No trip to Paris is complete without a visit to Jacques Genin Fondeur en chocolat. Try to come here during tea time and grab a praline millefeuille or whatever pastries they happen to have on hand. If they ever have the Paris Brest, get that! (However, I’m not sure if these are available during tea time.)
I’ve tried only four kinds of pastries here but by far my favorite is the Paris Brest. We ordered a large one a day in advance to take with us.
It can get crowded and you may have to wait in line. From my experience the best time to arrive is around 4pm. I’ve showed up several times about an hour later than that and it was impossible to get seating.
Mr. Genin’s hot chocolate is the best I’ve had so far in Paris. After an experience with his version, all others pale in comparison. I’m not sure if this is a curse or a blessing.
With all MOFs (Meilleurs Ouvriers de France) you encounter in France, you will only experience unrivaled excellence, which is why we love checking them out as often as possible. The pastries and confections of Philippe Rigollot, who is not only a MOF but also a Champion du monde de pâtisserie, blew us away during our last visit to Annecy. I thought I’d share some photos with you. We tried all the flavors of the macarons, chocolate and five different pastries (not enough!). We noticed that they ran out of the Paris Brest every time we stopped by so make sure to grab one of those.
If I lived in Annecy, I’m sure I’d be a regular at L’Encas Bio, an organic restaurant that’s tucked away in the Vieille Ville somehow distanced from wandering tourists yet right smack inside the historic area.
Specializing in delicious, healthful light fare, they offer fruit juices, smoothies, ice cream, quesadillas, vegetarian meals, soups, wraps, salads and more.
At some point in time (I don’t know when because I wasn’t paying attention), the kebab places in France branched out and offered kebabs wrapped in flour tortillas (they call galettes) or inside the usual pita pocket bread. It made me realize that big tortillas were available in France somewhere! I had to find some for me to use at home. These are the large, flour tortillas that you’d find wrapped around a yummy burrito somewhere in the Mission district in San Francisco. You know, the gordos! They seemed impossible to find in France. The small, dried out tortillas in the supermarkets here just don’t do the trick.
So how can you get these tortillas since they still do not offer them in the markets? The most logical answer: your kebab place!
I got these (in the photo) from our kebab guy. They’re labeled as Dürüm ekmeği, which I think means (durum) wheat flour (wrapping) bread in Turkish. There are 18 halal tortillas and there are no trans-fats and they are easily freezable according to the packaging. Just make sure you place parchment paper in between each tortilla when freezing. I measured them (yes I have a ruler!) and they are 12 inches in diameter. Exactly one foot! Hmmm.
Kei, a gastronomic restaurant named after chef Kei Kobayashi, made a big splash onto the restaurant scene since its opening in 2011. Already awarded a coveted Michelin star, it’s getting more and more difficult to grab a reservation. We called a week or so in advance to make dinner plans there but they had no more tables available. Luckily, we grabbed a lunch opening and it was such a remarkable visual and culinary experience, I had to share it. If I were asked to describe the hours spent in Kei in a few words, I’d have to decline because anything I’d say would not sufficiently convey and detail the perfection/harmony in aesthetics, subtle and sublime flavors, creativity, pace and service we received. That being said, here are some of the seven dishes we each had. I was happy to discover new and unexpected flavor combinations.
Chef Kei Kobayashi is originally from Japan and worked for several years at Restaurant Alain Ducasse housed in the Plaza Athénée before venturing on his own in the first arrondissement not far from Les Halles. Understanding his background you will even further appreciate how he can flawlessly merge the impeccable sense of artful grace with the epicurean and sensual consciousness of French cuisine. Although Kei is in a formal setting, you never get a feeling of stuffiness or inflexibility. The restaurant asks your party in advance if there are any food allergies or ingredient intolerances and creates custom dishes. The service is outstanding and we found every staff member we encounted friendly, efficient and even playful. Highly recommended.
After living in France for nine years, I just had a realization about the drinking glass sizes in a cafe. Better late than never, I suppose. Okay, what am I talking about? When I go to a cafe, I oftentimes order a Perrier with a syrup, for example, a “Perrier Cassis” (Perrier and black currant syrup). For the longest time, it annoyed me that they’d bring a glass with the syrup at the bottom along with a full bottle of Perrier. The entire contents of the Perrier would never fit in the glass so I’d have to drink it then when there was more space in the glass, I’d add more Perrier thus diluting the taste of cassis each time. I’d wonder why on earth they couldn’t give me a glass to fit everything at once. I now know why. They brought me the wrong glass. For nine years! So if it’s a bottle of Perrier, the glass has to be a Perrier glass. If it’s an Orangina, the glass has to be an Orangina glass. Same with other drinks. And so, if they match, everything fits perfectly. Thank you awesome cafe in Dijon. You’re the only cafe that does it right.
We’ve passed by a little village called Nolay dozens of times without stopping on our way from our house to Beaune. The place seemed unremarkable on the surface but we finally decided to visit it one day to check out the antiques stores on the main road.
As usual and luckily, we wandered around while we were there.
It turns out that Nolay is awesome.
Most people who’ve been here would cite the beautiful, arcaded central market place, which dates back to the 14th century.
The roof is made of limestone (weighing 800 kg/1800 lbs per square meter) and the frame holds everything together with chestnut wood beams.
But to me, the salon de thé right next to the central market place, La Thé dans la Vigne, is Nolay’s real gem.
With delicious home made desserts, light fare meals, fine wines,
an adorable, sweet and hospitable owner (Sylvie Blanchard),
eclectic quirky French decor,
antique books and newspapers in French and English. antique dishware and silverware and housed in a a building that dates back to 1810, you will only feel comfortable and happy in such a warm, cozy place.
Everything we ordered was tasty and since we couldn’t decide which dessert to have, our kind hostess prepared a plate with everything on it, including a bowl of her whisky infused fruit – the latter being delicious but crazy potent!
Le Thé dans la Vigne
8, place des Halles 21340 Nolay France
Télephone :+33 (0)3 80 26 87 31
Open 10:30am to 9:30pm during warm months Tuesday to Sunday. Closed November 30 to April 1. Reservations recommended.
This was waiting for us after an amazing meal at Loiseau des Vignes in Beaune, France (region: Bourgogne / Burgundy). We were stuffed already but don’t we always have room for macarons and financiers…and coffee?
Remember the Roast Chicken Flavored Potato Chips? That was five years ago, already! Anyway, we’ve been traveling recently and road trips mean coke bottle gummies, ice cream bars and even more unhealthy food alternatives like crazy-flavored potato chips. We couldn’t help but notice the usual suspects like BBQ, plain, Roasted Chicken Chips (Lays are good!) but there seemed to be a new kid in town: Cheeseburger Potato Chips! We couldn’t resist.
These are…perplexingly excellent. They taste EXACTLY like a McDonald’s cheeseburger, and while I haven’t eaten one of those in so many years I don’t even know how many, I liked these (I almost hate to admit it) and was happy they didn’t give me a stomach ache like the real cheeseburgers did. So, there you have it. It does make me wonder, though, why there aren’t typical French meal flavored chips. Wouldn’t it be fun to have Croque-Monsieur chips, Cassoulet chips, Steak-Frites (in pepper sauce) chips and Tete de Veau chips? Confit de canard chips, boudin noir chips, moule frites chips, rabbit terrine chips…
While we’re on the subject of feves, I thought I’d share a recent one I found in a tasty galette du roi from one of our favorite pastry chefs in our area, Jean-Marc Bernigaud, who was previously the pastry chef at Trois Gros, a three star Michelin restaurant in Roanne. Typically, the galettes are filled with frangipane but Jean-Marc told us he was bored and added a different flavor: a delicious apple and noisette filling, unusual but expectedly unique and refreshing, in any case. It had a non-traditional design on top, too.
While my feve isn’t as sexy as the Kamasutra feves, I thought it was cute, a teeny tiny Renault 4L, a super popular car in France from 1961 and beyond. It was Renault’s response to their competitor, the Citroen 2CV (what the French call the deux chevaux (two horses)), which is cuter and iconic of old France. (Read more about the 4L here.)
Back to the feve.
A couple of days after feasting on the galette, I saw the Renault 4L again but this time it was a real Renault 4L and the exact same color as the mini Renault 4L feve!
A baker in the Vaucluse area of France has discovered the secret ingredient to a successful Galette du Roi: the same ingredient as most popular products: sex. Specifically, the boulanger put feves featuring various Kamasutra positions. Needless to say, the lines at the bakery rival those of Apple’s new product launches. Sales have obviously skyrocketed. How do the galettes taste? Who cares!
699 Avenue Vidier Maurice Marguerite
84270 Vedène, France
Telephone: +33 (0)4 90 02 37 24
We saw this cheesecake in the market yesterday (in L.A.) and were pretty sure “Bakery de France” isn’t in France. So we checked: it’s in Rockville, Maryland! Not knocking it, though; we just thought it was sort of funny and that it looks pretty good.
We recently stayed for a few days at au Chateau de Mont Dol, a charming bed and breakfast in a small village not far from Mont Saint Michel and Cancale in Brittany. Though not really a chateau (it’s a renovated farmhouse), the place is enormous with five rooms (two doubles, one triple, one suite, one family suite for 4) and attached to the main house are three gites (self catering apartments).
Au Chateau de Mont Dol is a comfortable, convenient and affordable base to use while you’re exploring Bretagne and it’ll be even more worth it to you when you return to your home sweet home after a tiring day’s worth of sightseeing.
We stayed in the family suite, which sleeps a total of four. Two downstairs and 2 up in a loft. This is perfect for a couple and two kids. Very comfy and inside the rooms you’ll discover mini meringues for guests to much on!
Another reason for choosing this charming B&B is that one of the owners, Yannick Goulvestre, is a chef, having worked at Alain Senderens (Lucas Carton previously), a three star Michelin restaurant. That means the meals are excellent.
Clams definitely win against snails.
and we were particularly impressed with his orange dessert souffle!
Served with chocolate gelato and buttery biscuit, it was one of the best desserts I’ve had in France. I wished we had started the meal with dessert. If we’d only had that for the entire meal, I would’ve been very happy!
Another gorgeous dessert served on a different night:
Herb tea and chocolates after dinner:
In the morning, wake up to steaming French coffee and a yummy breakfast of home baked goods, crepes, fruit, cereals, yogurts.
You know, a typical European offering. Make sure to try the amazing salty Breton butter!
Au Chateau de Mont Dol
1, rue de la Mairie
35120 Mont Dol, France
Telephone: +33 (0)2 99 80 74 24
Not knocking this but does this tarte aux escargots /snail pie (really more like a quiche) entice anybody? I didn’t get it and opted for a yummy apple tart, but maybe if I stay longer in Burgundy, snails will eventually seem like a treat.
I thought some people might be interested to see what you can order to eat on the TGV, so I grabbed this brochure and did a quick scan. Click on the images below to see the summer TGV menu and prices in detail. I can’t comment on how the meals taste; I haven’t ordered food yet on the TGV but I think it looks edible, and the prices are fairly reasonable.
They even offer some organic items. Only a couple of things but that’s a good start. We were actually surprised.
There are muffins and wraps offered, which is particularly un-French but oh well.
Me: WHY can’t we find corn on the cob in France? I want to bbq some during the summers!
Him: We can find it, cherie. Didn’t you see them in all the fields around? I’ll just go pick some for you.
Me: What??! No, dude. They might be the GMO, pesticide ladened, industrial, poisonous varieties.
Him: Anyway, corn on the cob is pig food.
Me: Yet. French people eat canned corn.
Him: Yeah, so?
Me: Canned corn comes from CORN. ON. THE. COB.
Him: Corn on the cob is for pigs.
…and people wonder why I have to make fun of France. Back to corn. Did anyone notice that canned corn is labeled differently? I remember when canned corn always had instructions to rinse the corn before consuming it. I always did that, never realizing that it was probably because of the Bisphenol A (BPA) inside the can (or dirt). These cans still have BPA but the labels to rinse them first have disappeared! Weird, but I guess it alerts consumers that there’s something wrong with the corn. And, as most evil industrial minds reason, the solution is to remove consumer information so they don’t know there are risks. Yea, keep them in the dark! It’s like the law that was just passed in the U.S. where salmon does NOT need to be labeled that it’s genetically modified so people won’t know that the salmon they’re eating is not only bad for them, it’s also potentially dangerous to their health. écoeurant.
After you finish your walking tour of the Palais des papes (Popes Palace) in Avignon, and take the exit just outside the gift shop, you will be facing La Mirande, a luxury hotel with a Michelin star restaurant, cooking school and salon de thé. If you time it right, which is what we always try to do, arrive during tea time for absolutely delicious pastries and tea, coffee or unrivaled hot chocolate.
La Mirande is an elegant, beautiful, 700+ year old converted mansion, previously inhabited by generations of aristocracy. Now, it’s a little more casual. Afternoon tea is served in an bright, comfortable and protected atrium, a perfect place to rest your feet from hours of walking around Avignon.
The afternoon tea at La Mirande is offered for a flat fee of 11 euros, a steal. Just go help yourself to whatever you want. Drinks are ordered and served at the table. When we were there last, we actually didn’t eat much (not like us, normally!) so the waiter charged us less. Sweet!
Mikael Aupert is the dedicated pastry chef at La Mirande.
4, place de la Mirande
84000 Avignon France
Telephone: +33 4 90 14 20 20
I grabbed this camembert in the market the other day to try and found that it was pretty tasty, so I thought I’d recommend it to you. It’s an AOC cheese from Normandy’s E. Graindorge, made with raw milk (lait cru), and hand ladled, if that makes a difference (I’m not sure). To me, camembert is not camembert without being made with raw milk. It tastes so much better. A warning: it can, however, emit a funky smell in the fridge but don’t be afraid, it’s all good.
Chef Bernard Loiseau, known for his world class fine cuisine, is no longer with us but his Three Michelin starred restaurant, La Côte d’Or and hotel, Le Relais Bernard Loiseau in Saulieu continue his legacy largely due to his family’s dedication and current chef Patrick Bertron. His attention to detail, focus on exceptional dining and overall perfectionism is felt everywhere here, and if anything, Bernard Loiseau should be remembered for what he was able to achieve during his lifetime and the hallmark he leaves behind. Nothing else.
We loved staying at Le Relais and eating La Côte d’Or. If you come to France and don’t make it to one of Bernard Loiseau’s establishments, you’ll be missing out on what would be one of the most memorable trips and meals you’ve ever had.
Some photos from our trip!
Le Relais Bernard Loiseau
21210 Saulieu – Bourgogne, (Côte d’Or, Burgundy) France
Tel. : + 33 (0)3 80 90 53 53
E-mail : email@example.com
CLOSED Tuesday-Wednesday from November 2 to December 22, 2010
Other Bernard Loiseau locations:
Restaurant Loiseau des vignes
31, rue Maufoux – 21200 Beaune, Bourgogne, France
Tel. : + 33 (0)3 80 24 12 06
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
CLOSED every Sunday and Monday
Restaurant Tante Louise
41, rue Boissy d’Anglas – 75008 Paris, France
Tel. : + 33 (0)1 42 65 06 85
E-mail : email@example.com
CLOSED every Saturday and Sunday
Restaurant Tante Marguerite
5, rue de Bourgogne – 75007 Paris, France
Tel. : + 33 (0)1 45 51 79 42
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
CLOSED every Saturday and Sunday