Snacking in Paris

Today is a very special day! This is the day I wrap up my Paris posts. It’s also Tim and my two-year wedding anniversary, but I will spare you all by leaving the sap out of this post.

I had grand plans for snacking in Paris. I took many notes from Robyn’s amazing Paris trip and thought we’d be able to tackle all the pâtisseries she photographed and wrote about. Alas, her blog isn’t just “The Girl Who Ate Something”; it’s called “The Girl Who Ate Everything” for a reason. I don’t know how you did it, Robyn, but I salute you.

First on my list was Pâtisserie Sadaharu Aoki. My friend Janice lent me The Patisseries of Paris by Jamie Cahill to plan for the trip, and I read it cover to cover many times. Sadaharu Aoki jumped out at me from the pages because I absolutely love Japanese flavors in dessert form, so I could imagine nothing better than French-style pastries with Japanese flavors. It met all my expectations, and I wanted to buy the whole store. Instead, I walked out with the matcha azuki duomo pictured above (a must try!), an assorted box of macarons, a jar of matcha azuki jam, and various chocolates in all flavors. See more drool-inducing photos captured by Béa and “the chocolate guy.”

We went to the Louvre on our first full day, and after spending most of the morning in the Denon Wing, we needed to refuel. We went to the nearest cafe and ordered un café gourmand and a Coke. If anyone’s ever advised you against buying a Coke in the Louvre, take the advice. Otherwise expect to pay about 4 euros for the Coke. We knew it’d cost us, but Tim had a thirst only Coca-Cola could satisfy. The macarons were tasty, but I probably would’ve been okay eating sugar cubes to last me through both Sully and Richelieu wings.

Yes, we visited McDonald’s on Champs-Élysées. Tim and I quickly became accustomed to having espresso every afternoon, so while walking along Champs-Élysées, we popped in the McCafé to enjoy deux cafés gourmand. The WSJ recently ran an article on the recent popularity of the macaron, highlighting their appearance in McDonald’s in Paris. The article poses the question, “Now chains like McDonald’s have added them to the menu. Can Parisians really tell the difference?” I’m not Parisian, but I believe there’s a difference. McDo’s version was significantly chewier than Ladurée’s, and the chocolate and caramel flavors were only so-so. Seeing macarons at the McCafé on Champs-Élysées is one thing, but what if we saw them at McD’s in Penn Station? Now that’s a scary thought.

Though our snacking wasn’t comprehensive, we did more than what I just mentioned. We ate more macarons from Ladurée, madeleines from Boulangerie Eric Kayser, Nutella crêpes from what I think used to be Crépuscule, assorted snacks from Monoprix, assorted cheeses from Fromagerie Quatrehomme, éclairs au chocolat from La Maison du Chocolat, and more éclairs from Angelina.

Here’s the list of places we did not get to try: Boulangerie Poilâne, Pierre Hermé, Gérard Mulot, Berthillon, Mariage Frères, and many, many more. In a way, I’m glad we still have a list of things to do in Paris. (Always look on the bright side, right?) We will certainly be back, and we’ll be able to enjoy them more in what I hope will be warmer weather.

If you have any must-see recommendations for Paris, please let me know! I know some friends visiting later this year, and I’d love to be able to give them more recommendations.

Les Papilles

Dinner at Les Papilles was our favorite meal of the trip. I’d read all about the mandatory prix fixe dinner from “the chocolate guy” and had decided we will eat there while in Paris. I was psyched once the decision was made, but then I realized we needed a reservation. I speak zero French. What did I do?

I actually love learning languages, so I took this as an opportunity to pick up a few French phrases to prepare for the trip. I searched around and found this site to be the most helpful one because of its audio tools. Once I pieced together what I was going to say, this site was helpful in pronouncing words for me. When it came time to call and make a reservation, I froze and asked in an apologetic voice, “Parlez-vous Anglais, s’il vous plait?” and the rest of the conversation was completed in English.

Back to Les Papilles. This place was amazing, from the service to the thought put into each course, and though we sat elbow to elbow next to an Irish couple, they made lovely neighbors and even offered us a taste of their wine when we had to choose ours.

This was the market menu for February 13, 2010. Even if you can’t read French, like me, you can tell only delicious words were written on that chalkboard. “Retour du marché” means “back from the market.” After figuring that out, it made me feel even more love for this place.

These were the chips, croutons, bacon, and chives that went with the soup. I was tempted to eat them alone, but a server motioned for us to pour the soup over it all.

I’m so glad we did. “Velouté de patates douces, quenelle de crème à l’huile d’olives, chips de patates douces, croutons, lardons frits, ciboulette” wouldn’t have come together otherwise. In English, that would be sweet potato soup with a dollop of olive oil cream over sweet potato chips, croutons, bacon, and chives. This soup was full of flavor, and we loved all the different textures in it.

Poitrine de porc braisée, haricots coco, carottes, pois gourmands, tomates confites oignons nouveaux et sa sauce au pistou” is braised pork belly with white beans, carrots, snow peas in a tomato confit and pesto sauce served on the side. This entire meal was so comforting, but the arrival of this dish especially warmed us up.

We loved all the vegetables that came with the pork as we were afraid we wouldn’t be eating enough fruits and vegetables in Paris. Since Tim switched jobs into the healthcare industry, we’ve been more intentional about eating healthy. I hope you all are eating your greens too!

Fourme d’ Ambert, pruneau au vin rouge” is simply Fourme d ‘Ambert cheese served with a prune in a red wine reduction. The combination of this cheese with the prune was perfection. I ate the entire thing, and Tim suffered for the next 24 hours. I am sure that is way too much information for you, but I will happily endure the aftermath of eating stinky cheese because I love stinky cheese! Although really, this wasn’t all that stinky.

Panacotta clémentine et caramel” was a very nice clementine panna cotta with caramel sauce. We were stuffed at this point in the meal, but the flavors of the panna cotta were so vibrant, we continued to feast on the last course of the market menu.

This place is also a wine bar and has a cellar that contains even more wine than on their walls. We are far from wine connoisseurs, so we asked for a light red wine recommendation and we were presented with a nice pinot noir from the Domaine Ganevat winery in the Côtes du Jura AOC. I can’t remember the specific notes or tastes of the wine… so why don’t I point out the faces in places instead? What a cute monkey face on the wine bottle.

We wanted to eat at great places in Paris without the fuss of dressing up or caring about being seen. Les Papilles was exactly that. Leaving the question of what to eat in the hands of those who know best is always fine by me, so if you feel the same, definitely visit Les Papilles.

Les Papilles
30 rue Gay Lussac
Paris, France 75005
01 43 25 20 79