Tag Archives: paris

Lunch with Yamashita: Paris’ celebrity vegetable gardener

5 Jan
Degustation menu at Yamashita

The degustation menu: Clockwise from top left: Chicken hearts and liver in miso; Bonito Dashi with Kometsuna Japanese greens; Wasabi leaf, kabu and avocado, cherry tomato salad; Black carrot, Hokkaido Pumpkin and chicken dumplings in dashi broth; Steamed edamame and sweet corn; Fried Chicken and Okara tofu with Japanese leeks; Pickled cucumber, wakame and miso salad; Udon with fried carrot leaves and shrimp; Apricot Mochi with green tea

Asafumi Yamashita in his greenhouse

Asafumi Yamashita in his greenhouse

Asafumi Yamashita is not your average French vegetable grower. Firstly, he’s not French – he’s Japanese; and his clients are not your average grocers, retailers or restaurateurs. Yamashita can count his current clients on less than two hands – three-starred hands, in fact. Yamashita is the select vegetable supplier to top chefs such as Pierre Gagnaire, Sebastien Bras, Sylvain Sendra, Pascal Bardot (l’Astrance), Eric Briffard (George V) and Anne Sophie Pic (Maison Pic), but don’t quote me on the currency of which of these are on the list at this moment. What’s even more interesting, however, is Yamashita’s personal story behind how this came to be.

A regular day at the Yamashita family household

A regular day at the Yamashita family household – a Japanese haven on the outskirts of Paris

I first met Yamashita when I was on the panel at Haute Cuisine Paris. Yamashita gave a demonstration and tasting of his exotic Japanese vegetables along with chef Sylvain Sendra from Restaurant Itinéraires. It was that day when I first tasted the sweetest, juiciest raw corn that had ever passed my lips, and the intriguing texture and flavour of his trademark vegetable, the Kabu – something I describe as in-between a daikon, zucchini and a green apple. More importantly, chatting with Yamashita that day was when I discovered his personal story.

Yamashita first came to Paris 24 years ago. At the time he was a bonsai artist and made a modest living from selling his bonsai trees. One fateful day, all but one or two of his Bonsai trees were stolen from his property. Left without his valuable assets for the bonsai business, he turned to his other hobby, for which he had natural gift – growing vegetables. With all but a green thumb, a few packets of dried seeds brought from Japan, and a handful of existing plants, he slowly built up his vegetable garden and started supplying local Japanese restaurants in Paris and surrounds with hard-to-find Japanese varieties. Eventually, his niche supply of top quality, seasonal Japanese fruits and vegetables caught the attention of the country’s best chefs, and now, 17 years later Yamashita has gained somewhat celebrity vegetable grower status amongst the ranks of France’s greatest chefs.

Salad bowl at Yamashita's

Salad – as fresh as it gets. Wasabi leaves, kabu, avocado, red and yellow cherry tomato

So it was with great curiosity and anticipation when I finally went for “La table d’hôte de Naomi et Asafumi Yamashita” experience at his farm in Chapet after scoring the last reservation of the season thanks to a last minute cancellation (the waiting list can be up to 2 months in advance).

Yamashita and his wife offer a traditional Japanese degustation lunch or dinner nine months of the year on their homestead property in Chapet, 40 kms West of Paris. The food served is sourced almost exclusively from their own farm, so it’s as authentic, fresh and local as you can get. Yamashita’s farm is not certified organic, nor does he think all that highly of the concept. He makes all efforts to avoid pesticides and chemicals but is very upfront about the challenges and realities of growing quality small-scale produce to meet his client’s demands on consistent supply and quality.

Yamashita is a modest, simple, yet switched-on, charismatic and passionate character. He personally served the ten guests at our lunch table each course, explaining in detail the produce and ingredients used. Luckily for me, I had brought along my friend Phoebe, who just happened to live in Japan for 12 years, so with her fluent Japanese we got even more out of the experience, including a translation from Japanese to English of one of Yamashita’s recipes (below).

La table chez Yamashita

The other guests at Yamashita’s table

Surprisingly, most of the other guests at our table had never before eaten food of this kind – real, home-style Japanese cooking, I mean. In reality, I shouldn’t be surprised about this. The majority of Japanese restaurants in Paris are actually under Chinese ownership, and they offer the standard sushi, sashimi teriyaki menu you see everywhere. Of course there is authentic Japanese to be found in Paris, but it’s rather hard to come by. The French sure do French cuisine well, but I have to admit, they have a long way to go on offerings of ethnic and Asian cuisine. So when a table of self-confessed French foodies– most of them from Paris and surrounds admitted to never eating wakame, dashi or tofu before, we can understand why.

Japanese Hokkaido Pumkin and Chicken Dumplings in Bonito Broth - chez Yamashita

2 soups

The food is not fancy, it is super fresh, modest and designed to make the produce itself the star – presented and served simply with a thoughtful progression of flavour and complexity throughout the courses. I personally was totally stuffed by the fifth course, and had not even eaten managed to get through those in entirety. The chicken liver and heart dish we started with was not something I could stomach, and by the time the udon arrived, I was ready to lie down and sleep in the greenhouse next to the kabu. Everyone else at our table had no problems polishing off the entire 10 courses however… I’m forever impressed by how much French people can eat.

Yamashita's Farm

Bresse Chickens raised on Yamashita's farmBresse Chickens raised on Yamashita's farm

Bresse Chickens raised on Yamashita’s farm

Sweet corn, tomato and black chillies from Yamashita's farm

Sweet corn, tomato and black chillies from Yamashita’s farm

Japanese vegetables at Yamashita's farm

The famed vegetable: Kabu – a Japanese turnip, growing at Yamashita's farm

The famed vegetable: Kabu – a Japanese turnip, growing at Yamashita’s farm

Gooseberry from Yamashita's Farm

Phoebe holds up a freshly picked Gooseberry

Edamame beans growing at Yamashita's farm

Edamame beans

Seedlings growing at Yamashita's farm

Gumboots at Yamashita's Farm

Phoebe and Asafumi

Phoebe and Asafumi

Rachel and Asafumi Yamashita at his farm outside of Paris

Wow… wasn’t expecting that one! Yamashita’s all affection. Must be something about those wasabi leaves…

My favourite dish was actually the simplest – a gorgeous, small side dish of cucumber wakame miso pickles. Thank you to Yamashita and his wife Naomi for generously sharing the recipe below.

How to have the Yamashita communal dining experience:

You can visit “le Kolo” communal table for lunch or dinner on weekends only, outside of the winter months.  The price per head is 40 Euros for lunch, 50 Euros for dinner, plus wine.

Come prepared with a big appetite, an open mind, expandable pants, and preferably in a car. For the more adventurous types, Yamashita offers the chance to try raw sashimi chicken at your meal… but you have to “pre-order” it two weeks in advance. Enough said.

Address: Chemin des Trois Poiriers, 78130 Chapet (Yvelines) FRANCE

Phone for bookings: +33 1 30 91 98 75

Nearest transport: By train: Gare des Clairières de Verneuil (from Gare Saint-Lazare, take 31 minute train MALA in the direction of GARE DE MANTES LA JOLIE, €6) then walk 15 minutes through the Bois de Verneuil to reach the farm.

Recipe: Yamashita’s Pickled Miso Cucumbers

Yamashita's Miso Pickled cucumber and wasabi salad

Ingredients:

1 egg yolk
2 tbsp  dried wakame
4 tbsp mild white miso
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp Japanese mustard
6 baby cucumbers
Coarse Sea salt

Directions:

Rehydrate dried wakame in a bowl of warm water and drain well.

Shave cucumbers with skin on, into long thin strips, preferably using a mandolin. Sprinkle sea salt generously over the cucumbers and allow to “sweat” for approximately 10 mins. Rinse the cucumbers to remove excess salt, squeeze out excess water and then pat dry with paper towels. In a small bowl, mix the miso, egg yolk, vinegar, sugar and mustard until dissolved and well combined. Combine wakame and cucumber, then pour over sauce and mix in the dressing.

Fromage under fire: Why French cheese faces extinction

22 Oct

This article was written for the Spring Edition of Australia’s French Living Magazine. You can view an extract of the article here, or pick up a copy of the publication here.
French Living Magazine Spring Edition Cover

When I first arrived in Paris over two years ago, if you had tried to convince me that French cheese was an endangered species on the culinary food chain, I would likely have choked in disbelief on my staple lunch order of Salade de chèvre chaud.

My first exposure to the concept of “Les fromages en voie de disparition” (endangered cheeses) was through a French documentary called “La guerre des fromage qui pue” (The war of stinky cheeses) — an eye-opening exposé on the French dairy industry revealing the how countless French cheeses annually become extinct due to increasing hygiene controls enforced on small-scale producers, globalisation by mega dairy cooperatives, and the general decline in demand by French consumers for premium, artisanal products. Curious to learn more, I arranged to meet with one of Paris’ most respected, accomplished and outspoken men in the cheese business: Philippe Alléosse. A master fromager and affineur, Alléosse’s task is to ripen cheeses in his vast network of Parisian caves. He is not only a master when it comes to cheese making, but also a passionate ambassador for the preservation of what could be a dying art – the cultivation of stinky, gooey and delectable fromage.

Philippe Alléosse with two goats cheeses at different stages of ripening and machengo

Philippe Alléosse in his caves with two goats cheeses at different stages of maturation, and Spanish machengo. Image © Rachel Bajada

I meet with Alléosse at his cheese maturation caves, which are situated near Clichy in the buzzing and eclectic 17th arrondissement. Eager to get to the bottom of the situation, I ask him which exactly of the French cheeses face extinction. His response is terrifying and astonishingly simple: “All of them”… When many French people think they are buying a Brie, Roquefort or a Sainte-maure-de-touraine today, what they’re getting is mass-produced industrial cheese, it’s not AOC and a lot of the time it’s not even made from raw milk… take Camembert AOC, there are only a handful of producers left making AOC Camembert, not to mention all the lesser known cheeses made on a small scale whose producers can’t keep up with the strict hygiene regulations being imposed on them.”

Alléosse is determined to show me first hand the dedication, patience and savoir-faire required for the genuine artisanal production, and it’s serious business. For one, the hygiene standards on site are higher than your average hospital. I am quickly covered in a long white lab coat, my hair is whisked away in a plastic net, and my new season’s espadrille wedges are given attractive blue plastic sockettes to cover them completely- much to the amusement of the on-site staff, but necessary to prevent any foreign microbes entering the caves. “Pas de problème!” I oblige willingly- I would hate to be responsible for infecting the Parisian cheese supply!

Rachel's shoes and the first cave doors

The first cave and… my shoes. Image © Rachel Bajada

Occupying over 300 square meters underground, the caves are divided into four separate zones categorised by variety: Cave à croûtes lavées (washed rind cheese cave) which includes Reblochon, Maroilles, Epoisses; a Cave aux chèvres (goats milk cheese cave); Cave à pâte molle à croûtes fleuries (soft cheeses with bloomy rind) which includes Brie, Coulommiers, Saint Félicien, Saint Marcellin, and lastly a Cave à tomme pâtes cuites/pressees (pressed or cooked hard cheeses) housing varieties such as Comté, Beaufort and Pecorino.

Alors…the first thing that hits you is the smell. The odours oozing from hundreds of cheeses slowly ripening underground in closed vicinity could only be described as taking in a long, deep sniff from a bottle of pure, industrial-grade ammonia. Alléosse senses my discomfort and assures me I’ll get used to it.

Making a conscious effort to breathe through my mouth, the giant fridge doors to the first cave are swung open. My cinetrash mind makes a quick comparison to a scene from a H.R Giger sci-fi film, where you see thousands of alien eggs resting dormant underground. But what lies before me is far more interesting and a little more terrestrial: in this room, the simple elements of milk, bacteria, perfect conditions and terroir combine to transform humble curds into complex, diverse and delicious cheeses. I instantly want to know everything there ever was to know about cheese!

We start with one of the most renowned of all French cheeses- you either love him or you hate him, and they call him Epoisses. I couldn’t have named this cheese better myself; the word is effectively a perfect onomatopoeia. Eposisse: ça puuuuee!

Epoisses being sprayed in Marc de Bourgogne

Epoisses being sprayed in Marc de Bourgogne saline solution. Image © Rachel Bajada

Epoisses comes from the Burgundy region and was actually the favorite cheese of Napoleon. Its offensive pungency ranking means it’s apparently banned from being carried on public transport in France (I have yet to see anything official confirming this). When Alléosse explains exactly how the cheese is matured, I start to understand why. Epoisses develops a characteristically slimy orange rind as it is progressively washed in a solution of Marc de Bourgogne (a local brandy), mixed with 50% water, twice a week over the period of approximately four to six weeks. Amazingly, the rich orange colour of the rind is a natural effect caused by a reaction from the carotenes in the unpasteurized cow’s milk.

Next I am introduced to an orangey-pink cheese that has three rows of something resembling a green ribbon neatly wrapped around it. The cheese is called Livarot and comes from Normandie. The wrapping in river reeds and is a tradition that was originally designed to represent the stripes on a Colonel’s uniform. The assemblage of the bulrush reeds is carried out by a particular group of women in one village who are efficiently complete the assemblage of each reed in under 5 seconds. Not a bad party trick to hand down through the family!

Livarot – with river reeds. Image © Rachel Bajada

Eager to know the secrets of such a cheese behemoth, I ask Alléosse what the Reblochon is washed in. His answer is disappointing, to say the least. “Ça, c’est un secret,” he says with a devious grin. “Je ne le dis à personne (“I don’t tell anyone”)… If anyone else knew, I wouldn’t have the best Reblochon, would I? Not even my wife knows. The recipe has never even been written down. It has been passed on through three generations of fromagers purely by word of mouth. And it will stay that way.”

Taken back, I had nothing left to say. It seemed both wonderful and slightly worrying at the same time that the secret to creating such a highly coveted product is in the hands of one sole individual. I can’t help but reflect on irony in this story. Here is a man whose life’s passion is to continue and conserve the tradition of traditional cheese making as has been done for centuries, yet the key and secret to one of the greatest French cheeses is held in this same man’s hands- and there’s no spare copy. Only in France!

Alleosse and his famous Reblochons

Alleosse and his famous Reblochons at three different stages of maturation. Image © Rachel Bajada

We move to the next cave- a room full of cheeses made mostly from goats’ milk. Now this is what I call paradise. Pyramids, bricks, cylinders, bouchons, and heart shapes… the chèvres are endless. I spot one of my favourites- a Corsican cheese covered in a soft blue-grey mould, wild bush herbs, juniper berries and fennel seeds- the lovable Brin d’Amour, which Philippe tells me is frequently imitated and sold under the name of Fleur de Maquis. Again, another copycat cheese! I like to think I have at least been getting the real thing.

Philippe beckons me over to a large rack of log-shaped chèvres- I identify them correctly as Le sainte-maure-de-touraine, La Loire Valley’s famous goats cheese. Just when I think I am gaining some points on my cheese knowledge, Mr Alléosse is quick to clarify.

“Now this is Le sainte-maure-de-touraine, but the large majority of what you find in the supermarket, at le marché, and at a lot of fromageries, is not the real AOC kind. The straw that sits inside the log to keep it stable during maturation must bear the markings and name of the producer. If the straw is blank, it could have come from anywhere.”

touraine straw and brin d'amour

Cheesemaker’s mark: the genuine Touraine chevre, and Corsican Brin d’Amour. Image © Rachel Bajada

Lastly, I am guided to the fourth cave, which is also the coldest. This special room houses the most mature, complex, exotic and fascinating of cheeses- it’s the Cave of pressed/hard-cooked cheeses, or what I would label as the Cheese Hall of Fame. Spanish Machengos, Italian Pecorinos washed in wine and coated in grapes off the vine, huge wheels of Beaufort and Comté, and beautiful old Mimolettes with crater-like corroded crusts. I remark that Mimolettes look like something has been eating away at them, and Philippe laughs and says: “Well it is being eaten- it’s covered in cheese mites!”

Vieux Mimolette

Vieux Mimolette

He taps one on the bench and a pile of dust gathers. This is no ordinary dust; they are microscopic bugs whose action on the cheese’s surface influences flavor and character. This cheese is literally alive.

Live cheese mites

Live cheese mites. Image © Rachel Bajada

It’s in this moment that I begin to really grasp and appreciate this artisanal trade for what it is- a simple miracle of nature, an art, a science, a passion and a skill which has been handed down through humanity since it was first created by accident over 6,000 years ago.

Walking out of Alléosse caves d’Affinage, I feel so fortunate to have seen and experienced this ancient tradition first-hand, being kept alive in the current day- and something I was never exposed to in Australia. At the same time I can’t help but feel a sense of melancholy at the sad reality. France, the original cheese mecca of the world, has an industry that is fast declining. Meanwhile, the artisanal cheese industry is fast booming in the US and the UK with mass demand and export to Japanese, Russia and the UAE. It seems the new world is embracing the old.

Philippe Alléosse said himself- “We don’t know where we’ll be in ten years from now.”

I for one find it hard to imagine France without its wonderful stinky cheeses, and I hope even more so that we will never have to.

Let them eat cheese!

3 chevres at different stages of ripening

Three goats cheeses at different ages. Image © Rachel Bajada

Genuine Brie de Meaux

You don’t get this in the supermarket: Genuine Brie de Meaux.Image © Rachel Bajada

Some further food for thought:

• Of the 100-150 raw milk cheeses available, three disappear each year, meaning around 40 have become extinct in the last decade.
• While Americans, Australians and Britons are increasingly going for unpasteurized cheese, in France raw milk cheeses dropped to 179,750 tonnes in 2008 against 183,500 tonnes in 2006.
• Bleu de Termignon, Vacherin des Bauges, Vacherin d’Abondance, Persillés de Tignes des Aravis and de Semnoz, Reblochon du Mont-Cenis, Colombier des Aillons, Galette du Mont-d’Or are just some of the cheeses that have disappeared. During the last 30 years, more than 50 traditional cheeses disappeared, whereas industrial production continues to increase
• French people eat 23.9 kg of cheese per capita per year, which is the second highest consumption rate, just after the Greeks. But that good score hides a cruel reality: raw milk cheeses are only 7 per cent of that consumption

How to give good bread: Buying the perfect baguette

5 Aug baguettes_thumb

Every day I am faced with at least two or three bad baguette sightings, and it bothers me more than it should, like a niggling sore throat in the morning– every, single, time.

When I say ‘bad baguettes’, I simply mean a Parisian civilian walking along their way, carrying a really crappy, shitty, nasty-looking… baguette. Last week it happened again, and this time it really got the better of me. I watched a Frenchman walk out of an award-winning bakery holding a baguette that looked even worse than what they sell in a Carrefour supermarket.

These days I can detect them from a mile away. My bad bread radar picks up on the tell-tale faux golden colour, the floppy sunken spine and the flourless flaky crust– so thin you can almost see the mesh pattern of the baking tray. They remind me of those awful ‘French sticks’ my Mum used to get from the local bakery in country Victoria, only she had the good sense to make croutons from them, and nothing more.

Parisienne Baguettes

Parisienne Baguettes: The good, the bad and the ugly

And now here I am, living in Paris – the mecca of the baguette, the land of milk and honey, the country of good bread, and I see French people buying and eating so much bad bread that it still to this day perplexes me.

Now, I personally don’t actually eat a lot of bread, since as you may have noticed, I prefer to consume my calories in the form of cheese rather than carbs, (and I am of the belief that grain foods are not good for our health in general) but whenever I DO buy bread, I’m going to make sure it’s the best damn baguette I can get my hands on within my given 1km walking radius.

In my effort to understand this bad bread phenomenon, I decided to conduct a logical retrace of steps in order to figure out where it was all going wrong. So for just one minute, please imagine with me that you’re an average Frenchy in Paris. Ready?

1. You wake up and decide to buy some bread – as you do, to dip it into your coffee, smother it in nutella, smear stinky runny cheese all over it… whatever you do with your bread it doesn’t matter, but you’re French so it’s likely that you eat a lot of it.

2. There is probably a boulangerie within 200 meters from your home. Even if it’s not the best, you’re in Paris after all, so by global standards it’s going to be pretty damn good.

3. You walk in, wait in line, and get your change ready or prepare the coins using the bread money machine (you wouldn’t even think about paying with a note).

4. You cast an eye over at the freshly baked, piping hot baguettes on the back wall, and this is where you would say something like “Une baguette s’il vous plait”. Seems pretty easy, right?

5. And then you pay your 1€ or so and walk out, with your baguette under your arm on your jolly old way.

6. This is the point where if you were walking past me I would probably be sneering under my breath at the sight of your shoddy looking bread. Sorry about that…

bread money machine

No coins? No worries! These bread money machines distribute small change

— Fin —

So, where did you go wrong? Why is that annoying woman frowning at you and your bread?

This challenge was beyond my expertise so I enlisted the help of expert bread buyer, super foodie and most qualified of all: zeee very Meg Zimbeck of Paris by Mouth herself, in order to get to the bottom of it. Lucky me managed to squeeze into a ‘Best of Montmartre’ food tour so I could personally investigate, and of course bring back documented photographic evidence and my newfound wisdom for the rest of us.

This is where you need to hit the play button in this little video we shot below…

Meg Zimbeck with one of Paris' best Baguettes de Tradition

Meg Zimbeck with one of Paris’ best Baguettes de Tradition

Did you catch that? Hear the magic word? It’s a simple as knowing which KIND of baguette to buy. There’s a big difference between what you will potentially walk out with when you ask for a “Baguette” as opposed to a “Baguette de Tradition”. That’s it. Une Baguette… DE … TRAD-I-TION- si’l vous plait. Uh huh. Voila. Open sesame!

Paris' best baguettes in a boulangerie

Devil’s in the detail. “Baguettes de Tradition” sit alongside standard bread at one of Paris’ award-winning bakeries.

Comparing good and bad baguettes

Dead giveaway. A Baguette Parisienne and an award winning Baguette de Tradition are compared side by side.

And there is a very simple reason why. After the First World War, there was a need for high quality bread to be made available to the working class. Baguettes were, at the time more of a luxury item reserved for wealthy Parisians as their long thin shape and lightness meant they only stayed fresh for one day. Real leaven bread (like a sourdough) was cheaper, but took over 8 hours to make, compared to the two hours it took to make a baguette. So, in 1920 the price of a baguette was officially fixed by French law to ensure all citizens the equal right to daily fresh bread.

The baguette price capping legislation was not lifted until 1987, but the legacy stuck. You can imagine how public outrage rose when the cost of a baguette inched past the 1€ mark, so even to this day, it’s still considered unthinkable to pay more than the standard 80 or 90 cents for a standard Baguette Parisienne.

Since the consumer is only willing to pay under 1€ for a baguette, boulangers are forced to ensure their product remains profitable – so quality therefore follows suit. It’s simply not cost effective for a baker to spend eight hours rising and carefully baking bread made from high quality flours and natural yeasts when they can only charge 90 cents for the product, or 40 cents for a demi-baguette.

So this is why you will find BOTH ordinary, inferior ‘bad-guettes’ as well as the higher-end, quality, baguettes made with natural levains and quality flours at the same boulangerie. The latter version must then be labelled as “Baguette de Tradition” “Baguette Ancienne” or “Baguette de Campagne” to differentiate, and cost all of 0 to 50 cents more, but the difference can be enormous – as you have seen.

bad baguettes or french sticks paris

The “Bad-guettes” at a typical Parisian supermarket. Almost sold out, of course.

The prize for Paris’ best Baguette de Tradition is a highly coveted title which began in 1993 and sheds light on the reasons why a boulangerie with this title sells both “bad-guettes” and the best “baguette de tradition” around. Enacted that same year, French law states that the bread must be mixed, kneaded, leavened and baked on premises, never being frozen. They must be additive-free and can contain only wheat flour, water, salt and yeast. The annual prize-winner gains both great prestige and the chance to supply the French Presidential palace with bread for the year. Pas mal.

So now that you know how – you have no excuse to give bad bread.

If you’re visiting Paris, you can check out the best boulangeries, pâtisseries, cheese shops and secret foodie gems with a Paris by Mouth group or private food tour. Tours resume for summer 2012 on August 16th with 2 x 3 hour tours daily at 10.30 and 3.30pm. Book a few weeks in advance and don’t eat breakfast! More info here

Now go forth, and give good bread ☺

Meg Zimbeck comparing baguette quality on tour

Weapons of dining destruction. Meg Zimbeck holds up an example of a bad baguette

Paris by Mouth Food Tour Group

The Paris by Mouth Montmartre food tour group

 

baguette car

I don’t know where this photo came from so I can’t credit it but it was just too good to leave out.

Welcome to Paris, hello New York! The French obsession with American food

29 Mar

paris j'adore
It all started with a cupcake.

Then, before long a queue of New Yorkers appeared- lining up on a Manhattan street for cutsie iced cakes in a myriad of colours and flavours. The trend spread across the globe faster than a pandemic superbug. Australia, UK, Japan and Paris jumped on the cupcake bandwagon. Cupcakes became the new macaron – even in the city of macarons itself.

And so, the French love affair with American food began. In 2003, Starbucks introduced the French to the concept of coffee with milk. Lots of milk, and whipped cream, to wash down a nice big slice of raspberry swirl yew york cheesecake, a donut or a giant white chocolate and caramel muffin.

cupcake camp paris

Homemade cupcakes by participants, and the entry queue to Cupcake Camp, Paris 2011

It’s all rather ironic. The French, well-known for their own celebrated food culture and openly expressed abhorrence to what they have long called “La malbouffe aux États-Unis” (bad food of America) have developed quite a taste for good old American comfort food and it appears that the feelings are mutual. New Yorkers have always had a thing for Paris, but now Paris is becoming equally as fascinated and with New York style dining and the realm of American food.

starbucks paris

Starbucks on rue Montorgeuil, Paris

If you’re visiting Paris, don’t expect to see locals queuing up at cute little crêpe stands – instead you’ll find them lining up by the hundreds for Starbucks, American cocktails, gravlax and cream cheese bagels, pancakes with bacon, and big, beefy, cheesy, American BURGERS.

Au revoir Macarons: Make way for Cookies and Whoopie Pies

Whoopie Pies Grand epicerie paris

Whoopie Pies on display at La Grande Epicerie Paris.
Labelled as "The unmissable replacement for cupcakes this summer" Image snapped courtesy of Carol from parisbreakfasts.blogspot.com

18 months ago in an interview I was asked what I thought the next big food trend was in Paris. I said, “It’s going to be cookies. American-style cookies.” The journalist laughed and left it out of the article. Now they are springing up all over the place.

Move aside ‘Little Miss Combawa Sesame Crème Macaron’, your Grande Epicerie vitrine real estate has been taken over by its sweeter American sister to keep our trend happy Parisian clientele happy with what they want now: WHOOPIE PIES. And it’s only just the beginning. Dare I say it… the American products being made on French turf are possibly even better than what I have eaten when in America.

In Paris’ touristic Saint Germain, I never thought it was possible to have such a moment with a caramel fudge milk chocolate cookie. The tiny It Mylk boutique is now selling a range of handmade cookies, supplied daily. These things are really something else. Their creator rests the dough for up to two days and has cleverly engineered the chocolate chunks to be in a permanently semi-melted state. I don’t even want to think about how many sets of Parisian stairs I should have climbed after eating that.

It Mylk Cookies Paris

Semi melted chocolate fudge American comfort at It Mylk, Saint Germain

American expats Lindsay Tramuta and her business partner Chloe last year launched their own brand American cookies baked in Paris- Lola’s cookies. Lola’s delicious range includes all the classics from brownies and peanut butter and chocolate, through to white chocolate chunk with lemon and cashew. It’s not hard to imagine why they’re fast building a cookie-addicted following amongst hipster Parisians.

lolas cookies paris

Lolas Cookies, Paris. Image supplied

Ze Buerregeurre:

PDG has become a burger institution in Paris since it opened in the same year as Starbucks, back in 2003. The American style eatery serves what is claimed to be one of the best burgers in Paris, using bread rolls from top Parisian baker Eric Kayser. Manager Pierre Lannadere has become used to French customers requesting bizarre combinations such as fried eggs with pancakes and hash browns – knowing it’s merely the norm in the US.

Camion qui fume

Burgers and menu at Paris' first food truck.
Image by William CHAN TAT CHUEN from Postive Eating Blog

More recently, Le Camion Qui Fume succeeded in overcoming French legislation and exhaustive red tape and paperwork, making them Paris’ first mobile food truck. Yes that’s right, American food trucks have made their way to the very city where spotting someone eating a meal, let alone a burger on the run is about as rare a sighting as a free seat on the line 1 metro at peak hour.

The food truck, run by a Californian native, moves about between locations, which are published via their twitter feed which on this day has close to 5,500 followers. Paris’ first food truck is drawing huge crowds of Parisians prepared to wait in extended queues to get their burger fix from a menu offering classics such as cheeseburgers with lettuce, pickles and ketchup, through to the more ‘Frenchiefied’ version of beef, Fourme d’Ambert blue cheese with caramelized onion and porto sauce.

The waiting line for burgers by The Camion Qui Fume. Personally, I don't have the patience. It's just a burger, right? Image by Donald Edwards. He has a cool Paris blog here

What else is cooking?

From the same group who revolutionised the Paris cocktail scene with establishments such as Prescription and Experimental Cocktails Clubs, having sister bars in London and New York, their next venture – the Beef Club Restaurant is about to open its doors (if they can fit you inside when they do). Yes, you guessed it- the concept is a full American-style beef BBQ menu with a basement level cocktail bar and club.

Scwhartz Deli represents a little corner of the NYC in the heart of the historic Marais. A brunch table there on a Sunday is a coveted spot where you will be competing with a horde of others, hungry to fill up on salmon gravlax cream cheese bagels, pastrami sandwiches, turkey sausage salad and matzos meatball soup.

RICCI Italian has opened in an upcoming pocket of the 17th arrondissement as a New York diner-style restaurant serving Italian American fare such as Charolais, speck and Gorgonzola burgers, fresh burrata, meatball pasta and gourmet pizzas to go.

RICCI Italian Paris

Goumet Pizza at RICCI American-Italian Restaurant, Paris. Image supplied

Breakfast in America now has two locations on both Paris’ left and right banks. Their no reservations policy means that you will have to wait (that’s what we do in Paris) in line, at cholesterol corner with the rest of them for your Connecticut omelette or ham steak and eggs, followed by Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, pecan pie and Dr Pepper soda.

Every time I walk into a bookstore, I am spotting more and more New York patisserie cookbooks. Recipe books featuring American desserts and New York street food are fast gaining centre stage. Forget mastering Boeuf Bourguignon- the remaining Parisians who do actually cook at home are now keener to perfect the art of Cheeseburgers and Brownies.

American patisserie cookbooks at La Librairie Gourmande

American patisserie cookbooks on feature display at
La Librairie Gourmande, Paris

On an end note, being a patriotic Aussie at heart, I’m still waiting for vegemite and cheese scrolls to take off in Paris. Something tells me I may be waiting a while for that one…

An expat Christmas in Paris: eating and shopping in the city of lights

4 Nov paris lights

Recently I was interviewed by Lucy Cousins, Deputy Editor at Australia’s InsideOut Magazine, for their special Christmas issue. InsideOut’s feature showcases five creative Australians living overseas and how they spend their Christmas. Below is the printed magazine extract, and you can find below the full interview which includes my favourite current addresses for shopping, dining and staying warm in this magical Parisian snow globe – otherwise known as the city of lights. Photo for InsideOut Mag by Carla Coulson

Rachel Bajada InsideOut Magazine

Excerpt from InsideOut Magazine Christmas Issue, 2011. Photo by Carla Coulson

What does Christmas mean to you?

Normally for me it’s all about family, but since mine is now on the other side of the world, Christmas is all about ‘coming together’. Making time to spend quality moments with the people we love, showing generosity and being grateful for the things we have. It’s also a time to embrace and honour traditions and customs whether they be religious or cultural – the important things which bring richness and diversity and meaning into our lives.

What do your Christmas celebrations in France usually involve?

I can summarise this one in about 3 words: eating, drinking and freezing!

What is your favourite part of the festive season in your adopted country?

The observation of intricate, rich customs and practices and seeing how the city changes as everything moves around these. For example in December all the patisserie shops are filled with impressive displays of the ‘Buche’ (a gateau in the form a of a log), then in January the window displays are filled with les ‘Galettes des Rois’ to celebrate epiphany. At Christmas dinner, they serve 12 kinds of small sweets such as truffles, biscuits, chocolates etc. at the end of the meal- 12 to represent the 12 apostles. It’s an endless procession of traditional practices, which as an expat unaccustomed to all of this, I find constantly fascinating.

12 sweets - noel

Christmas cake accompanied by 12 sweets to represent Christ and the twelve apostle

What is a custom or tendency that you don’t understand?

There are many customs in France that continue to perplex me. For me France is the ultimate country of paradoxes… the main set of customs that continue to baffle me are all the hidden codes and procedures when it comes to dining.

Once thing that still gets me is how a dinner party will wait till the last guest arrives, no matter how late they are, to open the champagne and start the aperitif.

Last Christmas Eve, many domestic flights were delayed due to snowstorms and some guests didn’t arrive at the house until around 11.45pm. By this point I was ravenous after a long journey myself, and I had been staring at the 10 bottles of champagne and aperitif snacks all lined up in the dining room, which the host refused to open or serve until all the guests had arrived. We ended up finishing our meal at 4am because we started at midnight!

Waiting for champagne

Patience is a virtue… champagne remains unopened until all guests arrive

How does it differ from your Christmas in Australia?

The difference is enormous. Everything is the opposite. The weather, the food, the way of celebrating, the people I share my time with and the language I speak. The cold weather is a real challenge for me being a real sun-lover, but Paris is so beautiful under the snow at that time of year, that it compensates for the weather. And as much as I love Christmas time in Paris, it just doesn’t compare to the familiar feeling of walking through the patio door at my parents house on Christmas Eve and seeing my Dad sweating at the BBQ with a big smile on his face wearing the same apron he has worn for the last 10 years!

What do you miss about Australia in general?

Things that just work! I didn’t realise it or appreciate it until I left Australia- but in Oz, thing just work. Administrative services, systems, etc are in general more efficient and reliable. Here you post a letter to the other side of the country, and it may arrive a week after something which was sent from the US. Banks and government call centres close spontaneously…

The other thing I really miss is SPACE. Large open living spaces, coastlines, vast beaches and national parks in Oz are all so close and accessible. I loved the relaxed attitude in Sydney- I miss being able to walk to my yoga class or walk in a supermarket dressed in my gym pants and sneakers without anybody glaring because you look so out of place… and of course the lifestyle I enjoyed being able to ride my Vespa to the beach after work and running in the sand then meeting friends for BBQ’s at the beach over long summer afternoons.

What is most stressful to you about Christmas and how do you deal with that?

Waiting in lines. The sheer population of Paris means I am always waiting – I queue to queue. I’m a terribly impatient person, (of course I’m working on it) but the frenzied crowds in department stores, the push and shove on the crowded metro and waiting 20 mins in a line at -4 degree temperatures just to buy your favourite bread on a Sunday morning can be unbearable.

Paris bread queue

Typical sunday in Paris: the bread queue

What is one way you ‘cheat’ at Christmas…(do you make your own wrapping paper or gifts, have you got a fool-proof recipe for pudding etc)?
For years now I have had my own little tradition of making Lebkuchen- a spicy iced German gingerbread (recipe here). Each Christmas I make an entire day of it and bake and ice about 200 cookies. It’s a great way to give a small gift to friends, colleagues or people you have been meaning to catch up with. Each year I package them differently depending on what nice boxes or papers I find in the shops. When you personally deliver them it’s a good excuse to have a cup of tea together and make time to catch up.

Lebkuchen

Lebkuchen – Christmas Gifts

Can you tell us three shops in Paris that are good to visit at Xmas (they might make great cakes, or sell amazing flowers etc)?

1. Go to Gontran Cherrier’s boulangerie in Montemarte and buy the special Christmas bread “La couronne de pain”- a bread wreath with 8 buns made of 4 varieties- wholegrain curry (for foie gras), chick pea and lemon (for oysters and seafood), nature/traditional (for meats and charcuterie) and the fourth is made with chestnut flour to serve with the cheese board.

He also makes a great Pistachio and Citron Confit “Galette des Rois”, which is traditionally served to celebrate at Epiphany in early January.

Gontran Cherrier Artisan Boulanger
22, rue Caulaincourt 75018 Paris
Tèl : +33 (0)1 46 06 82 66
http://www.gontrancherrierboulanger.com

Galette des Rois et La couronne de pain

Galette des Rois et La Couronne de Pain chez Gontran Cherrier

2. You must pay a visit to one of my favourite fromageries/affineurs in Paris- La Ferme Saint Hebert in Paris 9th.

When you walk in this cheese shop, the mere odour of over 200 varieties of French cheeses is just sensational ( I think so anyway) and you instantly know you’re in France. Owners Paulette and Henry- complete the typical Paris experience- right down to their white aprons, hanging Corsican charcuterie and the shop walls that are lined with jars of duck confit, foie gras, confiture, fruit pastes and patés.

At Christmas time we indulge in a winter mountain cheese like Mont d’Or. It’s a seasonal cow’s milk cheese packaged in round wooden boxes. You can eat it at room temperature, or pour white wine into the box, wrap it in foil then bake it for 25 mins. When it comes out of the oven it’s oozes with creaminess on the inside and melts like liquid heaven. The French like to pour the melting cheese over baked potatoes or eat it with fresh baguettes. Mmmm calorific ecstasy.

La ferme Saint Hubert Fromagerie
36 rue Rochechouart 75009 PARIS
Tel : +33 (0)1 45 53 15 77
http://www.la-ferme-saint-hubert-de-paris.com/

La Ferme Saint Hubert Fromagerie

La Ferme Saint Hubert Fromagerie – Image from Bonbon Magazine, Summer 2009 lebonbon.fr

3. Treat yourself to a new fragrance at a French perfume house.

Dyptique on Blvd St Germain is just divine (my favourite is the ‘figue’ scent), Nicolaï Parfumerie on Rue des Archives in the Marias, or the official Geurlain fragrance house on Champs Elysées are three of my favourite boutiques. Fragrances are so sensory, when you buy a new perfume at Christmas time each time you wear it will bring back all those fond memories of those particular moments in your life. It’s also a great way to sharpen your sense of smell – just in time for appreciating all the great wines you’ll be drinking over Christmas.

What are three activities that you must to do in Paris at Christmas time?

1. Walk from place Colette (métro Palais Royale Musée du Louvre) through to the gardens of the Palais Royale and do some window shopping (if you can resist buying a pair of designer leather gloves, foulard or handbag) and walk all the way up Galerie Vivienne. At Christmas time they put out an impressive lighting display complete with draping red velvet curtains at the entrance – the interior is just stunning at this time of year. When you’re there you can have tea and scones at A Priori Teahouse to warm up and talk yourself out of buying those designer heels you fell in love with 10 minutes ago.

Galerie Vivienne Christmas

Galerie Vivienne is transformed by an impressive lighting display at Christmas

2. Visit the Galerie Lafayette and Printemps department stores and gaze dreamily at the window displays. It brings me back memories of my childhood in Melbourne when ever year my grandma would take me to see the Myer window displays. Only in Paris it’s packed with Louis Vuitton, Chanel, YSL… serious eye candy.

3. Go to the Marché des Enfants Rouge (Paris’ oldest open- air market dating from the 1600s) and located in the Marais. It’s filled with stands providing specialties from all over the world. Eat some spicy Moroccan couscous and tagines followed by sweet mint tea then at the flower stand opposite you can choose and buy a REAL Christmas Wreath. The wreaths are real – made of real holly leaves and berries, pinecones, fresh stone fruits – and they’re only about 7 Euros a piece.

Christmas Wreathes at Marche des Enfants Rouge, Paris

Christmas Wreathes at Marche des Enfants Rouge, Paris. Image courtesy of http://cinderellapatch.blogspot.com

What is your favourite Parisian Christmas moment?

My best Parisian Christmas moment was the first time I saw snow in Paris – and it was around Christmas time. I was at my local little Christmas market on a Sunday (organised by the local town hall) and it was absolutely freezing. All of sudden it started snowing and the whole place was transformed. There were children riding on a gorgeous traditional the carousel and little stalls selling spicy warm red wine, fruit cakes and hand-made gifts. One of the stallholders insisted I tried their hot chocolate with a piece of pain d’épice, and then in that moment everything was just magical… I felt like a young girl who had been transported into a snow globe and then whisked off into a page of a children’s fairy-tale.

Paris Christmas Markets

Snapshot moment of a Parisian fantasy snowglobe

What do you like most about living in Paris?

The innate appreciation of beauty.

Paris terrace sunset view

Designed for detail: view from a typical Paris terrace

Where would you recommend visitors go for a special lunch or dinner in Paris on Christmas day?

Le Gallopin Brasserie. A classic and beautiful French bistro where they have been serving bankers, journalists and Parisians quality French brasserie cuisine in a stunning turn-of-the-century setting since 1876. The prices are very reasonable too – book 2 weeks before Christmas to avoid missing out.

40, rue Notre-Dame des Victoires 75002 Paris
Tél : +33 (0)1 42 36 45 38
http://www.brasseriegallopin.com/

What are your current favourite Paris restaurants?

Au Passage (Paris 11e)
Rossi et Co (Paris 2e)
Itinéraires (Paris 5e)
MaSa (Paris 17e)
Le Galopin (Paris 10e)
Avant Comptoir (Paris 6e)
Toyo, Yen (Paris 6e)
Le Pantruche (Paris 9e)

Join the conversation! Have any similar expat or stories to share from visiting Paris? Drop a comment below.

The Annual Paris Summer Shutdown: Ten Great Paris Restaurants Open This August

14 Jul

Outside Pamela Popo Paris. Photo by Pascal Montary

Pamela Popo, Paris. Photo by Pascal Montary



Before you read further, please note this article was published for summer 2011.
For 2012, Paris by Mouth has done the hard work for me and published a list of restaurants open by date over this summer here.

Summer in Paris 2011 is now setting into full swing. As I write this I look over my normally buzzing Parisian neighbourhood and remark at what a ghost town it has become already. Welcome to the mass Parisian exodus otherwise know as summer holidays.

From here until the end of August the Parisian population will be largely replaced with bright-eyed, heat-stroked, sandal-blistered, HUNGRY gourmet tourists from all over the world.

Unfortunately over the summer holidays most of the best addresses are closed for at least 3-4 weeks over August, so for gourmet travellers looking for great food in a good restaurant, it can often present quite a challenge. But don’t be discouraged; I have done all the hard work for you. After receiving numerous emails this week from people planning a visit in August and asking for recommendations on good places to eat that are actually open, I figured I should share the fruits of my research with you all.

After going through my own list of favourite Paris restaurants and foodie spots, I have personally phoned every single one of them to check their closure dates and times over the holidays, and here is my top 10. With this golden list you will never be caught in the tourist trap of succumbing to some crappy Paris bistro eating stale baguettes, bad steak tartare, drinking burnt black coffee or being served reheated ham and cheese crêpes.

Remember, it’s always a good idea to call ahead and book or check opening hours with restaurants. As much as I’ve aimed for accuracy with the given times and dates, it’s still possible that these places could spontaneously close- that’s the French way.

————————————————————————————————————
RESTAURANTS IN PARIS OPEN FOR ALL OF SUMMER 2011:

Ordered by least expensive to most expensive

Comptoir de l’Arc

73 Avenue Marceau 75116 Paris (Champs Elysees/George 5) +33 1 47 20 72 04

Monday – Friday, lunch and dinner. Closed weekends

I almost selfishly considered leaving this place off my list as it’s one of my favourite summer hangouts and I like to know that I can arrive and actually get a table! This place has the typical ‘summer in Paris’ vibe and friendly buzzing ambience right next to the Champs Elysees and l’Arc de Triomphe. The food is of consistently good quality and inexpensive especially given the location. You will find dishes like Poached Trout Salad, Chicken Brochettes and Creamy Risotto, Grilled Market-fresh Fish and classics such as Steaks and comforting Buttery Potato Puree. The cheese plates and desserts are fairly fail-proof too.

Pamela Popo

15 rue Francois Miron, 75004 Paris (Marias) +33 1 42 74 14 65

Every day, lunch and dinner

(Pictured in feature image) Fresh on the Marais scene, Pamela Popo is the new kid on the block and coolest place to be seen. Situated right next to one of the oldest original condition buildings in Paris and in the heart of the one quartier in Paris that never sleeps, owners Thomas and Mickael have all your needs covered. With an inviting outdoor terrace to take a drink, do some people spotting or get your cigarette fix, a cosy and intimate first floor for private parties and couples, everyone enjoys this spot for a different reason. The menu changes weekly depending on seasonal produce and is alternated with some crowd pleasing favourites such as Mushroom and Asparagus Ravioli with Savoury Pain Perdu, Crab and Avocado Millefeuille with Wakame Emulsion and if you’re still up for it- Rich Chocolate Hazelnut Praline Mousse.

Derrière

69, rue des Gravilliers. 75003 Paris (Marias) + 33 1 44 61 91 95

Every day, lunch and dinner

Another gem in the Marais, you can literally walk up rue Tiquetonne and find 3-4 great addresses open year-round. If you didn’t know about this place you could easily walk past it but once inside you won’t want to leave. Great for an awesome meal or cocktail over sunset sitting in the buzzing courtyard or on the comfy, sexy lounges- the trendy and super friendly staff will show you true Parisian hospitality. Try the Grapefruit and Sweet Pea Salad, BBQ Chilli Oil Squid with Grilled Aubergine, Farm Chicken Poached in Red Wine Sauce and Prawns in Seafood Bisque served as Oeuf Cocotte.

Le Tir Bouchon

22 rue Tiquetonne 75002 Paris (Montorgueil/Etienne Marcel) +33 1 42 21 95 51

Open every day lunch and dinner, except Sunday lunch

This is one of my fail-proof favourites. Located in a romantic little laneway in the heart of Paris just off rue Montorgueil, you’re guaranteed to have of those “God I Love Paris” moments when you dine here. The food is mostly traditional French but you can also find slightly modernised takes on the classics. They make an awesome Tarte Tatin, Goats Cheese Salad with Sweet Balsamic, and a range of great pastas and ravioli- just don’t order the Pasta with Foie Gras Sauce if you want to be able to walk yourself out of the restaurant.

Mini Palais

3 Avenue Winston Churchill 75008 Paris (Champs Elysees in Grand Palais) +33 1 42 56 42 42

Open every day, lunch and dinner

If you’re looking for something a little more upmarket, gastronomic or romantic, you will love the Mini Palais. Boasting attentive ‘French style’ service and a location right off the Champs-Élysées next to the Grand Palais, and stroll from la Seine, Mini Palais also has a breathtaking view of the Eiffel tower. Signature dishes include Baked Escargot in Cherry Tomatoes with Almond Butter, Penne ‘Risotto’ with Chorizo and Basil, Pan-seared Scallops with Celeriac Purée and Coconut Emulsion, and their famous Baba Géant au Rhum. You can read a nice little anecdotal by Hilary Davis here

Cafe de la Paix

12, bd des Capucines (75009 Paris (Opera / 9eme)
+33 1 40 07 36 36

Open every day lunch and dinner, Sunday brunch

Open since 1862, originally to serve the Grand-Hôtel de la Paix , this famous café was designed by Charles Garnier, the architect of the Paris Opéra (located across the plaza). If you can get past the hefty price tag and manage to relax into the whole vibe of ‘Parisian arrogance’ that so we love to hate, then you will really enjoy a little piece of La Belle Epoque at this address over the course of a luxurious Sunday brunch or designer patisserie.

L’Arpège- Alain Passard

84 Rue de Varenne 75007 Paris
+33 1 45 51 47 33

Lunch and dinner degustation menus every day Monday – Friday.
Closed weekends.

Fortunately for us mere mortals, Alain Passard actually keeps the doors of his 3 Michelin star restaurant open for the entire summer. Moreover, unlike the restaurants of Ducasse or Robuchon where seeing ‘The Chef’ in the kitchen is like a rare celebrity sighting, Alain prides himself in maintaining a steady in-house presence at L’Arpège, where he can be seen gracefully fleeting between tables, personally welcoming and charming his already swooning, pleasure-state patrons.

Now, I’m no professional food writer so it’s somewhat intimidating to write about such a special place, but I can honestly tell you this: Alain is an alchemist, a magician, and a true artist. So if you’re planning a ‘special’ trip to Paris, then it’s quite simple really: forget about that Prada purchase… treat yourself to Passard! Purchases will one day be forgotten but dining experiences like this will last you a lifetime.

Colunching and Codining in Paris

If you’re travelling alone, like meeting locals or other expats when you visit new cities, would like to practice your French, or just love dining in a group environment, then co-lunching or co-dining is always a great option for visitors to Paris. This new concept is the hottest new thing in the city of lights and is fast becoming a huge hit in the US and soon in Oz. You just jump on the website and choose from one of the pre-organised dinner or lunch events happening that day/week then RSVP. You can see whom you will be dining with, which languages they speak, and you each pay only for what you ate, at the end of your meal. That way you are guaranteed a good table, good company and hopefully a good time making new friends. Check out the site here

————————————————————————————————————
RESTAURANTS IN PARIS OPEN FIRST HALF OF AUGUST:

Spring Restaurant

(Closed 14th – 31st Aug)

6 rue Bailleul +33 1 45 96 05 72
Open Tuesday – Saturday for dinner, lunch on Friday only

Spring barely needs an introduction, given all the hype that this spot and Chef Daniel Rose have received since recently reopening. It’s ‘all on’ and nothing’s done by halves in this place, from their in-house baked bread through to the 64 Euro tasting menu which changes daily and features impressive dishes such as Duckling Stuffed with Apricots, Crispy Shredded Veal Breast with Orange Confit, Sparkling Sea Urchin, and Rich Chocolate Ganache with Salted Caramel and Chestnut. The moment plates land on the tables at Spring commands a dramatic moment of sacred silence, stalling the most animated of conversations. The atmosphere is kept chaud chaud chaud with a featured open kitchen and an expressive chef who isn’t exactly known for mincing words with his staff. Fortunately you can still enjoy one of the tops tables in Paris during the first half of August. If you can’t initially get a reservation, try calling again early afternoon on the day to see if there have been cancellations for that evening.

Retro Botegga

(Closed 13th – 22nd Aug)

12, rue Saint-Bernard, Paris 75011 +33 1 74 64 17 39

Open Tuesday – Saturday from 10 am to 11 pm
Sundays 10 am – 2pm
Mondays 10am – 8.30pm

God I love this place. I hope I don’t regret promoting it on my blog, as there are only four tables in this special ‘Little Slice of Italy in Paris’- two inside and two outside.

Opened only five or so months ago by talented ex Rino Sommelier Pietro and charismatic business partner Salvatore, this Italian duo has recreated the heart of rustic Italy in the hip Oberkampf district of Paris. With an impressive selection of imported Italian wines, each personally matched to your tastes- you simply cannot have a non-eventful, unforgettable night in this place. Pietro is modest about his cooking abilities, but what he does in that tiny kitchen of his with simple ingredients, top quality fresh produce and a retro charcuterie slicer is really something else.

Claude Colliot

(Closed 13th – 31st August)
40 rue des Blancs-Manteaux 75004 Paris +33 1 42 71 55 45

Open Monday to Saturday

This is one of my favourite styles of cuisine. Light, refined, inventive, delicate and produced with strict respect for fresh produce of the season. Signature dishes include Oyster Sorbet, White Asparagus and Rhubarb, Girolle Mushrooms with Apricots Pochés, Capucines-Jaune d’oeuf entire, fresh almonds (dairy free), and Smoked Volaille à la Reglisse. A three-course lunch menu is only $29 Euros.

A gorgeous meal that’s light on both the calorie and travel budget allowance- gotta love that.

Le Chardenoux des Près

(Closed 14th – 22nd August)

27 rue du Dragon, 75006 Paris + 33 1 45 48 29 68

Open every day lunch and dinner

The latest concept by Cyril Lignac, this chic French bistro in Saint Germain is a great spot for visitors seeking well-executed French bistro classics cooked with love and French flair. Dishes include pâté de canard en croûte, émietté de tourteau et salade de pommes de terre, carpaccio de dorade au gingembre, curry de lotte, tartare (au couteau) frites, côte de cochon noir de Bigorre au saté, riz au lait, and profiteroles.

————————————————————————————————————
RESTAURANTS IN PARIS OPEN SECOND HALF OF AUGUST:

Ze Kitchen Galerie

(Closed 31st July- 15th August)

4 rue des Grands Augustins 75006 Paris +33 1 44 32 00 32
Open Monday – Saturday lunch and dinner, closed Saturday lunch

A great address for lovers of inventive, modern, risk-taking fusion French food. Especially if you prefer flavour to portion size, a great wine list, and appreciate open gallery style kitchen and well-designed loft spaces, this is your address for the second half of August. Menu includes Miso Wagyu Beef, Shrimp and Crab Ravioli with Thai Basil Pesto, and White Chocolate Wasabi Ice-cream with Lychee Jasmine Emulsion. Hungry yet?

————————————————————————————————————

Here is an interactive map of this guide on Journly with each address pinned to its location.

Map of paris restaurants open in august on journly.com

Click through for an interactive map of these addresses on Journly.com

If you liked this guide, check out more like this on TravelSort

And just finish painting the Paris picture, here’s one of my favourite photographs by Robert Doisneau: “Les Coiffeusses au soleil”/ “The Hairdresses in the Sun” PARIS 1966.

Les Coiffeusses au soleil, Paris, 1966 by Robert Doisneau

Les Coiffeusses au soleil, Paris, 1966 by Robert Doisneau

Enjoy your trip to Paris and if you have any of your own favourites or personal dining stories from a past summer visit to the city of lights, feel free to drop in a comment below.

%d bloggers like this: