If there’s one thing Paris is known for (you know, other than the iconic landmarks, museums, architecture, etc etc) it’s the food. And (at least when it comes to the pastries, bread, and cheese) I was not disappointed. If you missed it, here’s yesterday’s post with more photos of the sights in Paris; this post focuses solely on what we ate (and believe me, we ate a lot).
Let’s start with dessert, shall we? Because let’s face it, that’s pretty much the only thing you all care about, right? I figured as much.
A trip to Paris wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Berthillion. They are known for their bittersweet chocolate (above left), but have a number of other flavors as well. Just be sure you visit the original location, as there are lots of other shops along the way with Berthillion signs in the window, but they are just resellers, the actual Berthillion is about a block farther on a side street. Unlike US ice cream shops, when you order one scoop, don’t expect a big serving of ice cream. The scoops are about the size of a golf ball. Which was actually quite a nice surprise, as it was the perfect amount to leave us satisfied but not engorged. Or, better yet, leaving room for macarons later on. :)
Stohrer is one of Paris’ oldest pastry shops, opened in 1730 by Nicolas Stohrer, a Polish pastry chef who came to France with Marie Leszczynska when she married King Louis XV. Stohrer invented the Baba au Rhum, a brioche-like sweet bread soaked in liquor (usually rum) and garnished with whipped cream. The shop itself is downright gorgeous, though I think we’d all agree the pastries take center stage.
One of our favorite treats was the bittersweet chocolat chaud from Pâtisserie Viennoise (pictured above). The tiny little pastry shop was empty when we went on Monday (it’s closed on Saturdays and Sundays, just FYI) and we enjoyed two cups of their amazing hot chocolate and a perfectly buttery croissant. The whipped cream was perhaps my favorite part, so thick it was practically butter.
That’s one beautiful mess.
Angelina’s famous chocolat chaud, on the other hand, was super thick and sweet and rich as can be, like drinking a molten chocolate bar. There’s a reason it’s famous: it’s downright amazing. Paired with some macarons and a box of mini Gianduja candies for later, it made for a perfect breakfast. If you don’t have time to wait in line for a seat at their quaint (and pricey) cafe, there’s a quick service counter where you can get cups to go, along with plenty of other sweets, cookies, and pastries.
Let’s talk macarons for a second, something I was personally very excited about when planning our trip as I adore them. I mean, how many macarons can one person consume? I was going to try my best to find out.
Pictured, from bottom: Pierre Hermé, Ladurée, and yours truly.
The verdict? Pierre Hermé wins by a landslide (though mine weren’t too shabby if I do say so myself!) The passionfruit milk chocolate (pictured above) was by far my favorite. I didn’t love the macarons from Ladurée. I found them dry and crumbly, and wasn’t a huge fan of all the floral flavors. Not to mention that my first attempt at getting some was a horrible disappointment, buying half a dozen and excitedly making our way back to our apartment only to find they hadn’t put the macarons in my bag. Granted, the caramel tart was amazing, but I paid good money for those darn cookies!
^ That’s me all happy because I think I’m eating macarons for dessert. But HAHA SUCKER, the joke’s on you because there are NO MACARONS in that bag.
My amazing husband was nice enough to foot it all the way across town while I was (ironically) in my macaron class a few days later, buying me an assortment from Ladurée along with some from the Pierre Hermé shop nearby. Did I mention he’s amazing?
We also tried the macarons from Eric Kayser (above) which were quite good and came in a number of unique, natural flavors like Fig and Vanilla Bourbon, as well as some from Angelina for breakfast (hello passionfruit!) that were delightful despite their goosepimpled tops. Because macarons for breakfast is always a good idea.
(Click through to see the rest of what we ate in Paris!)
One more hot chocolate, with a fun interactive presentation, from Le Comptoir restaurant. Though we realized as we were enjoying our hot chocolate and tea that everyone around us was drinking wine. I guess that’s more the typical lunchtime fare. This was a solid hot chocolate, though I think the other two were more memorable.
The best falafel in Paris comes from L’As du Fallafel in la Marais. It was well worth the wait (you can see the line above – the falafel comes from the green and yellow storefront on the left; the red place on the right isn’t as good, apparently, as the line there was about half as long). Despite appearances, the line moved surprisingly quickly and I’m glad we waited. I’m sure if you timed your visit better (we went around lunchtime on a Sunday when the Marais neighborhood is bustling) the line would be significantly shorter.
Our sweets haul one afternoon, including artful eclairs and passionfruit truffles from L’Éclair de Génie, mini Gianduja candies from Angelina, and marshmallows from Pain de Sucre (these were just ok, unique flavors admittedly, but I guess marshmallows come up lacking when paired with other amazing pastries).
One of the many stops on our Les Halles food tour was this flashy storefront, selling every kind of fois you can imagine (and even those you can’t). I’m not a huge fois fan, but that didn’t stop me from trying it.
As for the food tour, we did this on our first day in Paris, choosing one that focused on the neighborhood where we were staying. It was a great way to familiarize ourselves with the city, plus scope out the best cheese, bread, and other food stops nearby (information which we would use again and again during the rest of our trip).
One of the best meals we had in Paris happened to be Japanese. Go figure. Kunitoraya didn’t disappoint; with platters of tender Udon noodles served with a myriad of toppings and sauces. The Japanese fried chicken and tempura vegetables were amazing as well. This just reinforces the fact that we really, REALLY want to go to Japan for our next big trip. Let the saving begin!
I’ll admit I did not try these doughnuts, which we saw when we stumbled upon a street market in Montmarte. They were too perfect not to photograph, but looking at it now I kind of wish I had bought one.
Fancy chocolates from Patrick Roger, which I sought out at David Lebovitz’ recommendation (side note: his book and his facebook page were invaluable sources for Paris food and pastry recommendations. I figure if it gets a nod from David, it’s going to be good).
While the chocolates were exquisite, the textures and flavors weren’t my favorite (I’d take the truffles from French Broad Chocolates over these any day). The best part (other than the gorgeous turquoise box) was the solid chocolate base, that I almost didn’t realize was there until the box was finished. Bonus! These impressive chocolates would make a great take-home gift to enjoy when you get home (or, you know, on the flight. No judgement.)
Cheese. Glorious cheese!
Seriously. The cheese is simply indescribable.
No matter where they are in the world… food bloggers will be food bloggers.
It didn’t take us long to realize that we weren’t fans of typical Parisian dining: the long, drawn out meals with multiple courses, sky-high prices, and long waits for tiny cramped tables. My temperamental stomach doesn’t do well in these kinds of situations; as a result I often prefer quicker, more casual settings for meals, which were surprisingly hard to find in Paris. Instead, we ate out for lunch when we were out and about, but by the end of the day, we often found ourselves too tired to make any dinnertime decisions. And so this was our dinner on more than one night. Freshly baked baguette, beurre salé (salted butter, OMG this stuff was life changing), and cheese (our favorites being the fresh goat cheese and the intimidating mimolette that we never would have tried if it weren’t for Stephanie (pictured above shooting our latest finds). Add some wine, some fresh fruit from the market, and a few pastries from one of the many shops on our street… and you’ve got yourself the perfect Parisian meal.
This is when our little apartment came in extra handy, as we could stash away the leftover cheese and butter for another day.
One of my favorite parts of our trip was the macaron class I took based on Phillip’s recommendation, a 3-hour long technical class with a professional pastry chef. I think the results (above) speak for themselves, wouldn’t you agree? Mine are the purple ones; apparently I have significantly more self-control when piping than did the other students (that or I’m just stingy). We made both French and Italian style shells, and filled them with ganache, pastry cream, French buttercream, and fruit jam. If macarons aren’t your thing, La Cuisine Paris offers a number of different English cooking classes (both sweet AND savory) and food walking tours of the city as well.
Granted, this post isn’t all-encompassing by any means (sometimes I simply forgot to take a picture, I know, GASP) but I’ve definitely touched on the highlights here. Below is a list with links of some of our favorite spots mentioned here for you to use in planning your own trip to Paris (hopefully sooner rather than later, right?)
Restaurants & Resources:
Sweets & Pastries:
Stohrer: The original inventor of the Baba au Rhum cake (a yeasted cake soaked in rum), this one can’t be missed. They also tout their award winning eclairs and numerous other gorgeous pastries.
Berthillion: French ice cream unlike any other. They are known for their dark chocolate glacé, but I had the mint chip and it was lovely as well. Just be sure you get to the REAL Berthillion. On the walk there there are a number of other little shops that sell their ice cream, and the signs can be misleading, so just be sure you’ve got the right address.
Angelina: Famous for their incredibly rich hot chocolate. If you don’t want to wait to sit down at the (pricey) cafe, stop in the patisserie counter and get a cup to go, with a few macarons and a container of their divine mini Gianduja candies, of course.
Eric Kayser: Bread and pastries, with lots of locations around the city. If you’re looking for a stellar baguette, you can’t go wrong here. I liked that they offered a demi-baguette if you just wanted a smaller portion. Lots of locations around the city.
L’Éclair de Génie: Amazing. Amazing eclairs. Like works of art. Don’t pass up the truffles either… we bought some passionfruit (because, duh) truffles and they were divine, so tangy and flavorful.
Pâtisserie Viennoise: The most amazing hot chocolate. Thinner and less sweet than Angelina’s, but no less flavorful. Served with a dollop of whipped cream so thick it’s practically butter.
Patrick Roger: Fancy schmancy chocolate. We bought an assortment to go (because the chocolate flavors are not labeled and it seemed downright cruel to make the shopkeeper recite them over and over again). The flavors weren’t my favorite, but the chocolate itself was perfect. I loved that the box included a solid slab of chocolate as the base too (that was almost the best part!)
Pain de Sucre: Marshmallows, macarons, and other pastries. We tried their marshmallows in peach, limoncello, and pistachio, but I wish I had picked up some of their famous macarons or other pastries as well.
L’As du Fallafel: Don’t let the line dissuade you (it moves fast, I promise!) this is some truly amazing falafel (fallafel?)
Kunitoraya: Continuing along the lines of amazing international food in Paris, this Japanese restaurant doesn’t disappoint. Hot and cold Udon bowls with delicately fried tempura vegetables and flavorful dipping sauces to round it out. I don’t have much experience with Japanese food but this place was incredible.
Le Comptoir: If you’re looking for a classic French restaurant to a T, this is it. We stopped here for an early lunch one day, not realizing that it’s one of the best restaurants in Paris. We didn’t really have the time to enjoy it properly, but I can vouch for the hot chocolate. Note that by noon there was already a sizable line, so you may want to plan ahead (or try to get reservations).
Mon Vieil Ami: A vegetable-focused restaurant located on Ile Saint-Louis. My sister made us reservations here as a birthday present, claiming it was the best meal she had during her visit two years ago. I’ll admit we didn’t actually make it there (darn stomach was being a brat that night so we ended up staying in) and I was crushed. I loved that the menu highlights vegetables, which is a rarity in the meat-focused French culture (although most dishes weren’t actually vegetarian, just to be clear). Next time.
G. Detou: Charming little specialty food store. A great place to pick up foodie souvenirs and unique foodstuffs to take home with you.
E Delherin: Julia Child’s favorite cookware shop. If you want to take home some fancy French copper (read: $$$) this is the place. But they also have an assortment of unique cooking tools (I got some domed silicone molds and some crazy little triangular cake pans… not sure what I’ll do with them quite yet but they were too unique not to buy).
La Fermette: The best cheese shop around. Whatever you do, don’t miss the beurre salé (salted butter). It’s unlike anything you’ve ever had before. The staff is very knowledgeable too and will happily point you in the right direction, just tell them what you like.
Fois Gras Luxe: If you like fois gras, this is the place to get it. Seriously every kind of fois you can’t even imagine, plus everything you need to go with it. It’s a bit hidden of the main street, you almost feel like you’re going into a private courtyard, but you’ll know it when you see it by the bright yellow front.
La Cave à Bulles: A pretty sweet beer store near Les Halles. Paris is a wine city through and through, but craft beer is starting to work its way in to French culture. This store had a great selection of locally made beers, and some special stuff Taylor can’t usually find back home.
Tours & More:
Rue Montorgueil: Located in the 2nd arrondissement just north of Les Halles, it’s perhaps the foodiest street in the city. Within about 5 blocks you’ll find numerous patisseries, chocolate shops, boulangeries, fromageries, wine shops, fish and meat shops, markets, flower stands, international fare, and plenty of quaint Parisian cafes. It’s much less touristy than other areas of the city as well, with a very authentic local flavor.
La Cuisine Paris: an English speaking cooking school that hosts a number of French cooking classes as well as market and food tours (like the Les Halles food tour we took our first day in Paris). I took their 3-hour technical macaron class and came home with a much better understanding of these temperamental little treats (and a box full of them too).