Sunday, September 13, 2009

Eat...in Paris

Well...it has to be said that the French know food. The thing that amazes me most is that places we would expect to be run of the mill turn out the most incredible products. Ugly yellow awning? Amazing ratatouille! On a dingy looking street? Best croissant d'amande in Paris!Not only has Paris been all that I could have imagined it to be, the food is even better. And I do know food. While Paris isn't exactly a cheap city (beware the $5 cafe au lait) - you can get by "on the cheap" if you do as the Parisiennes do and make a pique nique. People here will sit out anywhere...at any number of gorgeous gardens or on the canal. You can make a couple of quick stops and then eat under the sun. Important to note - it is totally acceptible to drink wine with your picnic; buy a bottle at a wine shop and then wander into a cafe and ask them to open it for you!

The next couple of posts will be a few brief food notes from my 4 days in Paris....restaurant recommendations to follow tomorrow.

Five things you must eat/drink in Paris (and then walk off later!)

1. Patisserie....be it croissant, pain au chocolate or tarte d'abricot. I am not a big fan of sweets or pastry at all - but I can't get enough here. Patisserie is a way of life; on every street corner you will find an independent patisserie with a vast selection of the best pastry you will find. Anywhere. Look for a shop that has a few people in it (at lunch or when school lets out...about 4:30) and then select at will. Patisserie also makes for a cheap lunch en plein air.
2. Un croque madame or monsieur....monsieur for the grilled cheese and ham; madame has an egg on top. Available at any sandwich shop.
3. Crepes....in Paris, meal service is at strict times - during the non meal hours, crepes are one of your only options at a cafe or on the street. Nutella for the sweet fans....ham and emmenthal for the savoury (although I just had chevre and fig confiture which was pretty amazing)
4. Kir....there is nothing more civilized than cocktail hour in Paris. Before dinner, plunk yourself down at any cafe and order un kir, which is white wine with cassis (or peach or raspberry liquer if you must). Cocktails are absurdly expensive in France and this is the perfect aperitif. Sit out as the Parisiens do and watch the world go by.
5. Macaroons from Laduree....75 avenue des Champs Elysees (metro stop Georges V). Not cheap; 4 tiny macaroons will run you 8 euros but come on, you must indulge once in a while and laduree is the ultimate expression of posh sweets in Paris.
6. Quiche....really? Yes really! Quiche in North America tends to be a rather heavy dish and taste like a thick omelette. I have no idea how the french make it the texture of silk, as if the whole thing were made of whipped cheese and the flavours are infused into it rather than floating in it. Not low fat. From the Patisserie or cafe

Thank goodness for walking for 8 hours a day...so far the fancy Lagerfeld jeans still fit!

I will blog tomorrow with some restaurant recommendations, should the wi-fi (wee fee en francais) hold out.

A votre sante,
Desiree
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