This weekend France is celebrating La Fête Nationale, the French National Day. It commemorates the storming of the Bastille, which took place on the same day in 1789 and was considered to be a symbol of the uprising of a modern nation.
Since I just returned from France, I’m celebrating the remarkable food in Paris. Only there will you see such wonders as a hippo carved out of chocolate, laughing at you from behind a shop window.
Quintessential French Dining
There are so many wonderful choices of restaurants to choose from. If it is old world charm you want, Le Procope Restaurant in St. Germain des Prés would be the ticket. It is called the oldest restaurant in Paris, dating back to the 1600′s. This gem is steeped in history and it is closely linked to the revolution.
For a more modern dining experience, we checked out Semilla on the recommendation of my cooking class instructor Susan Herrmann Loomis. We walked by it several times until I recognized their unique decor from their website. There is no sign of any kind… hopefully that will change as you don’t want to miss this one.
Fish cheviche, ginger, coriander & green apple, yellow and green mangoes with coconut foam, pork with sweet potatoes, rhubarb and strawberry compote with yogurt ice cream.
We stumbled upon a cute little cafe called Le Trait d’Union located near Saint Germain des Pres at lunchtime. It is the perfect place to rest your feet, eat good food, and get your people-watching quota in all at the same time.
Warm goat cheese on toasted bread, country ham, tomato & salad. Warm carrot and fresh goat cheese pie with balsamic caramel. This was one of my favorites!
When we wanted to picnic… which we love to do anywhere we are in the world, Le Bon Marché is the store of choice. Le Bon Marché (“the good market”, or “the good deal” in French; is the name of one of the best known stores in Paris and is the “first department store in the world“. Their grocery department is called La Grande Épicerie de Paris and it offers over 5000 different products, selected from around the world.
There are so many assorted small bites for sale, it was hard to decide. One thing for sure, you would not want to leave without a little “bling”.
I love fancy food but sometimes it is the humble cheese, meat and baguette that win my heart.
Our Classic Standby Restaurant
Years ago when I was working the Roland Garros (the French Open), my husband and I stumbled upon Roger la Grenouille (Roger the Frog) that has become one of our Parisian favorites. This restaurant is known for their frog legs, and yet I ordered lamb. (I think that is like ordering a vegetarian meal at a steak house.)
Duck foie gras Crème brûlée, frozen avocado creamy veloute, roasted loin of lamb from France, broccoli and pumpkin gratin.
Whether it is a sweet crepe on the street, or a buckwheat crepe in the country… you can’t go to France and not indulge in one.
My favorite dining experience was at the Jules Verne Restaurant in the Eiffel Tower. What a great way to ease the pain of turning 50. Michelin-awarded Chef Alain Ducasse knows how to put on an impressive meal.
Sweet pea verrine with lemon marmalade, pistachios and crème fraiche, cookpot of tender potatoes and black truffles, meuniere-style sea bass, leek and potato thickened with black truffle, pan-seared beef tournedos, fresh duck foie gras, potatoes, Périgueux sauce.
It was the best birthday I have ever had. Only took me 50 years to get there.
Tried and True
There are so many wonderful new foods to try, but nothing is quite as satisfying as the classic café crème and croissant.
Of all the foods we ate on our trip… this is one of the true joys of eating in Paris.
…and then she paused for thought.