Editor’s Note: Constantino closed in late February 2014.
I first learned about Constantino, a French pastry shop, in early September while out to dinner at Carmen with my friend Brian.
He mentioned the shop was just around the corner, and owned and operated by a Frenchman who just moved to Medellin with his family. Brian spoke highly of the pastries, so I made a mental note to check it out for myself.
France happens to be the only country I’ve visited on all three trips to Europe I’ve made over the years. And with each new visit, I learn to appreciate the country, its cuisine, and especially its pastry shops a little more.
Inside Constantino, the turquoise and pink colors set the mood. I was there mid-afternoon, and the whole first floor was filled with light.
I approached the display case, eyes wide open, and squatted down for a closer look.
Chocolate mousse, a maracuya mousse with white chocolate, a caramel mousse with chocolate ganache, eclairs, tarts, macaroons.
I knew I couldn’t try them all in one sitting, but boy was I tempted to try. Instead, I made a compromise, ordering two pastries. I’d eat one there, and take the other to go.
At the time of my visit, Constantino was also offering a daily special, which included an entree, side salad, and juice for 14,000 pesos ($7.25).
As my pastry choices were being prepared, Nicolas Drouault, the owner came out to greet me.
I learned Constantino had opened five months earlier, in March, but he’d only arrived in Medellin with his family in August.
The pastry shop isn’t Nicolas’ primary business, but he saw an opening to create something new here, and he took it.
In order to ensure the pastries are up to French standards, a French pastry chef is employed in the kitchen.
I asked if the city’s altitude causes any problems, and he said no, but they have to be careful to keep an eye on the humidity levels.
I was also surprised to learn (though it seems obvious in retrospect) that Constantino supplies pastries to local restaurants too, and in fact, that’s a key part of their business.
As a result, the shop’s influence is even greater in Medellin, though diners might not know the source of their desserts.
The Comte de Monte Cristo (8,000 pesos or $4) is a multi-layer pastry featuring cake and chocolate mousse covered in a chocolate glaze, and garnished with a piece of cookie.
The specks of gold paint give it a further touch of sophistication.
As I expected, it was decadent and delicious. My kind of chocolate dessert.
The “Medellin” (8,000 pesos or $4) features a maracuya mousse and white chocolate core over a chocolate cookie.
The whole thing is then smothered in a maracuya glaze, and chocolate pieces are used around the edges for decoration.
Nicolas excused himself, I paid the bill, and took the maracuya pastry to go. Guess how long it lasted back at my apartment, before I unpacked it and sunk a fork in it?
I returned to Constantino a week later to pick up a box of fresh macaroons as a gift for the Day of Love and Friendship party I attended. Of course before I bought them, I had to sample a few myself for quality assurance purposes.
That night, a Colombian friend of Viviana’s won them as a prize. It was clear he’d never had macaroons before, but guess how long it took him to polish off the box?
Check out Constantino and you’ll quickly learn the answer to these questions for yourself. Bon Appétit!
How would you compare it to Me Late Chocolate?
Different. Me Late is more about chocolate, while Constantino takes a more varied approach, and serves fruit tarts, and other classic French pastries.
I’d say Constantino’s pastries are probably more complicated to produce. They will also be opening a bakery in December, and expanding their menu of French dishes in 2014.
I like them both, but for different reasons.