Café gourmand – Live like a Parisian, order like a Parisian.

French cuisine is a thing ancestral: it has its rules, its technique, its buttery sauces. Our president wanted it listed as part of the world’s cultural heritage! But tradition doesn’t mean we are immune to fads and fashion – or to fresh ideas. In the world of Paris restaurants, too, trends come and go; particularly where dessert is concerned. There was the chocolate fondant madness, the salted caramel invasion. Today, it’s café gourmand craze.

And because we know that part of enjoying a restaurant experience is knowing what to order, we wanted to share this little secret of Parisian bistros: these days, a café gourmand is the way to go.

A café gourmand is the heavenly alliance of coffee and sweets. A cup of espresso surrounded by sweet nothings – bite-sized versions of several desserts. Its origins were modest – it started out with a chocolate or two, a macaroon and maybe a small cookie. But as more and more restaurants began putting it on their menus, café gourmand has grown… Well, more and more gourmand. Nowadays you might be treated to a mini crème brulee, a chunk of chocolate éclair, a mini raspberry tart, and a shotglass of mousse. For the indecisive like yours truly, it is noncommittal: no need to make a choice! For those with a sweet tooth, it’s heaven: so many flavors on one plate! For the aesthetic minded, it’s pleasing: a mix of colors, shapes and sizes. For those watching their diet, it is still virtuous: the portions are small and inoffensive. The perfect way to cap off lunch on a terrace, and carry on with your day.

The idea is genius, and thoroughly Parisian. I have yet to see it offered in any other city. It’s also a tiny luxury – an inexpensive way to treat yourself, a rich experience in a small package.

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