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Sunday Lifestyle

A food excursion to Paris in eight days

RENDEZVOUs - Christine Dayrit - The Philippine Star
A food excursion to Paris in eight days

St. Eustache/Les Halles Market along Rue Montmartre. Photos by Rita Trinidad

 

To travel is to discover good places to eat. After all, satisfying one’s appetite for good food is a barometer of a well-accomplished trip.

My well-meaning friends and loving couple Buddy and Rita Trinidad and I planned to live like locals in Paris for eight days and we easily achieved it with a pre-planned itinerary. Trust Rita and Buddy, owners of Park Avenue Desserts and Company, when it comes to discovering places to eat anywhere in the world. They truly are foodies and in Paris, they showed me that there was an answer for my every food hankering.

We started our food adventure in the 1st and 2nd arrondisement, along Rue Montorgueil and Rue Montmartre. The rue Montorgueil is the last remaining trace of this once very busy market area. This area, known as Les Halles, was nicknamed the “belly of Paris” as it provided all the fresh produce to meet the needs of the whole city. Fill your basket with quality products for a delicious lunch. If you get to the little open market (at the start of the rue Montmartre, just next to the Church of Saint Eustache) early enough, you will easily find traditional fruits and vegetables, fish, shellfish, meat, cheese and fresh eggs, pretty flowers and also some more exotic things you may fancy.

At Stohrer, the oldest bakery in Paris and former caterer to the king, we tried the freshly baked croissants and its famous baba au rum, a small cake soaked in rum-infused syrup and topped with whipped cream. Then we walked over to Fou de Patisserie, Paris’ first pastry concept where chefs from around the city bring their finest creations. Not to be missed is Eric Kayser, one of the most popular bakery chains in Paris with consistently good quality and a wide selection.

There are dozens of markets in Paris and each one is unique. We were fortunate enough to catch the farmers’ market on rue Montmartre, which goes on every Thursday and Saturday. We bought figs, the sweetest plums, freshly churned butter, cheeses from local farmers and artisanal breads. 

For dinner, we walked to Le Comptoire de la Gastronomie for authentic and traditional French food. Its specialty is foie gras. We had foie gras ravioli, gravlax and foie gras carpaccio with honey sauce and fleur de sel. Dessert was crème brulee.

What is a Parisian trip without escargot? Try L’Escargot Montorgueil, established in 1832. This is the perfect place to try escargot, if you dare. The restaurant also has lots of fine delicacies like caviar, foie gras and oysters at reasonable prices. The food here is a little fancier. L’Escargot is considered an institution to this day. This restaurant used to be owned by the same owner as the Tour Argent (one of the toniest in Paris) and was frequented by many artists, among them Proust, stage actor Sacha Guitry and Charlie Chaplin.

We also tried Le Pain Quotidien, a Belgian chain that is a great place for lunch. The restaurant has a wide selection of salads, soups and sandwiches.

At 58 rue Tiquetonne, there is a culinary supply store named G.Tou. The name is a play on words: it’s written in the form of a person’s name but when pronounced it really sounds like “J’ai de tout,” which means “I have it all.” This store really does have it all when it comes to specialty ingredients: Valrhona cocoa powder and nibs for baking, artisanal mustards, pickles, olive oil and vinegars, fleur de cel caramels, French green lentils from Puy. This is the place to go if you are a foodie who loves cooking or baking.

At Le Compas, we watched the whole of Paris go by. This restaurant has a huge terrace, making it the perfect place to grab a café or apéro (pre-dinner cocktail).

At Mariage Frères, we got ourselves some high-quality tea from this historic tea company. Their black tins are delightfully vintage-feeling, and they have at least 100 different varieties to choose from. From their grand crus to their flavored blends, there’s a tea here for everyone.

Lively and always reinventing itself with new restaurants, more food shops and some secular addresses, rue Montorgueil captures the essence of Paris. Somehow, this central part of Paris is the focal point where tourists mix with hipsters and regular Parisians creating a fabulous atmosphere.

Rue Montorgueil is cut into two by the rue Etienne Marcel, with the second section being longer and home to the majority of the food shops.

After crossing rue Etienne Marcel, head to the Patisserie Stohrer at No. 51 where you will find excellent produce, but be prepared to pay for it. Opened in 1730, it is considered to be the oldest cake shop in Paris. They have savory offerings, smoked salmon, quiche and scallops and so on.

If you have a preference for oysters and you want to stop for lunch then you will love Rocher de Cancale. This restaurant has been open since 1846. It is said that Balzac came here along with Goncourt. It is now classified as a historic monument and inside you can admire the works of Gavarni, which were discovered underneath a layer of plaster on the walls of the first floor during a recent refurbishment.

As if that wasn’t enough try the best baguette in the city at Du Pain et des Idees and Maison de Landemaine. They also have jaw-dropping beautiful pastries at Yann Couvreur Patisserie. At Michalak, we enjoyed pastries from this pastry champion, winner of the Coupe du monde de Patisserie, and pastry chef of his generation. We also had high tea with France’s best pastry chef Cédric Grolet. We sampled the macaron ice cream sandwich at Ms Glagia at Pierre Herme. You should also check out the Galleries Lafayette Food Hall and Le Bon Marche food hall. The Rose Bakery is an English café serving organic brunch, lunch and cakes. They also have a takeaway and grocery a few steps down the bakery. For breakfast, try Frenchie for the best eggs benedict with salmon, Frenchie breakfast and the best coffee ever. Try the Aux Merveilleux confections, the specialty of Lille: mounds of crisp meringue enrobed by whipped cream.

Of course, eight days is not enough to discover the culinary wonders of Paris. But for now, our appetite for Parisian delicacies is satiated. We just arrived in Manila and, this early, we are already planning our next food excursion to the City of Lights.

See you there.

 

 

 

 

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E-mail the author at [email protected].

 

 

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