I’ve just returned from a 4 day stay in Paris, a little holiday taken in aid of my 25th birthday. The city took me by surprise. The people were friendlier, more down to earth and far less stylish (I’d imagined fur-clad ladies with little tiny dogs on every street) than I’d imagined.
The streets were gritter, the atmosphere less glamourous than I’d expected. There are the most brilliant boutiques in the fashionable Le Marais district – it’s not backward at all and really gives London a run for its money. Even the macarons took me by surprise – so delicious! The food we ate – traditional and contemporary – was brilliant. I wasn’t expecting any of this. It’s louder, rougher around the edges, cruder.. and that for me feels more like home.
I want to tell you a little more about what we ate – this is a food blog after all! But before we get there, I must just say a HUGE thank you – or should that be MERCI! – to Darya at Tortore, whose invaluable tips led me to some really fine food. Brilliant!
The first night we stopped at a teeny tiny little wine bar based in a cellar called Verjus. We drank chablis and shared several small(ish!) dishes of buttermilk fried chicken, salt cod fritters, brown butter gnocchi, halloumi with lentils and the most incredible duck meatballs. On the second night (my birthday), we booked a spot at 6 Paul Bert. After drinking the most delicious Pouilly-Fume at a nearby wine bar, we took our seats and sipped on a beautiful wine from the Jura region (as recommended by Darya) and feasted on mullet carpaccio, the tenderest octopus (poulpe) I’ve ever tasted, pork with artichokes and some seriously delicious cheeses and red wine. Phew! A very, very good birthday indeed.
On our third night, we followed a recommendation from my friend Jenny to eat at a little family run and very, very French restaurant with a big open fire called Robert et Louise. We devoured a rare cote de boeuf with pommes sautee and those lovely soft green salad leaves that are abundant in France but seemingly not available here (why!?) with a light and fruity bottle of Pinot Noir. Next came some seriously decent cheeses, and a creme brulee. Well, when in France!
Aside from cheese, meat, ice cream, macarons and wine, we appreciated the beauty of Paris in spring and the rusticity of the streets as we trekked our way around the city. We calculated we’d walked somewhere between 20 and 25 miles in total! That surely justifies all that glorious food…
A surprising highlight was a beautiful concept store called Merci. You can buy everything from herbs to goats and chickens, to clothing, tiles, chairs and wallpaper! It’s so full of greenery and just lovely – well worth a visit.