In Love with Paris
Bonjour! It’s true, Paris is the type of place you can fall in love with over and over again. On our way home from our recent trip to Morocco, we stopped in Paris for the weekend. Although I enjoyed Morocco’s traditional dishes, I knew all along that the edibles of Paris would be the main event.
The City of Light left an imprint on my heart back in 2007 when I visited for the first time. I will never forget experiencing all of its magnificence – Notre Dame Cathedral, Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa at the The Louvre, the magnitude of Château de Versailles, and the food!!!The great thing about Paris is no matter what your budget you will find many things to delight your taste buds! You can go the haute cuisine route (read as bring-your-money-honey) and dine at a seemingly endless amount of Michelin-starred restaurants or opt for classic French bistro fare, where the food is just as unbelievable. When you go to Paris, please consider adding these places to your list:Chez L ’Ami Jean (pronounced something like “Shay La May John”) is located on an unassuming street in the 7th arrondissement. This place oozes Paris. It’s cute and quaint, yet jovial in a way that only little French bistros can be. I can’t even begin to tell you how good the food was. We squeezed into our seats and immediately investigated what the other diners were having. We opted to skip the tasting menu that evening and instead concentrated on the “musts” and went the à la carte route. We ordered:
Grand-Maman Philomène – Parmesan soup with fried leeks, chives, croutons and crisp bacon lardons. Honestly, we could have had this soup and called it a night. I know what you are thinking…soup? No thanks. Well, when David Chang of Momofuku writes that this soup “was the best thing I ate on my whole trip” you order the dang soup with no question! It was poured from a pitcher into our bowls where the leeks, lardons and other goodies were waiting to soak up the fragrant, creamy emulsion. This soup along with fresh bread was phenomenal.Côte de Boeuf– Ok, confession…we ordered this dish but canceled it because we were full from too much bread, parmesan soup, and two hors d’oeuvre of smoked octopus and sautéed wild mushrooms. However, it’s still on the “musts” list because everyone was ordering it and my friend and I still talk about wishing we had tried it! I guess it’s pretty hard to resist thickly-sliced, juicy pieces of ribeye in a sauce that looked and smelled amazing.
Riz Au Lait Grand-Mère – The rice pudding at Chez L ’Ami Jean is supposedly the best in Paris. Not a fan of rice pudding? We thought we weren’t either, but the first bite of it along with a toasted almond nougatine and salted caramel sauce won us over. I have a new appreciation for rice pudding and all of its buttery, salty, creamy, vanilla-y deliciousness.Ladurée – Ladurée actually needs no introduction. It is world famous for their French macarons and the staggering lines to get into the patisserie and tea salon showed it! It is located on the the famed Avenue des Champs-Élysées in the heart of Paris. We walked through the sea-foam green and gold doors early one morning and were escorted to a sumptuous dining room complete with floor length velvety curtains and their signature pastel tableware.We decided on brioche French toast, scrambled eggs with pastrami and a basket of mini pastries, lingering over each and every delectable bite. After breakfast, we made our way to the patisserie and purchased omiyage treats to bring home. Très bon!Café Ribe – Ahhh, the quintessential Paris experience – lunch at a sidewalk café. What do you order at sidewalk café in Paris? Does it really matter? To me it’s more about the ambience and slowing down to enjoy the moment and soak it all in. That sunny afternoon, we split a croque monsieur (fried ham and cheese sandwich dusted with powdered sugar) with frites (French fries), had a few glasses of red, and great conversation. It seems as if everything tastes better while dining al fresco, whether it is in Paris or at Lili’uokalani Park.Terroir Parisien – We got lost on our way to Terroir Parisien, but we did not mind as the city is like a giant open air museum with to-die-for architecture around every corner. After some hither and thither in our Uber car (my fault…I gave the wrong address to our driver), we finally found three star Michelin chef Yannick Alleno’s bistro in the Latin Quarter. When we walked in I thought “Seriously?! We’re eating our last meal here?! Why did I choose this meager-looking place?” Boy was I wrong, our dinner was perfection. The highlights were:
Filet de boeuf, sauce bernaise, allumettes tailles au couteau (Ribeye with Bernaise sauce and matchstick potatoes) – I am forever indebted to Terrior Parisien because that steak bernaise has changed my life and was the best steak I have ever had. The matchstick potatoes were also very, very good. In fact, the matchstick potatoes were so good that we refused to let them take it from our table until we ate every single piece. This dish was a homerun!Veloute de butternut, crème parfumee a l’huile de noisette (Butternut soup with cream and hazelnut oil) – Don’t even get me started on this soup. I still have no idea how butternut squash, cream, and hazelnut oil can morph into such a mind-blowing concoction as that soup! We savored every slurp. What a perfect ending to a perfect weekend!I found Paris to be one of the most challenging cities to prioritize where/what to eat! When I travel, I often have a list of foods I need to try and reservations I must make as if my life depended on it. Paris was no exception. However, I am slowly learning that prioritizing is key as I will never have enough time, money, or stomach space to complete these lists that live in my phone. In the end, I am very grateful for the time we spent in Paris, and I absolutely cannot wait to return! Bon appetit!