Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Just Desserts 16: Berthillion (Paris, France)
LOCATION: 31 Rue St. Louis En L’ile, Paris, France
DATE: September 18, 2005
ICE CREAM: Cone with a scoop of fig and a scoop of honey nougat; mini chocolate fondue; cup with scoop of hazelnut and a scoop of tiramisu, topped with Chantilly crème
PRICE: 7.60 Euros
Notre Dame Cathedral and its centuries of significance tower in the background. Pont Neuf, inspiration for Renoir and impressionists galore, is a ten minute walk west. Yet on the Rue St. Louis En L’ile, a line has formed. It isn’t history the crowds have come to see, but rather ice cream they’re longing to taste.
Located on the island in the Seine directly east of Notre Dame, Berthillion Ice Cream has made a name for itself, gaining in Napoleon like prominence with the publication of each new tourist guidebook. Yet ,despite the prestige, the scoopers still smile, the prices remain reasonable, and the product itself, is sinfully scrumptious.
The fig sorbet was as sweet and juicy as the fruit, bits of seed furthering the illusion one was enjoying the freshly picked and not the freshly creamed. However, the honey nougat, like Baklava cream in a cone, literally caused me pause, so subtle was its sweetness, so multi-faceted its flavors. The honey and cream played a boisterous game of cat and mouse, each taste emerging and then re-emerging as the ice cream melted on my tongue.
But once tasted, a solitary cone wouldn’t suffice. On my second go-round, the tiramisu proved the French do understand Italian, tiny chocolate morsels strewn throughout an ice cream bursting with rum and cocoa flavorings. The hazelnut was too straightforward and slightly disappointing, the only ice cream of the afternoon that wasn’t ebulliently original. However, the mantel of Chantilly cream adorning the cup’s two scoops more than made up for the hazelnut’s failings. This was the way all whipped cream should be, airy and deceptively vanilla, sugared, but not sweet. One last indulgence was the mini-chocolate fondue, a near perfect dark chocolate replica of the Modern’s spectacular chocolate soufflé. The cake was pure chocolate, pure, rich, and intense, chocolate for chocolate’s sake. Nothing interfered with the chocolate’s statement. It mirrored Berthillion’s achievement. The crowd’s may flock and the traveler’s handbooks advise, but in the end, none of those things overshadow the greatness of the desserts.
Posted by Vincent Rossmeier at Tuesday, December 06, 2005