Well, Paris... what is there to say? I guess I will start by saying that I stayed with my cousin Virgile and his wonderful girlfriend Paloma in the 10e arrondissement (neighborhood). I decided to do a culinary tour, but on a budget, which meant sticking close to shops and markets. I started off the day right with pastry (pain au chocolat to be specific) and baguette!
Later that day, I headed over to the St. Quentin market. It was nice to be back in a place where the rabbits don't need to be skinned to be for sale (just kidding, that mega-grossed me out). There were tons of other things too - produce, sausages, cheese (CHEESE!) - to keep me occupied though.
Inside the market place were also some restaurant-type things. I decided to try the Brazilian food, and I'm glad I did. For around $12, I got a huge, delicious meal:
The next day, I had (drumroll please) PASTRY FOR BREAKFAST! This time I opted for an "etoile pistache" or pistachio star.
I went across the city to a different market to see what I could find. The Marchet Mouffetard is super cute, and has a ton of options for hungry, broke culinarily-interested college kids (a huge audience, I know). I started with some fresh figs, that were sweet and tender:
I headed around to several stands, to see what my choices were:
Eventually I settled on a Vietnamese Spring roll - like I said, colonialism is bad except for the fact that it brings delicious food across the planet.
I decided to treat myself to lunch - a nice pate with some cornichons (little pickles) and baguette, a glass of Chardonnay and some salmon with shallot rice. Perfect!
The next 12 or so hours unfortunately got wiped from my camera, but I had dinner with my uncle and grandfather - it was great to see them, and the food was out of this world. I had veal steak (the first time I've ever had veal... eh, not worth it if you ask me) in a morelle mushroom sauce with mashed potatoes, and a chocolate mousse with a salted caramel swirl (wish you could see it, it was beautiful). After that, I saw Natas Loves You play at Le Regine's - what a great show! They are truly amazing, super creative and really fun to be around, and I was dancing the whole time. I was dismayed, however, at the 12 euro price tag attached to my small gin and tonic... where does Paris think it is... Paris? I'm told that all the drinks in the city clubs are about that expensive, and that I also shouldn't have been shocked by the girl who tried to get with the lead singer of the band by making out with the girl standing next to her. Hey, I'm from Barnard, you don't have to tell me about it, but for some reason the swarms of scary-thin girls dressed to the nines throwing themselves on each other for male attention caught me off guard this time... The taxi dropped us off a bit farther from home than I was expecting, and we got harrassed 3 time in 10 blocks. I don't care what anyone says about Italian men, I have never been confronted in any Italian city like I was by one loony. What bothered me more (because I didn't really care about him... I mean, hey, a guy in New York spit on me as a come-on this summer... anything is better than that) is that an entire restaurant of people watched it happen, watched me yell "arrêt" (french for Stop) 5-10 times, and didn't do or say anything until I yelled "Go Away" in English. That's apathy on a whole new level.
Eh, no harm no foul... I started off the next morning with (YOU GUESSED IT) pastry - pain au swisse this time (kinda like pain au chocolat, but not quite as good). I headed to the musee d'orsay for the afternoon
After walking all around, I was starving, so I went for a chevre chaud salad. It should be a brick of hot goat cheese that sits on top of a garlicky, golden crouton the size of your head, resting on top of mesclun greens, doused in good olive oil. What I got was not. It was pretty, but it tasted like crap - the toast was burnt, as were the herbs on top of the goat cheese (they clearly just shoved the whole thing under the broiler... WRONG) and carrots and walnuts belong together in their own salad, somewhere far far away from this dish...
If you are ever around Musee D'orsay, keep away from this restaurant - its horrible.
With the bitter taste of burnt toast and dashed dreams (okay, I'm exaggerating a bit, but not really) I needed culinary refuge. On the advice of Paloma, we headed to a little French pastry (agian!) shop, tucked down an alley. Splendid!
I ended up with a small lemon tart - delicious lemon custard in a shortbread shell - and little puffs of pate de choux, filled with vanilla pastry cream with a hard caramel crack dip on the outside. Wonderful, amazing, spectacular... how many other words can the thesaurus find to describe them??
Like in London, I felt the rush of leaving in a few hours, so I couldn't just eat pastry (again). I headed over to little-Delhi alley, and as beautiful as it was, everything was closed!
I had been so impressed by the spring roll earlier, that I headed over to a Vietnamese place right around the corner from the apartment for dim sum (and then some...)
We took a night train back to Florence, so I packed a Mediterranean feast for the trip: tabbouleh, hummus, tzatziki and carrots... delicious!
I have to say, I'm super glad to be back in Florence - I may be French by blood but the more I'm here, the more I'm convinced I'm Italian by soul. The French have their masterpieces - filling the halls of Musee d'Orsay and every corner pastry shop - but it seemed to me that the general climate was one which I didn't quite synch with... I'm glad to be back where the wine overfloweth and people not only don't look at you funny for eating 5 courses at every meal, they encourage/expect it.