Another trip to Paris… Quel ennui????
Not for me! I had a very good reason to go this fall to celebrate a special birthday for my sister. It started out as a girls trip and then after six days of shopping, eating, and museums; my husband arrived to contribute to our paris adventure.
Whether I’m wandering the streets eating deliciously decadent macarons from L’auduree, or shopping for vintage Hermes Scarves, it all seems to be better in Paris. But what makes my heart sing when I am wandering the streets of Gay Paree are the food markets. They are truly the lifeblood of the city. Yes. They still are! I am drawn to the ooey gooey cheese, the crusty bread, yummy charcuterie, fresh produce, and the colorful flowers.
I knew that this trip would be no exception. I just wanted to be sure that my sister had the same magical experience that I have each and every time I return to this fabulous city. That is why I enlisted the help of Wendy Lyn from The Paris Kitchen. I had been told by many of my chef friends that Wendy is an expert in all things food in Paris. Since I have never been on a formal food tour in my favorite city I thought it would be a wonderful way for us to spend the day.
We were not disappointed! Wendy met us at 10:30 at #60 St. Germaine. We immediately liked her Southern Charm and her extreme Parisian food knowledge. Did you know that unless that darling patisserie on your block has the full name of the baker on the awning that the bread and pastries weren’t made on the premises? Mind blown. There are actually only about six bakeries in all of Paris that make their breads and desserts in-house, and Wendy took us to one of them: Eric Kayser, artisan boulangerie. We saw the giant ovens with gorgeous breads baking. And I also found out that you could order tarts that are cooked at different temperatures like meat: rare, medium rare, and well done. If you want the crust dark it is called “bien cuit.” In all the years I have been traveling to Paris I never knew that.
Paris Food Tip Number One: Get in line knowing what you want to order, and NEVER reach for, or grab, an item on your own. Believe me, it does not go well with the French.
After we reached our sweet treat max, Wendy walked us over to the marché to La Petit Perigourdine for a foie gras tasting. It was the most exquisite foie gras I had ever tasted. No wonder they are gold medal winners! As if that wasn’t rich enough, Wendy took us to a cheese shop next. The aroma was un peut stinky, but for us foodies it was like cheese heaven. But the best part of the entire experience is that you tell the cheesemonger when you will be serving your cheese and he will choose ones that will ripen at the exact right time, almost like a fine wine that has to breathe. Here in America we just grab and walk, without even thinking about how to serve that cheese, and in Paris food is a fine art. We ended our day of decadence at the wine bar L’Avant Comptoir. Not only did we indulge in a parade of tapas, but with Wendy’s guidance, we tasted some of the most delightful wine, and the crustiest bread with a rich butter that was made with 40 gallons of cream. That is a lot of cream, and well worth it!
Paris Food Tip Number Two: If you are looking for a one- stop shop food store definitely go to Galerie Lafayette Maison, which is four floors of food galore & kitchenware!
Markets inspire you to taste something new, embrace different flavors, and maybe even create a new dish. These purveyors are true artisans. I never walk way disappointed with the double cream Brie, the sparkling rose, and the fresh bread I just purchased. I know it may seem intimidating if you do not parle Français, so call Wendy at The Paris Kitchen because, trust me, it is well worth the adventure.
So, next time you are in Paris, channel your inner Julia Child, flirt with flavors, taste, try, and buy everything and anything that strikes your fancy. It just might make you want to sing “I Love Paris!”