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Paris is a romantic city. And the most romantic place in the whole of that romantic city is the tearoom at Berthillon, an ice cream shop on the tiny and quaint Île St. Louis. But it's not like other ice cream shops; it recognizes the wonder that is ice cream, and situates itself among the pomp and circumstance that ice cream requires. Brass bars. Marble tables. Silver cups.
Line up and get a scoop to go, or do something dreadfully romantic and get a table for two in the tearoom. There, you can order one of their coupes composées, or sundaes. Unlike American sundaes, they're far more petit. A scoop of ice cream gets a drizzle of chocolate or raspberry sauce and then a gorgeous mound of fresh whipped cream that has no competitor in the whole world. They even do a kind of French affogato where they drown your ice cream scoop in thick hot chocolate.
But I always order the raspberry-rose.
When I say always, I mean in the summer; like the rest of Berthillon's myriad flavors, raspberry-rose sorbet is available by season only. During summer, they make this famous sorbet out of bright, fresh raspberries and sweet, fragrant roses. I cover it in that drizzle of chocolate sauce and that mound of whipped cream, and I enter a kind of reverie. For me, it's the Lady and the Tramp's spaghetti and meatballs—the most romantic, delicious, indulgent thing you could ever share with anybody.
And here is my "French in a Flash" version. A bit late for Valentine's Day, but Mr. English make a point to never celebrate Valentine's Day on actual Valentine's Day. If you want to do something romantic a bit out of step with the calendar, I can't think of an easier, more delicious, more Parisian way to do it. Drizzle raspberry sorbet with rosewater, and shave curls of white chocolate over the top. Voilà: A cup of sweet, flowery romance.
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