Devouring France: Paris
Quoting my own new year resolutions for 2014 – to eat better (*cough, healthier), be less stressed, be more industrious and write more – I have certainly ticked the first 3 items, but have taken quite a long break from blogging (3 months to be exact), for which I largely blame on writer’s block and a multitude of very much #firstworldproblems.
Without further ado, I shall re-ignite the flame with a short series devouring France (Jan 2014) taking you from Paris, to the Chateaus of the Loire Valley, bustling bouchons of Lyon, then to the snowy alps of Courchevel.
First stop: Paris.
[Poilane – Cuisine de bar]
Where: 8 Rue du Cherche-Midi, 75006 Paris.
Open: Cuisine de Bar (Tues-Sat 8:30am-7:00pm), Bakery (daily, except Sun)
Cost: approx 18€ for tartine, salad, wine and coffee.
If you ever happen to walk past Poilane, please be obliged to carbo-load. One of my favourite bakeries in Paris with amazing breads and a divine offering of galette des rois (a flaky pastry pie filled crème pâtissière and almond). The adjoining café – Cuisine de Bar – offers a sit-down affair with simple open sandwiches (tartines) using their freshly baked breads. Think prosciutto, French cheeses, sardine pastes… (drools)
Where: 80 Rue de Charonne, 75011 Paris.
Contact: +33 1 43 67 38 29. Online booking 1 month in advance.
Open: Closed on Sat, Sun and Monday noon
Cost: Lunch (entree + plat + dessert 28€). Dinner/Lunch (2 entrees + 2 plats + dessert, 55€). It is a bit of a trek out into the suburbs, so why settle for 3 courses… 5 courses is a must!
Reads: The Paris Kitchen.
This neo-bistro on the western outskirts of central Paris, recently ranked as one of the top 50 restaurants (S.Pellegrino) in the world, produced some of my most memorable dishes on this trip to France, not to mention top notch wine selection. Everything is executed impeccably, and comes together in a refreshing arrangement. My two favourite plates were of the raw scallops (with cauliflower and cows cheese seeped in a moat of delicious cider, apple juice and hint of vinegar), and the beautifully fleshy bonito (with white beans, Brussels sprout finished off with a smear of lemons paste).
Where: 11 Rue Grégoire de Tours, 75006 Paris.
Contact: +33 1 43 54 60 74.
Open: daily lunch/dinner. Closed Monday; Sunday lunch.
Cost: less than 20€.
What is a trip to Paris without trying some of its Breton crepes. Whilst probably not the best creperie in Paris, it is within an arm’s reach of Boulevard Saint-Germain, it has a charming bustle about it, and the buckwheat crepes topped with pan seared scallops are a force to be reckoned with. Enjoy with a serving of cider.
[Patisserie Sadaharu Aoki]
Where: Various locations : 75015 / 75006 / 75005 / 75009.
Open: daily (Galeries Lafayette, 75009). Closed Mon/Sun at other stores.
Having visited many of France’s well recognised patisseries, such as Pierre Hermé, Ladurée, I made a conscious effort this time to branch out to as many other creations from other relatively smaller boutiques as possible. This one in particular, created by Japanese born Sadaharu Aoki, showcases the reverse trending of French desserts tweaked for the Japanese palate (aka macha crazy) now becoming popular in Paris.
Gerard Mulot is a beautiful patisserie close to Marche St Germain (covered market) that you simply cannot pass without being lured in by the wafts of freshly baked goods. Arguably one of the best strawberry tarts around, and runners up for their Galette des Rois (yes, the Parisians are obsessed with ranking the best of everything) to name a few of their accolades. Not to say you can’t come here to have a lovely baguette.
There are no shortage of cellars (cave) in Paris or anywhere in France for that matter (see the link above), and each usually with their own niche market, focus and price range. What I love about this one is the focus on smaller producers, the prices are reasonable and someone who speaks in English vernacular. Score! But in reality, not much can go wrong with buying French wine…
Les Papilles is a no fuss dining affair, with a prix fixe menu that serves hearty bistro food straight out on cast iron pots – from the creamy carrot soup, to fall off the bone veal stew – that will fill your stomachs until you can eat no more. Be prepared to overcome what little anxiety you may have leaning / standing over other diners in this small dining space to investigate the shelves of wine on offer (no, there is no wine list).
[Verjus Bar à Vin]
Where: 52 Rue de Richelieu, 75001 Paris. (entry at corner of Rue Du Beaujolais & Rue de Montpensier)
Contact: +33 1 42 97 54 40
Open: Tue-Fri lunch (sandwiches) / dinner (wine bar); Mon dinner only.
Cost: 10€ sandwich. 15€ sandwich / dessert / drink.
Reads: Paris by Mouth.
It happens that on the day you decide to not bring your bulky SLR camera, to better facilitate store browsing, I happened to stumble across Verjus – so apologies no photos. This tiny hole in the wall sandwich-come-wine-bar is a jewel of a find. Think along the lines of: wild boar confit, red cabbage sauerkraut, spicy mustard, arugula. Or fried chicken sandwich, cabbage salad, emperor norton’s buns. Wash it all down with a glass of their rotating wine specials – what a perfect treat after a long ‘morning’ at the Louvre Museum. Definitely a keeper!
Ex-Le Meurice, Chef Tomy Gousset brings fresh flavours and a polished contemporary touch to Pirouette. The food is tasty as hell and comes at absolutely bargain prices. My favourite went to the dish of cod, perfectly cooked alongside roasted sea snail, celery and violet carrots. Certainly did not mind finishing on a refreshing note of slight acidity – Lemon tart, crumble and caramel.
Next stop: Loire Valley
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