Paris Dining Preview--2017
Now that all of the holiday festivities are officially over, we have time to share about our recent 10-day trip to Paris that we were lucky enough to take between Thanksgiving and Christmas. While we did some sight-seeing, and that was definitely enjoyable, it was really a food and wine trip for us. And enjoy both we definitely did. While we'll post about specific experiences / restaurants over the coming days and weeks, we thought we'd offer a bit of a preview of some of our favorite experiences from the trip here.
Paris is a great city for street food, and we decided we'd experience some of it during our stay. After landing early on a Thursday morning, we acclimated ourselves by walking to see various Cathedrals until we got hungry, then figured we'd enjoy whatever restaurant we happened to be near. Well, unfortunately for us, we ended up at a very forgettable brasserie for that first meal. However, after we were finished, we noticed this place right down the street. Absolutely beautiful oysters, whole spit-roasted pig, etc. The smell was simply unbelievable! Always walk up and down an entire street before deciding where to eat!
Champagne at the Opera
Always liking a little bit of culture on vacation, we decided to go to the storied Garnier opera house to watch an opera by Mozart that rarely is performed in the USA--The Clemency of Titus. Of course, Cameron also knew that Parisians enjoy copious amounts of champagne before the opera, and during each intermission. Luckily enough for us, this opera had not one, but two lengthy intermissions. So, we were practically forced to enjoy flute after flute after flute of Taittinger Rose while taking in the beauty that is the Garnier's ballroom. All while watching a gorgeous Parisian snowstorm outside the ballroom's huge windows. Life didn't suck that night.
We attend the symphony or the opera fairly frequently when home, and have a horrible time finding good, reliable, post-theater dining options after a long show. It seems that when 10:00 p.m. rolls around, even restaurants in the Arts District tend to close. Not so in Paris. We only had to walk across the street to get some very passable steak tartare, duck confit, and a bottle of wine, all while enjoying the beautiful view of the Garnier Opera House out the floor-to-ceiling 2nd floor windows.
Your Local Boulangerie
Every time I've been in Paris, I've staked out a local boulangerie to frequent each morning. Luckily, there are so many of them that a good one isn't that difficult to find, no matter where you stay. Parisians like their fresh breads and pastries! Very fortunately for us, we stayed in a very central location about a block away from Le Boulanger de la Tour---the boulangerie run by the owners of famed restaurant (and reputed oldest restaurant in the world) La Tour d'Argent! The pastries were great, the croissants wonderful, and the Pain au Chocolat simply divine! Oh, and if you look closely, you can even see their trademark "silver tower" baked right onto their loaves of fresh bread. Pretty cool.
We love foie gras in all its forms. Pate. Torchon. Seared whole lobe. We're just enormous fans! Who doesn't love a city where you can order foie gras at practically every meal?!?! We sure do.
This is Biscuit. Biscuit is a pretty awesome little pup, that just happened to frequent our favorite late-night bar on the Ile Saint Louis---Le Saint-Regis (open until 2:00 a.m.). He was super friendly, kissy, and all-around cuddly. We almost kidnapped him. He helped us get over missing our puppies for a little bit. And, he is indicative of a wider trend where many bars and restaurants (even those with Michelin stars) allow frequent patrons to bring in small, well-behaved dogs. We really liked that. It wasn't disruptive at all, and, frankly, was very cute and "old-world." As our dogs would likely say (if they could speak English): "puppies are humans too." Indeed they are, in Paris!
Best Place to Drink Wine
Some would say you've got to go to the Luxembourg Gardens to enjoy beautiful views of Paris while enjoying a bit of wine (there is a great wine shop directly across the street, if you're ever in the area). But, strangely enough, the best place we found to enjoy a glass of wine wasn't at a wine bar or in the Luxembourg Gardens. It was at the top of the dome at the Basilica du Sacre-Coeur. Next time you're there, quietly bring a bottle of wine and a couple of disposable glasses, walk up the 300 or so stairs, and enjoy one of the best views in all of Paris! Just remember to pick up after yourself when you're done!
Ok, so, admittedly, we were in Paris when truffle season was in full swing. But, how awesome was it to find them available at so many places, and in so many preparations. Unbelievably fresh and delicious!
Getting Locked in a Wine Bar
So, one night we were really in the mood to get a late-night bottle of wine after dinner. We found a locals-only wine bar that served only "natural" wine (low sulphites, biodynamic farming, etc.) in the Latin Quarter. But, the most important thing was that, unlike most bars in Paris, this place--Bar Etna--was open until 2:00 a.m. So, we went. We enjoyed a bottle of wine. Then we enjoyed a couple more glasses. And then 2:00 a.m. rolled around. We asked whether we could order "last call" glasses after 2:00, and were told "sure." Two more glasses. Then we were offered two more. Pretty soon, 3:00 a.m. rolled around, and they "officially closed" by shutting the security gate and locking all of us in. Then the party really started! Dancing ensued. Despacito was played. A great bottle of still pinot noir from the Champagne village of Bouzy was consumed (neither of us had ever enjoyed a still red wine from Champagne). And, at the witching hour of 6:30 a.m., we were mercifully allowed to go back to our apartment to pass out and get a few short hours sleep. Crazy, fun times!