Just a mere 15 minutes walk from Musee Carnavalet at Le Marais, Jacques Genin was the first sweets stop I scheduled into our itinerary. Having read so much about its amazing Pate de Fruits, chocolates and Paris Brest, I was dying to try them for myself. Maybe it’s just me, or maybe it’s because Le Marais seems to be such a gothic district, I was expecting a small wood-furnished boulanger patisserie. Jacques Genin is anything but that. Huge glass windows reaching to the ceilings, bright orange lights and neatly arranged displays, it’s chic interior was extremely attractive.
Food displays (left to right, clockwise): chocolates, packets of chocolate treats, caramels, pates du fruits.
Pates de fruits
Spiral stairs to the kitchen.
We came in a big group of 7, but the staff was very nice in preparing a table sufficient for us. It was really pleasant to find that he could speak fluent English! I know we’re in France and should learn to speak French, but…really it gets annoying when you’re trying to order food with that language barrier.
After a 10 minutes wait or so, we were shown to our table where we were immediately served glasses of water. Thereafter the staff informed us about the pastries of the day, in which the Paris Brest was not included. So I asked about it, and I was told that since about a year ago they’ve stopped making regular pastries. They still have a few basics like eclairs featured on the menu, but the rest of the pastries change on a daily basis.
Degustation aux caramels
This degustation featured a selection of 6 of their signature caramels. I can’t name the various caramels cause they weren’t written down, and in the mess of eating the various sweets I didn’t pay that much attention to these. What I can tell you though is that they are superb. That says a lot, coming from someone who doesn’t like caramels. Smooth, velvety and rich without being cloyingly sweet, these caramels are perfect. Perhaps what was lacking was the obvious difference between the 6 caramels. If I couldn’t tell the flavours of the caramels, I guess it isn’t that obvious or well done. Kudos for mastering a beautiful caramel though.
This isn’t your Starbucks diluted sugar-spammed hot chocolate. Parisian hot chocolate is much more different. Thick, decadent, and extremely rich, the hot chocolate tastes more like a melted block of chocolate than a drink. As delicious as it is, it becomes hard to swallow after about half a cup. It is very nice though, and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who visits Jacques Genin, except it might be wiser to share it with a few friends.
Having eaten millefeuilles at almost every bakery I pass in France, I would say that this is by far the best millefeuille that I’ve had besides Laduree’s I tried a few years back. The puff pastry is extremely delicate, with a perfectly caramelised outer layer, yet sturdy enough to hold the smooth praline creme patissiere. The best part of eating a millefeuille is cutting into it for the first time, hearing the crackle of the puff pastry, then putting a spoonful of that mess into your mouth. Il est parfait. JG’s millefeuille stands out because of its puff pastry, in particular how it remains crisp even in your mouth. I felt that the praline creme patissiere could be more pronounced though. It tasted like a slightly nuttier chocolate instead of having that very distinct praline flavour.
They definitely have the best chocolate eclair I’ve tried thus far too. Perfect choux pastry, with a crisp surface and a fluffy interior; filled with amazingly smooth dark chocolate creme patisserie. Absolutely heavenly.
Tarte au Citron est Basilic
I loved how the basil was subtle yet definitely discernible here. It kept the tart from getting boring after a few bites. In addition the lemon curd was just the right amount of sour. Eaten with the lightly sweeted shortcrust base, this tart was a breath of fresh air to all the chocolatey sweetness. A must-try to balance out all that sugar.
On hindsight, it probably wasn’t such a good idea to put this first in my to-eats list. Cause everything pales in comparison now. If you happen to be in Paris, be sure to pay Jacques Genin a visit. Trust me: you won’t regret it.