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FOOD LOVERS' WEEKEND Paris.

Summary: Baking expert Edd Kimber is a frequent visitor to the French capital -- for work, pleasure and inspiration. He recommends his favourite places to eat and shop

Paris has been a constant source of inspiration for me. Patisserie is a proud tradition there, however French bakers still manage to be innovative and at the forefront of trends. The city always has a new patisserie, and recently they seem to specialise in something different, such as Japanese-influenced angel food cakes, or a fresh take on eclairs.

Aside from these wonderful sweet treats, I also love the flea markets and homeware stores, particularly in Le Marais district. Cookware isn't really any cheaper in Paris, but the brocante (second hand) markets that spring up around the capital can be a fun and sometimes inexpensive way of finding those vintage items you've always wanted.

Where to stay

Many tourists choose to stay near the Eiffel Tower or Arc de Triomphe, however I prefer Le Marais, right in the heart of Paris. Its narrow streets have more atmosphere and are filled with cafes, bars and restaurants.

Shopping in Les Halles

More fun than shopping in the boutiques of Champs-Eelysees, the kitchen shops of Les Halles are a great way to spend an afternoon. E.Dehillerin (e-dehillerin.fr) is like a cookware museum -- clearly little has changed in the past two or three decades.

Visit Mora (mora.fr) for anything and everything a baker could ever need. If it's ingredients you want, G.Detou (58 Rue Tiquetonne) is a must. It's small but packed floor to ceiling with the best ingredients you could wish for -- an Aladdin's cave of everything delicious.

Pastries & brunch

Du Pain et Des Idees (dupainetdesidees.com) in the currently en vogue area of Canal Saint-Martin (just north of Le Marais), is one of my mainstays, where I always have a buttery pistachio escargot -- a swirled pastry.

If you fancy something more substantial, you'll love the warm welcome at Holybelly (holybel.ly). A cross between an Aussie coffee shop and a US diner, the food isn't exactly French, but it is one of my favourite spots in Paris. Check out the pancakes served with bacon & eggs.

Sweets in St Germain

Head to Rue du Bac -- it's my go-to destination for patisseries and chocolateries by some amazing producers, including Jacques Genin (try his passion fruit & mango caramels), Du Gateaux et du Pain (they make wonderful croissants), and La Patisserie des Reves for decadent Paris-Brest (a ring of choux pastry filled with praline cream).

If you want to bring back some edible souvenirs, walk to the end of Rue du Bac where you'll find Le Bon Marche and its beautiful food hall, La Grande Epicerie. It's also worth heading upstairs to the store's cookware department, but beware, it's not cheap!

Exploring Le Marais

There are plenty of places to get coffee in Le Marais, but my favourite is one of the newest on the scene, Boot Cafe (19 Rue du Pont aux Choux), housed in a former shoe repair shop. Tiny it may be, but the coffee is absolutely brilliant.

The area also has fantastic fashion boutiques and design stores. Don't miss Merci (merci-merci. com), a gorgeous store on the edge of Le Marais. If you are still looking for sweets, L'Eeclair de Genie (53 Rue de Passy) is definitely a must.

Cocktails & dinner

After a day of shopping, a cocktail is in order and Le Marais doesn't disappoint. Mary Celeste (1 Rue Commines) has wonderful cocktails and serves great small plates (try the devilled eggs). Or head to the relatively new Bespoke (bspk.fr), a Brooklyn- inspired bar serving cocktails and sliders. For something slightly slower paced and more traditional, relax at La Belle Hortense (31 Rue Vieille du Temple) a cosy wine bar set inside a bookshop.

I also love the brilliant Marche des Enfants Rouges (39 Rue de Bretagne), the city's oldest market. Buy produce to make your own dinner or grab something at one of the stalls -- there's everything from Italian to Moroccan and Lebanese food.

A taste of Edd's Paris

Pave au chocolat

Pave means 'pavement' or 'cobblestone', and a box of these truffles really does look like its namesake -- a small cobbled street. Traditionally, these come as tiny squares, often served in a box barely bigger than a matchbox, with a little skewer to help you eat them.

MAKES 30 truffles PREP 5 mins plus 1 hr cooling and chilling COOK 5 mins

175g dark chocolate (60-70 per cent cocoa solids), finely chopped

175ml whipping cream

10g light brown sugar

cocoa powder, for coating

1 Line a 23 x 13cm loaf tin with a large piece of cling film. Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set aside. Tip the cream and sugar into a small pan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and pour the cream over the chocolate. Leave for 2 mins before stirring together to form a silky-smooth ganache. (If you find that the ganache splits, a great way to bring it back is to use a stick blender, which will emulsify the ganache brilliantly.)

2 Pour the ganache into the prepared loaf tin, spreading it level, then leave it to cool at room temperature for 1 hr. Transfer the ganache to the fridge to set completely.

3 To finish, remove the ganache from the tin, transfer to a chopping board and use a thin, sharp knife to cut it into cubes. Coat in a little cocoa powder, gently shaking the truffles in a fine sieve afterwards to remove the excess.

4 As with all ganache-based recipes, these truffles are best served at room temperature to ensure the perfect texture, but if you are storing them for more than a few days, keep them in the fridge and remove them a few hours before serving. Store in an airtight container.

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Publication:BBC GoodFood Middle East
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:May 31, 2016
Words:992
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