<%-- Page Title--%> Trends <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 155 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

May 21, 2004

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Chic chocolate at Angelina's in Paris

A stone's throw from the Louvre museum, just opposite the Tuileries Gardens, hidden beneath the arcades of Rue de Rivoli, a tea-room delights Parisians. Angelina's is the place for gourmets. It is a familiar name for all lovers of chocolate and refined pastries. For nearly a hundred years now, fine society has met in this refined place. You can drink the best hot chocolate in Paris but the restaurant is just as famous for its great "Mont Blanc" pastries.

In 1903, "Gay Paree" at the time of the Belle Epoque, a tea-room opened. Situated between the Tuileries and the Louvre, Rumpelmayer quickly became the chic place for Paris gourmets. The Rumpelmayers were a great family of Austrian pastry-cooks. Their sweetmeats were such as success that Antoine, the father, opened this first shop for making and selling pastries in Germany in Baden-Baden. Then following high society which, in winter, frequented the French Riviera, he set up a shop in Menton and in Aix-lex-Bains in the French Alps. The Paris tea-room, beneath the Rue de Rivoli arcades at number 226, was founded by his son. It was renamed Angelina in honour of his wife and was soon frequented by the elite of customers having good taste who built its reputation. The famous fashion designer Coco Chanel and the writer Marcel Proust used to take their five o'clock tea there. King George V of Britain had his own engraved glasses there. Today, artists such as Catherine Deneuve, Britney Spears and Patricia Kass are regular customers.

One should come as soon as it opens while the tea-room is still quiet and almost empty. The unchanging ballet of waiters then begins. The setting has remained almost identical for nearly a hundred years. Only a few Art Dé
co chandeliers were added around 1930. From floor to ceiling, the gilded moulding plunges us into the prestige of bygone times. On the ground floor, a large long room, lit by a glass roof letting the daylight in, receives small groups at tea-time, gathered around marble and wooden tables for a snack. A few people sitting in the window watch passers-by strolling by, while eating a Viennese pastry. At the back of the room, alcoves make it possible to set large tables for a dozen people or so who can meet quietly together. The mezzanine, almost hidden away and covered in red, attracts a few customers. In all, the restaurant can serve more than a hundred people.

In 1993, Angelina's opened its first shops and franchises in Japan and the United States. There you can buy boxes of pralines and confectionery as well as china bearing the firm's distinguished coat of arms. Even the famous chocolate granules are on sale allowing you to make the famous chocolate at home. It is easy to make and was created to recall the famous Paris beverage.

Today, the tea-room, which is part and parcel of the Paris heritage, still holds a few private events. Cocktail parties, birthday parties and society evenings are sometimes held there. Jean-Paul Gautier and Karl Lagerfeld have followed Mademoiselle Chanel's example. As the world of fashion remains among its faithful customers, numerous fashion parades are held there in March and in October when the new collections come out. Located between the Cour Carrée (Square courtyard) of the Louvre and the famous haute-couture houses, Angelina's saw numerous new fashion designers making their debuts such as Herve Leger, Torrente and Michel Klein. So as not to disturb customers too much, the fashion parades take place in the morning. A few tables are removed from the restaurant and the models can present themselves to the public.

Hot chocolate and "Mont-Blanc" pastries are the two most popular delicacies and the ones which are ordered the most. Although this palace has become a veritable institution, it still keeps its recipes secret. The thick, frothy beverage is served in a hot-chocolate pot, accompanied by a jug of whipped cream to complement it. The Mont-Blanc pastry comes from the Italian Alps. It consists of meringue, whipped cream and sweet chestnut cream. Many other pastries here will delight gastronomes such as the fragilité
made of macaroon pastry, almond sponge cake and pistachio butter-cream, the Colombien, made of coffee ganache or the Opéra which is another refined chocolate and coffee cake. For some twenty years, the tea-room has offered a restaurant service at lunchtime. In winter, you might be tempted by a Zander and Dublin bay prawn stew spiced with curcuma or a Pan-fried medallion of veal, and, in summer, by the selection of salads with Parisian names.

Served by warm, attentive and discreet staff, the customers are charmed by this place and will always come back to seek the simple charm of that French-style art of living. --Actualite en France





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