Thursday, July 17, 2014

Seattle Firefighter Michael D. Poole Shows Parisians How to Make *Hot* Caramel-filled Chocolates

By Tom Reeves

Chef Michael D. Poole
Founder of Hot Chocolat
Artisan Firehouse Chocolates - Seattle, Washington
© www.DiscoverParis.net
 
By day he manages firefighters, by night he fires up the burners of his stove. Lieutenant firefighter-and-chef Michael D. Poole came to the City of Light from Seattle this month to show Parisians how to make spicy-hot caramel. If anyone knows about heat and flame, Chef Michael does!

Parisians stand transfixed as Chef Michael makes spicy caramel
© www.DiscoverParis.net

Last Thursday was the occasion for Chef Michael's masterclass at Mococha Chocolats. Roughly forty persons crowded into the boutique and stood transfixed as he deftly demonstrated how to make caramel and then use it to fill chocolate molds to create a caramel-filled-chocolate confection.  He made it look so easy!

Chef Michael's expert hands make caramel making look easy!
© www.DiscoverParis.net

Cayenne pepper gives the caramel its "kick"
© www.DiscoverParis.net

Chocolate molds are filled with spicy caramel
© www.DiscoverParis.net

Melted chocolate is ladled over the caramel-filled molds
© www.DiscoverParis.net

A tap on the table releases the cooled confections from the mold
© www.DiscoverParis.net

Finished caramel-filled chocolates
© www.DiscoverParis.net


Chef Michael poses with Mococha proprietor Marie-Hélène Gantois
© www.DiscoverParis.net


After the class, Marie poured a lovely crémant (sparkling wine) and attendees proceeded to devour the chocolates and line up to purchase more to take home.

They even helped themselves to what was left of the melted chocolate that was used to cover the caramels.

Pouring crémant
© www.DiscoverParis.net


Sampling melted chocolate
© www.DiscoverParis.net

Everyone had a marvelous time. We're hoping that Marie will ask Chef Michael back for another masterclass next summer!

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

July 4th Celebration at U. S. Ambassador's Residence - 2014

The overcast skies and slight drizzle that greeted attendees at this year's 4th of July celebration at the U. S. Ambassador's residence in Paris did little to dampen the spirit of the day.

In the courtyard, guests enjoyed the musical strains of The Ambassadors - a U. S. Air Force jazz ensemble - as well as displays of an American Field Service ambulance and a tribute to Quentin Roosevelt, WWI veteran and son of President Theodore Roosevelt, who lost his life in combat during WWI.

Courtyard of the U. S. Ambassador's residence
© Discover Paris!

American Field Service ambulance
© Discover Paris!

Tom and I made our way through the residence to the grounds out back, where hundreds of people milled about.

Crowd on the lawn at the U. S. Ambassador's residence
© Discover Paris!

When we passed the first set of tents, we were surprised to see two food trucks parked on the lawn. Le Camion qui Fume, the American-owned burger grill on wheels, was supplying free burgers for everyone. The lines were impressively long and they remained so throughout the entire event.

Le Camion qui Fume food truck
© Discover Paris!

Tom waited for over 30 minutes to get our burgers and the best fries I've eaten in a LONG time, while I checked out the rest of the food and beverage offerings.

Tom with his burger and beer
© Discover Paris!

Dozens of vendors supplied food and drink for the event. The most unusual offering was bite-sized sweet "burgers" from the Marriott hotel chain - they consisted of chocolate mousse (the "meat"), a sheet of white chocolate (the "cheese"), and a slice of strawberry (the "tomato") on a tiny sesame seed bun. An almond paste rendition of the Statue of Liberty presided over the table.

Statue of Liberty overlooks "sweet burgers"
© Discover Paris!

Four Marines stood as flag bearers for Old Glory and the U. S. Marine Corps flag.

Flag bearers
© Discover Paris!

As usual, the official ceremony opened with the Dip Tones (the U. S. Embassy choir) singing the French and American national anthems. Then Chargé d'Affaires ad interim Mark Taplin gave an eloquent speech (in French) honoring Myron T. Herrick, U. S. Ambassador to France from 1912-1914 and 1921-1929.

Taplin served as the Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy beginning in July 2010 during the tenure of former U.S. Ambassador to France Charles H. Rivkin. Ambassador Charles Rivkin and his family permanently vacated the residence last November, following his nomination by President Obama to serve as Assistant Secretary of the State Department’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs.

Then Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo took the stage and spoke passionately about relations between the City of Paris and cities in the U. S. She specifically talked of her visit to NYC and the sister-city relationship between Paris and Chicago. She invited President Obama to come to Paris' City Hall as an honored guest.

Chargé d'Affaires a. i. Mark Taplin and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo
© Discover Paris!

The ceremony closed with music by the phenomenal vocalist and New Orleans native Nicole Slack Jones.

Nicole Slack Jones
© Discover Paris!

Fortunately, umbrellas were only necessary for brief periods during the afternoon.

Crowd watching the ceremony
© Discover Paris!

After the ceremony, both the Marines and the singers mixed with the crowd.

Nicole Slack Jones (center) and admirers
© Discover Paris!

Marine corporal greeted by a woman
© Discover Paris!

Marines mix with the crowd
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Looking forward to next year!

U. S. Marine corporal and Monique
© Discover Paris!


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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Chef Michael D. Poole brings Cayenne Caramel to Paris

Chef Michael D. Poole is back in Paris!

Chef Michael D. Poole
© Discover Paris!

When I last wrote about Chef Michael, I mentioned that he presented some of his chocolate samples to Marie Gantois, owner of Mococha Chocolat in the 5th arrondissement, and that Marie expressed interest in inviting him to be a guest chocolatier during the summer of 2014. I promised to keep you informed of the developments.

I'm pleased to report that Mococha is hosting Chef Michael for a Master Class on the making of his signature Cayenne Caramel chocolates on July 10, 2014 at 7 PM. Michael will talk about the use of chiles in chocolate and demonstrate how he uses chile powder to flavor his spicy creations. The demonstration will be followed by an informal cocktail and tasting, during which he will answer questions.

Cayenne Caramel is one of three spicy dark chocolates that are part of Chef Michael's exquisite line of handcrafted, award-winning artisan chocolates. It is a vanilla caramel infused with Cayenne pepper and enrobed in 70% dark chocolate. Firehouse Chili (a white ganache infused with Chef's award-winning chili mix and enrobed in 70% dark chocolate) and Habanero Caramel (vanilla caramel infused with Habanero pepper and enrobed in 70% dark chocolate) are the other two.

Spicy chocolates
Image courtesy of Chef Michael D. Poole

Chef Michael has created a special French edition of these three chocolates in Red, White, and Blue:

Red: Firehouse chili enrobed in white chocolate
White: Cayenne Caramel enrobed in white chocolate
Blue: Habanero Caramel enrobed in white chocolate

French flag in white chocolate
Image courtesy of Chef Michael D. Poole

All six varieties will be available for purchase at Mococha Chocolat from July 4 through July 14th (U. S. Independence Day through Bastille Day).

Chef Michael has won numerous awards and accolades for his chocolates. Most recently, he won the gold medal for Best White Chocolate at the Seattle Chocolate Salon in May 2014 with his new mango-passion ganache enrobed in white chocolate.

The Cayenne Caramel Master Class demonstration is free, but reservations are required. Only a few places remain, so reserve your spot now by clicking on the link below:

Chef Michael D. Poole Master Class

See you there!

Mococha Chocolat
89 Rue Mouffetard
75005 Paris
Tel: 01 47 07 13 66
Metro: Censier Daubenton (Line 7)

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Cameroonian Chef Is King at Cuistance


My husband Tom and I love dining out and we do so quite frequently to write our weekly Paris Insights restaurant review.

A few weeks ago, we enjoyed a fine meal at a restaurant near Les Halles called Cuistance.

Cuistance
© Discover Paris!

The menu borrows from the Spanish theme of tapas. The restaurant serves small portions and encourages customers to order three of these as the equivalent of the traditional French entrée-plat* and share them with their dining companions. The selections were fresh and exciting with international touches - examples included Tataki de boeuf (Japan) and Ecrasé de burrata (Italy).

The restaurant is narrow and the decor is decidedly contemporary. Our servers were happy and proud to speak English with us. And we were pleased with our choices from the menu:

  • Œuf de poule poché, petits pois et champignons de saison, crumble aux herbes, écume de bouillon, paille de vitelotte
    Poached egg in mushroom broth was served with a crumble of breadcrumbs and herbs de Provence with a side of matchstick purple potatoes - all atop a bed of green peas and mushrooms.
  • Cromesquis de risotto aux girolles, copeaux de parmesan, riquette, sauce forestière.
    Risotto croquettes were redolent with parmesan cheese and studded with chanterelle mushrooms. A wild mushroom sauce was served alongside.
  • Ecrasé de burrata, flocons d’avoine, pickles de mini maïs, riz soufflé, vinaigrette de noisette grillée, cress de basilic pourpre - This was our favorite!
    A flattened portion of burrata cheese (a pocket of mozzarella containing fresh cream) covered with toasted wild rice, ears of pickled baby corn, and purple basal, all dressed in toasted hazelnut vinaigrette.
Ecrasé de burrata
© Discover Paris!
  • Déclinaison de cochon de lait, purée de Granny Smith rôtie, mini poireaux, jus de cochon.
    Three small portions of piglet, one shredded (somewhat like pulled pork in the U.S.) and two served in their skin, were accompanied by baby leeks and puréed, roasted, Granny Smith apple.
  • Pavé de lieu jaune, légumes primeurs en persillade, palets de brioche, viennoise croquante, écume d’arrêtes au thé vert Matcha.
    Skinned pollack covered with bread crumbs and herbs de Provence were served with a frothy fish broth flavored with Matcha tea and carrot and turnip on the side.
Pavé de lieu
© Discover Paris!
  • Royale de foie gras, crème de riquette, pomme Fuji, gelée d’une sangria, gaufre.
    A small glass dish contained a flan made from egg, cream, and foie gras (fatty duck liver), to be eaten with waffles! The plate was artfully decorated with a sauce made from arugula, tiny cubes of Fuji apple, and dots of sangria jelly.
  • Soupe de mangue-coco, crousti de filo au miel, duo de shiso cress.
    Mango-coconut soup topped with a honey-coated filo-dough crust that resembled the crust of a crème brulée served as our dessert.
Soupe de mangue-coco
© Discover Paris!

The wine list is lovely as well, including the wines by the glass. I enjoyed a glass of Pouilly Fumé – Domaine des Fines Caillottes – 2012 (Loire Valley) with the cromesquis de risotto and a glass of Maucaillou – 2011 (Bordeaux) with the cochon de lait. Tom settled for a beer (Sol, from Mexico) with his meal.

As we were waiting for the dessert course, Chef Henri-Serge Manga emerged from the kitchen to inquire among the customers about their satisfaction with his handiwork. We asked a few questions about the ingredients in our dishes, to which he readily responded, and then he graciously posed for the photo below.

Chef Henri-Serge Manga, Cuistance Restaurant
© Discover Paris!

Chef Manga is of Cameroonian origin. He studied at Thames Valley University near London and has cooked in Japan and the renowned Fat Duck restaurant in Berkshire, Great Britain. He worked at a wonderful little restaurant called Bon in Paris' 16th arrondissement prior to taking over the kitchen at Cuistance. Seeing him come out of the kitchen and learning that he was the chef was a bonus for us because we knew nothing about him when we made our reservation.

The bill for two, including one glass of champagne, one beer, two glasses of wine, and seven dishes came to 124€. It was a fair price to pay for such an inventive meal. Our only regret was that there was a limited selection of desserts (only four) from which to choose.

We'll definitely return to Cuistance to enjoy the Ecrasé de burrata and to sample other items on the menu!

Cuistance
14 Rue Sauval
75001 Paris
Telephone: 01 40 41 08 08
Métro station: Châtelet Les Halles (Lines 1, 4, 7, and 14; RER A, B, and D)

*If you don’t know what entrée-plat means, then you may be interested in reading our new e-book Dining Out in Paris. For more information, click here: http://parisinsights.com/ournewbook.php.

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