Madeleines and white chocolate teaspoons

After last weekend’s dis­astrous visit to Tate Mod­ern in Lon­don, it was reas­sur­ing to dis­cover that La Musee Rodin in Paris is as won­der­ful as ever. The house on Rue de Var­enne, lived in by the sculptor Auguste Rodin until his death, is wear­ily beau­ti­ful, like an aging French film star. It’s not so much ‘eyes and teeth’ as creak­ing joints and wrinkles — and I adore it.

There’s so much to love about Paris but I’m still per­turbed by the city’s res­taur­ants. They take dull, pre­dict­able and snooty to a whole new level — the ghastly Bras­serie Lipp has all those qual­it­ies and more.

We had a per­fectly good din­ner at Bouil­lon Racine, but the ser­vice bordered on the com­ical. We ordered snails and a crab salad fol­lowed by scal­lops and sea bass. Moments later the waiter came back to say that he had ‘abso­lutely no memory’ of what we had asked for.

At La Cou­pole on Boulevard du Mont­parnasse we had already star­ted eat­ing our filet de boeuf when the waiter returned to the table, snatched our plates away and swept into the kit­chen without a word. We were left hold­ing our cut­lery in mid-air, help­less vic­tims of a car­toon food robbery.

What a relief then to find that La Grande Epi­cerie is as glor­i­ous as ever. The won­der­ful food store offers the best altern­at­ive to the erratic res­taur­ants in France’s cap­ital city; simply buy a pic­nic and eat it in the park. And if you can, buy a box of white chocol­ate tea­spoons to take home with you, serve them with mini madeleines and eat with an espresso while you remem­ber all that’s great about Paris.


Makes around 15 mini cakes

60g unsalted butter

1 large egg

50g caster sugar

50g plain white flour

Finely grated zest of an orange

Icing sugar to dust

Pre­heat the oven to 190 degrees c. Melt the but­ter and, using a pastry brush, lightly grease the moulds. Allow the remain­ing but­ter to cool. Whisk the eggs and caster sugar vig­or­ously until the mix­ture is thick, pale and foamy. Sift the flour into the egg and sugar. Fold it in, along with the orange zest and the cool melted but­ter. Fill each mould and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Dust with icing sugar.