01 February 2010

chartres + mentchikoff man

chartres01meet the mentchikoff man! he’s a very specific type of snowman that comes from chartres, a town in the eure-et-loire department of france, about 96km/60mi southwest from paris. and about a 1h30min drive from evreux. i think. i fell asleep, so i don’t really remember how long it took to get there.

i love playing with my food… physically on the plate, and digitally when i draw on them. but oh do i miss my tablet! i’ll talk about mr. mentchikoff later. first, let’s go on a little tour of chartres. (but its not a really good tour, sorry.)

chartres02we’ve been having a lot of days like this in evreux. cloudy and rainy. SUNSHINE. cloudy and rainy. SUNSHINE. sunny.RAINY. cloudy. SUNNY. rainy. SUNNY. ………. and that’s in one day. my body can’t keep up with all these fluctuations! i’m hoping sunny will take over and just stick.

chartres03chartres’ cathedral is famous for it’s two mismatched spires because they were built at different times. and i love it because its a great example of how symmetry isn’t always king.

chartres04can’t resist all the doors and windows in france!

chartres05can’t resist pastries either…

i do have a small comment. the prices at this bakery were a bit high, and my friends complained a bit about it. i didn’t know anything about the bakery to have a good concrete argument, but i’ll write what i think here.

i think it’s a good thing when food isn’t dirt cheap. when it’s dirt cheap, the quality of the ingredients suffer. perhaps the butter is lesser quality. perhaps apple jam is used as a filling rather than real apples. perhaps things aren’t left to properly rest, so they can make more – but the flavor is less developed. perhaps the people hired are paid less and don’t care as much for the quality. who knows, there are a ton of reasons why one bakery is more or less expensive than another, but in a very very broad sense, price sometimes does reflect quality.

and i’m okay with supporting a bakery that spends more money on its ingredients so that i can have a better pastry.

it’s a good thing they don’t know how much i spend when i visit certain patisseries in paris… because the prices in the chartres patisserie was nothing compared to what i’ve spent before… ahem. i can’t help it! i just love supporting things i love.

chartres06i noticed that the macarons in chartres were very shy and didn’t like revealing their fillings!

chartres08a tea break to escape the cold. with pastries of course. and i’d like to mention that this is the very first place in france where i found a salon de the with a real couch!

chartres07back to the mentchikoffs. i spotted these in a window and couldn’t resist trying something that i’d never seen before.

they are chocolate (actually a mix of chocolate, hazelnut praline, and butter) enrobed in a meringue as white as snow. but not just any snow – russian snow. in 1893 there was a craze in france for anything from russia or russian related thanks to a newly formed alliance between the two countries.

chartres09A confectioner by the name of Daumesnil in Chartres decided to create this confection in honor of the Russian prince Alexander Danilovich Menschiv, who happened to apprentice for a baker when he younger. Selling pies in the street, he caught the attention of a general and was introduced to the Czar where he climbed the ranks and became the most feared and powerful man in Russia. Sadly, he fell out of favor, was banished to Siberia, and died in disgrace. Don’t worry, his son later restored the family honor. Otherwise, i don’t think this would be called a Mentchikoff. So happily, we have something delicious to remember him by!

i’d just like to note that paragraph above took me forever to confirm… because what was written on the card that came with my mentchikoffs had info and names that weren’t matching up to any other sources i could find online. so sadly, you can’t always trust what your patisserie prints :(

sources: here, here, here, here, here.

chartres10then i went back to evreux! and ran in J, who was making dinner. who had come back from a weekend spent at home. where she has chickens. who lay eggs. that she gets to eat. and sometimes, the hens lay unnaturally HUGE eggs! i caught the word “twins” when she was explaining why, but i don’t know anything about hen raising to understand why.

sorry to be an awful tour guide. i really deviated, but i just can’t help it. thankfully, google images is wonderful so you can see what the town of chartres looks like if you are curious.


Kathy's Red Door Welcome said...

Oooh la la, I love the bakeries in France! I love those French macaroons and I'm with you I'll pay more for something that is of the highest quality...I'll just eat a little less.

Jennifer said...

Im loving your stories and perspectives on everything! I so agree that prices often reflect quality and at a good bakery Im willing for sure!! I use this same value when I grocery shop (and clothes shop) I buy quality, use less and savor the high end. better for us all in the long run I think.

Lizounette said...

What fun and natural looking eggs! My husband has a fit if I don't clean ours right away. So the "twins" your friend mentioned, was she talking about twin yolks? Sometimes it does happen in those large eggs!

And what a fun pastry history lesson. As always I love love love your travel tales!

cathy said...

@kathy: same money spent, but less calories :)
@jennifer: and with clothes, there's a point where you just run out of space!
@lizounette: yep, twin yolks, but i couldn't catch why or how it happens.

thank you everybody, as usual, for your nice comments! <3