Monday, August 10, 2009

Paris Recap #4: The Food! Oh, the Food!

It goes without saying that French food is one of the best incentives for traveling to France.
In general, produce in Europe is SO MUCH BETTER than its counterpart in the U.S: Fruit is succulent, vegetables are crisp, and the hormone-free chickens are a normal size.
Doesn't that colorful fruit stand just make your mouth water?

I ate a LOT while in France and sadly didn't record all of it, but here are some of the highlights...



Lenotre is a pastry franchaise. In the US when something is a "chain" that often means quantity over quality but since food is so important in French culture, Lenotre offers only the best. (Seriously, there are legal requirements regarding the proper diameter of a baguette: 5-6cm.) Their window display of macaroon trees is delightful. Their office-breakfast trunk is so civilized; certainly beats a cardboard carafe from Starbucks!


Some things are famous for a reason, and Laduree is one of them.
The birthplace of the macaroon, this 147 year old house presents many tasty offerings in its three Paris locations. Each spot is beautiful and opulent and there's always a long line in the pastry shop for purchasing macaroons to go.

When I arrived in Paris, MLPR presented me with an enormous box of Laduree macaroons. Aren't I a lucky girl?

Fun fact: If you ever saw Sofia Coppola's "Marie Antoinette" you may recall party scenes that showcased tiers of macaroons; they were specially comissioned from Laduree!

The Bunny was incredibly generous during our trip to Paris, so I decided to spoil him a bit with lunch at Laduree.

This isn't a great photo, but the Champs-Elysee location is lovely (as are the others), and has a sprawling and sumptuous upstairs. Grand in precisely the way an American in Paris expects the city to be!

Sipping my tea.

We enjoyed sandwiches for lunch and rounded out our meal with dessert.
The Bunny ordered a rich Viennese hot chocolate with cream, and I had tea and a tart citron.

Window Displays at Laduree: "Vive les Vacances!" Cute white and pink stripes, kites, and cartoon animals (the cat is "Mademoiselle Fifi") are oh-so-inviting!
2nd arr.: STOHRER'S.

The original Stohrer was the pastry chef of Princess Marie of Poland who married Louis XV and moved to Versailles. When Marie came to France, Stohrer came with her and founded his patisserie in 1730 in the very location where it stands today.

The opulence from 279 years ago is apparent in the shop's paneling, pantings, and chandelier.

The pastries are also beautiful to behold.

A whole-roasted pig that is slowly carved away.

The carry-away box is so tidy and tote-able and opens to reveal, of course, perfect French pastries like this citron meringue tart.
6th arr.: POILANE.
This is Paris' most famous bakery. Their high-quality, delicious and absolutely BEAUTIFUL bread is served at the best restaurants in the city.

The apple tartelette (below) is something I literally dream about. I had my first one in 2005 and then ate 2 during this trip; I wish I'd eaten many, many more.

Their magnificent bread really is a sight to behold.
They'll even put your name on it!
This window display just happened to have a "Christine" loaf; I was thrilled!
(The "C" in "CJM" stands for Christine.) I'm in good company with "Brigitte" and "Jacques".

6th arr.: BERKO.
The first cupcake shop opened in Paris in November. Since then the trend has grown. Berko is a bakery that's been around for awhile and it was only natural that they would expand their offerings to include cupcakes.

They have an excellent range of flavors that are very typically French:

e.g. I purchased a miniature "Violette"; that's right, a violet flower-flavored cupcake:

Lightly sweet, floral and delicious.

My years-long love for this company cannot be underestimated. They have the best teas I've ever tasted. Since they offer over 200 flavors, I have many more to sample and I look forward to the task. They also sell tea-flavored candles and, if I was a candle person, I would have snatched up every scent available.
Only in Paris: Jean Paul Gaultier water at Le Grande Epicerie.

The Restos.
1st arr.: Angelina.

The ambience is elegant. In her later life, Coco Chanel used to eat at a table in the back room everyday.

This is la vie en rose, mes amis.

2nd arr.: Au Trois Petits Cochons.

This charming restaurant on the tiny Rue Tiquetonne is delightful; we enjoyed it so much we dined there twice.
Founded by 3 very thin French men, the "three little pigs" offers up classic French fare done in flavorful, artful presentations in a lovely setting.
On both visits, we ate outside. But, as you can see, the interior of the resto is lovely, decorated with white hydrangeas on every table and interesting portraits of celebrities on the walls.

Gorgeous mussels. Mon Dieu, these were delicious!

The Bunny's foie gras pate and toast.

My veal.

The Bunny's guinea hen. Isn't it such a glorious presentation in that copper pan?

As should be clear from my Giveaway, Mariage Freres is my absolute favorite tea house. It's difficult to find in the U.S. but postively abundant in Paris. I took advantage of every opportunity to drink it when it was available.

Post-dinner cherry liqueur, courtesy of the restaurant.
Second meal there:

I ordered the veal again, but it had a different treatment this time. So flavorful.
For dessert I had brioche (basically french toast), and The Bunny had molten chocolate cake with mint jelly. Delicious.

18th arr.: Le Crepe Lepic.

In 2004 I ate my first Parisian crepe in Montmartre and wanted to make a tradition of it on this trip. We discovered a petit, intimate restaurant that would fit perfectly into the East/West Village in NYC. The portrait of the bulldog charmed me and we sat down to the most delicious galettes! (FYI, galettes are simply savory crepes.)

The little details are always attended to in Europe. These sugar cubes were wrapped in beautiful origami paper.

And, of course, I had Mariage Freres apres-diner.

Toward the end of our meal we met a special friend: Simon, the bulldog from the portrait! We didn't know he was real, but we got to know him very quickly. He's a bit of a diva and wouldn't pose for the camera despite my best efforts. If I saw a dog inside a resto in the U.S. I would have called the Health Board, but in France I was completely charmed by this adorable chien.
En route to a Christian Constant restaurant (CC is Paris' celebrity chef), the Bunny and I stumbled upon this charming restaurant and decided to eat here instead.
Only later, after we were charmed by the outstanding food and excellent service, did we learn that Obama and Michelle had a dinner date here during a recent trip to Paris.

This filet de boeuf was the best in my life. Juicy, tender, flavorful. Served with a top-notch bearnaise sauce.

The Bunny ordered a "floating island" dessert, which made him a very happy lapin, indeed.
It's hard to really enjoy your food without excellent company.
Thanks to The Bunny, MLPR, FV and CR for making many meals very memorable.

Bon appetit!

Next Up: CJM shops!


Lula Mae said...

Seriously this is my heaven (I love food, love it!). I am so glad you had a great time!!!! And thank you for sharing the photos!

Anonymous said...

Oh, so so lovely! I'm going to Paris in December, and am going to visit some of these places, especially the spot that serves the crepes (I'm a crepe fiend). What's the name of the spot, please?

Miss M! said...

I think I gained five pounds just by reading this. It all looks SO GOOD!