Tuesday, August 20, 2013

DBS Euro Trip 2013 - Paris, The Food


Paris is pretty much one of the world's greatest food destinations.  Depending on your level of haute cuisine, French is widely considered the most technically sound and artistic cuisine of the world.  We didn't eat at a Joel Robuchon restaurant, but we still had some darn good meals.

DB~ has a friend that lives in Germany and she and her husband periodically go to Paris, because...hey, why not?  She gave us the choicest of choice recommendations for a place on Rue de Rivioli (Ravioli Street as we called it) named Angelina's.  Of course every time DB~ talked about Angelina's, I thought of Angelina Jolie.  She always seems French to me.  Or snooty.  Either one.  But she was super hot and super cool in Mr. and Mrs. Smith and that's one of my favorite guilty pleasure movies, so there you go.

Angelina's is known for their hot chocolate and pastries.  I thought it would be like a fancy little cafe/bakery.  Turns out it is a super swank tea room that I felt slightly under-dressed for, even though I had a collared polo shirt on with my shorts.  The hot chocolate is of such quality that it's like an angel is letting you drink it directly out of their mouth after that angel rubs up against a unicorn and then rubs a panda for good luck.  It's a viscous liquid that is not watery in the least bit and only augmented in flavor by the amazing whipped cream you can ladle in at your own discretion.

We both got "brunch" type things here.  I got a quiche, even though I really don't like eggs, because it seemed like the kind of joint that knew how to make me like an egg or two.  It had goat cheese and chives in it.

DB~ completely out-ordered me by getting a Croque Madame, which is a broad, flat sandwich with ham and cheese, topped with an egg.  It was decadent and delightful and hella 'spensive for a lunch.  But, when in Rome.  Or Paris in this case.

After that lunch, we went to the Louvre (future post alert!) and then stopped for macarons at another recommendation by our sister-in-law called Laduree.  It is this ultra-chic bakery that resembles an upscale clothing boutique for its display quality.  The macarons were fantastic (and expensive at $3 equivalent a piece), but much like Chez Leon in Brussels we felt that Pittsburgh has a fantastic near-equivalent in Jean Marc Chatelier's in Millvale.

The lasting memory of the whole Euro trip for me occurred outside Laduree.  It's one of those stories that if I ever forget it, I'll know that the onset of Alzheimer's is starting.  We were happily munching our macarons outside on the sidewalk, just a few feet from a large Japanese tour group being guided a Japanese guy so gay he must sneeze glitter, when a local n'er do well approached us.  He clumsily tried the "oh, did you drop this cheap ring on the ground" trick to me and I shooed him away.  He didn't get the hint and then tried to steal a macaron out of the open box in DB~'s hands.  She shot him the dirtiest of dirty looks, said "NO!!!", and then turned and ran away with the macarons, leaving me with a con man and all of our money.  But the macarons were safe!

We had two standout dinners in Paris.  The first was at a restaurant called Les Cocottes de Christian Constant.  Christian Constant is this restauranteur in Paris who has a bunch of popular restaurants.  This one specializes in food prepared in cocottes (or casserole dishes).  For an appetizer, we had a chilled cucumber soup with goat cheese mixed in the center.  It reminded us a little bit of the chilled avocado soup we make, but this was way better of course.

 For dinner, I had a pork shoulder with seasoned potatoes in a red-wine gravy.  DB~ had langustino and a fine risotto in hers.  We finished things up with a mousse in a cocotte.  Again, hey, it's Paris and if you don't get mousse here, where are you going to get it?  Both of us put this dinner in our all-time Top 10 meals.

Our final dinner in Paris was in the part funky/part skeezy section of town known as Montmarte, home to the Moulin Rouge.  DB~ found a great off the beaten path restaurant called Chez Toinette (via the always helpful TripAdvisor).  It was only open from 7 pm to 11 pm, so we made reservations for 7 pm that afternoon and got the last table.

Chez Toinette is a tiny 20 seat restaurant with an even tinier kitchen that puts out exquisite food with only 2 people, plus a host/waiter/busman with a great personality.  For our appetizer, we decided to go Full Paris and get escargot.  Yes, snails in general are gross.  But if you put those snails in a butter, garlic, breadcrumb mix and then heat that mix to high temperatures, you have a taste sensation.

For dinner, DB~ had a poached salmon dish with a small side of risotto.  Each of had a small array of steamed vegetables, highlighted by the tastiest carrots ever.  The carrots were cooked, pureed, then reformed into a carrot shape with seasonings.

I had a steak done in a red-wine sauce with the aforementioned vegetables.  The funny part about the meal is that two tables away from us was an American couple.  They were talking to another American couple.  We left at the same time as the first couple and chatted them up.  Turns out they were from Philly and were talking to another Philly area couple.  So three Pennsylvania tables in a tiny French restaurant.  It's a small world after all....

Of course there were many other little treats we sampled in Paris, such as crepes and chocolate and sandwiches, but these were definitely the highlights.

1 comment:

  1. I'm going to have to buy some Staub cocettes...Just a head's up... ~