The Chocolate Life

Discover Chocolate and Live La Vida Cocoa!

Denise Acabo. The name doesn’t mean much to 99.9% of the world’s population, but those who do know it are fanatical about the woman, her Parisian chocolate parlor and her devotion to France’s best chocolatiers and candy makers.

With a daily uniform of long blonde braids, a tartan plaid skirt, and the sexy-schoolmarmish blend of bifocals and Chanel No 5 that only a middle-aged Frenchwoman can pull off, Acabo is a cult character here in Paris. But for more important reasons than her signature look, or even her choco-knowledge. It’s her irresistible charm and infectious enthusiasm that reels them in.

Everyone who walks through the doors of her SoPi (South of Pigalle) boutique is treated like the most important person in the world. She grabs you by the arm and gushes about her products: that they’re the best of the best and that she’s the exclusive carrier in the city. She’ll tell you how the cab drivers come in and clean her out of Le Roux caramels and that Japanese tourists fax her magazine articles in which she’s appeared. She talks a mile a minute and is as much an entertainer and theatrice as a chocolate connoisseur. She could prattle on about pralines for hours—and she will if you’re not careful. I looked at my watch when she paused for a breath and was shocked to see 30 minutes had passed. It’s a shame I could understand only a fraction of what she was saying.

But, importantly, what I did understand is that, outside of Lyon, she is the sole carrier of Bernachon chocolates.

This famed chocolatier, Maurice, and his son, Jean-Jacques, operate a bean-to-bar factory that churns out dozens of flavors of delicate bonbons and hunky tablettes. So how do you choose between so many amazing flavors—espresso, orange, hazelnut, rum raisin—when you’re in that enviable position? For me it was simple: I let Denise do it.

And thank goodness. When I unwrapped my Pâte d’Amande Pistache at home, I was suddenly inhaling vats of fresh chocolate in a factory. Delicious without even taking a bite. Between the richness of the 62% cacao and the sweet grittiness of Sicilian pistachio paste, I thought I had ascended to chocolate heaven. It’s one of the most brilliant things I’ve ever eaten.

She was equally pointed and strong-willed with my bonbon selection. After careful consideration, I had selected six from the case, but she shot two of them down. She wanted to make sure I had the best of the best so I wound up with a selection from all over the country (Gevrey-Chambertin, Bourges, Lorraine) from masters including Henri Le Roux (salted caramel), Bernard Dufoux (balsamic vinegar truffle) and more from Bernachon (a praline noisette).

There were so many exquisite sweets that I didn’t get (this time), including the Breton caramels. But I was happy to see she also carries Jacques Genin’s caramels—more proof that Acabo only carries the best of the best.

30 rue Pierre Fontaine

Views: 78

Tags: Acabo, Bernachon, Bernard, Bonbon, Denise, Dufoux, Genin, Henri, Jacques, L'etoile, More…Le, Paris, Roux, Tablette, Truffle, d'Or


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Comment by Sweet Freak on June 10, 2009 at 12:18pm
Cool - thanks!
Comment by Artisan on June 10, 2009 at 12:02pm
Hopefully paint smell is gone now...
Nouvelle Boutique de PARIS 8°
199 rue Fbg St Honoré
75008 PARIS
Tél : 01 45 61 11 46

Du Mardi au Samedi
10h30 - 19h30
Comment by Sweet Freak on June 10, 2009 at 11:57am
Artisan, where is the new Patrick Roger boutique? I may need to sample this weekend...
Comment by Artisan on June 10, 2009 at 10:07am
Went to Genin new place. Very nice and very good chocolates. Some of the designs on them were inverted but we could not bear to tell him. If anything a lot of space for limited product range so the result is a bit clinical and can lack athmosphere but the man himself is open, honest and passionate like his products. and I am sure the range will grow.
Also went to see new shop from Patrick Roger, tiny tiny with a very strong smell of paint so we passed on buying anything
Finally went to see new Marcolini shop on the old site of Nespresso as a good example of how to piss someone else money against the wall. Chic, empty and without soul. I hope for them Paris has enough Nouveaux riches and Japanese tourists.
Comment by Clay Gordon on May 20, 2009 at 9:03am
Here's my trip report from 2004. In particular if you are looking for the best chocolat chaud in Paris: La Charlotte de l'isle (24, rue St Louis en L'isle).

(I just figured out why the pictures are missing and I will get them back up soon.)
Comment by Sweet Freak on May 20, 2009 at 4:22am
Clay and John - what are your other chocolate favorites in Paris? (And anywhere else, for that matter...)
Comment by John Doyle on May 19, 2009 at 3:10pm
Just visited about two weeks ago, and I speak French. It was truly a memorable chocolate experience.
Comment by Clay Gordon on May 18, 2009 at 11:25am
No matter how good Mr Genin is - one thing that Ms Acabo offers is access to many of the great chocolates in France in one place: Bernachon AND Dufoux (who is a Bernachon protege) AND Le Roux AND Genin AND Bonnat AND ... . So when I am looking for chocolate I would go there. If I was looking for a chocolate experience I might try Mr Genin's new shop instead.
Comment by Sweet Freak on May 18, 2009 at 8:12am
I completely agree, Clay! Though, have you been to Paris lately? Jacques Genin has a new chocolatier/salon de thé, which is quite breath-taking...

And thanks for the kind words, Gwen. A soul sister indeed!
Comment by Clay Gordon on May 17, 2009 at 9:18pm
In my book, Discover Chocolate, I nominate Ms Acabo's shop a l'Etoile d'Or, as just maybe the best chocolate shop in the world.

If I was in Paris and only had time to visit one shop this is the place I would go. The nearest Metro stop is the Place Blanche and the most famous nearby tourist attraction is the Moulin Rouge.

As I mention elsewhere, Ms Acabo's command of English pales in comparison to her command of chocolate. So if your French is not that great make sure to go with someone whose French is (payment in chocolate?), or hope that another customer in the shop is able and willing to help translate.

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