Thursday, April 09, 2009

Berthillon ice cream


Day 1 of a week in Paris - Sunday

The Islands: Ile de la Cité - Ile Saint-Louis


  • Breakfast: Hotel? (not sure if la patisserie is open Sundays)
  • Notre Dame; tour and climb tower
  • Place Louis-Lepine - bird and flower market
  • Sainte-Chapelle; tour and purchase billets for evening concert - LAST POST
  • Lunch: Brasserie de Isle St-Louis -- Look for the stork!
  • Walk Isle St-Louis; ice cream at Berthillion; Square Barye - THIS POST
  • Supper: Sandwich or omelette?
  • Evening concert at Sainte Chapelle - LAST POST

After reading about Berthillon in my favorite Paris travel guide - ACCESS - then finding the flagship store on rue St-Louis en Ile the main street down the center of tiny Ile Saint-Louis (the smaller "ship" island floating in the Seine, behind Ile de la Cité on which the Notre-Dame sits) and waiting in line for maybe 30 minutes, I was starting to realize that an ice cream cone in Paris was not going to be like an ice cream cone at Baskin-Robbins. Seeing customers leave with their small cone and one or two golf-ball sized scoops, instead of baseball-and-a-half sized scoops a la Baskin-Robbins, I noted that once again, the French culinary experience proved that if you eat smaller amounts of food made with expert skill from fresh, high quality ingredients, you will be satisfied with less.

There are unusual flavors, such as rhubarb, pear and grapefruit, but my favorite (not that I've tried them all) is strawberry, which my sister Nancy is enjoying, above, while she holds mine so I can snap the photo. The flavor is intense - as if condensed, and not overly sweet. One scoop is parfait pour mois.

I skimmed the history of ice cream at this informative site and learned that ices date back to 1100 BC! Berthillon began in the 1950s only. The Italians brought their gelato to France via Catherine de Medici - known as the mother of French cuisine (interesting that she, and it, were really Italian) - in the 1500s. She's the one, remember, who at age 14 married the Duc d'Orleans (who later became Henri II), also age 14.

This page on the Berthillon web site gives locations of the shops around Paris. But you will also find their ice cream sold in patisseries and restaurants around the city.

Here are two last images of
Ile Saint-Louis, as this is the last post of Day 1 on the islands. The first is of the Brasserie de Isle St-Louis again, where we had omelettes, and the second is of the Pont St-Louis, the little pedestrian bridge between the islands where musicians, painters, body contortionists, magicians - entertainers of all sorts, set up their shows and hope for a few Euro in their boxes.

I loved the horn player with his child on his back.

Next post we'll move on to Day 2 of a week in Paris.


Susan said...

I can almost taste that strawberry ice cream. The thing is when you have a small serving of something delicious you savour every nibble. When you have a large serving, you tend to gobble and not taste after the first couple of bites. Small is special.

CottageGirl said...

I wonder how long that little one could stay on his daddy's back! Perhaps he was rewarded with some lovely concoction from Berthillon!

alice said...

Ah, Bertillon! A Parisian institution! I think French people are as greedy as any others, but the price here could be part of the explanation for only "une boule s'il vous plait"...!

alice said...

Oups, BertHillon ;-)

Oliag said...

That ice cream looks like the essence of a lover of all things rhubarb I'm intrigued by the idea of rhubarb ice cream...

Dakota Bear said...

I need to go there and have the rhubarb for starters. Or maybe one scoop of strawberry and one scoop of rhubarb.

Ruth said...

Susie, one of these days I'll post about a Michelin 3 star restaurant. They served tiny portions in several courses. By the end, we were perfectly content, not overly full. That is the goal of a good chef. Unlike our view in the U.S. at restaurants of huge platters overflowing with food! I can usually get several meals out of a plate like that.

Ruth said...

Good point, CottageGirl! A little reward for a little guy. I think he was entertained watching people watch his dad.

Ruth said...

True, Alice, no doubt. Also, there is a different mentality in Europe from the U.S. Our country is so big, sometimes I think our mentality is big as a result. There is always room for more - but we're realizing it isn't true forever.

Ruth said...

If I remember right, Oliag, I tried it and it was yummy. I love rhubarb too, especially with strawberries.

Ruth said...

Oh, good idea, Dakota Bear, together, like pie.

Peter said...

Surprising is that this Berthillon shop closes a couple of summer weeks! Noted the same thing for what is said to be the best Italian ice cream shop - in Florence! At least, in the meantime, you can find the Berthillon ice cream elsewhere! :-)

Ruth said...

Peter, I never knew that! Strange.

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