It isn't morning in Paris without coffee and a croissant. And if it isn't a good morning in Paris without coffee and a pain au chocolat, I have just had one great morning. Starting at dawn, I dashed around to hunt down the city's best pain au chocolat. I collected those that had won awards or have attained national icon status, like Ladurèe's lacquered decadence and the Left Bank classic by Gerard Mulot. I also picked up personal favorites from Sadaharu Aoki and Alain Ducasse's Be, my old neighborhood boulangerie, plus any others I came across along the way.
After trying them all, I learned three things. First, a good pain au chocolat freshly baked, made with butter, not margarine, and high-quality chocolate is a rare bird. You have to know where to look. Second, the best ever pain au chocolat is to be found in the unassuming shop of Jean Millet. Its glazed surface is baked to a burnished brown. The layers of puff pastry are delicate, yet chewy, each one clearly articulated. At first bite, the crust shatters into shards of extreme butteriness, while the chocolate, a superb Venezuelan Carenero, melts over the tongue. I devoured every scrap. The third thing I learned, after sampling 65 varieties in one morning: it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Pâtissier Jean Millet; tel: (33-1) 45 51 49 80
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