What it is: A Paris café serving a decadent cup of hot chocolate – one that tastes like a melted chocolate bar
Bonnie: For years I’ve been sending friends heading to Paris to Angelina’s for hot chocolate. I’ve only gotten raves back.
Back up to 1992.
There I was in Paris, not with foodies, but with my 8- and 11-year-old sons. We had won the airfare for the trip. First class. But that’s a whole other story. We were economically squeezing in as much as we could afford, which wasn’t much, as I was a single parent freelance writer just getting by.
Paris with young boys is different than with a lover or, for that matter, any adult. We climbed almost every set of stairs in the city, hung out with the gargoyles atop Notre Dame and traversed the miles of subterranean catacomb tunnels lined with six million skeletons. Yes, a different Paris.
Optimistically, I kept a folded list in my pocket of Paris food experiences not to be missed from my friend Babs Chernetz (then food editor of the now defunct McCalls, currently at Redbook). Her list included hot chocolate at Angelina’s, a place not far from the Louvre, where we were headed to see the Mona Lisa and as much else as we could fit in before Eric became antsy. Knowing he never lasted more than an hour in museums, Angelina’s was ready as plan B.
Thirty-five minutes later we were on our way through the Tuileries to Angelina’s. Perfection, I thought, as they seated us in the front room near a window at a white-tablecloth covered table, something reminiscent—only to baby boomers—of Eloise at the Plaza.
I convinced the boys we’d all share one hot chocolate (priced at $8 at today’s prices) and they could each have their own bowl of gelato – something that costs less. The hot chocolate was worth every penny. We lingered all afternoon with the guys dutifully writing in their journals (the result of the deal I made with their forward-thinking principal, Ed Mackniak, who—when asked if I could take them out of school for the trip—replied, “They’ll learn more from the two weeks in Europe than they would in any classroom.”)
The first sip of that rich hot chocolate is still with me. After all, could you forget drinking a melted European candy bar? Neither could I.
Bryan: My life has been filled with great travel and great food (this one I have to thank Bonnie for – as only a mother can drag a young son to a confectionary outside the Louvre). Few experiences stand out as boldly as Angelina’s… It was my first time in Paris (I was only 11) – I can still sense the aroma of that rich, warm flowing cocoa and the recollection of that chocolate continues to elicit fond memories of an awakening to a greater food culture and the simple and amazing things in life one finds when traveling.
Eric: With great travel will always come great food discoveries. Have you ever thought about melting a chocolate bar into a glass, waiting for it to become the perfect temperature, and drinking it, savoring each sip as though it were an ice-cold drink on a scorching hot day? That to me is the definition of Angelina’s Hot Chocolate. It is the epitome of a chocoholic’s euphoria, and is a taste that would even have Willy Wonka asking for seconds.
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