Hugo & Victor may sound like a children’s daytime television programme but they’re actually chocolatiers with a sweet little store on 7, rue Gomboust, Paris – just a stone’s through from the highly exclusive Place Vendôme and nestled amongst the more well-known chocolatiers and chocolate makers of Pierre Hermé, Jean-Paul Hevin, Michel Cluizel and Pierre Marcolini. All of their own names have a fascinating story of their own and an artistic approach equally unique. But it was Hugo & Victor’s presentation of their Semi Spheres which I just loved.
As you can see these bon bons can be found housed within a box that appears to be a small, antique book – I’ve never seen any other chocolatier present their wares in such an interesting manner. My only grievance, at the time was that I couldn’t choose what was in the box. The guy behind the counter didn’t speak too much English and I was exhausted after spending half an hour trying to find the shop, and I think I muttered something like “je acheter cette boît” whilst pointing to the smallest box present on the table in the centre of the shop.
The young guy then disappeared behind a door and a few short moments of rustling behind the scenes a hand popped through a hatch and present the shop worker with this selection. Having now researched their website I can see that this is a box of their seasonal caramels and various what seemed like strawberry confiture.
The caramel was sweet and delicious with a very long lasting flavour, whilst I found the strawberry one very strange and felt like it was just strawberry jam coated in milk chocolate. There was also similar confiture of pear, one of mango and a very autumn thyme and fruit combo which just smacked of these short nights and a smoky edge to the cold air.
Of course I wanted to ganaches, but next time I will improve my French and get into more of a dialogue – as well as not worry so much how I transport the chocolates back. But still, the autumn flavours were sharp, crisp and incredibly seasonal. The strawberry may seem a touch out of season, but perhaps being a more southerly nation, their strawberry growing season extends this close to Christmas.
The attention to detail and sophistication was exemplary. It was like being in the lair of a chocolatier with OCD – as we left the guy went to the front of the store and cleaned the glass door where my wife had left some prints as we entered. I just had to chuckle at that.