Wednesday, October 28, 2009

An Ice Cream for All Seasons

We're not exactly coming up on the traditional ice cream season here in Brussels. Leaves are falling, the wind is getting brisker, and Daylight Savings Time just ended, plunging us into total darkness before the evening commute gets us home. Ugh. Most people probably want to curl up with a cup of hot cocoa more than a pint of vanilla. But maybe that's just because we Bruxellois don't have a Berthillon.

Berthillon is a famous Parisian glacier, or ice cream shop. Actually, it's the famous Parisian glacier; the place anyone who has done even the slightest bit of culinary research has heard of. In the summer, the line of devotees clamoring to get their next boule spills out the door and down the street from this Ile Saint Louis landmark. And who can blame them? Using only the simple ingrdients of milk, fresh cream, sugar, eggs and natural flavors, Berthillon manages to create sublimely delicious frozen treats. Their ice cream and sorbets are so good that even a crisp fall breeze or cold autumn rain wouldn't keep me - an admitted freeze baby - from eating a cone or two. And with seasonal flavors always on the menu (woodland strawberry just arrived!), Berthillon is an ice cream experience that knows no weather limitations.

Despite being located on the tiny Ile Saint Louis, the real Berthillon shop can be difficult to locate. That's because there are countless establishments nearby (and scattered throughout Paris) that are not Berthillon but that serve Berthillon ice cream and proudly display signs and awnings emblazoned with the name. To find the real Maison Berthillon, head down the main road that cuts through the island the long way, with your back to Notre Dame. You'll find the take-away counter and its accompanying line on your right. Next door is the Salon du Thé, where the prices are more expensive but where your ice cream comes with a cute dish, an almond toffee crisp, and the use of a clean restroom. I recommend both the pistachio, which tastes so vibrant you'll think you're eating a real pistachio nut, and the caramel au beurre salé, which is a French specialty and simply heavenly. Even in the cold.

Maison Berthillon
29-31 rue Saint Louis en l'ile
75004 Paris
métro: Pont Marie


Andi said...

This is actually something I have NEVER tried on my many trips to Paris! I am noting the address and will check it out on my next trip! Thanks!

Zhu said...

Never tried either, I'm ashamed of it! But I'm not an ice-cream person. Chocolate is my drug...

Tanya said...

@Andi, I really hope you make it to Berthillon next time. You won't be disappointed!

@Zhu, yes, but, they have chocolate ice cream :-)