How to Eat Well in Paris, part deux

I left you on the tenterhooks a bit there didn’t I?

Je suis désolé

But I just couldn’t just give it all away in one post. That would have been tres coquine of me.

Anyway, enough chatter. Let’s head back to Paris.

Okay, so first and foremost the most important rule of your trip to Paree is simple: don’t make any plans.

And definitely DO NOT make any reservations.

If you don’t get turned away from a restaurant because you don’t have a booking, how on earth will you accidentally end up at a menu-tasting evening, sampling a variety of strangely wonderful combinations and pretending to know what you’re eating?

Exactly.

We stumbled upon Septime completely by chance. A low-lit, trendy and intimately set arrangement, which after some research I have discovered to be one of the hottest restaurants in town and almost impossible to get into.

But as luck would have it, there just so happened to be a spare table, big enough for two (just – I had eaten many a crepe that day), up for the taking which we happily nestled into, desperately trying to fit in with the wine-swishing-food-critquing-tiny-glasses-wearing patrons which occupied the other tables.

Now, to say we were pretty confused by the whole evening would be an understatement, alas it was spectacular nonetheless.

Some servers thought we were English, others assumed we were French, so we had a wonderful mixture of introductions to the 6 courses from the exclusive taster menu we had unknowingly signed up for.

Of what I can remember (my memory is le fuzzy from the rouge), the first course combined a mild yoghurt dip with thin, crisp, cheesy breadsticks and were an absolute dream. Like Cheeselets for rich people, I’d happily eat them every day for the rest of my life.

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The Sea bream tartare with lemon and ginger was light, fragrant and a total hit with us both.

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(Note the complimentary bread basket – you should be very familiar by now with my passion for free bread).

Unsure of the next two courses…they were both an infusion of….things – and exceptionally tantalising.

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Truffles were used in one course, I got so excited by the sight of them I forgot to take a picture, trust me when I say it was quite splendid.

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Your guess is as good as mine with that one.

The night overall, was a complete success. Get a table if you can, (we swanned in around 9pm to secure our spot), get blind drunk and devour everything that’s placed in front of you – I promise you’ll have a fabulous time.

There’s something that feels quite wickedly naughty about dining so late at night, walking through the ghosted streets which are aglow in soft yellow light, tip-toeing back up the stairs to your Chateau apartment, (unceremoniously getting locked out of said apartment so you have to awaken the very rich Frenchman which lives downstairs).  And collapsing into your plush double bed following several unsuccessful games of Gin Rummy, it’s really quite marvellous really.

You’ll no doubt have forgotten to draw your curtains and will be awoken slightly earlier than you care to be by a stream of morning sunlight. You’ll be tempted to bundle back under the covers, but resist! You are in Paris! You must simply force yourself to leave that handsome creature you’ve shared a bed with and set off to find yourself the perfect Croque Madame.

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Okay, so this Croque Madame may not have been the Croque to end all Madames, but it was still bloody good.

Thick buttered bread, meaty strips of ham covered by a layer of bubbling melted gruyer cheese and a chucky egg, fried just right.

Oh and a hot chocolate – always hot chocolate.

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There’s really no better way to start your day, (okay, but it’s a very close second).

Spend the day wandering, take in the sights and walk off the night before.

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Take in as much of the tourist traps as you can manage, before quickly escaping again.

Take a stroll, hop over the Pont Saint-Louis bridge and you should find yourself on one of Paris’s most sweetest islands.

Quaint, a slower pace and most importantly, home to Berthillion.

What is Berthillion I hear you ask?

Well, only the most famous ice cream cafe in Paris. Stroll for a minute or two and you’ll find it tucked away, almost hidden amid an abundance of bistros and charcuteries.

So what are you waiting for? Get inside!

It was busy, but enjoyably so. We spied a table and quickly cuddled up by the window, taking in the menu and ordering much more than our bellies needed but no more than our (my) appetites desired.

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Just wait till you get a load of the Hot Chocolate…


Have you ever seen anything more perfect?

Thick, velvety and almost bitterly sweet, served with a mountain of whipped cream to use at your disposal (or to shovel in your mouth in a very ladylike fashion).

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Please go here and tell me how much you love it too.

Next, up came the sundaes…and if you thought the beverages were something – just wait till you see these fellas…

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Creamy, delicately rich and positively irresistible.

Generous scoops of Praline, chocolat and pistachio with more lashings of the softly sweet whipped cream filling the classic silver sundae cups.

A joyous and sumptuous experience, right down to the last lick.

I could happily live in Berthillion, scooping ice cream and wiping down the jade green cafe tables for my keep and paid in mountainous portions of their glorious creations.

Alas, all good things must come to an end.

But hopefully you’ll have time for a quick stroll round Montmartre one last time.

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And pop into a cafe for one last hurrah.

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A trip to Paris is no trip at all in the absence of Steak Tartare and Moules Frites (okay, they were teeny weeny roast potatoes, but we’ll let them off).

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Take your complimentary bread (trust me, you’ll get it), and pop it in with your mussels, nestle it right into the pool of wonderful white wine and garlic sauce swimming at the bottom of the pot.

Let it soak in all the good stuff, and enjoy.

It’s truly divine and a perfect way to end the trip.

Sigh, time to reluctantly grab your cases and head for the Eurostar. Just don’t forget to pick up some fresh baguettes from a Boulangerie along the way to keep your hands warm (it’s been the coldest winter in Paris this year!)

Oh! Before I go, just a few  things of which I didn’t manage to take snaps of but certainly deserve notable mention;

The Foir Gras from  L’entrée des artistes (humane? Maybe not. Delicious? Most definitely – so order it and enjoy every bite, it’s what the goose would have wanted).

The Oysters from L’entrée des artistes (quite possibly the only time I didn’t mind having my mouth full of sea water)

Cocktails from Lulu Whites (cosy, enchating and you’ll most likely lose the use of your legs after round 3)

Anything in a Tiki Glass from Dirty Dicks (just try not to get your eyebrows singed off…)

 

Au revoir Paris, you were, as always, truly magical (and most importantly, delicious).

Should you decide to venture to Paris this year, I hope you have the most fabulous time (it would be near impossible not to). Eat every croissants, glug the wine and don’t even think about returning until you start slightly smelling like Brie.

Bon appetit mon friends!

How to Eat Well in Paris, part une

Oh Paris, capital of romance, art….bread, wine and cheese.

Such a beautiful array of qualities non?

I took  a rather glorious trip to Paris at the end of 2016 for four days of indulgence, comfort and lip-biting naughtiness.

We’re still talking food here…promise…

Paris is such a magical place, first and foremost for the incredible things their boulanger’s can do with a meter of choux pastry. Secondly for the beautiful sights you happen upon simply by foregoing the agenda and letting your feet take you wherever they please.

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But if it’s a good feed your after, you’d do well to follow your nose.

Which is exactly what we did.

Our first evening in the city had us excited and slightly giddy from champagne (confession: that was just me, I’m absolutely hopeless at holding my drink). The blanket of evening had transformed the streets as we vacated our apartment and set off for Montmartre to gaze at Paris from one its most enchanting spots.

Trekking up the gazillion steps to Sacre Cour is one way to work up an appetite, but be sure to stop and admire the view from up top as you pretend not to be suffering from a mild asthma attack, it really is quite beautiful.

Thankfully the steps down are a much more manageable task, with the added bonus of leading you to the most wonderful places.

Case in point, Aux Trois Petits Cochons.

A wonderfully snug place, we cosied in, trying and failing not to knock elbows with our co-diners but entranced by the intimacy and warming smells escaping from the kitchen positioned a mere 5 meters away.

We dined on sautéed snails and a plateful of the creamiest, whipped potato you’ve ever tasted.

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(FYI snails and mash are the new sausage and mash, you heard it here first).

Before devouring a sizable portion of rump steak, cooked perfectly rare and paired with the richest, most velvety mushroom sauce that you’ll be begging the chef the recipe for, (who frustratingly will declare that it dies with him).

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If you can bear to tear yourself away, do so as we did (begrudgingly) and take to the cobbled streets once again.

Immerse yourself in the prettily-lit shop store fronts, the winding roads and just a few yards away should be the perfect place for a nightcap.

Dine al fresco (but dear God make sure you sit under one of the heat lamps if you’re visiting in winter as we did). Order Irish Coffees and a Nutella Crepe to share.

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Guzzle down your afters and savour the last droplets of the evening before attempting to find your way back to your temporary home away from home.

In the morning, try to use the apartment’s own coffee machine (then fail disastrously and pretend you never attempted such a task in the first place), whilst your significant other sets off in hunt of the best pastries from your local patisserie.

Bear in mind that Parisians are not quite as bright and breezy as we English tend to be and may even decide not to open up before late-morning. But don’t be disheartened, persevere and you will most certainly uncover a gem which boasts the most perfect pastries (just as he did).

Grab a selection of their morning offerings, two coffees to go and head back to enjoy at your leisure.

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Fluffy, buttery and impossibly messy. The best way to start any morning.

Once sufficiently fuelled, it’s time to hit the road once again. Walk for long enough and you’ll find yourself walking against the most marvellous backdrop.

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Struggling to find somewhere for lunch? Head to your nearest Deli/Supermarket/Fromagerie and stock up on bread, cheeses and cold meats.

Find your nearest landmark and nab a spot drenched in sunshine to enjoy your make-shift picnic.


Forget portion control and stuff your crusty baguette to the brim. Enjoy attempting to get your chops around your monster of a sandwich and drink in the jealous glances of passers-by.

Be sure to make some time to explore Bastille on your visit and soak in the quaint surroundings this area has to offer.

If you get a little chilly, locate your nearest cafe; Le Bistrot Du Peintre will do quite nicely, to warm your cockles.

Accidentally order the dessert wine (which will turn out to be quite delicious) and most definitely order a selection of their fromage and carcuterie.

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A board combining a mixed orchestra of sharp, chewy, savoury and crumbly flavours and textures.

Almost effortless and simply divine.

Another thing I love about Paris is their lack of urgency for almost everything.

You want the bill? You’ll get it in 5 minutes, okay?
Another coffee? I’ll make it after I’ve finished enjoying this cigarette.
What? You want a table? What do you think this is? Some kind of restaurant?

This behaviour is somewhat infectious, leaving you no choice but to get comfortable and enjoy the rather blissful act of doing…well nothing. You have no immediate agenda, nothing you simply must get done (aside from glug your wine and chew your bread, of which there is always an abundance of in Paris – God bless this city). And for once it’s rather wonderful to not have to adhere to the never-ending to-do list which often floods our brain (or it does mine anyway).

But anyway, enough of that, back to the food.

One final tip before I bookmark the Parisian food trails until next time…

Should you find yourself lost somewhere in the city of Paris, do not despair. Simply locate your nearest patisserie and purchase 2 chocolat eclairs before catching the nearest metro.

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Would you look at that? Glossy, rich, stick-to-your-teeth, chocolately perfection.

Waste no time and enjoy them immediately.

And you know how they say it’s what’s on the inside that counts?

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Well, if the inside just so happens to be the silkiest, smoothest, house-whipped chocolate mousse, they’re absolutely right.

Who knew a simple eclair could make a metro journey 10 times more delightful?

Bon Appétit my friends, and stay tuned for part deux.

Lunch and Brunch at Ladurée

I hope you don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that Ladurée could possibly be the most divine patisserie in the universe.

But by golly, I really think it could be!

I won’t bore you too greatly with the details, a little background information and then I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

And believe me, they have A LOT to say.

Walking the length of the Champs-Élysées before a bite of breakfast or even a whiff of coffee can be quite the risky business, especially when the temptation of other not-quite-so-substantial cafes or pop-up coffee chains are in your line of sight

But hold out and keep walking, trust me it’s worth it.

Just a few more steps….almost there….you made it!

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Look up, no it isn’t a mirage my friend, you are indeed standing outside patisserie extraordinaire, 75 Av. des Champs-Élysées, home of  Ladurée’s exquisite pastries, macarons and more.

Hop on in and request a table for brunch.

Be sure to order the Hot Chocolat Ladurée.

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And a couple of pastries so it doesn’t get lonely…

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We opted for Brioche (excellent when dipped in said Hot Chocolate), Chocolate and Pistachio Croissant (a new favourite – I can’t believe I’ve lived 26 years without it!) And a final pastry which I forget the name of but is soaked in Rum – you’re really going to want to order that.

Impossibly perfect and decadently sweet, it was most definitely what the doctor ordered.

Before you leave, be sure to buy a selection of their famous macarons to take with you (I believe it is a Parisian crime not to do so…)

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And devour under the Eiffel Tower.

Could you be more French right now?

So that was Brunch at Ladurée…now let’s skip forward a day or two to our second encounter.

Whilst in the title I said this was Lunch, it was more post-Lunch dessert, which isn’t necessarily a thing – but most certainly should be.

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Spotting the boutique branch whilst wandering aimlessly through the streets of Paris, we simply “popped in” for a look…and conveniently tumbled into a table for two where the menus practically fell into our laps.

Always being one for a sign, I thought this was more than a reason to stay.

Ordering yet more Hot Chocolat Ladurée, we plumped for Mille Feuille, Chocolate Eclair and a Plaisur Sucre to satisfy our dwindling sugar levels.

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The Mille Feuille is quite divine. A fairly messy affair, but all the best foods are.

The Chocolate Eclair was just okay, a little lackluster in comparison to the other treats on offer.

The Plaisur Sucre is a cross between a Kit Kat filled with creamy Nutella with a Ferroro Roche coating.

Order two, it really is the bees knees.

I highly recommend you visit Ladurée for the novelty, the elegance and ultimately the Fairytale offerings of dreaminess which will greet you from all angles.

Go and please eat two of everything for me!!