A Taste of Europe: Paris, France

I feel like Paris is on eveIMG_8352ry food lovers wish list. Fantasizing about baguettes and perfectly airy croissants…sigh. I’m ready to go back right now. Also, I didn’t take nearly enough food photos! At most restaurants we were so close to our neighbors, I was a bit embarrassed to pull out my camera.  I’ve struggled with the best way to sum everything up for you, but here goes:

The highlights!

Our last night’s dinner was our food highlight of Paris so let’s start there. After the difficulties we had finding somewhere for dinner on our first night, we made it a priority to make reservations for our last night. We ended up at La Villaret, which was listed in the Michelin guidebook as a recommended restaurant. We both made selections from the four course chef’s menu. The menu was in French, but we both thought that we recognized enough words to make a choice. Our waiter was very friendly. We started with an amuse bouche of a creamy corn soup with crispy corn kernels on top. For our first course, I selected the “fromage a tet” – which I first thought was a cheese course, but our waiter explained to me that it was actually a “head cheese” – made from meats of the head. I decided to be adventurous, and I’m so glad I did! It was deliciously rich, and served on top of a bed of shredded celery root in a slightly sweet and acidic vinaigrette which cut through the rich meaty flavor. Hubby got a cauliflower soup that was also very good and creamy. For our entree’s, hubby got a coq-a-vin with mashed potatos, and I got pot-au-feu with beef. It was nice classic comfort food, which fit with the blustery weather outside. For dessert, hubby got a vanilla pot du creme with graham cracker cookies and I got a pistachio mousse with figs and shortbread.

Not entirely food related, but our best memory from Paris was grabbing a chilled bottle of champagne, and enjoying it in the park underneath the Eiffel Tower.

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Other dinner adventures at places I sadly forgot the names:

Our first night in Paris, we started wandering around looking for a place to grab dinner. We found a few restaurants on back streets with great looking menus. What we did not realize is that the majority of the nicer restaurants are TINY! Also, since the meals are so leisurely and drawn out, there is not much turnover. We soon found out that reservations are a must! We did find a more touristy cafe with lots of al fresco seating to get dinner. Not quite what we were hoping for but still good. I got a duck confit with potatos, and hubby got a pasta dish, along with lots of delicious bread and cheap wine.

We were staying in the Bastille District, and set out for the cluster of restaurants in our neighborhood for Saturday night’s dinner. Since all of the restaurants here are so tiny, you end up sharing tables with your neighbors. At this restaurant in particular, our waiter had to pull our table out so that I could sit down on the other side of it, then slide it back in between the two groups on either side of us. It did make conversation a bit awkward as we both couldn’t help eavesdropping on our neighbors! Here we tried the foie gras, which was good but not as good as the one we had in Nice. I had a squid stuffed with smaller shellfish and greens on a bed of potatoes – beautiful presentation, and very rich. Hubby got “echine de cochon” or a pork back over seasonal vegetables. Of course, we shared a delicious pastry for dessert with a delightful caramel filling.

Sunday night dinner was at a cafe near the Picasso Museum. We shared a butter, salt and radish appetizer – so simple and so good. I enjoyed a delicious french onion soup, and hubby had a really good beef tartare.

Other memorable bites

Savory crepes along the Siene.

The first thing we ate was a savory crepe along the Siene: buckwheat batter full of emmentalier cheese and sausage.

For breakfast most days, we grabbed almond croissants and coffee “for take away” to enjoy as we made our way to various places around the city.

Gelato in Montemarte.

We enjoyed refreshing gelato in the Montemarte plaza.

We wandered around the Latin quarter, and stumbled upon on a Vietnamese restaurant for our lunch. This was the only place that we felt like we had a bit of a language barrier, but the food was very delicious.

On Sunday afternoon we ended up near the Alesia metro station, and stumbled upon a huge open air market. There was fresh seafood, meats, cheeses, produce – I wished we were staying longer and somewhere with a kitchen so I could shop! We did end up getting a delicious chocolate crepe to munch on as we wandered around admiring everything.

We planned a picnic lunch for the gardens in Versaille – fresh baguette, salami, brie cheese, and these delicious goat cheese balls filled with fig jam. We also bought a bottle of wine, but sadly neglected to bring a bottle opener! We also brought assorted macaroons and a giant pistachio meringue for dessert.

Monday’s lunch was pizza at the bottom of Montemarte – complete with a home made chile oil that had such a good flavor and not too much heat.

We’d love to go back and explore even more that Paris has to offer next time!

Next up: Octoberfest in Germany.

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