inkwell.vue.327 : Alec Lobrano, Hungry for Paris
permalink #26 of 227: Alexander Lobrano (aleclobrano) Wed 14 May 08 17:29
    
Many of you have asked about breakfast in Paris. Here are few ideas:

1) Buy good organic yogurt (much better in France than the US with the
notable exception of the sublime maple-syrup flavored water-buffalo's
milk yogurt made in Vermont, my all-time favorite) and order some hot
water from room service. I always travel with a cup and tea bags, and
I've never been charged for a pot of hot water. This may sound chintzy,
but why waste $15-$20 on a dead ordinary hotel breakfast.

2) For something more special, go to the original Laduree on the rue
Royale for breakfast. Early morning is the best time to really revel in
the sumptuous 19th century decor of this place, and the genteel crowd
who come in for breakfast are an intriguing mixture of countesses and
con men.

3) If I have an early meeting on the Left Bank, I buy a croissant at
Gerard Mulot and then order tea at the kiosk in the Luxembourg Gardens.
The gardens, perhaps my favorite place in Paris, are magical in the
morning.

4) If you need to "do" breakfast for business reasons, the buffet at
the Hotel Bristol is the best in town, a really sublime and very
generous feed that will impress any client and which also costs much
less than lunch.
  
inkwell.vue.327 : Alec Lobrano, Hungry for Paris
permalink #27 of 227: Alexander Lobrano (aleclobrano) Wed 14 May 08 17:35
    
Re La Grille, which is in the 10th arrondissement and one of my
favorite old-fashioned bistros in Paris, the other one that I'm crazy
about is Le Quincy, which is not far from the Gare de Lyon. Both of
these places are written up in my book HUNGRY FOR PARIS. Does anyone
have a favorite old-fashioned (as opposed to modern, i.e. Ze Kitchen
Galerie) bistro that they'd like to share? As someone who has lived in
Paris for over 20 years, I know that these places are becoming as rare
as hen's teeth. So share!
  
inkwell.vue.327 : Alec Lobrano, Hungry for Paris
permalink #28 of 227: kayili! (kayo) Wed 14 May 08 18:06
    
Alec, have you been to Le Bougnat, 28 rue de Saintonge, in the 3rd? I had 
an awesome lunch there a couple years ago with brady and... reet? More 
than a couple years! Tiny bistro, traditional menu. Hmmm, I see 
lefooding.com says ... well, I don't know what it says: C'est quand meme 
drole de voir les riverains lookes de la rue Charlot dibouler en nombre 
dans ce troquet popu,... 
  
inkwell.vue.327 : Alec Lobrano, Hungry for Paris
permalink #29 of 227: Barbara Sewart Thomas (barst) Wed 14 May 08 20:48
    
Alec, you mentioned how you love going to the organic market and
buying food to cook at home.  Having only made short trips to Paris (no
longer than a week) and staying in hotels, one of my fantasies is to
go for a longer time some day, rent an apartment and be able to pick up
all kinds of wonderful food you see at at the markets and cook them
myself.  
  
inkwell.vue.327 : Alec Lobrano, Hungry for Paris
permalink #30 of 227: Barbara Sewart Thomas (barst) Wed 14 May 08 20:50
    
Though living in the Midwest, I often feel the same way when I'm in
San Francisco and see all of the lovely things at the farmer's market
at the Ferry Building.  The choices are so much more limited here.
  
inkwell.vue.327 : Alec Lobrano, Hungry for Paris
permalink #31 of 227: Ed Ward (captward) Thu 15 May 08 01:45
    
Alec, would you say your expertise is limited to Paris, or are there
other cities you know well? Selfish reason behind question is that I'm
about to go on a trip that'll take me to Aix (never been before),
Marseille (ditto) and Montpellier, where I'll be moving in July, and
know a bit more about. I'd be happy to hear your takes on any or all of
them. 
  
inkwell.vue.327 : Alec Lobrano, Hungry for Paris
permalink #32 of 227: Alexander Lobrano (aleclobrano) Thu 15 May 08 07:05
    
Hi Kayo,

I love Le Bougnant, which is exactly the kind of unpretentious, solid,
good-value bistro that I crave. I worry that it won't be around much
longer, too, since as you rightly point out, this neighborhood is going
upmarket very, very quickly. Real old-fashioned bistros with plats
mijotees (simmered dishes, like blanquette de veau, boeuf bourguignon,
etc.) are becoming rarer and rarer. Alec
  
inkwell.vue.327 : Alec Lobrano, Hungry for Paris
permalink #33 of 227: Alexander Lobrano (aleclobrano) Thu 15 May 08 07:07
    
To Barbara Stewart Thomas

The next time you come to Paris you really should think about renting
an apartment. A great place to look for short-term rentals is
www.fusac.com (France-USA Contacts, an all classifieds site). I think
that shopping and cooking in Paris is a brilliant way of deepening
one's knowledge of the city's food culture. Alec
  
inkwell.vue.327 : Alec Lobrano, Hungry for Paris
permalink #34 of 227: Alexander Lobrano (aleclobrano) Thu 15 May 08 07:15
    
To Ed Ward,

I know both Montpellier and Marseilles quite well. Montpellier is a
delightful city, and it constantly comes out at the top of the list
when surveyors ask the French where they'd live in France if they
could. I also have a soft spot for Marseilles, which, with Chicago, was
one of the fastest growing cities in the world during the 19th century
(The Suez canal caused the city to boom) and has such poignantly
grandiose architecture. Between the two, Marseilles is the more
interesting food city, and it's in the midst of a real restaurant boom
right now. My favorite restaurant there is L'Epuisette, which has a
stunning setting overlooking the sea and a kitchen that does terrific
seafood, including bouillabaise. I also like Lauracee, Pizzeria
Etienne, and Le Cafe des Epices. Alec
  
inkwell.vue.327 : Alec Lobrano, Hungry for Paris
permalink #35 of 227: Ed Ward (captward) Thu 15 May 08 07:37
    
Thanks, Alec. I was rather astonished that there's no signature dish
or collection of dishes in Montpellier, but I do like the city, and
figure that if I've got to starve to death, I'll do it in a city with
good food, which Berlin really isn't.

One thing about France is that the cooking implements, from pots and
pans right down to gadgets, are first-rate. Do you have any suggestions
for visitors to Paris who are looking for a good cookware store?
  
inkwell.vue.327 : Alec Lobrano, Hungry for Paris
permalink #36 of 227: Barbara Sewart Thomas (barst) Thu 15 May 08 07:39
    
Thanks for the tip, Alec.
  
inkwell.vue.327 : Alec Lobrano, Hungry for Paris
permalink #37 of 227: Alexander Lobrano (aleclobrano) Thu 15 May 08 12:22
    
Ed,

Aside from such famous old-line shops at E. Dehillerin in the rue Jean
Jacques Rousseau, 1st arrondissement, I also like Eurotra, 119
boulevard Richard Lenoir, 11th, which has lower prices and a very good
selection of cookware. It's also worth browsing the housewares sections
of the larger branches of the MONOPRIX discount store chain and the
BHV department store in the Marais. The one place that's not worth
bothering with is Maison Lafayette, the house/cookware annex of the
Galeries Lafayette department store--prices high, selection limited.
Alec
  
inkwell.vue.327 : Alec Lobrano, Hungry for Paris
permalink #38 of 227: Alexander Lobrano (aleclobrano) Thu 15 May 08 12:24
    
And I have a question for all of you--do you think that Paris is still
the world's gastronomic capital? Did you eat well the last time you
visited the city? Is there another city that you think is giving Paris
a run for the money? Do tell!
  
inkwell.vue.327 : Alec Lobrano, Hungry for Paris
permalink #39 of 227: La plus nouvelle poubelle (stet) Thu 15 May 08 12:25
    
Alec -- any good cookware Brocante places you know of?
  
inkwell.vue.327 : Alec Lobrano, Hungry for Paris
permalink #40 of 227: Alexander Lobrano (aleclobrano) Thu 15 May 08 12:34
    
Chere Poubelle,

Check out the flea-market at the Porte de Vanves in the 15th. It's hit
and miss, but I've found some great stuff there. The classic antique
cookware sellers at the Porte de Clignacourt have become much, much too
expensive. And for anyone heading to southwestern France, my all-time
favorite antique town is Figeac--have found some amazing stuff there,
and so reasonable.
  
inkwell.vue.327 : Alec Lobrano, Hungry for Paris
permalink #41 of 227: Michael C. Berch (mcb) Thu 15 May 08 12:40
    
Hi, Alec, and a slightly belated welcome from me. I'm a relatively
regular visitor to Paris, and two trips ago (2005) I had the chance to
meet a bunch of friends from the Well for dinner, most of whom have 
checked in here, and we ate at the lovely Chez Paul in the 11th, near
Opera Bastille. 

Lots of questions and comments for you to come, of course, but to take
a stab at your own question, I think that Paris may still be the
overall leader, but that its greatest strength is perhaps in the second or
third tier of restaurants -- not necessarily the places in your book,
but the neighborhood places, with moderate prices, that people eat out 
at more regularly. If you imagine the quality of a city's restaurants
on a hypothetical bell curve, I think Paris's curve would be higher in
the direction of good food than any other place I can think of. 
There may be other world cities with as many top-end, cutting-edge 
places -- New York, London, Hong Kong, Sydney, San Francisco, Tokyo --
but I don't think any of those necessarily have the same "bench strength" as
Paris.  

That said, I think Paris's weakness, if any, is diversity of
international cuisines, compared to some of the cities mentioned above. 
That seems to be changing, but only perhaps in the last few years. 
  
inkwell.vue.327 : Alec Lobrano, Hungry for Paris
permalink #42 of 227: La plus nouvelle poubelle (stet) Thu 15 May 08 12:51
    
I agree with <mcb> but would add one other advantage Paris (and
France) has: raw material. A dish is only as good as its ingredients,
and despite progress everywhere, France is still so, so good at this.
The regional thing is such a strength. You have people in hundreds of
different places concentrating on making a speciality of their place
really, really special. If it is, it gets to Paris. And people come
from Paris to get it. 

Italy does this too, to an extent, and Spain, but it's really the ace
in the hole for French cooking.
  
inkwell.vue.327 : Alec Lobrano, Hungry for Paris
permalink #43 of 227: Barbara Stewart-Thoma (barst) Thu 15 May 08 13:06
    <scribbled by barst Thu 15 May 08 13:08>
  
inkwell.vue.327 : Alec Lobrano, Hungry for Paris
permalink #44 of 227: Barbara Thomas (barst) Thu 15 May 08 13:08
    
Another great thing about Paris:  When I was there last year, we
stopped off for a drink at the cafe across from our hotel and were
then
going to go someplace for dinner.  A big downpour made us reconsider
and we had dinner at the cafe.  We had nice prix fixe meal, which
might
not have won any awards, but was tasty and filling.  It sure beats
typical bar food in the U.S. and pub food in the U.K. 
  
inkwell.vue.327 : Alec Lobrano, Hungry for Paris
permalink #45 of 227: Alexander Lobrano (aleclobrano) Thu 15 May 08 14:39
    
Hi MCB and Nouvelle Poubelle,

I agree with both of you re Paris restaurants. One precision,
though--there are lots of 2nd and 3rd tier restaurants in my
book--check out the 11th and 12th arrondissements, which are the best
places to look for honest and affordable French food today. 

The real strength of Paris dining is definitely the quality of the
city's neighborhood eating, which can included new bistros like
L'Epigramme in Saint Germain, or a good cafe like Le Nemrod on the rue
Saint Placide. 

It's also true that the produce in France is superb. The biggest and
most impt. difference for me between what's available in the US and
France is in terms of the dairy goods. Aside from Kate's Organic Butter
made in Kennebunkport, Maine I've never found really good butter in
the U.S., and the milk and cream products are all disappointing, too.
Paris also has the best seafood in Europe. I ate a dozen Gillardeau
oysters for lunch in the tiny oyster bar at Restaurant Garnier in front
of the Gare Saint Lazare and they were so sweet and succulent that I
sometimes believe that nature itself is the perfect cook. Alec
  
inkwell.vue.327 : Alec Lobrano, Hungry for Paris
permalink #46 of 227: Alexander Lobrano (aleclobrano) Thu 15 May 08 14:42
    
P.S. I agree that Paris doesn't have the same diversity of ethnic
restaurants found in most US cities, but we still have some stand-outs.
Liza, which I mention in HUNGRY IN PARIS, is the best Lebanese food
I've ever had outside of Lebanon, and Paris's North African food is
terrific, too. What disappoints, however, is the city's Italian
food--expensive and generally ordinary, and the paucity of restaurants
from other European countries. The French like tapas and paella, but
I've always from the highly rated Fogon to be disappointing ever since
it moved from its original location in the 5th arrondissement.
  
inkwell.vue.327 : Alec Lobrano, Hungry for Paris
permalink #47 of 227: La plus nouvelle poubelle (stet) Thu 15 May 08 14:54
    
You might check out Hamaika, 11 Rue JJ Rousseau. "Hamaika" means 11 in
Basque, which is the regionality spin on the tapas, which were good
when we there; and they had some really agreable house wines.
  
inkwell.vue.327 : Alec Lobrano, Hungry for Paris
permalink #48 of 227: Eric Gower (gower) Thu 15 May 08 14:59
    
Hello Alex, welcome to the Well!

I would make a case for Tokyo as the world's gastrocapital over Paris,
in terms of variety, quality (especially regarding seafood, but meat
too, dairy definitely not) and ethnic consideration. Part of that of
course is sheer size: there are some 80,000 restaurants in Tokyo, a
truly astounding number, especially when contrasted with Paris's
roughly 3,700  (at least according to Michelin), with only a little
more than double the population (12 million versus 5 million). 

There is some crappy food in food in Tokyo, but not a lot. I
regrettably have had more crappy meals in Paris than I would like, so
many that last year I unwittingly took Alex's advice and bought picnic
food almost everyday, which was sublime. Granted, I was there in
August, a truly horrible time to be eating in Paris!
  
inkwell.vue.327 : Alec Lobrano, Hungry for Paris
permalink #49 of 227: Alexander Lobrano (aleclobrano) Fri 16 May 08 00:50
    
HI Eric,

I agree that Tokyo is a superb food city, but can't help thinking that
comparing it to Paris is like comparing an apple to an orange. Both
fruits, but very different and delicious in different ways. The only
thing I don't usually like in Tokyo are the western restaurants (but
then that's not what you're there to eat anyway). What I love is the
aesthetic approach, the courtesy, the subtlety of Japanese food.

You also raise an interesting idea about eating well in Paris, which
is what is the best season to come chomp your way through the city. My
preference would be for winter, since so many of the most glorious
traditional French dishes--cassoulet, choucroute garni, blanquette de
veau, etc.--are perfect food on a cold, wet day. I address this issue
of the seasons in HUNGRY FOR PARIS, too. Finally, I agree tha August is
the nadir of the Paris dining calender, and usually urge friends
visiting in August to rent apartments, since so many restaurants are
closed but there are wonderful things to be had in the markets. Alec 
  
inkwell.vue.327 : Alec Lobrano, Hungry for Paris
permalink #50 of 227: Ed Ward (captward) Fri 16 May 08 04:43
    
Re ethnic eats, I asked earlier about Senegalese food, which I had
many years ago in the Barbes district. Have you tried any places along
those lines you'd recommend? I've also seen "Afro-Caribbean" places
with dishes from the former French colonies there. Tried any of those?
  

More...



Members: Enter the conference to participate

Subscribe to an RSS 2.0 feed of new responses in this topic RSS feed of new responses

   Join Us
Home | Learn About | Conferences | Member Pages | Mail | Store | Services & Help | Password | Join Us