France! Day 40: Georges Larnicol


What's this?
What? Georges Larnicol for sweets
Where? 132 Boulevard Saint-Germain (6e arr., mo Odéon, Paris)
Price? 1€-10€
The skinny: French chocolatier Georges Larnicol has locations of his pastry/chocolate shop all over France. In Paris, there are two and they're very popular. Known for his whimsical chocolate creations, Larnicol is a wonderland for kouign amann & macaron lovers too. The man has definitely made a name for himself.

The first time I visited the location on 14 rue de Rivoli was purely by chance. It was pouring after my friends and I enjoyed un diner formidable à Robert & Louise and we were across the street from metro Saint-Paul when we caught sight of the macarons inside. Here’s a selection (pistachio, salted caramel and raspberry) of macarons that I got for my parents a few weeks later. These delicate confections crack easily so handle with care! 

Now the location on bd Saint-Germain is special. Special in that just around the corner is Café Procope, the first café in Paris. “Founded” in 1686, it has played host to great thinkers, authors, revolutionaries, and politicians. Voltaire’s writing desk is still on display here. Yes, I was too chicken to go inside just to snap a photo of it…  :(

Onto confection/chocolate paradise now! 

As soon as you enter, you're greeted by chocolate sculptures everywhere! In display cases, on top of display cases, lining the walls...everywhere. That gives this place a playful atmosphere at the same time as showing the technical skill and mastery of chocolate. This chocolate grand piano filled with rows of macarons inside the sound box is definitely my kind of dessert masterpiece!

Here are pots of salted butter caramel (possible spread for crêpes?). In the same photo, you’ll see a blue tin with a drawing of people on it. It’s a cookie tin full of 6 different kinds of cookies for 9,50€. I decided to bring home a tin for my university dragonboat team—post-season, it’s time to get fat! (I’m kidding guys). On the right, carrot-like cellophane wrapped chocolates. :D

The notorious Kouign Amann. Translated from the Breton language (Brittany is a province in north-west France), it means “butter cake.” Pound for pound, it’s got more butter in it than any other dessert—or dish for that matter—you’ve ever had (watch out Paula D! no seriously..). After hours of rolling, chilling the buttery dough, this pastry is baked to further release the buttery goodness in the form of an intoxicating aroma. 

Did I buy that? Um, no thanks. I don’t feel like clogging my arteries today. Plus, I wanted to try a few flavours. 

Unlike the delicate macarons, these mini-kouign amanns, called “Kouignettes” are self-serve. Tongs, cellophane bag, go crazy! But not too crazy because they’re 2,50€ per 100g and these babies are hefty babies. 

You can say that it’s roughly 1,50€ for one and they’re a little smaller than the size of your palm! We got one pistachio kouignette (pictured here) and one salted butter caramel (caramel beurre salé). 

There were about 8 flavours including chocolate chip, almond, plain…Stacked high, these caramelized swirls of pastries were beckoning to me, “EAT ME! EAT ME!” If only I could try them all.

Macarons almost seem healthy in comparison to kouign amann. Georges Larnicol sells around 10 flavours of macarons. I’ve tried quite a few different flavours but my favourites remain the same: pistachio, raspberry, and lemon. 

My mom was intrigued by these long thin sticks of dark chocolate hanging around on a cart for 2€, so we bought one. It’s like a groumet lollilop! 

Or skewer? The stick reminded me of those cheap wooden chopsticks you get at a Chinese restaurant haha No worries though, the choclolate itself was very yummy! Not too sweet and very fragrant due to the cocoa. 

Now that we returned to the apartment, it’s time to try the pistachio kouignette! I was going to reheat it in the oven…then I remembered that we didn’t have one. Darn. I was looking forward to the entire apartment (yes, all the glorious 6802ft of it) to be swimming in a beautiful butter aroma. Too bad. 

Since it’s in a constant state of being chilled at the store, it isn’t very attackle with a fork alone. So we graciously hacked away at it, one morsel at a time with the help of a knife.I gotta say, it’s good. It’s so good. There is so much butter in it but that’s partly why it’s so delicious. 

There isn’t an infinite layer of flakey pastry but that’s because it’s not made with filo pastry. Here, each layer has been rolled out carefully, after having been sufficiently chilled so that the butter doesn’t squirt out. Instead, each of the two dozen or so layers is bursting with flavour and it’s so…fulfilling. 

I didn’t really get “pistachio” from it but that’s fine. I think I would’ve preferred “nature” (plain) anyways. This is a very fussy pastry to make but I could see myself trying and failing countless times (and at some point, finally succeed) in the future. Good thing Georges Larnicol has got me covered. Aside from here, you won’t find very many places where they make kouign amann this well outside of Brittany.

Verdict: Although the macarons are very delectable here, they’re not out-of-this-world amazing. Though I’d come back for the kouign amann any day. I’m not a huge chocolate fan, but after trying that baton of chocolate noir, I’m open to trying their other cocoa creations.

4 out of 5 NOMs