France to me, can be defined by a few things:
- Long days. Similar to the rest of Europe, Spring and Summer means that shops operate until late and it is generally still bright and warm at 9pm!
- People watching. I love that cafes arrange their tables and chairs like a cinema.
- Baguettes. Fresh, fluffy and crisp… baguettes make awesome sandwiches.
- Coffee. I am addicted to the French cafe noisette! Three a day, please. Cafe noisette are espressos with a dash of frothy milk/cream. This has been commonly served with a tiny block of 70% dark chocolate or chocolate coated coffee bean. The aroma… yum!
- Patisseries are everywhere -yippee, but the good ones seem to be on opposite ends of the city. So I quickly familiarised myself with the metro system and went hunting.
- Bins. Picture a plastic tube-like bag hung onto poles like a basketball net. You might be able to see goo et al in the bins, but hey, at least there are bins at train stations! Take the hint Cityrail.
Day One in Paris saw us lining up in the cold, outside Rose Bakery for about 40 minutes. Let me tell you, it was totally worth it. Brunch was soupe haricot verts and tomatoes (soup of French green beans and tomatoes) , scones au toast, confiture et beurre (scones with jam and butter) and pancakes et syrupe d’erable (pancakes with maple syrup). It was a small reminder of Britain and a warm welcome to France.
Bench with cakes, fruits and scones at Rose Bakery, Paris
Vegetable soup at Rose Bakery, Paris
Day Two, I had a long awaited reservation at Le Cinq -73rd (formerly 24th) on the World’s Best 100 Restaurants list. 8 courses for 230€ ! I hadn’t done detailed research into cost, assuming it would at maximum cost slightly more than Tetsuya’s $180 (AUD) but soon enough, we realise that at that cost, we would only be able to afford a starter! So we took the plunge, just so there would never be a "what if", and ordered the tasting menu. To be continued… (blog post to come shortly; the tasting menu is below for those imaginative ones)
Red tuna belly in a tartar with green apple and wasabi jelly Green asparagas from the Luberon region, blanched with poultry jus and served with lemon flavoured gnocchi and Jabugo ham Abalone from the Brittany Sea with seaweed butter, fondant watercress, hen broth flavoured with lemongrass Net-fished blue lobster cooked on aromatic salt, lobster jus claws in vegetable fritters with pink radish Saddle of lamb from the Aveyron region served with smoked red pepper, fried lamb sweetbreads with small borad beans and bayaldi of vegetables
Red tuna belly in a tartar with green apple and wasabi jelly
Green asparagas from the Luberon region, blanched with poultry jus and served with lemon flavoured gnocchi and Jabugo ham
Abalone from the Brittany Sea with seaweed butter, fondant watercress, hen broth flavoured with lemongrass
Net-fished blue lobster cooked on aromatic salt, lobster jus claws in vegetable fritters with pink radish
Saddle of lamb from the Aveyron region served with smoked red pepper, fried lamb sweetbreads with small borad beans and bayaldi of vegetables(I swapped mine for the Guinea Fowl from the Dombes region, breast fillet browned with chateau Chalon wine, watercress macaroni, "gras de cuisse" and mousseron mushrooms with cream).
Selection of cheeses (I absolutely adored a hard cheese from Franche-Comté).
Red fruit vacherin with tangy lemon meringue
Madagascar chocolate soufflee pie with semi-candied raspberries
Tasting menu at Le Cinq, Paris
Having a picnic beneath the Eiffel Tower and wandering around the Louvre Museum were some of the things I had daydreamed about. Why wait five years to fulfil your goal when you can do it now?
Eiffel Tower by night, Paris, France
Below is me, during my hunt for the best pastries.
Me eating a croissant from La Flute Gana on the streets of Paris
La Tartelette feuilletee aux pommes from La Flute Gana
Palmier from Regis Colin
Mille-feuille from Regis Colin
Pierre Herme’s macaron display
Meals I have had include some tasty terrines and tartares but I mainly filled up with late brunches and sweets… hehe
Terrine de betterave au chevre from Le Trumilou
Me sipping on a cafe noisette while people watching
Fresh baguette in Paris
And in the South of France, I felt like we were on the start of a second holiday. Each day was filled with a heavenly combination of sun and seafood. Private beaches were luxurious with carpet (to protect your feet from the hot stones), shade, lounges and drink / food service. We ate plentiful seafood platters and bouillabaisse (fish stew).
Seafood platter from Restaurant Astoux & Brun
Bouillabaisse with rouille and crusty baguette slices from Restaurant Astoux
Roaming the small streets of Vieux Nice (old town), we stumbled across some lovely family-run restaurants. Of course a visit to Nice wouldn’t be complete without a casual lunch of socca (chickpea crepe), beignets d’aubergines (eggplant fritters) and the renouned Nicoise salad.
Street food in Nice -socca, nicois salad, aubergine fritters
A private beach in Nice
So, this week I’m in Italy – Bologne, Venice and Rome, then off to Santorini and Dubai and back home!
Le Petit Puchet Regis Colin Rose Bakery La Flute Gana Pierre Herme Le Cinq Le Trumilou Lou Pilha Leva Restaurant Astoux & Brun
Place de Clichy
Phone: 01 45 22 36 76
53, rue Montmartre
Phone: 01 42 36 02 80
46, rue des Martyrs
226, rue des Pyrenees
185, rue de Vanigirard
Four Seasons Hotel
31, avenue George V
L’Hotel de Ville, Paris
10 rue du Collet (Corner of Place Centrale)
27 avenue Felix Faure
Le Petit Puchet
La Flute Gana
Lou Pilha Leva
Restaurant Astoux & Brun