Last month I spent a whole week in Paris… because I haven’t been in Paris since I was 16, I wanted to do all the touristy things 1st time visitors do – Tour Eiffel, Place de la Concorde, Arc de Triomphe, the Seine River, Notre Dame, the Louvre Museum, Montmatre, Sacre Coeur, etc…
But in addition to the monuments musts, I also had a separate list – the FOODIE MUSTS. Reading on the Internet, I built a list of foodie must do’s I wanted to try. I only had a chance to do only a few things, but here are several of the highlights…
Berthillon Ice Creams
At Serious Eats, many contributors mentioned the ice creams for Berthillon were “to die for”. So the day we decided to walk over to Place Vendome, visit la Place de la Bastille, we made our way to Ile de St. Louis to try out these spectacular ice creams.
After walking a great deal trying to find this ice cream parlor, we were bummed to find out they are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays… so we had to do the next best thing – cross the street and have our ice cream at the café in front, where the advertised they serve the delicious ice creams from Berthillon.
All the reviews said the best was bitter chocolate, so I ordered chocolate and a new flavor recommended by the server, caramel beurre salé. It’s true what they say… these ice creams are superb!!! The chocolate is not super sweet and the caramel beurre salé tastes like a salted toffee, my favorite flavor. Annie Mariel followed recommendations as well and ordered chocolate and pistachio. The pistachio flavor tasted like real nuts and did not have that artificial green color most US pistachio ice cream have.
After having our first taste of these Berthillon ice creams, we would order a few flavors every time we saw them listed on any menu… so when visiting Notre Dame, we also had a chance to try the nougat and coffee flavors. Outstanding as well…
When you visit Paris, forget about your waistline for a few minutes and try out these spectacular ice creams. Hey, when you’re on vacation, you can break the rules once in a while, no?
Ever since I got Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris cookbook a few years back, I’ve been planning to visit this bakery. She says it has the best bread in Paris and that’s a lot… because bread in Paris is the best in the world. Just ask my little niece Mariana, who visited Paris about 3 years ago when she was only 4 and right before my trip to Paris she told me: “Titi Madelyn, the bread in Paris is soooooooooooooo good!!!!” She still remembers… and she was only 4. She has the food-loving gene, I know…
I did not get to visit the famous bakery on the same street that Giada DeLaurentiis lived when she attended culinary school, but during my first meal in Paris, we had tartines made from whole-grain Poîlane bread. Again, all bread in Paris is good. But I will have to do a specific taste-test to be absolutely sure the Poîlane bread is head and shoulders above the rest. I’ll keep you posted on this one.
L’AS DU FALAFEL
The Marais is located between the 3rd and 4th arrondissements… and it’s kind of “the West Village” of Paris. It’s filled with small pedestrian streets with plenty of shopping and restaurants to last you a whole month in Paris. It’s also part of the Jewish district… so it’s the place to go for some Middle Eastern food. And I sure needed a break from the bread, cheese and potato diet I had been carrying for the last few days.
I’ve read about L’As du Falafel in many internet discussions and about the huge lines formed right in front of this stand. Even the Director of the Alliance Française in PR knew about this place… he knew the street address by heart. That’s how well-known this place is for the locals and foodie tourists alike.
We searched for this street in every map we had… I had to consult my newly bought map by arrondisement to actually find it. We walked past a mob of people to find L’As du Falafel CLOSED. For the second time, I arrived to an internet recommendation to find the place closed. It happened to be Saturday and some Jewish people observe the Sabbath, and the owners of this stand apparently do too.
Then, on our way back to a main avenue, we noticed again the mob of people on the street. I read the name of the place, Chez Marianne, and thought nothing of it. What could be happening here that people are standing in line for??? Well, apparently when L’As du Falafel is closed, people stand in line at Chez Marianne for their falafel fix. We were not sure how to order, so we found a little table right next to the pick-up window to observe how the locals were doing it.
After much deliberation and salivation, we decided to order a plate of 5 components that we then used to stuff some pitas and create some falafel sandwiches. Our order included falafels, tabbuleh, eggplants cooked with tomatoes, eggplant dip, a salad and pickles. With a squirt of lemon juice on top, the falafel sandwich was exquisite. The falafels were crispy and light… nothing greasy. Just what my appetite needed… no cheese for just one meal. Can you believe I just said that???
LA DURÉE PASTRY SHOP
Pastries in Paris are as beautiful as any other masterpiece at the Museé du Louvre or Museé d’Orsay. And one of these pastry museums is La Durée. We just found it serendipitously while walking towards La Madeleine church. I saw the name on the store and immediately said: “We need to go in there”.
La Durée is famous for their pastries, but most of all, for their macaroons. To me, macaroons are like coconut kisses (besitos de coco), but in Paris, macaroons are something different. They are these meringue-like sandwich cookies.
We had to stand in line for about 15-20 minutes to buy these macaroons. While in line I photographed some of the marvels they make there… check them out. Aren’t they gorgeous??
Walking from the Museé du Luxembourg towards Boulevard St. Germaine, we ran into my friend’s Jesiel favorite pastry shop, Pierre Hermé. She has actually decided she wants to move to Paris to be a pastry chef and sometime intern with Pierre’s famous crew. I was impressed by how people line outside the store to taste their masterpieces.
I was tired and craving a crepe, so we decided to pass on standing in line this time… but I will most definitely try to go in the next time I visit Paris.
Even though I got to experience all these foodie adventures, I still have some pending stuff I have waiting for my next trip…
- Go to Poîlane Bakery to see the lamp made from bread
- Le Grand Epicerie at le Bon Marché
- Visit E. Dehillerin to see the best stocked kitchen gadget store in the world
- Go to a street market in the MORNING so I can purchase all the components to a great picnic lunch
- Sitting at an outside table at Café de Flore
- Have dinner at a Joel Rebuchon restaurant
- Go to the Le Creuset outlet store and drool for a few hours