, my personal granola pusher - that chocolate is, once and for all, perfectly acceptable at any time of day. I had been a doubter for so many years, but now, good lord, I get it. And I think this revelation might, quite possibly, be the cosmic purpose of our marriage.

Chocolate granola took some getting used to, I will admit - that stuff is sweet - but doused in 2% milk, it went down more than easy. Brandon noticed that his usual brand seems to have revised its formula - it isn’t as good as it used to be, he tells me - but still, it was damn fine. (The Monoprix brand, however, was a little better. (Yes, we tried both.)) We ate it every single morning, and when it was gone, we stared mournfully at the box.

And a few days ago, once the jet lag had subsided, I decided to try to recreate it. Now, I know it was only a few weeks ago that I was telling you about my usual granola, so you probably aren’t exactly itching for another one, but I hope you’ll pardon me. It’s entirely worth it, I promise. This recipe is a keeper. And I figure everybody needs a couple of granola recipes up their sleeve, am I right? I mean, hell, breakfast happens every day. You might as well be prepared for it.

Happy week, friends.


French Chocolate Granola

I guess it’s a little unfair to call this granola “French,” since you can buy something similar in Belgium too - and probably, for that matter, pretty much anywhere. Besides, the concept of granola seems pretty all-American, no matter how you tweak it. But because I first had chocolate granola in France, French it’ll be. So there.

This granola is essentially a very good basic recipe - inspired by the Honey Crunch Granola in David Lebovitz’s ice cream book - that’s been tweaked to boost the sweetness ever so slightly, and to include chocolate. It’s quite different from the commercial granola we ate in Paris - much less sugary, for one, and without any ingredients with scary names - but its flavor pushes all the right buttons. It’s toasty, a little sophisticated, and way better, if I may say so, than the specimen that inspired it. We can’t keep our hands out of the jar.

For the chocolate, you’ll want something that’s bittersweet, but not too bittersweet. I think Trader Joe’s bittersweet Pound Plus bar - the big one with the brown wrapper - has the perfect flavor for this recipe: dark, yet still slightly sweet. (The back of the package says that it has a minimum of 54% cocoa solids.) Whatever you use, feel free to chop it to your desired size. I like mine finely chopped, as indicated below, in bits roughly the size of a pencil eraser. But you could go larger or smaller, if you like.

Oh, and consider doubling this recipe. Really. We’re plowing through it over here.

3 cups rolled oats
½ cup raw almonds, chopped
½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
6 Tbsp. mild honey
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
½ cup, or more, finely chopped bittersweet chocolate (see above)

Preheat the oven to 300°F.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, almonds, coconut, sugar, and salt. Stir well to blend.

In a small saucepan, warm the honey and oil over low heat, whisking occasionally – watch out! the oil will want to splash - until the honey is loose. Pour over the dry ingredients, and stir to combine well.

Spread the mixture evenly on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden. Set a timer to go off halfway through the baking time, so that you can give the granola a good stir; this helps it to cook evenly. When it’s ready, remove the pan from the oven, stir well – this will keep it from cooling into a hard, solid sheet – and cool completely.

When cool, transfer the granola to a large bowl, storage jar, or zipper-lock plastic bag. Add the chocolate, and stir (or shake, if using a jar or bag) to mix.

Store in an airtight container. Serve with plain milk; soy milk and plain yogurt overwhelm the chocolate flavor.

Yield: about 5 cups


***

Addresses

Chez H’anna
54, rue des Rosiers; 4th arrondissement
Métro: St.-Paul
Closed Monday

Eric Kayser
8, rue Monge; 5th arrondissement (main shop; there are others elsewhere)
Métro: Maubert-Mutualité
Closed Tuesday

Pierre Hermé
72, rue Bonaparte; 6th arrondissement
Métro: St.-Germain-des-Prés
Open 7 days a week, I believe

Not mentioned here, but also recommended

Fromagerie Quatrehomme
Exceptional cheese shop; prepare to be overwhelmed
62, rue de Sèvres; 7th arrondissement
Métro: Vaneau
Closed Sunday and Monday

La Cave à Bulles
A small shop specializing in artisanal French beers; very helpful service
45, rue Quincampoix; 4th arrondissement
Métro: Rambuteau
Closed Sunday and Monday

La Campanella
Shop carrying mostly Italian goods, but don't miss the Brittany honey (miel de la côte des Légendes); also, the shop's owner is a gem
36 bis rue de Dunkerque; 10th arrondissement
Métro: Gare du Nord

And for more, see this older post. And Clotilde’s forthcoming book, of which I’ve had a sneak peek. It’s terrific.

111 Comments:

Blogger yola said...

Mmmm...thanks for sharing! I'm going to Paris in October, so I'll be coming back to your blog archives to take some more notes. Yum!

10:24 PM, March 17, 2008  
Blogger Samarahuel said...

Thanks for sharing the addresses, and the granola will be perfect for snacking on a little road trip to Bavaria. It's about time to restock, too! We've been eating regular cereal here for a week or two; there is less than a handful of the last batch in a little baggie in the cupboard. And with coconut and chocolate it's a nice alternative to your coconut macaroons that have been tempting me lately. Oh, I can't wait.

11:21 PM, March 17, 2008  
Blogger Gina Louise said...

That Franprix granola, it's my favorite! And I've tried more expensive brands too (Carrefour coats their flakes in chocolate, too much). But I eat it with yogurt, to try and make up for not having Trader Joe's ginger granola around. Oh Joe, I miss you. Is it bad that I miss an American grocery store when I live in France????

11:56 PM, March 17, 2008  
Blogger deborah said...

oh molly, i feel so lucky to be sitting here (coincidently drinking a cup of tea from leaves brought back from paris) and nodding my head knowing exactly what you mean about that grey city. i've been thinking a lot about when i can go back.

we were nearly re-directed Chez H’anna, but only had eyes for L’As - i think upon my return i will give H’anna a go, in the interest of research of course.

meanwhile, this granola needs to be made (as do the cinnamon rolls!)

12:06 AM, March 18, 2008  
Anonymous Jun said...

I am happy that you praised Eric Kayser....we can find his shop here in Tokyo, and loved their Pain aux noix et raisin and Croissant. (I think he've got No. 1 croissant in Figaro)But I've actually never tried their baguette! I have to. Thank you for sharing.

12:06 AM, March 18, 2008  
Blogger Lisa said...

Molly! you are making it harder and harder for me to just pick a granola recipe to make for my first attempt! I now have about 6 to choose between, each with its own little specialty. Maybe I should make them all one day and have the Great 2008 Granola Taste Off.

1:03 AM, March 18, 2008  
Blogger davidL said...

All that, and you were eating chocolate granola, too?

No wonder Brandon had a tummy ache.
: )

1:38 AM, March 18, 2008  
Anonymous Joye said...

Hi Molly, and welcome back!

You've inspired me to start converting my (mostly handwritten) favorite recipe file into blog form. It's a lot more convenient to find recipes this way, and it's sort of fun reliving the recipes I like as I type them up. So thank you again!

3:21 AM, March 18, 2008  
Blogger Mevrouw Cupcake said...

Your post made me wistful for that beautiful city, with it's beautiful food. What a lovely adventure.

3:34 AM, March 18, 2008  
Blogger Aran said...

I love, love, love your writing... You made me feel like I was back in Paris and those Pierre Herme macarons... oh my. The bread is definitely what I miss the most. Keep on delighting us!

4:24 AM, March 18, 2008  
Blogger Lisa said...

This is just lovely, Molly, in all sorts of ways. I know what you mean about knowing a city as a single gal. New York really feels like that to me, I've come to realize, despite having shared it sometimes with some important people.

My mom and I have always been able to watch all kinds of movies together. I wonder how this bodes for me and breakfast chocolate?

4:41 AM, March 18, 2008  
Anonymous Luisa said...

I have such complicated feelings about Paris, such love and such sadness, too. I've only ever felt alone there, even when I wasn't. But Ben has never been and I've been so torn about whether we should plan a trip there together or whether I should just let that place be unexplored by us, the couple. I think you've changed my mind ;)

Oh, and can I just say that eating ice cream on the couch or sleeping can wait - all I wanted to do was keep reading this post! I can't wait to hear more about your trip. xo

5:11 AM, March 18, 2008  
Anonymous Kim said...

What a great post, full of wonderful information! Glad you had a wonderful trip. I adore Brussels so was a tad disappointed you didn't give it at least a few mentions, hint hint. But, the macaroons and granola more than made up for the slight.

5:16 AM, March 18, 2008  
Blogger Dana said...

Almonds, coconut, honey and chocolate: four of my favorite ingredients in the world! Together, how could they be anything but addictive? I'm not big on chocolate for breakfast, but given your high praise I'll have to give it a try.

6:18 AM, March 18, 2008  
Anonymous Meryl said...

Hi Molly,

just wanted to tell you how much I loved your article in Bon Appetit's April issue. I read it last night, and I'm so excited because I'm making deviled eggs for Easter. I've been wanting to try making my own mayo and now I have the perfect excuse :-)
Thanks!

6:41 AM, March 18, 2008  
Blogger Shayla said...

Wonderful post! Don't worry about going "on and on" about Paris, as you said. I'm all ears. Drool...

8:03 AM, March 18, 2008  
Blogger Jenna Lee said...

That granola sounds absolutely HEAVENLY. Thank you, once again, for supplying us with variations on total pantry staples. (Thank goodness I just finished my last box of Kashi Go Lean as well..)

8:04 AM, March 18, 2008  
Blogger Meagan said...

Molly,
Thank you for quenching some of my thirst for Paris. I also lived in France and worked for a French high school, and I pretty much always have an unconcious aching for that place. Thank you for sharing!

8:31 AM, March 18, 2008  
Anonymous abby said...

Whoo hoo!
I am totally making this granola-tonight:)
Yum0thanks for sharing all your lovely adventures!

8:55 AM, March 18, 2008  
Blogger kickpleat said...

we didn't go to paris on our european adventure, but now i have lots to look forward to when we decide to go! i think that granola can keep us company while we dream about the perfect baguette.

9:27 AM, March 18, 2008  
Anonymous Liz said...

You've made me miss Paris all over again! It's one of the few cities in the world where I actually preferred a gray sky to a sunny one. And I love the idea of granola layered with chocolate that manages to not be sugary. That, my dear, is a very tough line to walk:).

Can't wait to try it.

10:28 AM, March 18, 2008  
Blogger unapparentlyso said...

I wish you would write a book. Your writing is so refreshing and captivating. Cheers!

10:51 AM, March 18, 2008  
Blogger adele said...

I think quality control at L'As du Falafel tends to vary. They're at their best when it's busy but not chaotic.

And Lenny Kravitz gave it his seal of approval. What more could you want? :P

10:56 AM, March 18, 2008  
Blogger Leah said...

Oh, Molly, I understand!

I was an avid L’As du Fallafel fan before I went to Paris with my boy. Then one night we got all dressed up to go to a nice dinner at another restaurant in the Marais, only to find it was packed with a line out the door. We decided to eat fallafel on the street instead and tried Chez. It was so romantic - and just so us! Now, we're of the Chez H’anna camp. I think it was their lemonade that tipped the scale - fresher than L'As and with mint leaves to boot! I mean, how can that be bad?

ps. if you have the time, check out my blog, Bread & Butter Press, at breadbutterpress.blogspot.com

10:59 AM, March 18, 2008  
Blogger amisha said...

hear hear to chocolate at breakfast :) i love hearing about your travels to paris... it sounds like such a wonderful experience. so glad you are feeling better too! xo

12:32 PM, March 18, 2008  
Anonymous Jenny Rebecca said...

We ate at an Eric Kayser almost every morning for breakfast last time we were in Paris. It was right around the corner from our hotel. So delectable.

12:45 PM, March 18, 2008  
Blogger Christine said...

Molly, this is a great post and I can't wait to try the granola. I was pretty well sold on your last granola... but hey, this girl won't turn down an opportunity for granola WITH CHOCOLATE!

One question, though... what should I do if I don't like coconut? Any suggestions on substitutions?

12:54 PM, March 18, 2008  
Blogger Meredith said...

You brought back many nice Parisian memories, merci and welcome back!

1:25 PM, March 18, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks so much for this post. i'm sitting here in this horribly corporate office, daydreaming about paris... you paint a lovely picture of very enchanting city.

can't wait to go back for another long overdue visit.

2:16 PM, March 18, 2008  
Blogger Michelle said...

Hi Molly,
Such a wonderful post ... nothing better than bread and Falafel and Paris. Also, loved hearing about about your gnome, Vincent. So funny! Maybe his picture will turn up in your mailbox someday.

2:32 PM, March 18, 2008  
Anonymous Shira said...

Molly, thanks for the felafel tip. I checked it out tonight, and I have to agree with you and Brandon; despite being un habituee there, L'as is just not as good. Re the macarons, I'm glad you discovered the olive oil one at Pierre Herme. Extraordinary, isn't it? I wrote about my boyfriend's reaction to it here: http://lespetitpois.blogspot.com/2007/09/le-macarons-du-pierre-herme.htmlhttp://lespetitpois.blogspot.com/2007/09/le-macarons-du-pierre-herme.html
Look forward to hearing more about your trip.
Shira

3:15 PM, March 18, 2008  
Blogger Lynn said...

Thanks for sharing, it makes me want to buy a plane ticket to get over to Paris. The granola sounds yummy, I am thankful my sister is not reading over my shoulder because then I would have to make it for her asap!

4:12 PM, March 18, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just visited your blog for the first time today and this Paris post almost made me cry. Wow. That is some delicious looking food you've got there. We just canceled a tentative trip to Paris and I'm just kicking myself miserably, head in my hands, weeping for the baguettes and falafel that will have to wait. On a happier note, I love your blog and your food sense, can't wait to visit it again!

4:27 PM, March 18, 2008  
Blogger shari said...

buckwheat beer? this granola recipe has just moved to the top of my to do list. xoxo

4:33 PM, March 18, 2008  
OpenID londonfoodieny said...

oh happy days! chocolate for breakfast! i loved this post...made me rather nostalgic for old paris.

5:18 PM, March 18, 2008  
Anonymous Mandy said...

Best. post. ever!

I can't stop salivating after your evocative remembrances of Paris. I have not had a good baguette in over a year.

Next time you're in DC, Marvelous Market has a decent one. Thanks for the chocolate granola recipe.

7:14 PM, March 18, 2008  
Blogger Jennifer Murch said...

I made the granola yesterday and we love it---it's our new favorite sweet cereal.

Question: Where can I find fleur de sal? And where can I find Southern self-rising flour? What about candied orange rind?

Thank you!
Jennifer

3:17 AM, March 19, 2008  
Blogger Clear Pink said...

I miss Paris. I have been 4 years since I was last there. Trust me, you can never go on and on about Paris.

5:57 AM, March 19, 2008  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Sad that you had so many disappointments before finding the granola! However, the good stuff sounds like it outweighed the sad re-evaluations. I tried your mayonaise in Bon Appetit and it was great with steamed artichokes and this morning on my wheat toast under my poached egg. Thanks for giving me the courage to try! It really was easy!

9:49 AM, March 19, 2008  
Blogger UmberDove said...

Ah, beautiful! Your writing makes me pine for baguettes and European sidewalks!

On another note, I hope your class went fabulously last night - and it was lovely to meet you and Brandon at the Ballard market on Sunday!

- Kelly

11:24 AM, March 19, 2008  
Blogger Brooke said...

welcome back! It's so great to have your beautiful writing to come back to and learn from.

And I'm very excited about the chocolate granola recipe. I tried your modified granola from your previous granola post...and can't wait to try the decadent version!

--Brooke at Foodwoolf.blogspot.com

11:59 AM, March 19, 2008  
Blogger Sheila said...

I have never been to Paris, but I would like to climb into your blog and live that whole experience...thank you for sharing so eloquently!!

1:16 PM, March 19, 2008  
Blogger Jenise said...

Yummmm - falafel, baguette's, walking the streets of Paris and drinking wine...I can't wait to return! Thanks for the lovely trip log.

1:28 PM, March 19, 2008  
Anonymous barred owl said...

hi there, long time reader first time commenter
:)

your love story is SOOOO cute!

i just wanted to give you some mad props and let you know that i started a new blog called http://barredowl.wordpress.com
where i will be posting about food and birds and restaurants and other fun stuff!

peace,
owl

3:03 PM, March 19, 2008  
Anonymous barred owl said...

p.s. i'm totally making that granola this weekend!

3:04 PM, March 19, 2008  
Blogger Lucy said...

Your Paris, Molly, is a thing of great beauty. It's a sensual city made even more so by your transparent love for it!

3:08 PM, March 19, 2008  
Blogger tannaz said...

this post is a dream. really. the writing is seriously gorgeous and evocative -- and i must add, geekily, that your use of the under-utilized colon is masterful!

and, your granola sure looks fetching in that lovely jar!

3:44 PM, March 19, 2008  
Blogger Julie said...

Eric Kayser is wonderful! I love his "Sweet and Savory Tarts" cookbook. It's innovative, and there are tons of gorgeous photos. I would love to try his bread.

8:24 AM, March 20, 2008  
Anonymous elisabeth said...

I've loved reading your blog since I found it a few months ago. And I think we may have been in Paris enjoying the baguettes at Au Levain du Marais at around the same time (2000?). I lived on the rue du Foin for a month before moving to the 5th and still dream about the pain au chocolat at that bakery. And I remember there always being a long line out the door for baguettes in the evening. Always the best sign!
I was in Paris in November and insisted we go there to buy a birthday cake for my brother. It was delicious of course but I don't think it quite lived up to the memory.

8:47 AM, March 20, 2008  
Blogger Lydia said...

Sigh. I have blogged about my macaron obsession many a time, and Pierre Herme was my first and best macaron. I heartily enjoyed the macarons I tried in Seattle last week though (Le Panier and Belle Epicurean), so you are pretty lucky still!

Is the L'As falafel place the one that Lenny Kravitz likes? We ate at the one across the alley instead and loved it.

10:53 AM, March 20, 2008  
Blogger lesliepariseau said...

Molly, your post is just so eerie. I moved back from Paris last spring, and frequented all of these places. Miss all of it terribly too. Monoprix muesli definitely better! Eric Kayser is infallible, but I insist you must try le Coquelicot next time. It's just out of this world baguette. Oh the nostalgia for those slate rooftops...

12:18 PM, March 20, 2008  
Anonymous Julie said...

I make my own granola, and most often eat it straight from the bag - it's perfect to bring in the car, to work, to the gym... a chocolate version is brilliant!

4:46 PM, March 20, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Molly,
Do you have a site that I can look for an apt. to rent when I go to Paris for vacation? I love renting apts better than staying in a hotel.
I just got back from Rome and the apt. we rented was soo much better than our friends' hotels (www.bbplanet.it)

6:49 PM, March 20, 2008  
Blogger Molly said...

Thank you for all your comments and kind words, guys - as always! You are the best. In fact, I'm having a hard time keeping up, to tell you the truth. I wish I could reply to each and every comment, but for now, I'm just going to try to tackle the questions:

Christine, you know, if I were you, I think I would just leave the coconut out. I don't think you need to replace it with anything. It only adds a very subtle flavor, anyway...

Jennifer Murch, you can find fleur de sel at most any high-end grocery store (Whole Foods and the like) or Williams-Sonoma, or even online. You can find Southern self-rising flour (such as White Lily) at most any grocery store in the South. Here is a map of the states where it is readily available. And if you're not in the South, you can mail-order it right here. Also keep an eye out for Martha White flour; it's similar. As for candied orange rind, it's a little tougher to find. Here in Seattle, I can find it at DeLaurenti's, a gourmet food shop at Pike Place Market. You can probably also find it online; try doing a Google search. Or make your own! Here is a recipe, for instance.

Anonymous, I have rented apartments in Paris through two different companies. The first is a French company called Lodgis. I have rented through them three times, and I have LOVED the apartments every time. The only downsides are: 1) all the paperwork I've received has been in French, although they must have someone there who speaks English!, 2) they require a quite substantial security deposit, often in cash, and 3) you have to make a meeting time to be let into the apartment upon your arrival, which can be tricky if your plane or train is late, etc. But otherwise, I have had nothing but good experiences - and great apartments! - with them. Their website is right here. The other company I've used is an American company called Vacation in Paris. I found it much easier to work with them: they are based in New Jersey and bill in dollars (whereas Lodgis's prices are in euros); they will take both the payment and the security deposit on a credit card; and they send you the keys ahead of time, so you can just let yourself into the apartment when you arrive. That said, however, we didn't love our apartment. It was a bit older and dingier than the photos online made it look, and it smelled very musty. I was disappointed, to tell you the truth. But the price was right, and the place was clean and safe and otherwise very nice, so I don't know. Maybe we just chose the wrong apartment?

10:46 PM, March 20, 2008  
Anonymous tiel said...

oh thank you so much for your blog...and your post. I am about to go for the first time to both Brussels and Paris...one week to go. I'm tagging along with my husband who is going for business, so the trip will be short. I will be on my own for a few days in paris, and am both excited and nervous. I have no desire to do the touristy thing, I just want to experience the street life/culture and food...wander through the streets look at the shops.

I have marked all these places and some are very close to where I am staying.

thank you.

4:37 AM, March 21, 2008  
Blogger Pink said...

i am late to this (doh!), but reading this made me so, so happy. i'm happy to read the same things about paris over and over, frankly (though i did not think you sound like a broken record, just so you know!). thank you so much, molly.

9:13 AM, March 21, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a new reader to your blog and I looked over some of your recipes. I was disappointed to find that universally you do not allow any remarks that may disagree with a recipe and/or remark truthfully about inaccuracies. I rely on other readers remarks to find helpful hints and to keep chef's like myself honest. I would be more likely to read your blog again if you were willing to represent two sides of a recipe. I think the comments seem intentionally self-serving and present potentially only one side of some recipes which seem clearly to be missing a fundamental part of method. It serves to make this blog both less appealing and hardly believeable as anything more than a marketing vehicle.

11:42 AM, March 21, 2008  
Blogger Wheeler's Frozen Dessert said...

sounds like an amazing trip, and thanks for the recipes and suggestions! I'm a baguette fan myself (who can avoid them when in Paris?) and I'll have to try Kayser's when I'm in the city next. You sound like a trusted source on this subject!

11:55 AM, March 21, 2008  
Blogger Molly said...

Anonymous, I'm not entirely sure what you're referring to, but I want to assure you that I am always eager to hear feedback about recipes, both positive and - if need be - negative. It is very important to me, as it is to you, that this be a place for honest discussion, especially as it pertains to recipes. You seem to be under the impression that I censor any comments that disagree with my point of view or my methods in the kitchen, but that is just not the case. I welcome feedback that helps me to fine-tune the recipes here, and especially that helps to make it more likely that we can all succeed in making them. I have only censored a handful of comments in the lifetime of this blog, and only because they were mean, pure and simple, and personally hurtful. They had nothing to do with recipes.

12:04 PM, March 21, 2008  
Anonymous swirlingnotions said...

Oh my goodness, I'm so jealous you're in Paris. I remember that same exact feeling when I went to Paris for the first time with my husband, after having lived there on my own for a year and traveled there alone other times. It is marvelous, though, isn't it, to be able to share that particular city with the one you love. Enjoy the rest!

2:14 PM, March 21, 2008  
Anonymous Hillary said...

Sigh. Molly. Everything you write is amazing. I'm glad you enjoyed Paris so much again this time around!

3:05 PM, March 21, 2008  
Blogger Katy said...

i was just in paris with my fiance, and it really is a different city when you're with someone you love! (although i snuck away for a few afternoons of wandering the streets on my own, just for old times sake!) i loved, loved, loved the pierre herme macaroons -- the white truffle macaroons were the most amazing combination of flavors, i almost couldn't believe it!

5:36 PM, March 21, 2008  
Blogger Robin said...

I just made this granola tonight - it smells so good!
I can't wait to eat it for breakfast tomorrow!

7:13 PM, March 21, 2008  
Blogger Krysta said...

Molly, I just made your granola today. It is unbelievably good. My four little sous chefs and I have been munching on it all day. Thank You for such a great recipe.

7:29 PM, March 21, 2008  
Blogger Genevieve said...

I made the granola (we call it toasted muesli here in Australia) yesterday with my husband and it was so yummy! We left out the chocolate and added some dried cranberries instead. SO good! Thank you!

7:45 PM, March 21, 2008  
Anonymous meg said...

Oh Molly-- this was so lovely to read! I have to say that I agree about Laduree-- I went every weekend for breakfast for a year and never missed the macarons after trying them a few times there. Their breakfasts, however, are stunning. Do you know what I miss most from France? Vanilla applesauce. I must've eaten that stuff for dessert for three months straight-- even now my french family still sends me a jar every now and again even though my French mum tsk-tsks over the fact that vanilla compote is so easy to make and better made from scratch than from the jar. I still maintain she's wrong (or I'm lazy, big grin). Have a lovely weekend. Megx

10:19 PM, March 21, 2008  
Blogger Hui Wen said...

Um...this is totally unrelated to your wonderful post but it seems that the basil lemonade recipe you posted last July is missing from the recipe index. I just thought you might like to know. :-)

11:22 PM, March 21, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must say I am not that crazy about Pierre Hermé (maybe I am a fool). Try Arnaud Lahrer, rue Caulaincourt (18e)
http://paris.18.evous.fr/Patisserie-Arnaud-Lahrer,293.html

6:04 AM, March 22, 2008  
Blogger Bellini Valli said...

It makes me want to jump on a plane top Paris just to try a baguette. Here at home I will drive for miles for a good loaf of bread:D

11:43 AM, March 22, 2008  
Blogger Ngoc said...

Hi Molly,

I made this with the intention of sending it on the road with my boyfriend, but I'm secretly glad he left it here. ;)

This granola is so great. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

3:36 PM, March 22, 2008  
Blogger Caitlin said...

I'm going to have to try that granola. Chocolate+granola = perfect studying snack.

4:29 PM, March 22, 2008  
Blogger RachelleLouise said...

Hi Miss Molly! This is Rachelle from Bellingham, I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed both of your classes! Come next winter, or sooner, I know am going to making some of those amazing vegetable dishes! But your egg class really inspired me. Ever since I have gotten out of culinary school, almost three years now, I have been wanting to make souffles and as of recently, pavlovas. The list of recipes and dishes I am always toying with is just so enormous that it seems I never get to most of it. So! It has just been great because of your class I came home and am making pavlovas with rhubarb for Easter tomorrow and am also going to be serving the Roasted Garlic Souffle from March's Gourmet! So thank you! I hope you guys do more classes soon! Oh yes, one more thing, have you made the Coconut Cake from Epicurious? I believe it's called Amazing Coconut Cake, a recipe originating from a now-closed cafe in New Jersey... anyway, it is amazing and ends my search for the perfect coconut cake! Just thought I'd pass along that little crumb! Okay, take care!

11:56 PM, March 22, 2008  
Blogger toro said...

Very mmm!
I was in Japan, which own an art beside a bakery, ice cream and cake, such as those who write a blog.
Arbitrary, but in the future I hope it will help link.
If it's okay, my blog also links please.
(とてもおいしそう!
私は、日本でパン屋を営んでいる傍ら、アイスクリームやケーキなどのブログを書いている者です。
勝手ですけど、今後も参考にさせていただきたいのでリンクしました。
もしよかったら、私のブログもリンクしてください。
お願いします。
それでは。)

1:22 AM, March 24, 2008  
Anonymous ovenhaven said...

Oh gosh, this I have to try. Chocolate at breakfast seems too good to miss out on! Thank you for sharing the recipe :)

1:56 AM, March 24, 2008  
OpenID ekcurrier said...

yum, I've never had chocolate in granola before, but this recipe looks wonderful. Thanks for sharing about your trip!

7:54 AM, March 24, 2008  
Anonymous Emily said...

I love that you went to the Porte de Vanves flea market as opposed to the much touted one on the west side of the city (Clignancourt, je crois?). It was right near my house when I stayed in Paris, and I found all of the Christmas presents for my family there that year.

Thank you for reminiscing about Paris. It's nice to know I'm not the only one.

Oh, and I made your other granola (the Nigella one) this weekend, and the smell was incredible while it baked. My boyfriend has already eaten half of it!

10:53 AM, March 25, 2008  
Anonymous Missy said...

Silly me -- I made your granola recipe and absentmindedly forgot the part about letting the granola cool before adding the chocolate! But I must say, my version with the chocolate infused throughout the granola was pretty yummy!

8:13 PM, March 28, 2008  
Blogger fingerprints said...

Hello! Just a little note to introduce myself & say how much I love reading your blog. My name is Harriet & I've been living in Paris as a student and working at Shakespeare & Co since August. Although I can but drool at most of the recipes that you post, it must be said that I have become quite proficient with my set of hotplates in my 'petite chambre de bonne sous les toits.' I feel very much the same way about Paris as you: the lovely gray, the full solitude, the wholehearted love of everything about the magic of the flaneur lifestyle.

I too am an advocate of Chez H'anna, despite those avid L'As fans, & Kayser is one of my new top boulangeries; I'm not sure if it beats Secco, though - the one with the little pink awning on rue Jean Nicot (dans le septieme) is still my favorite.

Thank you for your lovely list of suggestions: I will start with the macarons from Pierre Hermé!

5:07 PM, March 31, 2008  
Anonymous nicole said...

j'adore vos photos !

10:47 AM, April 01, 2008  
Blogger Shannon said...

I made a batch of this granola yesterday afternoon, and now I'm eating it for breakfast - and it's delightful. Thank you for the recipe!

10:46 AM, April 02, 2008  
Blogger Michelle said...

Mmm, the chocolate granola sounds SO yummy. Someone directed me to you (and it's nice to know someone else is as wordy as I) after I blogged about making granola with my daughter this morning.

Of course, I can't actually MAKE your granola for another month (I'm in a wedding and wearing a satin dress), but it sounds great. A good complement to the cherry one I usually make.

My only bummer is your warning against using yogurt -- I love yogurt over my granola. At least I have the Trader Joe's chocolate you suggested already in my pantry!

7:21 PM, April 04, 2008  
Blogger Molly said...

Oh Michelle, don't listen to me about the yogurt. Shortly after I wrote this post, my friend Olaiya stopped by, and she was hungry, so she ate a bowl of this granola with some plain lowfat yogurt we had in the fridge. She loved it. She said the tartness of the yogurt went beautifully, actually, with the slight sweetness of the granola. So pay no attention to me!

2:06 PM, April 05, 2008  
Blogger Judith said...

Molly, I tried the chocolate granola and it was GREAT! Okay, I completely bastardised your recipe and ended up leaving out the chocolate all together because I used really great New Zealand honey and it was sweet enough for me, but still. Love it. Here's where I blogged about it:

http://shortcut-to-mushrooms.blogspot.com/2008/04/healthy-eating-its-good-for-you.html

7:16 PM, April 05, 2008  
Blogger Eric Johnson said...

Molly, I've been reading you for at least a year, I've cooked several of your recipes, and told friends about your blog. But entries like these make me increasingly reluctant to return. Take a second look at the introductory paragraph:

"It's very hard, let me tell you, to know where to begin. I guess it would be smart to start with Brussels, since that’s where we went first, but then, you know, there's also Paris."

There's a large market for lifestyle porn these days, what with all the media outlets devoted to travel and eating. But the focus is on the destination and/or the food -- the personality of the host or guide is secondary. The focus of this blog, increasingly, is on you, not the food. The subtext has gone from "I have wonderful things I want to share with you" into "Look at my admirable life as a successful writer, and look how well I write." The former will keep readers around indefinitely; the latter will eventually turn people off.

I'm sure this shift is inadvertent, and maybe I'm totally off-base, and you're giving readers precisely what they want. But if you stay away from "but then, you know, there's also Paris," you'll be fine in the long run.

5:19 AM, April 09, 2008  
Blogger Molly said...

Eric, I'm very sorry to hear that you feel that way! I have always, since the beginning of this blog, written about the place where food intersects with my life; it's never been only about the food. As for Paris and Brussels, I am incredibly grateful - and always will be! - to have been there. The fact that I should want to come home and share my experiences, food-wise and beyond, is second nature. I certainly don't intend it to sound boastful.

10:03 AM, April 09, 2008  
Blogger Marie said...

Your French Chocolate granola was fantastic! I will be adding this to my recipe file. Love your blog!

5:36 PM, April 10, 2008  
Anonymous Laura said...

This evening I'm working on my fourth or fifth batch of this granola, which we've been devouring like starving hyenas at my house! Thanks so much for the great idea--of course granola is delicious with chocolate. Why didn't I ever think of that!?

Also, Meg, what is this vanilla applesauce of which you speak? Please, please elaborate. I think I need some of it immediately. :)

10:55 PM, April 12, 2008  
Anonymous sailaja said...

Your lucky. Destination - Paris it is! Coming back to take notes (planning our vacation). Thank you, Molly!

5:57 AM, April 22, 2008  
Blogger Mandy said...

Molly, just want to thank you for this recipe! I go from someone who skip breakfast to one who look forward to it everyday, all because of this granola! I am half way through my stash, and regret that I didn't herd your advice to make a double batches!

3:53 PM, May 08, 2008  
Blogger Pinky said...

Molly, it seems that every ex-language assistant who's ever worked in France both reads your blog, and got hooked on French cereal! Add me to the list.
I made the granola last night and it is... quality merchandise, tout simplement. Possibly (you're right) even BETTER than the original!!
It's all I can do not to cart the jar around with me day and night for 24-7 cereal snacks.
Well done!

1:00 AM, May 09, 2008  
Anonymous Samantha said...

Hi Molly,

Thank you for the double batch suggestion, I made a double batch on Friday night and by Sunday afternoon it was all gone. I used agave nectar, left out the granulated sugar, and used the Trader Joe's 72% chocolate (what I had handy). So simple and so good! This is going to be a household staple now.

I was also pleased to get the pre-order notice from Amazon for your book, and placed my order that day. Good luck with finalizing it!

Samantha

9:13 AM, May 12, 2008  
Anonymous Rachel said...

So I just arrived in Paris this evening, and I suddenly remembered this post and went searching for it. I want to take your advice about Chez H'anna, but I might have to have a taste test of my own! I also want to compare the macarons at Laduree to Pierre Herme, mais je ne suis pas sur si j'aurai le chance! There is also a Franprix on the street of our apartment, so I will be stopping by there as well. I wish I had more than 3 days! Thanks for the tips!

I love your blog, by the way!

1:43 PM, June 29, 2008  
Blogger Suz said...

I've been reading your blog for I quite a while, I love it. I was just inspired by your chocolate granola recipe to bake a batch tonight. It is great! I changed it up a bit because when I first read chocolate granola I envisioned granola subsumed by chocolate not chocolate in close proximity to chocolate. I swapped out 2 T of the Honey for Golden Syrup.5 minutes before the granola was done cooking I sifted 2 heaping T cocoa over the granola and stirred it in. When the granola was done I stirred in a combination of bittersweet and white chopped chocolate (what I had on hand) and added 1/2 c raisins while warm. The raisins plumped and added a dark, soft chewiness. Next time I'll try dried cherries. Thanks for the great recipe, and great blog. Suz

7:48 PM, September 20, 2008  
Blogger Rosasharne said...

so good. this is so good. i just finished making my third or fourth batch this month...it does disappear. I leave my boyfriend with a nearly full jar and somehow in a day or two...dregs.

www.breadbabies.blogspot.com

9:08 AM, October 02, 2008  
Blogger Michele said...

Thanks for another amazing recipe. I am actually using this for holiday gifts, accompanied by your recipe for Touch of Grace biscuits (always delicious.) As always I appreciate a wonderful recipe that is easy to cook, addictive to eat and a fun read until the dish is ready. Michele of foodiemommy.blogspot.com

4:44 PM, December 15, 2008  
Blogger JinYoung said...

I agree. Chez Hanna is pretty darn good, and the guy that sells take-away sandwiches is quite nice and he loves it when Americans try to speak French. LOL.

Have you tried the boulettes de viande sandwich? It's very good... :)

And thanks for the recipe. I will definitely have to try it once I am back in the US. I am in love with the chocolate muesli cereal from carrefour, I eat it every other day for breakfast. My host mom calls me gourmande. Haha. It's true. I love to eat. :P

6:17 AM, February 26, 2009  
Blogger shannon said...

I am very happy I found you, by way of. . . soule mama, I think.

You tell as if, as if, we are walking toward a cliff to see a magnificent view, or maybe fall off. . . there's a thrilling passion I feel about food and life that you express very well.

I almost cried when you got to the part about formulating a chocolate granola recipe. I am pregnant and this baby and I will surely be happy for the rest of our days bound together so with this recipe.

thank you.
with love, luck & blessings-

6:50 AM, April 14, 2009  
Anonymous May said...

I've been lurking on your blog for a few years now, and thanks in part to your recipes my friends think I actually know how to cook. And I still can't get over that comment from Eric Johnson about a year ago. I love your stories and your writing, I've never felt that you were boasting, and I really hope that it doesn't take 10 nice comments to leverage the 1 critical one.

Comparing your writing to "lifestyle porn" and telling you "you'll be fine" if you stop writing the way he doesn't like is completely ridiculous. I don't believe mr. johnson has a successful blog, or has a book on the stands, or has any credibility on this subject at all.

Please continue being amazing and sharing your life with us.

1:55 PM, April 24, 2009  
OpenID saladclub said...

I was disappointed by laduree recently too... I'm off to paris tonight so time to give pierre hermé a chance!

3:53 AM, April 30, 2009  
Blogger HipKid said...

Here in Montreal we have a fabulous chocolate granola made by a local company called Foumi Bionique. The name of the granola is Euphorique. It's made with honey, toasted cereal with fair trade milk chocolate, hazelnut praline, and marshmallow root. So you don't have to go quite as far as Paris for decent chocolate granola!

9:38 AM, May 12, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the wonderful granola recipe. I love adding a little name brand chocolate granola to my cereal every day. I will need to reduce sugar/honey from your recipe to eat it straight up. Thank you for giving me something to start from. Everyone's tastes are different but, I definitely agree on the chocolate for breakfast!

11:41 AM, November 29, 2009  
Blogger ChefCarolyn said...

Love the basic recipe - I've been looking for a good chocolate granola recipe. As it is the new year and resolutions always include "eat healthier" I added golden flaxseed meal, wheat bran, poppy seeds and pecans for an extra bit of good health. I also used agave nectar rather than honey. Turned out wonderfully! Thank you.

5:22 PM, January 03, 2010  
Blogger Ninu said...

hey molly sounds great.... cant wait to try... though dont hve ny rolled oats on hand .. will quakers quick cooking work ??

12:02 PM, February 23, 2010  
Blogger Molly said...

Ninu, yes, you can use quick-cook oats here. Your granola will just have a finer texture, that's all.

10:51 AM, February 24, 2010  
Anonymous Rachelle said...

Looking back at this makes me miss Paris so much it hurts. The granola is delish though.

4:03 PM, April 06, 2010  
Anonymous Beth said...

i made this granola for my family last night and they declared me queen. seriously it's amazing (but you already knew that!). thanks for sharing.

10:31 AM, May 08, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much Molly! I know I can always count on your blog when I'm out of good ideas. Your Daily Granola has become a staple here and my husband loves it. I'm always trying out different combinations of seeds/nuts (cashews, walnuts, linseed etc), sweeteners (maple syrup, date molasses are a few) and dried fruits. And every time he goes off to work (he works in the Middle East while I live in France), I give him a bag of the stuff to take along with him.
But last week my husband was thinking back at his University days and suddenly started longing for this "mmmmmm delicious mmmmm *slurp*" chocolate granola (his onomatopoeia) that he used to have as a student. Although it was incredibly overpriced for a tiny box (Luxury Granola by Alpen), he used to dig into his student budget to buy two boxes of the stuff every week.
Now I wasn't one to let a big-name brand cereal take on my wholesome, Orangette-blog based, homemade goodness, so I had to decide on a plan of action, considering that I only had a Google image picture of the front of the cereal box to go by (no ingredient list). Your chocolate granola recipe came to mind instantly. I swapped the almonds for toasted hazelnuts, because the Google picture showed hazelnuts on the front of the box and because chocolate and hazelnuts are a match made in heaven. Followed the rest exactly as you wrote it out and ta-da! He loves it! Homemade 1 - commercial brand 0!
Thanks again Molly!

Aisha

9:22 AM, November 19, 2010  
Anonymous Sandra in WA said...

thank you for the chocolate granola recipe. My son just returned from study abroad in Paris and raved about the Monoprix chocolate granola.

I will have to give your recipe a try and see if he likes it.

7:13 PM, June 29, 2011  
Anonymous tomat said...

Subbed in a knob of butter for the veggie oil. Yum. The perfect daily indulgence.

9:28 PM, October 04, 2011  
Anonymous Joan said...

My husband and I love this....as soon as the canister is empty I make it again! I usually add some pumpkin seeds with the almonds, some dried cranberries with the chocolate at the end, and often use agave nectar in place of the honey. It's great over vanilla ice cream for a night time snack.

12:20 PM, October 18, 2011  
Anonymous Stacie M. said...

I just made this recipe last night and it was FANTASTIC. Batch #2 is in the oven as the kids gobbled it all up this morning. Thank you so much for sharing!

7:57 AM, February 07, 2012  

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