Well well. It’s been a few weeks since I last posted, and let me tell you, I’ve had a good few weeks. I spent Thanksgiving in Europe visiting friends (and cities) I haven’t seen in awhile. Did you know the euro is almost even to the dollar now? My credit card surely does.
The majority of my trip was in Paris, where I was staying with my friend Maria who has an absolutely lovely apartment in the 5th. As soon as I left the RER train from the airport, I was greeted by a market just opening for the day. I walked through slowly, and eventually stopped in front of an oyster stand to take in the wide variety of bivalves available. The owner of the stand saw me staring and offered me an oyster to try. I protested that I didn’t have any cash, but he said “pas de souci” and gave me a beautiful, icy, briny oyster to start my trip. A good omen of what was to come.
I’m awful at taking pictures of food before I eat it, so my apologies that all of the photos in this blog are of animals. I just can’t bring myself to photograph a dish I want so badly to start eating!
However, I do want to offer recommendations of where to eat in Paris because it is one of my favorite cities. I want everyone who goes there to feel like they can eat incredible food and don’t need to be stuck with the touristy restaurants.
Our first day we had lunch at a restaurant called Fulgurances. Fulgurances has been much lauded since it’s launch, and it really is a wonderful place. The chef rotates every few months, so we had one of the last dinners from the chef that was there. He focused on middle eastern cuisine (although I think now an Irish chef is in there). The food was incredible. Our favorite dish (but it’s hard to choose) was the chicken schnitzel, which came with preserved lemon brown butter and chunks of lemon throughout. The schnitzel was perfectly fried, crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. If you ever get a chance to eat at Tamir Nahmias’ restaurants, please do so immediately.
The next day, we went to an all seafood restaurant I had been to previously, called Clamato. Clamato is attached to Septime, one of the hardest to get into restaurants in Paris. Clamato, however, doesn’t take reservations which means all you need to do is be prepared to wait to get in. We didn’t have to wait, which was nice. The food was still quite good at Clamato, although I struggle to think of a standout dish. I do also want to note that since I was last there, they have done something to their incredible maple syrup tart. Last I went, the tart came with entirely unsweetened whipped cream, which came from cows just outside Paris. The milk was so pure, the cream did not need sweetening and it cut the syrup taste of the tart beautifully. But this time, the cream was sweetened and had flecks of vanilla in it. It made for an all too sweet dessert and not the miraculous creation I had 18 months ago.
On the following day, Monday, we had plans to go to Ellsworth for dinner. However, before we got to that, I had a day to myself to wander my favorite city alone. I started by going to Poilane for breakfast, having a chausson pomme (basically an apple turnover), which was as crisp and juicy as I remember. Next, I went to La Fontaine de Belleville for a small but good lunch of quinoa salad followed by an espresso. Belleville has pretty good coffee, but I’m no connoisseur. Regardless, if you’re looking for a nice and not overpriced lunch in Paris, check them out.
Before dinner, I met a friend for a drink at The Experimental Cocktail Club. We had a drink with peanut syrup! While the drinks were not especially strong, they were quite fun, and I recommend checking out the scene.
Okay, on to the dinner. Dinner at Ellsworth was remarkable. Ellsworth is run by two Americans, who also run a restaurant called Verjus. They’re kinda a big deal in Paris. Ellsworth is an all “tapas” or really just small plate restaurant. They had excellent service, and also wonderful food. The standout dish for us was the fried chicken, which is also well known. Very crisp and moist, it was a taste of the south in Paris. Everything else was also delicious (especially the wild boar), but this was a not miss item. Desserts were strong, although their take on a pumpkin tiramisu could use some structure.
For the next day, I was in Utrecht, visiting a friend with a giant cat, pictured at the end of this post. While in Utrecht, I got to enjoy two wonderful Dutch delicacies. One was bitterballen which are meat donuts that I am obsessed with. The other was speculoos cookies with marzipan in the middle, available at grocery stores. Delicious and helped with my weight gain goal for the trip.
Afterwards, I returned to Paris, where we had a reservation at Tomy&Co, a new restaurant in the 7th. We ended up at the catacombs before dinner. I say this because I want to include one picture of something touristy in Paris.
The food at Tomy&Co was exceptional, and I will highlight a dish from each course. For a starter, many in my party got the truffle gnocchi with chestnut puree. Incredible. Very rich, but absolutely delicious. I then had a wild poultry dish with chocolate sauce. Oh my. So interesting. It wasn’t a spicy mole or anything like that, it was smooth and velvety and worked perfectly with the chicken.
All of the desserts were also excellent, but one portion of a dessert was extraordinary. They had made a truffle ice cream that was citrus forward. It, of course, melted in your mouth, without a hint of iciness. Incredible. However, the service was not great. They messed up our dessert order, so that mine came out a full 20 minutes after everyone else’s. They also rushed the appetizers and served my friends who had ordered only a main course at the time when the rest of us were eating appetizers. So be warned, that while the food is great, this is still a restaurant working out its kinks.
The next two days were in Strasbourg, where I ate and drank very well. But this post is about Paris, so I must comment on my last dinner. I ate at a small restaurant in the 20th called Chatomat. I had eaten there once when I lived in Paris and loved that it was a tiny little gem, with interesting dishes and excellent service. 5 years later, this was still true. I started with a little broccoli salad, which was beautifully presented (sorry no pics) and light enough that I felt I could eat a full three courses. Then I had a venison dish with a delicious and light broth. For dessert, I unfortunately cannot remember the full dessert (damnit must take notes next time), but it came with a moreish corn ice cream. I can still taste the freshness and the saltiness of that frozen confection.
I went to other places, had other wonderful desserts, and lots of wine, but I think this is enough for one post. Next, I’ll chronicle a holiday brunch my roommate and I are throwing that will surely be one for the cookbooks. Quince compote anyone?