Friday, 25 November 2011


I trust that everyone had a great Thanksgiving in the states. It's by far my favorite holiday, if only because I do love the pleasant exhaustion that follows the days of slaving away in the toasty warm kitchen, and the justification of that comforting wintertime padding that accompanies all the discarded butter wrappers that are in the garbage today. I will have snowy holiday pictures that include the carcass of a particularly tasty Meleagris. More Paris pictures first!

I showed up in Paris expecting a good meal.

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As always, it did not disappoint. Parisians are serious about their food.

Last summer when I was in Lyon, I was overjoyed at what a foodie place the city was. They have their equivalent of a Brasserie: the Bouchon, which dependably serves Lyonnaise specialties such as head cheese, pike dumplings, pied de porc, charcuterie...some of it is not for the faint of heart, but it's almost always comforting and delicious. When I found that there was a classy place to get lovely Aux Lyonnaise without leaving Paris, I was all over that like Jaws on a group of swimming kindergartners.

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The place was really homey and cute inside, and filled with suits (it's right next to the Stock Exchange) but the service couldn't be better, and it was remarkably friendly as far as Paris goes.

The quenelles (pike dumplings) were gorgeous and the best I had ever had. They were submerged in a creamy crayfish sauce that made me swoon. Gah. If you are ever in Paris, I would highly recommend going...their 3 course lunch is a pretty good deal.

Another gem was Patisserie Stohrer.

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It's been in that same spot since 1730. It was just adorable inside, and the pastries were overwhelming- so much to choose from, so little stomach space.

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At this point, I was okay with having to go up a dress size and buying a whole new wardrobe and joining the gym the moment that poor overburdened plane landed back in New York. I've accepted myself as who I am.

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We bought a couple delicate sweets to sample, stood out front on the street with sticky hands and crumbs on our face, and then ran inside for more.

Right down the street there was another old place that was notable for escargot.

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You can choose from a variety of different sauces for your snails. I'm a purist and I love the butter, garlic and herbs that are traditional...but I must say, the Roquefort sauce was quite good.

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Chez Paul is my old standby in Bastille.

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The menus are hand-written in French and maybe a little hard to read, but the food is always excellent and it's cozy and brings in a local crowd.

Robert et Luise in Bastille is another cozy place, but their menu is considered meat-heavy every by Parisian standards. You better have your inner carnivore on good terms here.

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I think my best discovery this trip was Les Cocottes de Christian Constant. I had a heavenly meal at this no-reservations, get there early or go hungry gem. A creamy rich soup of champignons and foir gras, scallops, lamb cocottes, a ruby-rare whole pigeon and a sinful chocolate tart. The staff couldn't have been nicer as well. I generally don't condone repeat visits to any place (there's just way too much to eat to even consider it usually) but I did go back to this place twice. Fantastic.

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Another lovely find was Breizh Cafe. They specialized in Breton Crepes- savory Galette and au sucre as well. So in Breton, it is too cold to grow grapes, and they grow apples the meal called for an exploration in Ciders.

I've only ever had the nasty cider-stuff they've got on tap at pubs in the states. This was an awakening for me- the cider was leaps and bounds better- like a light, not-too-sweet champange where you can actually feel like you are biting into a sweet-tart apple.

The low alcohol content meant that many bottles could be tried. While I don't normally consider crepes something to swoon over, I had no choice but to swoon here. Make a reservation, as they are quite packed with fellow swoonees.

Add that to all the good strong coffee and croissants and baskets of good bread and fromage, I'm the happiest person on earth.

It's hard not to love a city on a full stomach and bubbling with good wine.

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