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Our trip report, piece by piece

Hello from Paris!

We are in the middle of our trip, but I just wanted to post as I go, so I don't get overwhelmed with posting at the end and also so I don't forget details.

It's been a wonderful trip so far. Our first day, we got in to our hotel around 1:30, so after cleaning up, we headed to CUISINE DE BAR for a little snack before our dinner at Chez L'Ami Jean. We split the lunch formule which included a fresh and light vegetable puree soup, the anchovy tartine, and a glass of wine. It was light, flavorful, and the perfect way to tide ourselves over until dinner. We walked over to HUGO & VICTOR and got a chocolate cake for later. It had tonka beans on top as well. It was okay, but we didn't really love it. The interior of the store was sleek and expensive, the pastries on display like jewels and relics, and the service was quite lovely. I would certainly try other things there, but am not rushing back at the moment, given the huge plethora of other things to try. Dinner was at CHEZ L'AMI JEAN. We were the second couple to arrive, as I figured we wouldn't want to be out too late on our first night. As we weren't very hungry, we decided to split the roasted foie gras in a parmesan espuma with hazelnuts and the grilled beef for one (I remembered the cote de coeuf I had last time which was supposedly for two, but could have fed four easily), that came with the most divine white asparagus, cubes of bone marrow, and their rich potato puree. Our first waiter was quite annoyed at us for our order and didn't hide it, but everyone else, especially the sommelier, was perfectly pleasant and helpful. The food was spot on, the foie was at once decadent and rich, but at the same time, fresh and agile. The beef was just perfectly cooked. Wonderful sear on the outside, beautifully red and tender on the inside. The asparagus were fabulous. I've ordered anything with asparagus in it since that evening, and that was the best so far, nothing has approached it. It really was the perfect amount of food, especially considering that we ordered the riz au lait, which has had its share of attention here and elsewhere, all of it well-deserved. Wonderful dinner, and probably one of the best meals so far on the trip.

The next day, we started off the day with a pain au chocolat and chausson citron from DES GATEAUX ET DU PAIN. We went across the street to the cafe to have our pastries with coffee. Textbook perfect pain au chocolat, perhaps one of my favorites of all time. THe chausson was also great. Everything was flaky, flavorful, wonderful. Exactly what I want in a pastry.

After walking around for a while, we ended up at BREIZH CAFE, as this was a Sunday, and split a galette with chorizo, asparagus, tomatoes, egg, and cheese. It was very good, but I think I preferred the galettes at Pot O Lait. Ah well, it served us just fine for a Sunday. We stopped by Pain de Sucre and got the millefeuille, and I must say, it is the best pre-assembled millefeuille I've ever had. The pastry was amazingly flaky, the cream chock full of vanilla flavor and specks, and the cream somehow didn't ooze out of the layers. Later that evening, we went to LE MARY CELESTE for the tail-end of their one Euro oyster happy hour and dinner. We had four great oysters, four wonderful glasses of wine, and three small plates to share. We had the veal tongue Chinese crepes, an endive salad (which was too sweet in my opinion), grilled cabbage with another slightly too sweet sauce, and a wonderful plate of deviled eggs with ginger and scallions. All in all, it was a fun time, pretty good food, and friendly (though very harried) service. The crackers they give you with your meal are seriously addictive. Covered in sesame seeds and fennel seeds, I suspect they may be fried. I don't care. They are so good....

The next day, we started the day again at DES GATEAUX ET DU PAIN with another pain au chocolat, a plain croissant, a kouglof, and a mango caramel Saint Honore. The croissant was perfect. The kouglof was good, and grew on us as we had it. Fluffy, light, crunchy sugar, very nice. The SH was intensely flavorful, especially the mango cream, and was very nice, though I would want to try something else next time. We followed with lunch at L'ARPEGE. Very minimalist room, nice, but not overly gushing service (a la Le Cinq). We ordered two half bottles of Bourgogne with our meal. We began with the classic tartlets, the absolutely addictive house made sourdough bread, and Bordier butter. It was a beautiful meal. I think the standouts for me were the pumpkin soup with smoked speck chantilly, the four flavors of ravioli in carrot and black radish consommé, and the poulet Bresse. It was truly outstanding, although for people looking for a fancy, special occasion with ambiance, this might not be their place. The mignardises deserve a special mention, as I thought all of them were really excellent. This is certainly not the case everywhere. We had the famed apple tart in the shape of a rose (the least wonderful of all, surprisingly), a rosemary marshmallow, a fennel macaron, kiwi macaron (both were superbly executed), a mint white chocolate bonbon, a dark chocolate caramel bonbon, and a stunning honey nut nougat. We were pretty wiped out by the meal, however, and ended up just snacking late at night later, while watching a movie in our room. One of our snacks was a series of chocolates from Patrick Roger - lovely chocolates indeed. We also had a pot of yogurt by Bordier with a dollop of Christine Ferber Griottes d'Alsace avec Kirsch on top. Not too shabby, I'd say!

As I'd like to return to spending a little QT with my beloved, I'll stop for now and post more tomorrow.

All I can say is, thank you everyone so much for helping us have such a wonderful trip so far. It's been a whirlwind of wonder and magic. Even on my 6th or 7th trip to Paris, how incredible to experience it anew with a loved one even more magically than ever before.

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  1. cannot believe you are writing /updating on your honeymoon! Love the report. Thanks.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ChefJune

      Everyone has been so helpful (K is still taken aback by all the generosity of advice, and is loving every meal and thanking CH at each one, very cute) and as I have a tendency to forget details quickly, I wanted to make sure I got them down before they fade.

      We were at Pirouette yesterday and also had a picnic courtesy of Dubois and Verot. Today we are off to Le 6 PB, so those reviews are coming. Thank you everyone for your help, it's really been a stupendous trip. K remarked our second day, "Why would anyone not go to Paris for ANY trip? Is it silly for us to come back here on our next one?" Nice work, guys.

      1. re: j.jessica.lee

        Your reports are great :-) Thank you for that.. Will be glad to read your Pirouette report, as it is in my list also.

    2. DAY THREE

      I was still full from the previous day at L'Arpege (I don't know what happened, maybe I was still jet-lagged?), but we powered on with a run in the Jardin du Luxembourg, and then a pastry layout from PIERRE HERME sitting at the Cafe de Mairie. We got the Tarte Vanille Infiniment, plain croissant, a strawberry napoleon, and two macarons (rose and caramel). The tart was beautiful, full of vanilla, a beautifully velvety yet almost intangible cream atop the denser, more paste like center, and a crisp crust. I would have liked it a bit less sweet, but I know that that's what you get at PH. The croissant was good, but for me, wasn't as good as the one from DGetduP. But it was a superb croissant nonetheless, and I know that all these judgments are very subjective and based on each person's likes and dislikes. The napoleon was very good, but again, not as excellent as the one from PdeSucre or the one we had at L'Arpege the previous day. However, I must say that the fruit pate inside was great. Full-flavored, wonderful, it saved the pastry, as the layers were fine, the cream was fine. The macarons were very good, and K's first taste of a good macaron in Paris so far. We picked up two macarons the previous day from Larnicol and were shocked. I think they must have had an off day, because I cannot imagine these can be the way they taste. They were brittle on top, big air pockets underneath the shell, crunchy, and pasty. If I have another opportunity, I will try them again. We walked around a lot, here and there, and stopped by PIERRE MARCOLINI for three chocolates, which were superb. We were looking for the chocolate enrobed marshmallows, but they don't make them anymore. We also stopped in to TELESCOPE COFFEE for one of the best iced coffees we've had in a while and a wonderfully executed Americano. The space was very Brooklyn hipster, but so well done. They love owls, as you see them everywhere, but in a cute way. (OTOH, we also stopped in at COUTUME CAFE our first day, and while it was good, it certainly wasn't a place I'd go out of my way for, while we would cross town for Telescope). We wanted to go to Verjus Wine Bar around the corner for a glass of wine and a snack, but it wasn't open yet. It looked wonderful and we will try to make it there. That evening, we walked a few blocks to our dinner reservation at JOSEPHINE CHEZ DUMONET. I was unsure about how I was going to like it, but we ended up having a great time. We had our AMEX concierge make a reservation for us and let them know it was our honeymoon, so we were seated in the front room at a nice table and greeted with the usual glass of white on the house. If we had been seated by the kitchen and bathroom in the back, I can imagine we would not be happy at all. Our waiters were very jovial, nice, and playful. We got a half foie gras, half boeuf bourguignon, duck confit, soufflé, and moelleux au chocolate along with three decent glasses of Medoc. The foie gras here in France is incredibly fresh compared to what I have in the U.S. It is almost light, with many bright flavors complementing the obvious deeper, richer ones. We have really liked all of it, this one no exception. I love foie gras, but can usually eat no more than two or three bites. Here, I'm able to eat at least a third of every foie we share. The duck was great as well, with a very crispy skin, nice flavor in the meat (though I did think it could be a little more tender), and K just couldn't stop raving about the potatoes. The boeuf bourguignon, however, is where it was really at. I've never had boeuf bourguignon like that before. They know how to do it there. I would return just for that. Over and over and over again. They should make a spa treatment with that sauce. The soufflé was good, but I guess I'm just not the biggest soufflé fan. The moelleux was textbook and did the trick. We loved it, but can also see why some would or could have bad experiences here.

      Ok, that's it for now. We are off today to have Genin for brunch. A lot of it. If you are planning to go later today, I'd suggest calling ahead to make sure there are still pastries left. :)

      5 Replies
      1. re: j.jessica.lee

        Thank you so much for the report. I have been following your plans because my daughter and I are doing a very similar trip (without the honeymoon part, of course) in less than 2 weeks. Glad to hear the report on the beef bourg. at jcd. Regarding chez l'ami jean, do you recall if they are still offering 3 set menus at night, along with a la carte?

        Your reports are making us so excited for our trip! Thank you!!

        1. re: tlubow

          tlubow,

          How fun to do that with your daughter! Last time I was in Paris, I was here with my mom. I brought her here for her 60th and we had a marvelous time. I hope you enjoy your visit. The memories really do last a lifetime.

          At CLJ, there was only one set menu that evening. It was a lot of food, but loooked delicious.

          Have a wonderful time and I look forward also to your reports!

          1. re: j.jessica.lee

            Thank you. My daughter and I are celebrating our 50th and 25th birthdays, respectively. I also spent my (first) honeymoon in Paris 27 years ago! It was wonderful. Keep your reports coming and enjoy!

        2. re: j.jessica.lee

          Great reports - thank you. We plan to go to Le Mary Celeste next month so I was glad to read your review. And Cuisine de Bar has been on my list for a couple trips, as a "if we happen to be in one of those neighborhoods" place. Light & flavorful is all you need sometimes.

          Oh, and a belated congratulations! Nothing better than a honeymoon in Paris (I was lucky enough to have one, too, many years ago). Keep up the great reporting! (unless you get too busy, of course - we'll forgive you. ;-))

          1. re: VaPaula

            Thanks, VaPaula! Hope you have a wonderful trip!

        3. DAY FOUR

          We woke up bright and early to get to Versailles before 9AM. The previous day, we had purchased three beautiful cheeses from DUBOIS, pate grand mere from VEROT, yogurts de Bordier, beurre de Bordier, Christine Ferber confiture, fruits and vegetables, and some wine for a picnic in the gardens after our tour. One note at Dubois: take the advice of the people in the shop. They really know what's good. They will ask you when you're planning to eat it, where, etc. and help you plan accordingly. I go there every time I'm in Paris. Multiple times.

          We picnicked on the lawn after our tour and it was glorious. Sunny, 75F, lollygagging on the grass, looking up at the chateau. Fantastic.

          We returned to Paris, took a little rest, and then went out again. We were going to the base of the Eiffel tower, so decided to go to the rue Cler for an ice cream at MARTINE LAMBERT. I got the tiramisu, he got the rum raisin. It was fine, but I wouldn't run back to get it if I weren't in the area already.

          Dinner was at PIROUETTE. Wonderful place. It was still light out, the windows were open, people were out in the square having wine, the breeze was gentle yet present, and the aromas from the kitchen were dreamy. We each got the three-course prix fixe at 38E along with two glasses of wine each. The wines were gently priced and there was a varied and interesting selection. For entrees, we got roasted foie gras in a light espuma with black radish, and spring vegetables (some raw, some barely cooked) with fresh ricotta and tarragon cream. Beautiful dishes, both of them, though I really loved my spring vegetables. Elegant, fresh, and playful, both of them. For plats, we got the filet de bar with chorizo, roasted romaine, and caramelized onions, and the supreme de pigeon et sa rotie (!!!!!) with white asparagus. The fish was cooked perfectly with oh so crispy skin and tender flesh. The romaine and onions were a wonderful complement. The pigeon was also cooked just perfectly, a lovely rose with crisp skin. The rotie was ultra-decadence. Definitely moan inducing. The desserts were nice, but didn't come up to the level of the rest of the meal. We had a great time and highly recommend it, especially for the price. What value.

          More to come!

          5 Replies
          1. re: j.jessica.lee

            Next time you go to Dubois try his Morbier, a product that is generally a throwaway but his shows what a great affineur can do with a average cheese. l am going tomorrow for just that even with my new apartment needing a record four metro lines.

            1. re: Delucacheesemonger

              Thanks, deluca. I'm going to have to get that immediately. We tried the Cochon de tete aux piers from VEROT yesterday and it was pretty ridiculous. We have half our piece left. I'm thinking, add a some bread from Landemaine and that Morbier and call me done.

            2. re: j.jessica.lee

              Which Dubois is that ?

              google returns a "Martine Dubois" and a "Laurent Dubois"

              Thanks.

              1. re: Maximilien

                Laurent, two stores one at 2 Rue Lourmel, metro Dupleix, other at Maubert-Mutualite, metro Maubert-Mutualite. Lourmel is smaller and closed for afternoon break, but you get Mrs. Dubois. Both stores have sinilar product, but it seems the aging done at Lourmel is a touch longer and better.

            3. j.,

              I'm enjoying your reports very much, but next time you go to France, I suggest getting out of Paris and traveling around the country. You will find wonderful food for much less than in Paris. If you rent a car you can see some wonderful scenery and visit charming towns and villages, and sample regional cooking. If you prefer not to drive, you can still get to a lot of interesting places by train. We have had many more memorable meals in the provinces than in Paris, for a lot less money.

              5 Replies
              1. re: rrems

                Hi rrems,

                How did you know we were heading out to the country tomorrow? You must have missed my other thread, planning our week outside of Paris. We are headed to the Luberon and also to Bourgogne for a week, before heading back here for our last few days. We will be renting a car (if we get a 3G connection, can we use Google Maps on our iPhones as a GPS?) and look very much forward to visiting all the little towns in our areas. Do you have any other recommendations around Bonnieux and Beaune?

                1. re: j.jessica.lee

                  Yes, I did miss that. It's been quite a while since I've been to Provence, but my report on Bourgogne and Franche-Comte should be of some help:

                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/811827

                  Beaune is very central to most of the places I covered in that report. Even Arbois is only an hour drive. Besancon is also a nice city, where we had a great lunch a few years ago at Le Poker d'As. I wrote about it in this report:

                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/656910

                  I will watch for your reports on these areas. Have a great time.

                    1. re: j.jessica.lee

                      trust rrems. I've followed him around Europe and he's fed me well every time.

                      1. re: LulusMom

                        Wow! Thanks for the compliment. I am rather obsessive about finding the best places, and for the most part I think I succeed.

              2. DAY FIVE

                We began with another run in the Jardin du Luxembourg. Though we are still young, the kind of reckless eating we used to do cannot be left entirely untempered by a daily run, even though we are prancing about the city all day! We headed to Genin right when he opened at 11 and had a brunch of sorts. We weren't feeling like hot chocolate, but instead got coffee to go with our vanilla millefeuille and tarte au citron. They brought us four chocolates as well. What hasn't been said about the millefeuille? It was stunning. Leaves of buttery perfection, packed gently into a centimeter's worth of divinity. And that cream was thick, barely sweet, chock full of vanilla. I was able to slice through it with a knife - the filling behaved, not budging an inch. The tarte au citron was magnificent. Most delicate shell holding in a bright and puckery filling, that was also like a coating of velvet, jazzy flecks of green zest on top. We also got apricot, banana, pineapple, mango passion, and rose raspberry pate de fruits (fruit flavor explosion) and chocolate, macadamia, and mango passion caramels (best caramels we've ever had). As I remarked to K, I did not feel the slightest sugar rush after all of that (granted, we did have the candies later in the day). There was the barest employment of sugar in the desserts, perfect sweetness levels for me. Sun streaming in the ample windows, lighting up the display cases and beautiful flower arrangements, chocolates being hand picked by assistants in white gloves, K said that it felt like a temple dedicated to pastry and wondered why we don't have something like this in New York. I wish we did...

                We then trounced around town and ended up at TELESCOPE COFFEE again for another cafe allonge and a drip coffee, both very good. The cafe allonge was especially great during the first few minutes. As it cooled (and I noticed this the other day as well), the coffee became very sour. The owners were both there, pulling shots and making drinks, and they couldn't be nicer or more passionate. I had a nice conversation with one of them, who wanted to know what I thought of the coffee and asked which other coffeeshops in town we had been to. Great place.

                We headed down and K was getting a bit munchie, having only had pastry until 3pm, so I looked and saw that LE RUBIS was close by. We stopped in for a glass of wine and split a sandwich of pate de campagne on Poilane bread with cornichons. It was cheap at 4E, and a perfect light snack for the two of us to share. Only French spoken around us, a boisterous, rowdy kind of place, the waitress screaming upstairs for clafoutis, the older folks around us enjoying their afternoon drink.

                After some Orsay, we went back to our neighborhood for a rest, but not before going to CHRISTIAN CONSTANT for one scoop of dark chocolate sorbet with whiskey raisins and the blueberry sorbet. We may have been served by the man himself, who retorted (when asked if we could try a taste) that "coffee tastes like coffee, what else do you want to know??. They were expensive, small scoops, but divine. Perfect sweetness, chock full of blueberries in the case of the blueberry sorbet, and the chocolate was remarkable. Dark, punchy, powerful, with little surprises of those whiskey raisins. We also stopped by VEROT for his cochon de tete aux pieds. Amazing. It finally made an appearance - get it.

                We took a little rest and then headed out to LE 6 PAUL BERT for dinner. We got the 4 course 38E prix fixe - great deal. Loved the space. Harried waitstaff, though I felt for them, being only two dealing with a whole room of people. The waiter was clearly impatient with me, even though I was speaking French, because I didn't know what a few words on the menu meant. I can understand that though. He was working HARD. We got 6 small plates between the two of us: white asparagus with egg yolk, XL razor clams with guanciale, grilled squid, grilled suckling pig, sweetbreads with curry carrots and radishes, and noix de veau. All perfectly executed, fresh, and flavorful. Not a miss among them. Then came the spectacular desserts, which may have been the best part of the meal. A ganache of chocolate with three textures - incredible. A "cannoli" with lemon cream and from age blanc sorbet. The cannoli was a thin, thin sugar shell, which made it like a lemon curd brûlée. Fantastic.

                Alright, time for us to go for another run before enjoying our last day in Paris before heading out for a week.

                8 Replies
                1. re: j.jessica.lee

                  That's great ! Thanks for all the info, writing down some notes based on it, like what to look for at Verot, that for sure will be very helpful next month. Jardin Du Luxembourg is fun for running, there are several running events in the city that are a lot of fun, especially the paris versailles race, which is really great, maybe for your next vacation :-)

                  1. re: oferl

                    Ay yay yay, oferl! I am a horrible runner. I just do a mile and a half or so, and that's plenty enough for me! But K used to run cross-country. Maybe I'll encourage him to do that next time, and I can use the time to go pastry-ing. :)

                  2. re: j.jessica.lee

                    Fabulous report! Also, fabulous selection of excellent eats, as well as excellent, and authentic, analysis. You're going to many of my habitutual places. For a stunning treat, I'd suggest you go to Carl Marletti at 51, r. Censier for the most stunning Religieuse. The way he makes the pastry "croustilante" is brilliant.

                    1. re: Nancy S.

                      Thanks, Nancy S! We will definitely get to Marletti when we return. It's on my list and I'll be sure to get the Religieuse. Sounds divine...

                    2. re: j.jessica.lee

                      Oh my, Jessica, you have made me so hungry. I want to go straight to Jacques Genin for just those pastries.

                      1. re: ChefJune

                        And I want to go back to have the millefeuille praline. It's the only one I haven't had. Plus, I'm hoping that if I pray hard enough, he'll make the chocolate eclairs again. I need to have an eclair here - ever since I got hooked on the caramel ones from La Maison du Chocolat in NYC, I've had a never-ending hankering for eclairs. :)

                        1. re: j.jessica.lee

                          When you come home, I can teach you how to make them. They are so easy!

                          1. re: ChefJune

                            Alright! I've made them before, but never an exemplary version, so I would love to watch you make them as they should be! :)