As I'm preparing to board my flight back to Canada this morning, I'd like to share with you my food experiences from the past few days here. Thanks also to all you chowhounders for your helpful posts that guided my adventures.
We arrived on the Eurostar from London on Thursday night and after checking in at our apartment on Rue Dauphine, we went for a lovely walk.
The next day I set out for my food item shopping spree!! First stop, sustenance for the adventure ahead: a delightful ham and cheese quiche and a lovely olive and tomato roll from the Eric Kayser boulangerie just down the street from our apartment. One of my greatest joys traveling is bringing back food items to enhance my pantry. Thanks for pointing me to G. Detou!! The staff is wonderful and helpful ... I left clutching bags with my treasures: sel de guerande, foie gras, espelette peppers, farine de chestnut, jars of dried morelles and cepes, cepes powder, tapenade, olives from Provence, Valrhona chocolate bars and cocoa powder, Edmond Fallot stone-ground mustard in the lovely tins, Puy lentils, tarbais beans, Perruche raw sugar, Madagascar vanilla beans, and a large block of almond paste.
From here, I stopped off down the street at the lovely L'Epicerie de Bruno for some Breton Kari Grosse, also a chowhounder's recommendation. Barely able to carry everything, I stopped off at the apartment. But I was out minutes later, heading off to the local Monoprix for some fond de veau, volaille, fume poisson and some herbe de provence, then onto La Grande Epicerie for some Christine Faber jam and finally the Maille mustard store for the mustard on tap. Don't ask me how I fit all this into my suitcase but more amazing was my husband maneuvering our luggage through the RER this morning....:-).
Shopping is one thing, but Paris is best enjoyed stomach first ... where to start. I'm fantasizing about the melt-in-your-mouth macaroons from Paul Herme and JP Henvin (the Laduree store was so crowded I didn't want to wait), a die-and-gone-to-heaven chocolate eclair from La Maison du Chocolat and ... but I'm getting ahead of myself.
Friday night dinner: Les Papilles - a classic bistrot that we enjoyed with friends. the no choice menu du jour featured a delightfully creamy but light cauliflower soup on a bed of pan fried croutons/lardons/pinenuts, magret du canard with seasonal vegetables (potatoes, carrots, snowpeas), blue cheese with a prune poached in red wine, and panna cotta with apple foam. At 33 Euro/person plus wine you can order at cost plus a 7 Euro surcharge, how could you go wrong.
Saturday: Lunch at Les Cocottes, the casual bistrot of Christian Constant ... one word, delicious!! It was bistro fare but I would say the food was more refined than Les Papilles. We shared between three people a Jerusalem artichoke soup, a pumpkin soup, an appetizer special of white asparagus wrapped in prosciutto and then seared, a special chicken fricassee with morels, and pigeon stuffed with foie gras. The meal came to 90Euro for the three of us (with sparkling water, no wine).
Saturday dinner - Le Chateaubriand (number 11 I believe in the San Pellegrino list for 2010). We showed up for the 9:30pm no reservation seating only to find a huge line. But I talked to the staff and they had an empty table for three. We were promptly seated with jealous looks all around. The food here would be described as modern french. The no choice menu of 50 Euro/person showcased the chef's skill. We had 3 amuses - a ceviche, a seeded morsel of beef heart, and trout caviar in a spinach puree. The appetizer was white asparagus in a chilled milk sauce with citron caviar....very refreshing. Next up was a poached fish with spring vegetables and then a delicious seared beef salad. Sprinkled over the salad was a unique spice .... amchur (mango powder). It was familiar to me from my Indian recipes but in French food - delightful. I believe the chef has traveled extensively and tries to incorporate unique ingredients from various countries. Desert was a duo: blood orange sorbet with poached endive and a most amazing chocolate concoction. My husband opted for the cheese plate which had a selection of soft, blue, and hard local cheeses. I cannot recommend this restaurant highly enough.
Sunday was market day....we headed to the lovely Marche d'Aligre first stopping at Ble Sucre for some pastries....the apple galette was divine! At the market, we were tempted by the roast suckling pig. We put it on top of a layered flaky Tunisian flat-bread (sorry, I've forgotten the name) and had a great picnic in the park. We next encountered Marche Richard Lenoir, also very lively. From here, we headed into the heart of the Marais and stopped at L'As du Falafel. This area was very crowded on a sunny Sunday afternoon and while good, the falafel didn't live up to my memories of falafel on the streets in Israel 20 years ago.
Sunday dinner, we decided to keep things fairly light and headed to Breizh cafe for some Breton crepes. Again, we got lucky and got in promptly at 8:30pm without a reservation. We shared the special of the day ... a lovely buckwheat crepe with scallops, sauteed vegetables and cream. For desert we shared a crepe with caramelized apples, vanilla ice-cream and chantilly cream. The salad verte with wasabi dressing was a nice complement to the main dish as was a bowl of the cider and a bowl of fresh buttermilk. All this for a reasonable 45 Euro for two.
As I head home, I am already plotting my future trips to your wonderful city.
Thanks again for this wonderful memory!!