France – Jour 3

Foodie tour day!!!  I was very excited.  I had a small breakfast in anticipation of the culinary delights that lay ahead of me…  This Paris by Mouth tour had been recommended on a couple of websites – and was focused on my local area.  Its title was: The Belly of Paris!

Andrew had elected not to join me on this one – so I loitered around the rendezvous point and slowly the remaining 5 people on our tour joined us, including a Joanne and Sarah from Perth, Seth and another couple from the USA – so there were even numbers of Aussies and Americans.   Our guide, Catherine, easily spotted us – I’m sure we didn’t look conspicuous at all – 6 foreigners hanging around the Starbucks!

Catherine explained that we were going to visit a number of the shops down Rue Montorgueil and surrounding areas.  Up until 1970,  this area had been the prime market area – with Les Halles at the bottom of the street, being the main wholesale market place for the whole of Paris.  As a result, Rue Montorgeuil was the premier place to pick up the best produce – and her plan was to introduce us to some of the best shops along this famous street.

The first stop was the boulangerie (baker) where Catherine explained the difference between a baguette tradition and a baguette.  Being a socialist country, the cost of a baguette is actually strictly controlled and has to cost less than one euro.  So, many boulangeries bake more than one type of baguette – one that meets the controlled costs, and one that tastes better.  BTW – it’s the baguette tradition that you want.  Catherine bought a baguette tradition from a gorgeous Boulanger in the street, and also brought one out of her bag that she had purchased earlier from her local boulangerie.  She then showed us the difference between the two and we got to taste!

In the street there was a horse meat trader, however, the shop had been closed for months and Catherine explained that it was going out of favour in Paris, mainly because it was quite expensive – and very lean which made it difficult to cook.  And, she continued, there’s so much other great meat around.

Next stop – La Fromagerie!  Oh my goodness!!  Look at all those gorgeous cheeses – and they were amazing.  The lady running the shop was hilarious – and came out to talk animatedly in French to us.  When one of the group swooned for the Napoleon cheese and asked if the cheese maker was available to marry – we were told Oh yes – he’s very good.  But you cannot have him, because he is my lover.   Our guide, Catherine, was speechless.  But boy – that Napoleon was good cheese.

Next on our itinerary was Le Boucherie – the butcher.  There was actual sawdust on the floor in this beautiful shop – and the food that was on display was amazing.  They provided not only cuts of meat, but a wide range of poultry (feet intact so you can tell for yourself what type of breed it is), cured meats and charcuterie, and one heck of a rotisserie – ooh la la – can you see the potatoes on the bottom rung – collecting all the chicken juices from above before cooking to a golden bronze.  We didn’t get roast chicken to try – but we did get some salami and pork.  Yum!

The beautiful Stohrer Patisserie was our next stop – Stohrer has been in this location since 1730!!! The queen buys from there whenever she’s in Paris – in fact – they had postcards of it to prove it.  The array of gorgeous pastries and cakes was staggering – and beautifully complimented by the range of take away high end deli produce you could take away to eat at home.  They recently achieved the status of having one of the best chocolate eclairs in Paris – so we had to have some! Oh My Goodness – the inside was not sickly, fake whipped cream – but a mixture of chocolate mousse and real cream.  I am swooning reliving the memory…. Must … Go…. Back….

We also stopped in at this Comptoir de la Gastronomie – Catherine picked out some patés / terrines to take with us to our wine tasting later.  It was filled with all sorts of goodness… and with a little eatery next door – apparently is the place to get pan-fried foie gras.

Our final stop was at Spring Boutique – the wine bar run by one of the hottest chefs in Paris right now – Daniel Rose (whose restaurant Spring was just up the road)!  So, being a group of foodies – we all knew – and felt very hip and happening to be having a private wine tasting inside.  Previn, the Director of Spring Boutique took us through a wine flight of four unusual wines from various French regions.  We were spoiled further by being able to eat more cheese and the terrines, and of course we had a sweet finish to the tour.

This was a fantastic tour – so fantastic I’ve actually signed up for another one (Chocolates and Sweets – I KNOW!!!  It’s on Saturday – so stay tuned).  It was a really intimate tour, with only 6 people, and a brilliant, funny guide.  It was great to be able to get an insider’s view on the best stores to purchase from, and now I can understand how and why Parisiens shop on a daily basis – and the amazing produce and goods they can purchase easily and conveniently.  You actually don’t need to go out to restaurants when there’s this level of incredibly delicious food around.  Oooh la la!!

As it happens, Joanne was another blogger – who has also done a post on our lovely tour.  I highly recommend you check it out at The Daily Baguette.  You might just see a few pics of me in there as well…

We almost reluctantly parted from one another – such is the power of food and wine to forge camaraderie!  We bid farewell and continued on our own holidays…  I got back to the apartment and Andrew was very excited to show me the run he went on.  Tis our fate I think to be excited about completely different things! God bless him…

It was a bit concerning when he said he nearly got run over when he misinterpreted the light signals – but he mustered the power of the hand – and I’m sure he remembered, as the whole series of cars began tooting at him, that it was the Parisiens’ way of saying Bonjour!

Andrew was famished – he hadn’t eaten since breakfast – so it looked like we would have to go find some lunch.  We opted to revisit L’Imprimerie down the street.

Rigatoni aux truffes

My eyes were bigger than my stomach – especially after such a foodie morning!  I ordered the rigatone and truffle dish – however, could only eat about a third of it – much to our waitress’ horror!

Chicken burger, frites

Andrew decided to try the chicken burger this time around… he liked it a lot and said it was a bit lighter than the beef burger he had the other day.

I don’t know what it was but maybe because we weren’t exhausted and jet lagged – I didn’t think the food was that great this time around…  we might have to spread our wings and get out there!

Tonight we were going to the 8th arrondisement for dinner – so we decided it was a lovely evening for a walk from our apartment.  We headed down to the Louvre and walked through the Tuileries Garden – it was a truly spectacular night – as you can see from the photos below.

Dinner was at Market by Jean-Georges.  Now Jean-Georges  is a French born Michelin starred chef who has eight restaurants in New York, one in Chicago, and two in Las Vegas.  In France, his home country – he has only the one restaurant – Market.  As we sat in this gorgeous, minimalistically styled restaurant just off the Champs Elysees – it became filled with gorgeous people – and I couldn’t help but feel that there was a very New York style to this restaurant.

A dead giveaway should have been that the English menu was actually written in American. American??!!!  What am I talking about?  Well – the entrées were listed as Appetizers and the mains as Entrees.  That’s right – American.

My inkling of a New York state of mind was further confirmed by the food that came out of the kitchen – which included Italian (truffle pizza), Japanese (plate of mixed tempura and sushi), Thai (coconut soup with chicken and galangal), etc. It was quite the dizzying culinary trip around the world…

So, what did we choose?  I hear you all clamouring!!

Chicken samosas with coriander yoghurt sauce

For appetizer / entrée / first course, Andrew ordered the chicken samosas which were beautiful.  The yoghurt and coriander dipping sauce was to-die-for.

Tuna tartare with avocado

For my entrée, I ordered the tuna tartare which was really unusual.  The tuna had been chopped up a little bit too much for my liking – with some parts being a little pasty as a result.  The tuna sat atop some avocado, which was surrounded by a very strong flavoured tom kha broth which completely overpowered the delicacy of the tuna.  They were great flavours – just not terribly complementary.

Croque M with Quail eggs

For his main, Andrew ordered the Croque M – which was a modern take on the croque monsieur – with gorgeous quail eggs.  This was a rich dish – lots of cheese and butter.  But my goodness – it tasted delicious!

Chicken with a parmesan crust, white asparagus and beurre blanc

I ordered the chicken with parmesan, asparagus and buerre blanc sauce.  The chicken was absolutely melt in the mouth with a crunchy parmesan crust adding a textural contrast.  The white asparagus and lemon infused buerre blanc sauce complemented it beautifully.

Salted caramel icecream, roasted peanuts and chocolate ganache

For dessert we decided it would be best to share – actually Andrew didn’t really want any after the croque monsieur but he lovingly offered to be the decoy sharer so that I could still get dessert.  There was no question – salted caramel!  Hello!!  The dish was served with some whipped cream, and rich chocolate ganache, along with some roasted peanuts and a toffee tuile.  The best part of this dish, hands down, was the salted caramel ice-cream.  In fact, we pretty much polished that off (so much for not being hungry anymore, Andrew!), and left some of the other elements behind because they just didn’t come up to the same standard.

Another big day in Paris – it was time to head home, so we hopped on the Metro and headed back to our stop at the Louvre, and meandered the short distance to our apartment.  Au revoir for tonight…