Paris Beer Week + Chocolate Stout Cake!

Today is the last full day of Paris Beer Week. In their inaugural year, the organizers, brewers, bar and beer shop owners brought some serious game with events and ales throughout the event-packed week. 

Closing ceremonies will be held at tonight's International Beer Celebration at Café A (you can nurse your hangover the next day at Demory's Brunch Bavarois). The event will be the finale to a week of fun-filled days and nights involving unique tastings, lively conversations, and plenty of pulled pints

I'm so thankful to the great team behind Paris Beer Week and the truly outstanding event they  put together, which secured Paris' place among the great craft brew cities. From Twisting and Stouting at Le Supercoin to a tour of mad scientist Mikkeller's adventurous beers at L'Express de Lyon, I had a great beer week and met a ton of amazing people. 

In the spirit of celebration and experimentation I made my first-ever Chocolate Stout Cake. Made, of course, with French craft beer. I used La Brasserie du Mont Salève's Imperial Stout, which I found at my favorite cave à bières, A la Bière Comme a la Bière- but just about any stout or porter will do. 

Thanks again for a great beer week and see you next year!

Mont Salève Chocolate Stout Cake / Gateau Stout du Mont Salève

Ingredients

For the cake:

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate squares

2 cups flour

2 tsps baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 large pinch sea salt or 1/2 tsp regular salt

1 1/2 stick unsalted butter

1 1/4 cup + 3 tbsps sugar

3 eggs, separated (keep yolks apart so they can be added separately later)

3/4 cup stout or porter

1/4 cup freshly brewed, strong coffee

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter and flour a 12 inch cake tin and set aside. Create a bain- marie using a glass bowl balanced over a pot of bowling water, melt chocolate into coffee, until fully melted and liquid in consistency. Set aside to cool off. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl beat together butter and 1 1/4 cup sugar. Add egg yolks one-by-one. Beat in lukewarm chocolate mixture followed by the stout or porter. Stir in flour mixture. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites and 3 tbsps of sugar until firm, but not stiff. Slowly fold into batter, in separate batches carefully enveloping whites into the batter. Pour batter in cake tin and bake for 30-40 mins, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool at least 20 minutes before icing.

For the icing:

1 oz unsweetened chocolate squares

2 tbsps freshly brewed coffee

3 tbsps butter

Preparation

Create a bain- marie using a glass bowl balanced over a pot of bowling water, melt chocolate into coffee, until fully melted and liquid in consistency. Remove from heat and stir in butter, one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture is smooth. Cool by placing the bowl in cold water and continue to stir until icing is thick and easily spread onto the cake. 

Top 5 Markets to Pick up a Bottle for your Paris Picnic (with list of nearby picnic parks!)

bottles Picnic season is upon us and now that the sun is shining we want to get straight to the closest bit of grass or park bench that we can find. During this season, normally modest Parisians have no problem baring their skin and stripping down at the first site of sun, which makes for a whole different kind of people watching during the warmer months. Rolled up sleeves, exposed midriffs, pants secured well above calf level- it's a veritable flesh fest and anyone who has lived a calendar year in Paris knows why- in this beautiful, grey city, there is nothing as precious as a ray of sun.

It goes without saying that during these sunny days you have no time to waste between picking up your crudités and finding a decent bottle of rosé or bière blanche. Thankfully there's your friendly neighborhood market, of which a handful offer not only a selection of fruits and vegetables, but also bottles of picnic-appropriate booze.

Armed with a trusty corkscrew and these five addresses, your picnic season is guaranteed to be a success!

Heirloom vegetables at Joël Thiébault's stand at Marché Président Wilson

Marché Président Wilson: Not only is this market home to two local farmers (including superstar producteur Joël Thiébault) here you can also find a stand selling a selection of wines, some are even natural/organic! Pair your rosé with some of Thiébault's heirloom carrots and radish varieties and you'll go down in picnic history.

Le Parc: Trocadéro Gardens- you're already this close to La Tour Eiffel you might as well just soak it in. Head to the bit of greenery on opposite bank of the besieged monument, where you're close enough for an excellent view, but far enough from the mob to (hopefully) not have your cellphone or wallet stolen.

Wines at Marché Bourse

Marché Bourse: This is a handy market if you're prone to get a late start. One of the few markets that are open late, Marché Bourse is great for hot food (it's a favorite lunch spot for people who work in the neighborhood) and organic wine. Don't get your hopes up for fresh produce at this farmer-free market, but you're guaranteed to find a bottle that will suit your picnic needs and a hot lunch to go with.

Le Parc: A bit of a trek, but worth the trip, Tuileries Garden is a perfect spot for a picnic. Pull up a chair near one of the fabulous fountains or find a more intimate spot in the statue-filled gardens.

en vrac

Marché La Chapelle: Marché La Chapelle, or "Marché de l'Olive" as locals call it, is the former home of the now brick and mortar En Vrac which has moved just down the street, onto the place that extends the reach of this popular neighborhood market. Here you can fill up a reusable bottle of wine (added benefit: no need for a corkscrew!) or buy a more traditional bottle. All wines are natural and exceptional.

Le Parc: Grab a bike and take a quick ride to the Parc de la Villette, whose huge expanses of grass are host to a variety of happenings during the spring and summer months, including outdoor concerts, open-air cinema, and other cultural events.

marché st quentin

Marché St. Quentin: This covered market, which is open both mornings and into the late afternoon, has everything you need for an ethnically diverse picnic, with the Italian deli counter and Portuguese specialty stand standing out as particularly interesting self-catering options. The market is also home to Bierissime a cave à bière stocked with domestic and international craft beer.

Le Parc: Formerly a part of a convent and hospital, the Jardin Villemin is now a public space located next to canal St. Martin. The garden contains a shared community garden as well as a diverse collection of tree and plant varieties- an oasis of nature amidst the train stations and street traffic of this busy quartier.

Jardin Villemin, 75010

Marché Baudoyer: On Wednesdays Marché Baudoyer stays open until dusk, leaving you plenty of time to visit central Paris and then pick up picnic provisions before the sun sets. Home to one wine vendor, who has a selection of natural wines, the market also serves portions of paella, crêpes, and other street food that will pull together your picnic.

Le Parc:  It's not technically a park- but you can't be this close to the Seine without having a picnic on its banks! Head to the closest quai or make your way to the Ile St. Louis and join the satisfied sunbathers as they enjoy a hard-earned spring.

Marché Baudoyer

Drinking in Paris: Discovering Burnt Wine

I met Emma Bentley, from the fantastic food blog Burnt Cream after doing a guest post on her site about some of my favorite Paris markets. We met for a drink (okay, a few drinks) and Emma told me about starting her blog in 2011 and how writing had segued into hosting events at her home, such as the Burnt Food supper club and her Burnt Wine tasting series. A selection of Georgian wines

Intrigued by these events and Emma's evident knowledge of natural wines, I was eager to attend a Burnt bash as soon as I had the opportunity. I was therefore pleased to join Emma's Eastern wine themed Burnt Wine event on a snowy evening in January, which not only provided me with the chance to participate in one of Emma's tastings, but also proved the perfect primer for another Georgian wine tasting I had later that month.

Emma, who studied at West London Wine School before moving to Paris two years ago, is drawn to natural wines because she appreciates the transparency and authenticity of the process of natural winemaking, as opposed to mass-produced alternatives.

"I like to know where my wine comes from and how it was made" Emma told me, adding that she gets interested in wines that she knows were harvested by hand and pressed by foot.

A Georgian white wine

The selection of wines our small group (events usually have a maximum of 8 people, keeping it intimate and fun) tasted certainly rose up to those standards. Georgian wines, we learned, have been made for over 5,000 years and the region has a rich history of winemaking that has hardly changed over the years (later at the Georgian wine tasting at Le Chateaubriand I would learn that this is in part due to the fact that winemaking is not taught in schools, but passed on through the generations, observing the ancient tradition of growing and vinification).

A Georgian red wine

The Georgians ferment their wine in clay pots called "amphorae", which are buried underground. The wines ferment in these pots from anywhere from a few months to a year. The underground aging mixed with the fact that many of the wines (including the whites) are fermented with their skins and stems, makes for some surprising and delightful discoveries.

These eye-opening moments don't happen par hasard they are exactly what Emma aims for when organizing her Burnt Wine events. "The idea of Burnt Wine is to give the floor over to some of the most exciting discoveries I have made in my professional context and share them with anyone who'll listen" Emma expalined.

A knowledgeable and totally accessible resource, Emma runs the events like an easy-going Wine 101 class, where concrete examples and demonstrations are provided in response to questions asked in a comfortable and non-judgemental setting. This, too, is intentional. "The wine world can be very introverted and snobbish" Emma admitted, "it's difficult to ask what you think is a silly question, like 'what do people mean when they use words like legs, body, tannins, strawberries..."

Emma clearly and effectively explained to our group the affects that tannins and acidity have on wines and how we taste them (tannins dry your mouth out, acidity brings the moisture back). She also answered my question about shaking wines, which I had been advised to do by a caviste upon purchasing a bottle of natural wine. "It's to break up the proteins" Emma told me, while agitating a bottle of white.

Traditional Georgian dishes

Burnt Wine provides not only the opportunity to enjoy Emma's taste for adventures in wine, but also her stellar cooking skills. Apparently people were getting a little too tipsy at earlier incarnations of the event, where light tapas were served with the wine, so Emma decided to include a meal in the event- so we can thank past drunkards for that!

Our lovely hostess Emma

The Eastern wine event was accompanied by cheesy bread, Georgian pierogis, a hearty meat stew and a gorgeous dish that included kidney beans, garlic, and walnuts which paired perfectly with the reds on hand.

I highly recommend joining in on the Burnt fun at an upcoming event! Check out the BurntCream website or follow Emma on Twitter for more information!