Wednesday, June 15, 2011

PARIS Part III: Les Déjeuners et Les Dîners

As a student in Paris I only ate in restaurants when my parents came to visit. My breakfast and dinner during the week were included in my foyer (dormitory) stay and on the weekends I mostly got by eating baguettes with cheese for breakfast and lunch and crepes for dinner down along the Seine (you'll remember my foyer was located on Île Saint-Louis). So upon return, I was most excited to be able to eat at sit-down restaurants and finally order proper French fare (not the suspicious French cafeteria food I was served for dinner Monday through Friday). In the good company of Jocelin, Eddie, and my Scottish friends Chris and Paul all the meals I enjoyed in Paris were memorable and delectable. 

It all began my first day when I enjoyed a memory-jogging Nutella crêpe from the crêperie window on Île Saint-Louis. A hot custardy batter cooked to perfection and filled with melting globs of chocolate-hazelnut spread was a welcome first meal, admittedly too many hours after my arrival. The first bite immediately transported me to all the nights I meandered along the south bank of 'my island' nibbling a crêpe for dessert or as a weekend dinner. It was just like I remembered.
My late afternoon snack was followed by a classic bistro dinner at Chartier. A few guidebooks and David Lebovitz had recommended Chartier as an affordable place to enjoy traditional fare in a typical French brasserie setting. We began with a smooth meaty terrine:

Followed with entrées of duck confit (for me):
And silky steak tartare for Jocelin:
The next day we enjoyed a pre-dinner snack of croissant and café au lait at a café down the street from our apartment. Being late in the afternoon, the café had long since run out of their daily croissants. We found this out when we ordered but were pleasantly surprised when our waitress hopped down the block to the boulangerie and purchased the two croissants we had requested. 
Waiting for our Scottish friends to arrive, we selected a crêperie, Au P'tit Boulevard, in the Marais for dinner. I had a ham, cheese and egg galette (buckwheat or savory crêpe):
Eddie arrived the next day and it was our big Friday night out in Montmartre-- the only day all five of us were together in Paris. Chez Marie (oui, chez moi!) was the restaurant of choice. It was a mild spring evening and we sat outside among two little tables and devoured a small feast. 
Chicken with a rich, tangy sauce served with frites and salad for me: 
Paul ordered escargots (snails in a garlic butter sauce) and graciously shared one with each of us. My first time trying them, I found them to have the texture of a mussel or clam and taste like the sauce they were cooked in. I would definitely have them again:
After dinner we made our way down to Trocadero, across the river from La Tour Eiffel to see it sparkle on the hour. Seeing the lit up tower sparkle for a full five minutes is one of my favorite sights in all of Paris. For our big night out I wore my pink sequined dress for the occasion and found myself matching the Eiffel Tower sparkle-for-sparkle:
For lunch the following day we had the equivalent of deli sandwiches in New York but in Paris  that means little quiche, hot dogs and paninis. I had a broccoli and cheese quiche (an old tradition from my school days) and Jocelin and Eddie shared a foot long hot dog panini-pressed into a baguette: 
With a French kitchen and a trained-chef on our hands, we opted to shop and cook dinner at the rental apartment the next night. Chef Eddo (you know him from my tweets!) made us roast pork, boiled fingerling potatoes, and a mix of green and white (the French's favorite!) asparagus. I helped when it came to figuring out how to get the convection oven to the correct temperature and Eddie took care of taking it out when it was done:
We did a lot of walking on Sunday mostly within Paris museums which are free the first Sunday of the month. The Musée d'Orsay, Musée Rodin, the Musée de l'Orangerie and the Louvre were all on our list... and we got to every single one of them! We were thirsty and hungry but not sure where to eat, so we stopped at favorite Happy Hours spot of mine and the place I went to get my Mexican food fix when I was abroad: Indiana Café. We ordered chips with salsa and guacamole and a variety of beers:
After an evening of restraint, we went all out and had dinner at Le Grand Colbert from the Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson movie Something's Gotta Give. Tucked away in a little corner of La Bourse (the French's Wall Street) we had the best meal of the vacation. (Didn't use flash in the restaurant so all the pictures are yellow)
Started with some oysters:
And some seared foie gras for Eddo (amazing.):
Jocelin and I both selected pepper steak for our entrées. Served with frites:
Cooked to just passed rare, peppery with a silken meaty sauce:
Eddie chose the Cœur de Filet de Bœuf served with haricots verts, une tomate and an amazing Bearnaise (Hollandaise with tarragon):
Dessert was unforgettable. We shared two warm desserts: Moelleux Coulant (which translates to "soft flowing," a molten chocolate cake) served in a puddle of crème angalise with blueberries:
Even better than the rich chocolate was a crème brûlée made with fresh French cream. A difference easily distinguished in a first bite. Something I have since dreamed about tasting again and again. Don't miss it if you ever find yourself in Paris:
It was an experience I won't soon forget. So nice to have superior cuisine with good friends and good wine in a breath-taking city.

My last full day in Paris was also the day I did most of my macaron-ing with Eddie. After walking all morning we were hungry for lunch by the time we reach Saint-Germain. We dined at a little café just across from Café de Flore and next to Brasserie Lipp. 
Needing a warm filling meal I had a croque madame:
A club sandwich for Eddie:
For my final meal in Paris I enjoyed another galette at the almost hidden Crêperie Beaubourg. We originally tried to go to this crêperie the night we ended up at Au P'tit Boulevard because we simply couldn't find Crêperie Beaubourg! Upon second investigation we found it tucked in a little square apart from the street of its address. It is across from the Beauborg water fountains (the ones featured in the remake of Sabrina).
We shared a tart and sweet bottle of cider:
My galette was filled with veggies, cheese and a little ham:
Le Grand Texan was a play on steak and eggs and made for Eddie's dinner:
For dessert, a last Nutella crêpe for me. One more before I go:

My Parisian return was better than I could have ever imagined. I knew coming back would be a whole new experience for me, but I am blessed to have been able to visit with close friends. We had a great time exploring Paris and I enjoyed playing tour guide whenever possible. My French was still rusty, but came back strong enough to get what we needed without seeming too gauche. Hopefully an annual visit will be in the cards for me and the movable feast of Paris already written on my heart will become permanent.


~Suzanne~ said...

I read about you in Paris Breakfast and decided to "stop by"....what a delight!
We are going back to Paris in September and I've jotted down some of these wonderful 'eateries' Nutella crepes!
thanks for all the neat photos as well.

The Culinary Librarian said...

Welcome to the party Suzanne! Glad to have you! Enjoy the blog. Jealous you get to go to Paris in September-- its still so hot and summery then!

Best-- CL