Tag Archives: paris

A Vegetarian in Paris… Fine-Dining in Paris

26 Oct

Annie Mariel and I love good food…  so we knew we had to experience some of the fine dining Paris has to offer, vegetarian style.

We were extremely lucky to score some tickets to the premiere of the French opera Mireille, at the Opera Garnier.  We had wanted to buy tickets to this show for about 3 months prior to our trip, but it was not until 1 hour before the show that we actually got tickets…  So it was only fitting that we celebrate this achievement or lucky strike with a nice dinner.

COSTES

We were recommended Costes by the concierge at the Intercontinental Hotel right in front of the Opera.  Located in fancy Rue St. Honoré, the choice could not have been better.   I was pleasantly surprised the menu included true vegetarian options.  This is what I ordered:  A salade caprese with tomates cerises and buffalo mozzarella fromage, a quinoa risotto with asparagus tips and a sorbet made of fruits rouges.  Truly delicious… costly, but exquisite.

COSTE - salade caprese

COSTE - Quinoa risotto

COSTE - Sorbet

Aside from the restaurant’s food, the ambiance is really nice.  Our server was super nice and cheery, putting aside all the rumors of Parisian people being rude.  Nice-looking people frequent this restaurant, so it’s nice for people gazing.  And for a night cap, the bar has a great atmosphere too.

 

BUDDHA BAR

Annie Mariel was keen on going to dinner to Buddha Bar.  It was a favorite of hers from a previous visit to Paris.  So I followed suit.  I was a bit unimpressed by their vegetarian options… if it’s vegetarian it also spicy and I do not do spicy well.    Because the menu is sushi-heavy, I though the best bet was to order some vegetarian rolls… NOT!

I had to almost “threaten” that I was merely going to watch my friend eat before I could convince the server to ask the sushi chef to make some vegetable rolls for me.  He almost argued with me the sushi rolls were already made and that was the reason I could not request anything specific…  sushi rolls already made?!?!?  Is this Buddha Bar or the sushi counter at Costco or my local supermarket???  Really??  Please!!

After much negotiation and convincing, this is what I finally ordered – Vegetable Spring Rolls and a custom-made vegetable roll, with asparagus, cucumbers and some other pickled vegetables I could not recognize.  It would have been better with cream cheese in it, but I was not about to piss-off the server and chef once more… and I got about 3 huge spring rolls, I guess he took seriously my threat that I would not eat anything there and tried to put as much food on the plate from the stuff I did order.

BUDHABAR - Spring rolls    BudhaBar - Sushi

We were sitting right in front of the Buddha statue… the music a bit too loud for my taste.  The bar extremely expensive – we paid 15€ for a drink each.   The French guys who go there, super nice thanks to Pierre and Matthieu.  They were great company and because their Spanish or English was so-so, we were able to speak French almost exclusively with them.  Superbe!!!

 

Traditional French cooking is not very vegetarian friendly, but a vegetarian can still find great eats fine-dining in Paris, even if we need to “threat” a few people for it.

A Vegetarian in Paris… Snacking in the Champs Elysées

23 Oct

With all the walking we did in Paris, we had to do our three meals and a few snacks in between… these were a few of our favorites from our week in Paris.

champs elysees 2    champs elysees 1

Frites and Orangina at the Champs Elysees

I love French fries and it was a real pleasure to sit down at a café to taste a small plate of frites with ketchup and Dijon mustard.  You could taste these did not come from a frozen bag.

frites   orangina

Orangina was my beverage of choice during my week in Paris.  I remembered it well from my first trip to Europe.  It’s a natural soda with orange juice and pulp.  It’s refreshing… not something to drink every day, but certainly, a vacation treat.

A picnic at the Tour Eiffel

One of my dreams was to go to a street market, buy fresh fruits, cheese, bread and take it to a Parisian park to enjoy the company and the views.  When we drove past the Tour Eiffel and the Champs de Mars I immediately knew this was the location for our picnic.

Our initial plan was to visit the Marché Breteuil , open weekly on Thursdays and Saturdays, and then head for the Champs de Mars.   The thing was the market is open and available early in the morning, so when we went at about 3PM for our afternoon picnic snacking, there was nothing there except the empty area where usually the market stands are. Lesson learned there.

Alternatively, we went to a small market on our way to Champs de Mars and bought our fixin’s – crackers, fromage de chevre, Roquefort, strawberries, and the very Parisian BBQ flavored Lay’s potato chips.  It was truly wonderful… a dream come true.  It was a bit chilly, but very enjoyable. 

picnic 1

picnic 2

 Next time… a picnic somewhere we can see the Seine.

A few things to eat at home

Because we were staying at an apartment with a full kitchen… – full in the sense that had everything we needed, but super small according to US or PR standards. – We headed to a supermarket to gather some “munchies” and breakfast alternatives.

We were amazed by the amount and variety of cheeses in the cheese case.  To cheese lovers like us, we felt as if we were in cheese heaven.  We just could not bring ourselves to choose…  Among our purchases:   whole grain baguette, citrus juice, goat cheese crottins, comte cheese, some nectarines and peaches, among a few other necessities. 

fromage supermarche 1    fromage supermarche 2

It was really nice to arrive to our apartment, relax for a bit watching some French-language TV and enjoying French cheese, French bread before heading out to a late dinner… felt really Parisian, just like we wanted.  But please do not dare ask me how many pounds we gained in just that week…  OK?

A Vegetarian in Paris… Crepes

20 Oct

Something I knew was on my TO EAT list when I arrived in Paris was CREPES!!!! 

I love crepes… I eat a spinach, cheese and walnuts crepe almost every Saturday when I attend my French classes at L’Alliance Francaise.  But I love them all… savory (salé) or sweet (sucré)… going to Paris and not eating crepes is like going to NYC and not eating a slice of pizza… right?

Just like in NYC there are hot dog stands in almost every corner… the same applies to crepe stands in Paris.  Even cafes or bistros have a small window facing the street where they can fix crepes to any hungry person passing by. 

With only a week in Paris, there were not as many opportunities as one would like to taste all the flavor varieties available… but let’s go chronologically…

My first crepe of this Paris trip was in Montmatre…  I had the munchies after climbing all those stairs from the Metro station up to Sacre Coeur.  I also wanted to eat away my sorrows after finding a spectacular painting I loved, but too expensive for my budget…  so how better to compensate than eating crepe and cheese together??

Sacre Coeur     montmatre

I ordered a crêpe au fromage with gruyère cheese.    The thing… the cheese was not inside the crepe, but on top.  It was more like a crêpe gratin… the crepe was soft and the cheese was salty.  Super nice start to my crepe adventure…

Crepe Fromage 1

When we went to Versailles, we wanted to have lunch where the locals eat.  We wanted to walk away from the Palace and the rest of all the tourists and were pleasantly surprised to find a maze of streets filled with small cafes, stores and creperies for us to choose from…  We selected a creperie with a special offering 1 crepe salé + 1 crepe sucré and a beverage for a fixed price…  And look at the menu of options for the crepes!!!!  There were at least 50+ varieties of savory and 50+ varieties of sweet options to choose from.  Granted, not all the choices were vegetarian, but still impressive, don’t you think?

creperie versailles

Menu Crepes Salee       Menu crepes sucree

I loved the savory crepes, also called gallettes, which were made with Sarracene wheat or buckwheat instead of regular wheat flour.  I ordered mine filled with spinach, potatoes and cheese.  Annie Mariel did not steer too far away and ordered a potatoes and cheese crepe.  They were delicious…

Crepe epinard 1

For dessert, I ordered my new favorite flavor for desserts – caramel beurre salé with vanilla ice cream.  Annie Mariel, true to her passions, ordered a crepe topped with chocolate syrup topped with café glace.  My toffee was inside the crepe, the chocolate in turn was on top of the crepe… apparently there is no consistency of where the crepe accompaniment will be placed.  But what you can be sure of is the accompaniment will help bring that thin crepe to a whole new place…

crepe caramel beurre salee

crepe au chocolat

And so far, I’ve had crepes sitting down in restaurants… granted, the tables I ate them were in sidewalks, but still I was sitting down and ate them with a fork and knife.  But how about trying out one of those street-side crepes???  While walking down the street on Avenue St. Germaine we decided to stop by Les Deux Maggots… but my mind was on the creperie across the street right in front of the St. Germaine de Près church…  I had to order the classic Nutella, which is very much Italian, but perfect to eat inside a French crêpe…  it was so cool to see the crêpe being made right in front of me.  Super thin and perfectly golden after just a few minutes… they give it to you wrapped in paper ready to take a bite right then a there…   

crepes a la rue 3       crepes a la rue 1

 

crepes a la rue 2    crepes nutella

Next time you visit Paris, be sure to try your favorite flavors of the ubiquitous crepe…  I am sure you’ll fall in love with them as much as the city itself.

A Vegetarian in Paris… Musts from the Internet

19 Oct

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. 

berthillion 2

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.

    berthillion 1    berthillion 4

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.

caramel beurre salle et chocolat

pistachio et chocolat

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… 

notre dame       nougat et cafe

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?

POÎLANE BREAD

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.

Tartine Madeleine

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.

l'as du falafel 1

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.

 Chez Marianne chez marianne 2  

menu - chez marianne

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???

Chez MArianne - falafels

falafel sandwich

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”.

Laduree - dehors

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. 

laduree - bag

laduree - macaroons

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??

 laduree 2     laduree 5laduree 3    laduree 4

PIERRE HERMÉ

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.

pierre herme

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
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