What food/food experience does Paris do better than any other city?
I am tremendously excited to be spending two weeks in Paris this August.
It's been more than 15 years since I last visited and my strongest memory was of buying a slice of some simple, not-too-sweet type of cheesecake en route to the Centre Pompidou and seriously considering dashing all of my painting-viewing plans and spending the entire rest of the trip in bakeries.
As I sift through the vast stores of information on eating in Paris on this board and elsewhere...I am wondering, what are the food experiences one can have in Paris that are unmatched anywhere else in the world?
I realize this is a bit like asking an Olympic athlete what sport she's good at, but I'd like to strip away recommendations for things that are also good in Tokyo, NYC, London, etc.
Also, since there are so many romantic food memories of Paris out there, I'm hoping to learn what is extraordinary about food in Paris today.
Some things on my radar...PhilD said in another thread that charcuterie in Paris can match or best the best pork in Hong Kong (totally different cuisine, but nonetheless)...I read on the NYTimes food blog of incredible creativity with color at L'Astrance...and, of course, I'd be curious to experience firsthand the epitome of Michelin 3* quality somewhere...and I love bistro food so much...
Thank you in advance for your comments!
If you are comparing Paris with Lyon, Nice, Arles, this would be a harder question to answer.
If you are comparing Paris with Yokoy, HK, London, I would say the convergence of fresh ingredients in Paris: oysters (and other fresh seafood) from nearby Normandy and Brittany, homemade butcher charcuteries, not the kind that comes from a package in a supermarket, and the whole market experience in general.
But it seems your focus is on restaurants and not on markets.
In terms of the restaurant scene, compared to the scenes in other major capitals in the world, I would find the posh restaurants in grand hotels less unique than the small bistros. I can find a stellar French restaurant in Tokoy, NY, HK, but I can't find a place like Le Galopin or Chez Casimir - with that kind of food quality plus its slapdash fun atmosphere in an ambiance that becomes one with its Paris neighborhood, - in any place but Paris. But that does not seem to be your focus either.
Lastly, compared to a Places like St Jean de Luz or Cancale, I realize that a Saint Pierre from my 'hood poissonnerie which already had me ooh-ing and ah-ing for its freshness is just a couple of hours fresher in St Jean de Luz. And don't get me started about the specialty dishes in Nice and the charcuteries in Ardèche and the lamb in a ferme-auberge in the sud-ouest that must have been bah-bah-ing the day before.
But a food experience is always about more than just foood, no?
And whichever short list you come up with, your biggest problem is to find things open in August.
+1 to trying to avoid August. However if you are here towards the end of the month things should be better.
I took a trip with my wife up to Normandy during the first week of August once. Never, ever again. The problem is not that the restaurants close, because many of them don't. The problem is with the people they hire while the regular staff are on vacation. At the few places we tried, none of the servers were over the age of 22.
No -- not at all, my focus is not necessarily on restaurants. I love to cook and am in heaven in a good market. Actually, right now we are in Honolulu where I've been enjoying the fresh BBQd abalone and Kohuku papayas, which literally drip nectar. So charcuteries are absolutely up my alley.
Thank you for your other recommendations -- I will look into Le Galopin and Chez Casimir.
Vis-a-vis August, the die has already been cast.