December 10, 2013 2 Comments
Hi everyone! I hope you all are well and enjoying this holiday season.
Where have I been? No, I did not have a baby. It seems like food bloggers disappear unexpectedly usually because of a birth, but not this girl!
At the terrible cost of missing three days of school, my family and I went to Paris (AKA my favorite city in the ENTIRE world) for a week to visit my grandmother. Even though it was gray, cold, and rainy most of the time, I was so happy to be walking around such a wonderful place. I know it’s cheesy, but je t’aime, Paris. I love the narrow cobblestone streets and rotisserie chickens rotating on every corner and the smell of Nutella-stuffed crepes and chestnuts wafting through the air. I will live there one day; just watch me. Le Cordon Bleu, here I come.
I ate really well when I was in Paris. I cooked dinner four nights and we went out the other three; we often ate lunch at our or my grandmother’s apartment to finish up some of the leftovers. If you ever have the chance to visit Paris (or just want to dream about the city of love), here are some places you’ve gotta check out…
Marché Biologique Raspail, Boulevard Raspail (6th arr.)
And I thought farmer’s markets in the states were big. This open-air market spans at least three blocks, and EVERYTHING–yes, everything–is organic. They have everything: dozens of fruit and vegetable vendors, butchers where the birds still have their heads on, fresh cheeses and sausages, vitamins, eggs, jam and spreads…they really have everything. I picked up some romanesco–a favorite of mine that I can never find in the Northeast–a butternut squash, fresh mushrooms, chestnuts, and a rotisserie chicken for lunch. What a great selection…although I love my farmer’s market dearly, this one is pretty incredible.
City Crêpes Café (73 Rue de Seine, 6th arr.)
We were EXHAUSTED when we got to France. It’s worth it, but being in transit for almost 12 hours is exhausting…and it’s not like you can sleep in those tiny, uncomfortable airplane seats! After stumbling around the neighborhood, we went into City Crêpes Café because everywhere else was busy or unappealing…and we were pleasantly surprised! The restaurant was small but cozy, and their menu was really creative: all of the galettes (savory crêpes) had New York City-themed names! I ordered a Union City (the name is very French, I know): a traditional galette with scrambled eggs, smoked sausage, and potatoes. No, it was not the healthiest choice on the menu, but it sure was tasty. They had plenty of salads and non-crêpe main dishes to try, too.
Blueberry (6 Rue du Sabot, 6th arr.)
For our last night in Paris, I wanted sushi. I know what you’re thinking: sushi, in Paris? Are you CRAZY?! And yes, I am crazy, but we’ve already established this. After a week of French food (that I cooked myself), I wanted something on the lighter side: no braises or butter, just something fresh and tasty. I was poking around Trip Advisor and found Blueberry, which had gotten fabulous reviews from pretty much everyone. We decided to give it a try, and boy, were we wowed.
We started with a seaweed salad with mango (because I am OBSESSED with the ‘weed) and pancakes with crispy duck…both were flavorful, textually appealing, and the perfect balance of sweet, savory, and salty. We then split the Little Miss Yuzu (which was on the sweeter side with mango and raspberry), the Unagii (EEL!!!), the Ponyo (which used a pancake instead of rice and had a nutty, spicy dipping sauce), and two others with tuna whose names I am forgetting. All were fresh and delicious…we couldn’t stop eating them! For dessert, we tried some mochis: a glutinous rice (which ironically has no gluten in it) wrapper around vanilla, green tea, cherry, and violet ice cream. They were unlike everything I’ve ever eaten before…sweet, chewy, creamy…I HAVE to try making them myself.
Overall, this was my favorite meal out in Paris, and probably the best sushi I’ve ever had before. A definite must-go.
Rue Montergeuil (1st arr. and 2nd arr.)
Stretched between the first and second arrondissements, this street is a destination dedicated almost exclusively to foodies. There are butchers, fish mongers, cheese shops, chocolate shops, fruit and vegetable stands, bakeries…you name it, it’s there. If you aren’t satisfied with one shop you see, no need to fear! There are plenty of options to choose from. Oh, and there’s also a giant snail sculpture on top of a restaurant sign, which is pretty cool, especially considering how obsessed I am with les escargots.
While walking down the Rue de Montorgueil, we bought coquiletes (young roosters), romanesco (huge shocker), fingerling potatoes, a big persimmon for dessert, and a bag of Fuilliants d’Or, my mom’s favorite chocolate ever. (I don’t even know what’s in it; whatever it is, she’s addicted to it.)
Rue de Buci (6th arr.)
Like the Rue de Montorgueil, this pedestrian street is full of food shops teeming with fresh oysters, meat with the offal still in tact, and cheeses as pungent and mild as you’d like. Luckily for me, this street was right around the corner from where we were staying, so I walked over almost every day to buy food for lunch or dinner.
The little butcher shop was definitely my favorite. The people there seemed a little surprised to see a fifteen year-old girl in a rabbit hat call all of the shots about the food, but I think they got used to me by the end of the week. Butchers in France are COMPLETELY different from those in the states, especially the variety when it comes to poultry. They had at least four or five different breeds of chickens and ducks, plus little birds and giant birds and even a dinde, or turkey. The French really do eat everything: I wish Americans were more like that!
Ladurée (21 Rue Bonaparte, 6th arr., but also other locations)
OK, I’ll admit it: I am madly in love with macarons. They’re actually pretty paleo-friendly, too: the basic ingredients are ground almonds, egg whites, and sugar, so there’s no gluten nor grains! (No, I am not condoning them as healthy, either.) To have a really good macaron, you really have to go to Paris: in the States, macarons are usually frozen and shipped over, which definitely impacts their quality. At the shops in Paris, the macarons are made fresh every day, and you can taste the difference.
All of the flavors are excellent, but my favorites are the Ghana chocolat (a dark chocolate macaron made with really high-quality cocoa), guimauve chocolat coco (a chocolate macaron with a fluffy coconut cream filling), and café (COFFEE!!!). Each one is like biting into a pillow of magnificence…there’s truly nothing like it.
Well, there’s one more thing to add to the list of foods to recreate.
Pâtisserie Viennoise (8 Rue de l’École de Médecine, 6th arr.)
(See that beret?! I am obviously destined to live in France.)
Because Les Deux Magots, my go-to place for chocolat chaud, was closed for renovations, I was on a quest to find another tasty cup of goodness to savor. After a disappointing cup of pretty much warm milk in Montmarte, I was determined to be satisfied. After searching around the internet, my dad and I decided to try Pâtisserie Viennoise, which was only ten or so minutes away from our apartment.
When we walked in, we were greeted by a huge display of rustic pastries and two women behind the counter busily trying to keep up with orders. We sat down at a tiny table in the back, and ordered our chocolat chaud: with whipped cream for my dad, none for me. When our drinks arrived, our waitress deposited several packets of sugar on the table, which I laughingly pushed aside. Who needs sugar when I have chocolate?!
This chocolat chaud was wonderfully bitter, and just rich enough to be satiating but not overly-indulgent. It was the perfect size, too: not too big, and not like a shot of espresso, either. While I will be returning to Les Deux Magots the next time I’m in France, I will definitely come back to Pâtisserie Viennoise for their chocolat chaud.
Sugar Daze (20 Rue Henry Monnier, 9th arr.)
A shout-out here to my friend Cat, who owns this cute, funky cupcake shop! I really admire her for following her dream: she always wanted to open up a bakery in Paris, and guess what?! She did! I hope I get to do something like that one day…hey, would anyone be interested in visiting a paleo-friendly café in the City of Love?
Cat’s cupcakes are beautiful, tasty, and so creative: she names all of her goodies after songs, including “I Want (Cotton) Candy,” “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go,” and “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.” Personally, I think her cupcakes are so much better than the mega monsters from Crumbs and Sprinkles…do we really need to eat an overly-sweet cupcake with a cup of frosting on top, anyway? Cat’s cupcakes are perfect, and you should definitely try one, if you get a chance.
And now, for the pièce de résistance: the meals I cooked in Paris!
Roasted wild duck, roasted brussel sprouts with balsamic vinegar, three different kinds of mushrooms, and sauteed onions and apples with chestnuts…
…braised veal shanks in a sweet tomato/red wine sauce and roasted romanesco…
…braised rabbit in a mustard sauce with haricots verts (also with butternut squash soup and roasted pears, not pictured)…
…and roasted coquilette with roasted romanesco and fingerling potatoes.
All four were delicious–probably four of the best dishes I’ve ever cooked–and all made in my grandmother’s cozy apartment kitchen. But I made it work, and, well, it worked well.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my little montage to my favorite city on earth. My stomach and I can’t wait to go back!
Have you ever been to Paris? Leave me a comment here or on Facebook and let me know!