Confession: I almost skipped the famous hot chocolate at Cafe Angelina in Paris.
After all, it's already famous--why does it need any more attention?
But then, when my crew of Cake Gumshoes found ourselves in the Grand Epicerie, we saw bottles of their hot chocolate for sale, and I was able to see that this drinking chocolate, when sold chilled, was not so much a liquid but more of a thick chocolate sludge--when the bottle was turned upside down, the chocolate didn't budge at all.
And in an instant, the previous indifference was thrown out the window in favor of a sort of "get in my belly" approach.
And the next day, bright and early, we hit up the famous cafe on the Rue Rivoli in the shadow of the Louvre.
Cafe Angelina, which was founded in 1903, is a pretty fancy place, with a lovely front counter full of sweet treats, behind which lies a beautifully appointed tearoom.
You can ponder the beverage menu if you must, but really, you should just go ahead and order the hot chocolate--if you're confident in your French abilities, go ahead and call it out by name, "L'Africain".
When your hot chocolate is served, it will be in a pretty little pitcher, with a saucer of whipped cream on the side. You might think the cream on top is overkill, but I assure you, it's not. Add a healthy dollop.
Our group was in unanimous agreement: this hot chocolate is like a one-way ticket to Pleasuretown. Its flavor is deep, dark, rich, and unbelievably luxuriant--you may just find yourself looking back on all the times you settled for Swiss Miss and heaving a great sigh of regret.
Of course, all this epic hot chocolate drinking can work up an appetite, so you might desire something to go along with it--may I suggest the gorgeous Saint-Honore pastry? We went for it, and didn't regret it for an instant.
Now, this legendary chocolat chaud doesn't come cheap--it's 6.90 a pop, and the St. Honore weighed in at about 8--euros, not dollars (ouch). But partaking in such a timeless and thoroughly enjoyable culinary experience? Worth every centime, in this humble spy's opinion.
Cafe Angelina, 226 Rue de Rivoli, Paris; for other locations and more information, click here.