Guide Dishes Up Mouthwatering Adventures in Paris

Book Cover Image - "Clotilde's Edible Adventures"

For serious foodies, Clotilde Dusoulier's day job is a mouthwatering dream.

The 28-year-old native Parisian writes about food full-time from her Paris apartment, sharing her gastronomic discoveries on her popular blog, Chocolate & Zucchini. Her latest guidebook, Clotilde's Edible Adventures in Paris, showcases many of her favorite restaurants, markets and shops in the City of Lights.

Dusoulier, a former contributor to NPR's Kitchen Window series, goes beyond simply listing recommended restaurants in her book. She hunts down the best Paris has to offer and weaves in advice on how to understand French menus, how to order food correctly and how to behave in a French food store.

Shops are not perceived as public places, Dusoulier says, so customers are expected to show the same respect as if they were visiting a private home. Always greet attendants with a pleasant "Bonjour," she advises, and never treat shopkeepers like servants. The French are very particular about their cuisine, she says, so visitors should be cautious before they criticize it.

"[The French] are proud about the way they make and serve their food, so if you come into their home and ask them to do otherwise, they're hurt in a way," she said in an interview with Ari Shapiro.

Dusoulier recently spent a day with Shapiro in Paris hunting down some of her favorite food haunts.


Tarte-Gateau Poire Chocolat

Pear and Chocolate Cake-Tart

The first time I visited Veronique Mauclerc's bakery, I bought one of her pear and chocolate tartlets and then trotted on to the nearby Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. Once I'd climbed up a hill and found the ideal bench — in the semishade, amid the twitter of birds, with a faraway view of the Sacre-Coeur — I unwrapped my rustic-looking tartlet, took a bite, and beamed to myself.

I have eaten a fair amount of chocolate tarts in my life, but this one was a ravishing novelty: Its brittle, not-too-sweet crust held a fudgy and slightly leavened chocolate filling — rather than the classic layer of ganache — as if it couldn't quite decide whether to be a tart or a cake. The following recipe is a re-creation of what I've come to think of as, quite simply, a tarte-gateau.

For the pate brisee

1 large egg yolk (save the white for the filling below)

3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (50 ml) ice-cold water

A pinch fine sea salt

2 tablespoons (25 g) sugar

2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour, sifted, plus extra for sprinkling

8 tablespoons (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon (125 g total) unsalted butter, diced, plus a pat for greasing

For the pears

2 tablespoons (25 g) sugar

3 tablespoons (45 ml) dark rum (optional)

2 pears, ripe but still firm, about 1 pound (450 g) total (choose a variety that will keep its shape when poached, such as Anjou, Bartlett, Bosc, or Winter Nellis)

For the chocolate filling

3 tablespoons (25 g) all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

A pinch fine sea salt

4 1/2 ounces (125 g) good-quality bittersweet chocolate

7 tablespoons (75 g) unsalted butter, diced

1/2 cup (100 g) sugar

1 large egg

1 large egg white (saved from the crust recipe above)

Serves 12; Resting time: 1 hour

1. Prepare the crust. In a small bowl, beat together the egg yolk, water, salt and sugar, and set aside. Combine the flour and butter in the bowl of a food processor, and process at low speed for 10 seconds, until the mixture forms coarse crumbs. Pour in the egg yolk mixture all at once and process for a few more seconds, just until the dough comes together. If it is too dry, add a little more ice-cold water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until it reaches the right consistency. Turn out on a lightly floured work surface and gather into a ball without kneading. Flatten the ball slightly, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or up to a day (if you refrigerate it for more than an hour, let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before using).

2. While the dough chills, poach the pears. Combine 1 cup water, the sugar and the rum in a medium saucepan, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Peel and core the pears. Cut each of them lengthwise into sixths, rather than quarters, in order to get 12 pieces total. Add the pears to the saucepan, bring back to a simmer, and cook for 4 minutes, until tender and slightly translucent. Lift the pears from the syrup cautiously with a slotted spoon, and set aside in a colander to drain.

3. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Grease an 11- to 12-inch (28- to 30-cm) tart pan with a pat of butter (see Note). Working on a lightly floured work surface with a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out into a 13- to 14-inch (33- to 35-cm) circle and line the pan with it, trimming off the excess dough. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes; this will prevent the dough from shrinking as it bakes. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and put the tart pan in the oven for 10 minutes.

4. While the crust blind-bakes, prepare the chocolate filling. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl, and set aside. Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler, or in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring regularly to combine. Transfer to a medium bowl, add the sugar, and stir with a wooden spoon. Add the egg and egg white, stirring well between each addition. Add the flour mixture and stir again until just combined.

5. Remove the pan from the oven, but leave the heat on. Pour the chocolate filling into the tart shell and even out the surface with a spatula. Arrange the pear pieces over the filling in a sun-ray pattern, the small ends pointing toward the center of the tart. Return to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until the filling is just set at the center — it will continue to cook as it cools — and the crust is golden. Transfer to a rack and let cool completely before serving, on its own, with a scoop of yogurt gelato, or with a dollop of whipped cream.

Note: The recipe can be made in eight 4-inch (12-cm) tartlet molds, rather than one large tart. You should then cut each pear into fourths, rather than sixths, and reduce the baking time of the chocolate filling to 15 minutes.

Recipe taken from Clotilde's Edible Adventures in Paris. Copyright 2008 by Clotilde Dusoulier published by Broadway Books, a division of Random House

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