Tuesday, 1 March 2011


No. 7 'Brunette' praline spread

The knives are out - and in a good way. 'Brunette' is a wickedly sweet and utterly delicious hazelnut praline spread, made by upmarket bread shop and cafe chain Le Pain Quotidien. It's like Nutella - without the chocolate. And that makes it better.....

I first tried it at the Marylebone High Street branch of Le PQ, in the good old days, when I was a skinny latte girl and a lady who lunched. Marylebone High Street, just north of Oxford Street, is a long, chic street of designer fashion and designer furniture shops. At the Baker Street end is La Fromagerie, one of those uber-trendy, uber-expensive delicatessens. Le PQ occupies a nice corner plot and is a cheery, friendly place for a late breakfast/brunch, a welcome pause when one is shopping.

At Le PQ, coffee and hot chocolate comes in big bowls, a la Francaise. If it weren't so nice, it would be pretentious. The bread menu is extensive, and each table is blessed - yes, blessed - with a selection of delicious jams, preserves and spreads. The Brunette was just too intriguing to pass by and while my companion, a very slim, elegant friend of mine who never eats too much, chose some sort of cuisine minceur for her snack, I selected the hazelnut and raisin baton from the bread list. A thin, chewy, nutty stick of sourdough, neatly sliced down its centre, was the perfect foil for the charms of Brunette. You don't need much - a light slick is enough, otherwise its temple-aching sweetness will give you a migraine.

Obviously, I had to buy a jar of this "ultimate treat". The next time I visited Le PQ I noticed they had added some other spreads to the range: 'Noir', a rich, dark chocolate spread, 'Noisella' (like Nutella) and 'Blondie', white chocolate (far too sweet even for my sweet tooth!).

I have not found any uses for Brunette, other than spooning it out of the jar and straight into my mouth when I can feel my blood-sugar level dropping.

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