Dear French Foodies,
I rented an apartment (near Notre Dame) with 4 other women who weren't foodies, which is why I didn't get to eat in as many of my Chowhound-researched finds as I'd imagined I would. This means that each night I had to go along with the group's choices, which never met my food-obsessed standards. Unfortunately for me, the group was more interested in pigging out on desserts than in sampling what I like to call GREAT FRENCH FOOD.
Since we were staying right down the street from (1) Eric Kayser's organic bakery, I sampled his brioche loaf (I only scored one small piece - the 4 others grabbed and gobbled when I left the room for a minute), his whole wheat and regular baguettes, and a few of his desserts (not that great, in comparison with the outstanding (2) Pierre Herme work-of-art desserts and delicious macarons). Kayser's croissants (which we ate every morning) were always excellent.
I had some (3) Berthillon ice cream (apricot and mango), even though it was chilly and cold outside and I was the only person eating ice cream as I walked along the streets towards Notre Dame. Everyone else was eating hot crepes, which I never got to try, darn it.
I grabbed a falafel (with hot sauce) from (4) l'as du Falafal, the famous falafel place in the Marais (we went early Sunday - so the line wasn't that long), which we ate in the Place de Vosges, sitting on a bench, people-watching.
I tried the macarons from (5) Laduree (across from the Luxembourg Gardens), and had to go back for more, because they were so mouth-wateringly yummy (chocolate was my favorite). I also tried the macarons from (6) Pierre Herme - and especially adored both the passion fruit and chocolate. I was on a mission to try as many different macarons as I could, I guess, but I was too full to eat any more, so I gave up early on. I also had my favorite apple pastry from (7) Poilane on rue du Cherche Midi. They're on your left, sitting on the wooden counter under the window as you walk in the front door. Don't miss them.
We ate lunch in 3 museum cafes: (8) Cafe Marly at the Louvre (great location, but too expensive and not worth the price - 22 euros for a simple piece of chicken breast with a little salad on the top; 14 euros for soggy, cold haricot verts with a sprinkling of diced red peppers);
(9) Musee d'Orsay restaurant - cheaper than the Louvre, and much more innovative. I had dourade in an orange-butter foam sauce, with charred endive - delish; and (10) The Tea Room @ the Musee Jacquemart Andre, where I had quiche, salad, and dessert (4 of us split our desserts, so we each got to taste more).
I took myself out to lunch at 3 cafes recommended either here or in Clotilde's Edible Adventures (she has a webpage: Zucchini and Chocolate): (11) Chez L'Ami Jean (near the Eiffel Tower) - expensive @ 43 euros for the formule lunch, but cheaper for the 17 euro blackboard specials, which weren't offered to me, stupid American tourist that I am. There was so much food I could barely eat half of it on my own; (12) Cafe des Musees in the Marais, where I was the only American and where I chowed down on an outstanding 13.50 euro formule of soup, bread, pork roast, roasted red onion, and pureed cauliflower; and (13) Le Pre Verre, where I had another 13.50 euro formule lunch: a small glass of red wine, a small vinegar-dressed potato salad with a generous piece of gravlax on top, a small chicken breast over 4 baked/fried polenta slabs, and a small demitasse cup of decaf espresso.
Dinners were a disappointment, since I was unable to convince the group to eat at restaurants I'd scouted out. We ate at (14) Les Bouqinistes, which was overpriced (over $100/pp) and quite ordinary, in my opinion; (15) L'Epi Dupin, which oversalted their food so much I could barely eat my dinner; a neighborhood place, (16) Chez Rene, where I had a delicious 14.50 euro prix fixe veal stew and fresh spinach (and the waiter gave me a take-home container...apparently a first for him); and (17) Le Refuge des Fondues, which I consider a juvenile, college-crowd-centered fondue place (it's in Montmartre), because you drink wine from baby bottles and eat cheese and/or meat fondue in a noisy, hot little place where you must climb over your table if you leave to go to the bathroom.
I had outstanding cheese from various cheese shops - but I can't remember any names except for Marie Cantin, which had my favorite smelly, runny cheeses, as well as a well-informed staff.
That's my eating diary in a nutshell. As for the museums I visited - I think I checked out eleven of them in eight days - an all-time record. Thank god for museum passes!