or I LOVE French Food!
08.10.2013 - 23.10.2013
I don't want to bore you with a diary of each day in Paris so I thought I might just cover some general topics .
So this one is a little foray into French food.
I've loved French food all my adult life. So as soon as we crossed the border into France the first thing we noticed was the bread!! I have no idea what they do to their bread or what it is about their wheat or flour, but French bread is fantastic. There is nothing better for breakfast than warm just-baked baguette, just bought at the Boulanger a few doors down. It not only tastes fantastic, it's a romantic journey from baker to plate as well. And I'm sorry to any and all Italian readers of this blog, but Italians just can't do bread that appeals to me. But France ...
I did not prepare a single meal in our appartement partly due to previously discussed opinions of the apartment and partly because I don't see why you would cook with all those great Parisian eateries outside your door.
Unfortunately right outside our door on Rue de la Huchette, one of the oldest streets in Paris, was the Greek area. Greek restaurants everywhere! I can get good Greek in Melbourne. That wasn't what I was after.
What's more our street was tourist heaven. All the tours came there. So we'd be woken to the sound of tour guides doing early tours and prattling on. And the street was constantly full of people from about 10.00 in the morning til about 5.00 in the morning. I know some people say that eating anywhere in Paris means you will eat well I don't quite agree!
So P and I developed a general rule of thumb, if a restaurant is on a Main Street or has touters outside (as did every restaurant in Huchette) then the food will be ordinary to crap. The best restaurants are in the little side streets so just go looking. Same rules as apply in Lygon St Carlton really, if you live in Melbourne!
We had some yummy meals. Foie gras kept appearing on my plate and Haut Medoc bordeaux wine kept appearing in Phil's glass. I've even discovered why it's better to have pink meat - mm tender. I tried some seafoods that I have always avoided like the plague and discovered that I should continue to avoid them.
And of course there was also the open-air markets and the specialty epiceries etc. We fell in love with a set of shops where one after the other in a row were, the fruiterer, the butcher, the poissonerie (fish), the charcuterie (hand-prepared cold meats, pates, salads, prepared meals), the fromagerie (abundant varieties of French cheeses), the boulangerie/patisserie (bread pastries and cakes), the chocolaterie, and the wine shop. And outside the shops was an outdoor market 3 days a week which included both more food stalls and other goodies!! It was like food heaven just beside the Metro entry!!
On our Wedding Anniversary, which also conveniently (read: carefully planned) fell during our stay in Paris we ate and drank a yummy lunch exclusively stocked from these stores.
Highlights in Paris restaurant-visiting were the meal we shared with the Vitales and the Nolans (my sister and brother in law) on my birthday. We dined at Le Christine on Rue Christine to celebrate Christine's birthday with a superbe meal. We enjoyed it so much P and I went back there for our last night.
Also fantastic was Le Raminet in a little street not far from our appartement. Romantic and sublime food. Unfortunately the others had all left by the time I'd found that!! But keep it on the list, peeps. It was excellent.
And there were also some odd moments. We surreptitiously watched a guy trying snails for lunch (clearly for the first time). I think he ate 3 of the 6. That did nothing to encourage Phil to reverse his decision not to try them. But our nephew, whom we met up with for one night, tried them and said they tasted like stringy lamb. Now, we're not sure if this was bravado on his part because he did have his 8yo son with him, who was completely grossed out by the whole concept, and no Dad wants to look less than macho in front of their son!
The one thing we simply couldn't fathom, was the French OBSESSION with NUTELLA!!!!! Creperies everywhere offer crepes with nutella spread thickly across the whole thing. They have enormous jars of the stuff that you see the cook scooping out enormous globs onto the crepe. The supermarket has enormous stocks of it. It's so incongruous in a country so (justifiably) proud of their cuisine!
Another observation is that, just like the Italians, the French buy enormous amounts of bottled water. Now, I'm pretty fussy about the taste of tap water and I found both Italian and French water to be extremely palatable and felt NO necessity to BUY the water. But every time I stood in a supermarket queue, most other purchasers had large bundles of large bottles of water. Bizarre!
BTW, the Italians have even less reason for buying water because everywhere you go there, there are taps and free flowing water at every corner. Cool, fresh, and exquisite!
But we did have a couple of less than spectacular meals. One was when we lunched at Le Ciel de Paris an upmarket restaurant on the 56th floor of Tour Montparnasse. The tower is a strikingly ugly skyscraper plonked right in the middle of low-storied Paris. Word has it that Parisians think the best thing about the restaurant is that you can't see the tower. But the restaurant, which sees itself as a seriously upmarket, innovative, and contemporary high-dining location, was like so many others in stunning places. Overpriced, food that didn't quite match it's pretensions, and service staff so busy being haughty that they failed to serve effectively! SOOOO lucky we weren't able to get a booking there on the night of my birthday.
Despite our little rule of thumb about side street restaurants, there was one of those where we had roast chicken that was drier and more overcooked than even I can stuff up a dish, and the service was abysmal. No surprise that the Tarte Tatin(upturned apple tart) was a sloppy splodge on the plate really. I guess it was the exception to prove the rule!