Hugo & Victor’s like Victor Hugo’s works are irresistible, some are avant-garde and unquestionably creative. Like the later, the famous French writer Victor Hugo living on Place des Vosges, Hugo & Victor settled in Paris and let their creative juices flowing. The spherical chocolates, pralines and ganaches of Hugo & Victor are presented in “Writer’s notebook” (sold from 6 to 105 pieces in this originally shaped box) as a reference to the literary past of the Parisian Left bank. But that is not all – Hugo Caramel, Jorge Amado (a chocolate & vanilla cake), Hugo Combawa and Saint-Honoré Chataigne, that are among the signature pastries, will tease not only your brain but also your palate. The name captures the spirit of the pastry & chocolate brand in the innovative “Hugo” pastry, aiming at deconstructing traditional pastry, and in the comfort seeking“Victor” treat, bringing you back to your childhood yearnings.
The creators are two childhood friends from Hyères, South of France. Hugues Pouget and Sylvain Blanc reunited so they could overturn traditional pastry codes. Hugues Pouget was made EXECUTIVE PASTRY CHEF at Guy Savoy, just after winning his third Michelin star. The following year, he won the French Dessert Championship. Traveling to Singapore, Shanghai, Japan and Brazil, tasting and savouring new flavours, opened his eyes to the new possibilities. Sylvain Blanc, developed the Cacao Barry brand in Europe. In 2010, the two of them assembled their experience and opened Hugo & Victor.
Hugo & Victor use top ingredients such as vanilla, sourced from Alain Abel, Tahiti-based producer renown for the quality of his beans grown on three distinctive terroirs: Bora Bora, Raiatea and Tahaa. These beans can age longer than other vanillas enabling them to reach a grater maturity imparting aromas of cacao and caramel. Further, Hugo & Victor has its own plantation of kaffir lime, a rare exotic citrus fruit, and verbena grown in South of France. Pairing their pastries and chocolates with various beverages such as tea and wine is close to the founders’ hearts. Frédéric Béal, well-known sommelier, has selected wines to match, but Hugo & Victor also works with Le Domaine de la Bégude in the South of France, which does not use any pesticides or fertilisers in their production of grapes.
Chocolate and tea pairing at Hugo & Victor
While shopping at the boutique I was recommended to pair the single origin Dark Chocolate from Venezuela (75%cocoa) with Hugo & Victor black tea from China ‘Greysha’ or the green tea-based blend Jardin de Saint-Augustin – Sencha & Gunpowder green teas perfumed with mint&rose with rose petals. I went for the Jardin de Saint-Augustin. The chocolate’s delicate and creamy texture lively with high acidity, citrus fruits (lemon, grapefruit) and shy raspberry aroma was changed by the full and astringent tea. The raspberries showed off while the citruses were tamed reaching a nice balance of flavours. Other teas blended by H&V are Pétale de Pamplemousse (black Chinese tea with grapefruit peel), Aux sources de Greysha (black Chinese tea with bergamot, orange, cornflower petals and orange peel), Éclosion de Fruits rouges (green Sencha tea with currants, strawberries, raspberries and cherries), and Coeur de Montezuma (white Chinese tea with mango and papaya). The dark chocolate bars, especially the single origin chocolates, demonstrate the quality of the raw ingredients, while the creations of tablets made with grapefruit petals, mendiants and other ingredients by the duo show their mastery of craft. The 75% cocoa-containing bar from Peru is well-balanced, smooth on the palate and delicately embalms your tongue with sweet honey-like sensation. It is elegant with acidity and tannins in the equilibrium so they do not bother and make the chocolate pleasant for anyone who does not like sharp, robust and too sugary flavours.
Following seasonal availability and freshness of ingredients is not just a revived trend of recent years, it had always been a necessity of the past. Yet, changing ingredients in our diet is also reasonable as our palates appreciate different things with changing seasons. Hugo&Victor creations are overwhelmingly based on the philosophy of the seasons.
Some ingredients are timeless – “LES INTEMPORELS“, they are always available fresh throughout the year. These are the star flavours at Hugo & Victor: chocolate, caramel and vanilla from Tahiti.
Whereas, the other five transient flavours display their mighty only when they are in SEASON:
- Citruses & exotic fruits: Pineapple, bloody orange, litchi, passionfruit, lemon.
- The spring: Lemongrass, pistachios, coffee, cane sugar, passionfruit, rhubarb.
- The orchard fruits: Strawberry, cherry, raspberry, blueberry, verbena, apricot and peach.
- The Indian summer: Verbena, figs, almonds, combawa, mirabelle plums, pear, grapes.
- The autumn: Combawa, pomegranate, tangerine, chestnut, apple and lemon.
In the early fall you can savour the St Honorée Chestnut cake, but also other pastry and macaroons flavoured with verbena, figs, almonds, combawa, mirabelles, pears, grapes as well as pomegranate, tangerine, apple and lemon. It is practical though that anyone can get throughout the entire year the classical french breakfast items such as Brioche, Croissant, Pain au chocolat, and even own blends of ice-creams (Vanilla, Jorge Amado, Pistachio, Lemon Cheesecake) and sorbets (Grapefruit, Victor Strawberry, Montezuma, Verbena) whether it is winter or summer anyone with a sweet tooth can always be in the mood for one of these treats.
Boutique Rive Gauche 40 Blvd Raspail, 75007 Paris. Mon-Sat: 9am-8pm; Sun: 10am-6pm
Boutique Marché Saint Honoré 7 rue Gomboust, 75001 Paris. Mon-Wed: 10:30am-7pm; Thurs-Sat: 10:30am-8pm; Sun: 11am-5pm.
Printemps Haussmann – RdC de la Mode 64 Blvd Haussmann, 75009 Paris. Mon-Sat: 9:35am-8pm (on Thurs until 10pm).