My obsession with Marie Antoinette has long been documented. I have leafed through dusty old books, scoured museums, and written to curators in search of a gown, a slipper, or a scrap of a chemise that may have once belonged to my idol. I have trudged through the vomit-filled streets of New Orleans just to gaze at her portrait, suffered frostbite so I could retrace her steps in Paris on a brutally cold winter day, and been nearly arrested for taking forbidden photographs of her commode on display at Petite Trianon. I successfully navigated my way through the warrens of Osaka to attend a frightfully small exhibit of paintings and personal items once owned by Marie Theresa, Marie Antoinette’s mother. I have visited the Musee Carnavalet in Paris to behold her lock of hair, slipper, and dishes, wept while standing in the threshold of her cell at the Conciergerie Prison, and made pilgrimages to the place of her birth (Hofburg Palace, Vienna) and the place of her brutal death (Place de la Concorde, Paris).
Recently, my obsession took a turn from the maudlin and morbid to the delightful and delicious. On a trip to Paris, I discovered Debauve and Gallais. Located in a charming green painted shop on the rue des Saints-Pères, this chocolatier makes “Pistoles de Marie Antoinette,” chocolate coins originally developed for the queen so that she might disguise the bitter taste of her medicinal powders. Although I enjoyed their ganache truffles more than Marie Antoinette’s rather bitter pistoles, I confess to feeling a bit of a thrill as I put one of the coins on my tongue, closed my eyes, and imagined I was sipping orange water tea with Antoinette in her gilded inner sanctum at Versailles.
Next, I made my way to Stohrer Patisserie. Located in the 2nd arrondissement on rue Montorgueil, Stohrer Patisserie was founded by Louis XV’s pastry chef in 1730 and is considered the oldest patisserie in Paris. This patisserie also once provided Marie Antoinette with a brioche-like pastry, reminiscent of the treat she ate as a child in Austria. I tried this pastry, but not being a fan of bland brioche, preferred the richly layred forêt noire and the chocolate cream filled éclairs. According to a survey conducted by Figaro, France’s leading newspaper, Stohrer Patisserie makes the third best éclairs in Paris (the article is proudly displayed near their front door). I would have to taste the first and second best éclairs to concur with that judgement, because, frankly I think Marie Antoinette, an extremely finicky eater, would have lost her head over Stohrer’s bourbon cream filled éclair (Pun intended. Sorry).
I am not sure where my next Marie Antoinette inspired adventure will take me, but I am almost certain it will not be as delectable of an experience as my journey to the chocolatier and patisserie to the Queen!