Advantageously Known for Gorgeous Goodies
I long ago gave up buying éclairs in Parisian bakeries – always the same choices, chocolate or coffee, with unconvincing pâte à choux that often veers too close to cardboard. Then L’Eclair de Génie, one of the mono-product boutiques that are all the rage in Paris, opened with far more original choices. They are excellent, but the other day I tasted the best chocolate éclair ever in a curious little shop hidden away on a back street: Le Furet Tanrade, run by the loquacious Alain Furet, many times over honored with the title “Meilleur Ouvrier de France.”
Chocolate-maker Furet’s name became attached to that of Tanrade, one of the oldest jam and jelly makers in France, when Furet met the last surviving member of the Tanrade family in 1990. He had no heirs but wanted to keep the name alive and chose Furet to carry on the house traditions.
Tanrade (motto: “Connu Avantageusement par L’Excellente Qualité des Confitures”; Advantageously Known for the Excellent Quality of Its Jams”), founded in 1728 and originally a pharmacy making medicinal syrups, eventually converted to making jams. Laurent Grimod de La Reynière, author of an early-19th-century gourmet guidebook called the Almanach des Gourmands. Honoré de Balzac and Alphonse Daudet were regular customers, and Marcel Proust instructed his maid, Céleste, to make sure she purchased jams and syrups from Tanrade, supplier to his maman.
After a fire destroyed his shop on Rue Chabrol, Furet moved to this funky little boutique on Rue des Messageries and struggled to keep going, continuing to cook up Tanrade’s artisanal jams along with his own sublime éclairs and chocolates, including an unusual one with a very distinctive flavor that is made with hemp, a variety of cannabis that won’t get you high. Some help came in the form of a deal with a food co-op specializing in artisanal and locavore products, La Ruche qui Dit Oui, which has branches all over Paris and France.
Furet’s innovations, in addition to adding chocolate to the Tanrade repertoire, have included a series of “Confitures Citoyens” named after politicians. The Socialist mayor of Lille, Martine Aubry, for example, was honored with rose jelly with chocolate chips (the rose is the symbol of her party), while the conservative Christine Lagarde, now managing director of the International Monetary Fund, was represented by Champagne jelly with flakes of gold. In 2013, Furet concocted a special, self-explanatory cola-cocoa jelly for Barack Obama.
Let’s keep the endearing Alain Furet and the venerable Tanrade in business. It’s worth going out of your way to meet the master and buy his quality chocolates, jams and jellies, but they can also be had in your neighborhood in Paris by ordering through La Ruche qui Dit Oui.