Sweet News for Paris: Franck Kestener Opens Shop
A highlight of my visit to the Salon du Chocolat, and of my trip to Paris a couple of weeks ago, was tasting Franck Kestener’s chocolates in Paris. I have been buying his bars at A L’Etoile d’Or in the 9th arrondissement for years, which used to be the only place you could get them in Paris. Otherwise, the family business (since 1936) is in Sarreguemines in the Lorraine region of France. Getting to his shop there may be as difficult as non-French speakers trying to pronounce the name of the town. But neither are necessary, as he has just opened his first shop in Paris. And like my news for us Zürchers that Ladurée opened in Zürich, this is some seriously sweet news for Parisians and any of us visiting the capital.
The shop is in the heart of Paris, not far from the Luxembourg Gardens, yet just outside of the bustling area of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. It seems to me the perfect analogy for Franck himself – named among the country’s best chocolatiers, yet he somehow escapes the spotlight. Perhaps his address in the capital will change that, with his collection of bars, macarons, praliné ladybugs and chestnuts, the latter with a marzipan shell (below) and more. After all, there’s plenty to boast about: Franck worked as Pastry Chef at the Palais de l?Elysée for the French President, was one of the youngest chefs at 27 to receive the prestigious title of Meilleur Ouvrier de France Chocolatier Confiseur (MOF, best craftsman) in 2003, and led the French team to a gold medal at the World Pastry Championship in 2006.
You may recognize his name, as I have mentioned him numerous times here on the blog, as when he (and his Perle de Lorraine) topped my list of favorites at last year’s Salon du Chocolat. When I asked his father, the very friendly Robert (that’s him above, top left), what his favorite chocolate was, his answer… the Perle de Lorraine (mirabelle caramel, mirabelle pâte de fruit and a light, crunchy praliné). Why? Because that was his creation, on which Franck put his finishing touch. You may also recall when I featured my long-time favorite bar, his Atlantique. It’s simply irresistible: dark chocolate, buttery shortbread and salted caramel.
But what I had never tasted before, were his cannelés.
Ceci n’est pas un cannelé. This is not a cannelé.
And it isn’t, even though it certainly looks like one. When you taste this ingenious creation, you’ll think you’re biting into a dense chocolate mousse. It’s actually guimauve, marshmallow, but without the elasticity we expect. Franck created this original recipe for his MOF competition. The colored stripes on each cannelé indicate the different centers, and each one is worth trying: praliné (plain), porcini praliné (yes, the mushroom), raspberry and calamansi (Japanse citrus).
But let’s not forget his chocolates. Each praliné and ganache more delicate and delectable than the last. The bright green catching your eye below is the Emeraude, a mint and lime ganache. It’s part of a series with Topaze (pear and saffron ganache), Rubis (raspberry and juniper berry ganache) and the most recent, Saphir, a caramel infused with the Kinmokusei flower (Osmanthus) that came about when he was given a jar of it as jam in Japan. That’s the chocolate Franck is holding here. He told me the next in the series will be Diamant – he has the name, now time to create the chocolate. Can’t wait to see what he comes up with…
7 rue Gay Lussac
(opened October 5, 2010)
6 rue Gutenberg