April 30, 2012
Yes, more chocolate! Paris does not lack for it. But in a town that boasts everything from over-the-top delicacies to perfectly executed classics, we’re always impressed when a shop manages to distinguish itself from the cacao-hawking competition.
Puerto Cacao is not the most decadent, shocking or renowned chocolate shop in Paris, but it might just be the most conscientious. On a recent visit, we sat down with store manager José Evrard to learn more about owner Guillaume Hermitte’s vision for an équitable (fair-trade) chocolate shop that does as much to promote social good as it does to promote deliciousness.
Amazing hot chocolate! Tory Hoen
Hermitte’s team works directly with Venezuelan cacao producers, cutting out unnecessary middlemen who might drive up prices for consumers and deprive cacao producers of fair payment. In addition, they work with “entreprises d’insertion,” organizations that help people who have encountered various difficulties (poverty, imprisonment, etc.) re-enter the workforce and improve their lives.
So if you had any doubts, the mission is sound. But let’s get down to business—what about the chocolate?
The store is stocked with classics like chocolate bars in a variety of flavors (like white chocolate with a sprinkling of pink pepper, milk chocolate with cashews), elegant pastilles, eight kinds of chocolate bark (we were intrigued by the milk chocolate with sesame seeds), an ever-flowing fondue fountain, and some crazy chocolate masks that you can decorate with edible paint. If yours turns out to be less than a masterpiece, you can just eat it and call it a day.
After browsing the goods, I started sampling. Of course, I had to try the chocolat chaud. Here, it’s made with rich organic milk, 100% pâte de cacao, a splash of vanilla and a hint of organic sugar. The overall effect is decidedly grown-up. I could see a sugar-seeking child being disappointed by the bitter finish, but for an aspiring adult like me, this interpretation provided a not-too-cloying way to appreciate a mugful of liquid chocolate.
More moderate folks might have stopped there, but I persevered, digging into a slice of the fresh-baked fondant au chocolat, which was perhaps the richest version I’ve ever encountered. The oils from the cacao were literally oozing out of the deep, chocolate slice, and as I washed it down with the chocolat chaud, I suddenly understood the meaning of true gluttony. And it felt good… for a minute. A paralyzing chocolate coma ensued.
Regardless, this socially conscious shop (located just across from the Marché d’Aligre) is well worth a stop. In addition to decadent desserts, Puerto Cacao also offers 4 different weekend brunch menus featuring homemade jams, chocolate spreads, organic bread, and savory tarts. They are also happy to host bachelorette parties in which brides-to-be can gather their friends around the fondue fountain to kiss their singledom goodbye. Bittersweet to say the least.
2, rue Théophile Roussel, 75012
Métro: Ledru-Rollin, Faidherbe – Chaligny
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Written by Tory Hoen for the HiP Paris Blog. Photos by Julien Hausherr; Contact: email@example.com. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, London, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.
Written by Tory Hoen
After attending Brown University and spending two years in New York, Tory bought a one-way ticket to Paris to pursue her dream of becoming a writer (and of drinking wine at lunch). During her time in the City of Light, she chronicled the euphoric highs and the laughable lows of ex-pat life on her blog, A Moveable Beast. Though she's now based in New York, she travels frequently to Montreal and Brazil, and she'll use just about any excuse to jet to Paris ("I ran out of fleur de sel"). A regular contributor to Hip Paris, Tory also writes for New York Magazine, Time Out New York, and she is a co-author of Gradspot.com's Guide To Life After College.
Website: Tory Hoen
Tags: Bread, brunch, Cacao, chocolate, chocolate paris, Commerce Equitable, Fondue, France, hot chocolate, Julien Hausherr, paris, Puerto Cacao, socially responsible, tory hoen
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