Bonjour, Paris (“pah-rhee”)
Land of romance, fashion, and culinary cuisine. Well, for me, only the last part mattered. I never understood the hype about the Eiffel Tower and how standing in view of it would be romantic. It’s just a tall, pointy structure.. In fact, back when the tower was first built, the residents nearby hated it and thought it was ugly. As for the fashion part, I normally wouldn’t refer to myself as a fashionable person. Well, none of this stopped me from visiting the city with my friend, Tamara.
I usually have a small list of sites or restaurants to check out in any new area I visit. For Paris, my list quickly grew into what consisted of 15 food items to try. Here’s that list, in no particular order. These all made it on the list because they were either traditional French foods that should definitely be tried when in one of the world’s culinary capitals, or for other reasons which I would explain. Continue reading to see additional remarks about the food and more about our trip.
It lived up to this expectation. It was buttery and melted in your mouth. Salty and savory. Can easily be my new addiction.
Actually, Tamara ordered it and I tried some of hers. Seems like such a simple dish, but the quality ingredients made it exceptional.
Baguette (not pictured)
Ain’t no bread like the French baguette. It’s used in Vietnamese sandwiches because of France’s influence during the Vietnam War. I’d say it’s my favorite bread next to sourdough. I spotted people walking around with a whole baguette in-hand as if they were prepared to snack at any moment, and I spotted this a bunch of times. Even though the ends were just sticking out of their paper bags, it looked like the largest snack anyone would carry around so nonchalantly.
The skin was perfectly crunchy and crispy. Then the meat was tender and juicy. Sometimes in between the meat and the skin, there were little pieces of fat that melted and coated the bite in flavor. Heaven.
Supposed to be the most simple French staple – ham and butter sandwich. Didn’t end up trying this specifically, but had similar ham sandwiches. Besides, I don’t think anyone ever left Paris broken-hearted that they didn’t get to try this …no offense to the Jambon-beurre.
Ladies and gents, I am here to tell you that I did not think a croissant would taste much different in Paris. I was proven terribly wrong in the best way. It was flakey, buttery, soft and warm on the inside, and confirmed to be my favorite pastry.
The flavors and the texturrre! We were recommended to go to this macaron boutique called Ladurée that was located on Champs Élysées, a well-known street for shopping. These words, Champs Élysées, was so fun to say once you learn how the locals pronounce it. You can find variations of its phonetic pronunciations online, but this is mine: “shawwnce-ah-lee-zayy”.
A good option for breakfast OR dessert. This pastry sways both ways. Naturally, Tamara and I tried a sweet crêpe and a couple savory ones. All were really good. The restaurant was called Brother´s Crêpes & Café. It reminded me of an American fast food chain on the inside, but their crêpes were fresh and delicious.
Had this as dessert after my meal of escargot and 7-hour Braised Lamb with Beans (“Agneau de 7 heures, haricots au jus”) at the restaurant Bouillon Pigalle. Tamara had the coffee éclair, which was sweeter than my chocolate éclair, but mine was better. Dark chocolate frosting on top of the light & crispy-soft pastry, filled with cold creamy chocolate similar to ice cream. Yum.
It’s steak, it’s fries, how is that a bad idea? Plus, one of my favorite TV chefs, Katie Lee, got this classic dish in Paris right before my trip and it looked like a must. In the end, this was one of the missed items on my list because I just couldn’t bother to find time for it. It would’ve been expensive and probably not the best steak I’ve ever had. I had recently cooked a steak at home that I swear was the best steak of my life. That, however, is for another blog post.
Also pretty common in Vietnam. I’ve only tried small ones and I knew the ones in Paris were a little bigger. Plus, SNAILS. If you’ve never tried them before, I guess they can appear squeamish. But they taste great! The texture is not bad either – rather a soft-chewy. We had them twice and they were good both times.
Because eating raw meat has a carnivorous and primal feel. And it feels forbidden and scandalous. Most Americans would cringe at the idea of eating raw meat. We’ve been conditioned to be scared of Salmonella, E. coli, and a list of other food borne diseases. So why is it safe to eat in Europe? I have no idea. If you know, comment below! Getting back to steak tartare in Paris: it was so good, we had to have it FOUR different times! Since there were variations of how this dish is made, we thought it would be good to try it at different restaurants to see how they measured up. All were very good. You could tell the quality of meat was good because it melted in your mouth. Taste was fresh in a way that is hard to explain. Even though served cool, the taste was still savory. Sometimes dressed in onions, capers, pepper, Worcestershire, or a tiny bit of mustard, I liked all variations.
We got to enjoy this dessert after a meal of steak tartare at the restaurant Café des 2 Moulins, which was featured in the movie Amélie. The sugar crust made a cracking sound when broken into with a spoon – a sound that never disappoints. Then the creamy sweet custard below was rich of vanilla and also did not disappoint.
Quick Burger (Dark Vader Burger)
Okay, this one is the most misplaced. It’s only on my list because: I read that it existed in Paris, the buns were as black as the villain, and my boyfriend is a Star Wars fan. Turned out, the burger was for a limited time and no longer there, but I got to try a different one.
This cheeseburger was a generous size and tasted great, especially for being around 5 Euros. We enjoyed our burgers on the terrace of the restaurant Quick Burger, which is actually a Belgian chain. Located on the Champs Élysées strip of shopping malls and restaurants, the terrace was brightly under the sun and facing the lovely street of shoppers. Great spot to enjoy a burger.
…and Frog Legs
Had it before and it actually tastes like chicken. Tamara had never tried it until Paris and we concluded that it tasted like chicken and clam combined, an unsuspectingly good combo.
The whole trip was actually better than expected. Paris wasn’t as big as I thought and it was easy to walk everywhere. Mid-April is prone to rainy days and we had just missed a lot of that. Our days were sunny, with little moments of clouds and less moments of sprinkling, and the last day was hot enough for me to complain a bit on our walking tour. The sites were beautiful and full of history. The people were pleasant. But most of all, the food was epic.
So there you have it. You stay classy, Paris. Until next time, au revoir.