Who doesn’t want to go to Paris in the Spring? A world away from London, and only 2 hours by Eurostar. I went recently to eat, drink, wander, and as always, to stock up my pantry with all sorts of good things.
Paris in the Springtime
Food in Paris is very diverse. There is lots of classic French (bistros, brasseries), terrific seafood, the new bistronomy movement, great Asian food (particularly Japanese and Vietnamese) and all those al fresco rotissierie chicken and crusty bread dining opportunities with those chicken fat soaked spuds. HELLO.
Impossible as it is to cover everything, and foolish to try, this is where I went, and where you should go when in town
.Au Pied de Cochon
When I first discovered Au Pied de Cochon, I thought there was no way that it could be good. A tourist favourite and open 24 hours, I steered clear. Encouraged by friends and colleagues who shared enthusiastically that it was a local favourite too, that they made a great French onion soup (which in my experience is not always a guarantee in Paris) and that it was actually really good, I popped by.
A classic brasserie and a temple to the swine, trotters are handles on the toilet doors and there are references to pigs everywhere. A pig jam is presented with the bread, a slightly sweet spread like white pudding, lovely spread on a cracked crust. I had the charolais beef tartare, and the soupe à l’oignon gratinée (French onion soup). The tartare was hand chopped and piquant with capers, just on the right side of eggy (the egg yolk was mixed in already). The soupe à l’oignon gratinée was perfect, soft onions yielding to the broth with a roof of melted cheese on a slice of toast that in its enthusiasm had already absorbed the broth and was wonderful.
La Régalade, Paris
La Régalade is a more modern take on a bistro serving excellent food at great value prices. Hghlights were a hearty terrine and pickles, before a gorgeous rich and simultaneously light dish of white asparagus with a broth /light sauce of aged comté, wine and morilles which was excellent, and the classic soufflé with Grand Marnier.
Rech from Alain Ducasse in Paris
Rech from Alain Ducasse specialises in seafood with – as expected in Paris – excellent seafood platters. A lobster and lentil dish was superb, the lentils and jus lending the bright sweet lobster a low earthy rumble. Pastries were excellent too, as was cod with morels.
Viz Eat offers visitors to Paris to enjoy a homecooked meal with locals. We had a terrific evening with host Florent, and great food starting with beetroot hummus and other snacks overlooking the rooftops of Paris on his terrace. Pea soup to start was gorgeous and fresh, a rustic stew was a lovely main, and a panacotta dessert, from the Frenchie cookbook, a restaurant I really need to visit next time. We were offered a dram of – very appropriately for me at the moment, Writer’s Tears*, an Irish whiskey – to finish. A thoroughly gorgeous evening.
*struggling to finish my book, and tortured by it, frankly
Wine Tasting in Paris
At Wine Tasting in Paris, Thierry delivered a fun and very accessible tasting with great wines, matched with perfectly ripe French cheeses. I have been to many wine tastings, and sometimes they can be stuffy, other times serious. If you want to get under the skin of French wine, this is a great way to do it.
Le Grenier, Paris
We headed to Le Grenier to discover the secrets of the traditional French baguette. Not all baguettes in France are made according the traditional method, if they are, this is specified and the traditional bread is thus proteted. We visited sister bakery, also called Le Grenier, a bakery which won the first price in the annual competition that uncovers the best traditional baguette in Paris for that year. We were shown the process and then trundled off to taste our perfect baguettes and a heavenly buttery croissant.
http://en.meetingthefrench.com/ organises the baking demos
I spent a morning and lunchtime at Le Foodist where we started with coffee before heading to the market. Owner and chef, Fred, is very knowledgeable and if you are keen to learn more about French food and culture, he has many an anecdote and technique to share. We prepared a miso salmon tartare, coq au vin a la Parisienne and ice cream, which was served with poached pears. Fred teaches many different classes, and his wife teaches baking classes too. There are also food and wine classes.
I syumbled across Gyoza Bar in one of the Paris arcades. A small bar serving – well, gyoza – but only classic pork gyoza, and they are done very well. Which isn’t surprising when you realise it is the team behind much admired Au Passage behind it. Prices are excellent, and I can’t help but love a restaurant that encourages me to order 12 gyozas for €9. I also ordered the nitamago, a cured egg which was divine, and the edamame, just for a little green to balance the brown. There are two branches, I went to the original in Passages des Panoramas, but there is also one in the Marais.
I had heard that there was excellent udon in Paris, and as you know, handmade udon noodles are one of my very favourite things to eat. Kunitoraya, a very bright and cheerful noodle bar serves very good udon, and a lunch time menu too. I tried both, as you do. The lunch time menu was set and included fried chicken, Japanese omelette and salmon onigiri, for €7. All were very good. The pork and miso udon was excellent too.
I never miss an opportunity to pop to culinary Aladdin’s cave G Detou to top up my pantry. The wonderful thing about travelling by Eurostar is that you don’t have to worry about carrying on liquids or the weight of your bags. I always buy the pork sausages confit in goose fat (yes, WHAT?!), some confit duck, espelette pepper and anything else that takes my fancy. They have a wonderful selection, be sure to check both shops.
G Detou, 58 Rue Tiquetonne, 75002 Paris, France
With thank to Paris Visitors Bureau who organised the trip and Eurostar who sponsored the transport. I stayed for a couple of days extra to explore independently too. All editorial is my own, I would never recommend something that I didn’t think you should visit. I value your time, as well as my own!