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Christmas in Paris (long report): La Cagouille, L'Ebauchoir, L'Epi Dupin, and more

abstractpoet | Jan 2, 201102:23 AM

My wife and I arrived in Paris on Christmas Day. It was my first time ever in your fair city, and thanks in large part to great advice from the 'hounds (original thread here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/751968), we ate remarkably well all week without breaking our budget!

My 5 favorite Paris bites from this past week, in no particular order:

1) Baguette from Le Grenier A Pain, smeared with Bordier demi-sel butter (which we picked up at the Ferme Saint-Hubert fromagerie)- the best baguette I've ever had + the best butter = a moment of food nirvana.
2) Hot chocolate at Angelina- the best I've ever had by a wide margin. What Willy Wonka's chocolate waterfall must taste like, my wife said.
3) Galette "fermiere" at Creperie Josselin- I loved the crisp caramelized edges, and this particular flavor combination was as awesome as it was simple: a fried egg and crisp bacon lardons on top and a tomato-eggplant puree between the two layers of crepe.
4) Shawarma "assiete" from L'as du Felafel- We thought the "special" felafel sandwich was excellent, but for us the shawarma was even more memorable. The platter we ordered is a lot more expensive than the sandwich, but everything on the plate was deliciously--especially that meat!
5) Red mullet fillet in an herb-butter sauce at La Cagouille- But really I could have picked any number of the super-fresh, minimalist seafood dishes we had that night: the complimentary tiny clams and the mussels were also especially good. But my wife's mullet main course--perfectly poached (?) and served in the most addictive, buttery sauce--was a special standout for me.

What you can probably see from the above list is that while we enjoyed nearly all of our sit-down restaurant meals, where we felt like Paris really shined is in the relatively inexpensive snacks and day-to-day staples. For instance, one of my wife's favorite bites of the whole trip was a simple bacon and spinach quiche that we picked up at a random boulangerie takeaway stand on Rue Cler, on our way to the Eiffel Tower. And the bread we had all week was consistently amazing, and that's coming from the SF Bay Area, where we don't do a shabby job with bread ourselves...but nowhere at home do they get as pleasant a chew or, most especially, as crackly-crunchy a crust. At one point, when trying to slice the Le Grenier baguette, I almost cut my hand on one of the jagged edges. We also loved Eric Kayser's Pain aux Cereales and the poppy seed "ficelle" from Moisan.

We had plenty of pastries all week, all quite good, but none that blew our minds--though we didn't end up going to Pierre Herme or any of the other super high-end pastry shops. Our favorites croissants (both the plain and the pain au chocolate) were from Des Gateaux et du Pain, recommended by Nancy S. These were nice and dark and buttery, though not at shatteringly crisp and flaky as I might have expected--don't know if this is more of an American ideal for croissants, though, as we didn't really encounter it during our time in Paris.

We ate four restaurant dinners during our trip (one night, the restaurant where we'd had a reservation was closed unexpectedly, and so we had a makeshift hotel picnic instead, picking up supplies from La Grande Epicerie). I'll post a few thoughts about those restaurant meals below.

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