Tag Archives: paris

Paris is Just a Train Ride Away

Although I knew the 1 line could take me all over Manhattan, I had no idea that it could also transport me to Paris. That is, until I stepped into Maison Kayser. Nestled in Columbus Circle, this authentic French boulangerie uses traditional techniques to craft fresh pastries and desserts baked on site daily. French baker Eric Kayser opened his first New York boulangerie on the Upper East Side, and the high demand for his impeccable desserts resulted in more Maison Kayser locations opening across the city.

My first view of the boulangerie
My first view of the boulangerie

Walking into Maison Kayser – and out of the torrential downpour outside – felt like walking into heaven. Vibrant and delicate desserts were painstakingly arranged behind a glass case, and a variety of fresh baguettes and loaves covered an entire wall. The women working behind the register actually had to ask me if I was ready because I spent such a long time staring at the pastries in front of me.

The gorgeous display at Maison Kayser
The gorgeous display at Maison Kayser

Eventually, I decided upon the tarte au chocolat, brioche au sucre, and pain au chocolat aux amandes. The tarte was composed of a chocolate shell filled with a rich chocolate cream and topped with a truffle, also known as the chocolate lover’s ultimate dream.  Brioche is a light and airy French bread, and mine was covered with large bits of sugar.  My last purchase was a traditional French pastry, reinvented by combining chocolate with a thick almond paste inside a delicate pastry shell.  All three of my desserts melted in my mouth and transported me to a picnic along the River Seine in Paris.

A decadent tarte au chocolat
A decadent tarte au chocolat
Brioche au sucre and pain au chocolat aux amandes
Brioche au sucre and pain au chocolat aux amandes

Experiencing the quality of the pastries at Maison Kayser is an easy alternative to purchasing an expensive plane tickets to France, and I cannot wait to jump back on the 1 train and do it all over again.

The breads and pastries
The breads and pastries

Buvette: Demystifying Le Bistrot

Does a true authentic French bistrot really exist tucked away on the trendy streets of the West Village?

*Hint: Pictures of Secret Delicious Bistrot are shown throughout this post… Follow to read revealed location of deliciousness…..


To christen our blog we’re going to introduce you to step#1 of French food-ism. Welcome to Dining Culture 101.

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Lesson #1: The confounding terminology and expectations in French Dining Culture.

In France, they’ve seriously made the practice of eating into a culture by categorizing dining experiences into levels of formal eating. You’ve got  Le Restaurant, Le Bistrot, La Brasserie, Le Bar à Vin, and finally Le Café (we’re not even including the new fad of Neo-Bistrot or Gastrotèque, but please indulge the Google if you’d like).

A Restaurant is really a tricky one because this is a generic term used for any business establishment where meals are served in exchange for payment. Le Bistrot, is generally a small, family-owned restaurant that is a bit more informal, but no less delicious and serves only during traditional mealtimes. La Brasserie, originally referred to Alsatian beer breweries, although today, the term applies to restaurants larger than bistros, with a menu that doesn’t serve food just during mealtimes and offers a wider range of options (that handy 24 hour dining clock is purely an American invention!).

Le Café, is all about the social discours of the drinking (and smoking mostly) business, but smaller eating options are usually available too like a casual morning croissants or a nice midday croque monsieur. And finally, le Bar à Vin is pretty self-explanatory, just get ready to sip some vin in a nice cozy cave and splurging on large godly platters of fromage, pain, et charcuterie.


While we’re still on the topic of tricky terminology, lets try and decode the always daunting task of ordering off that untranslated menu for all non-seasoned French speakers….

There’s “A la carte” (individual dishes off a menu and sometimes a pricey choice), or the “Formule” (a daily pre-fixed menu that although not up to individual decision is often reduced in price and guarantees at least two or three courses). Ordering is also going to get a little bit tricker as your options are expanded in courses to the apéritif, entrée (American appetizer), plat (main dish), fromage (cheese courses traditionally served before or as a dessert option), dessert, and finally café (not including the bible of Wines that usually accompanies this ensemble and you will certainly need some deciphering help on this).

Quick side note on drinks: Shoot for “carafes” to avoid pricey by-the-glass or bottle options when ordering wine. In regards to table manners, make life easy and keep the fork in your right, and knife with the left to facilitate elegant, yet a casual manner of eating. This is crucial because French meals are a time meant to provoke le discours, and amongst the debate and occasional dramatic hand gesturing, you’re not going to have time to be carefully placing that fork and knife up and down.

And lastly, make sure you arrive hungry and pre-caffeinated because this might take a few hours….



Isn’t lunch a huge deal in France? Don’t kids come home from school for it even? What’s the obsession with a sit down meal?

A family sitting together for an hour, enjoying a nice (or not, depends on the family) meal together is not a cliché: French people actually do this in most cases for dinner (lunch does not play such a major role in family life, we have things to do and places to be as well during the day unfortunately). So yes, the rule is, you must be home by around 7.30 to 8.30, or duly notify your parents if you’re not going to make it. 

If you want to meet with your friends to get some food – same ritual here, you are going to sit down (sitting down is a KEY concept when it comes to meals in France) and probably end up spending more than an hour eating and talking (the length of a meal tends to increase if you’re having a good time and/or are really close to the people you’re sharing a meal with).

Sharing a meal with someone in France is a commitment because in most cases it’s going to be long: a 45 minute dinner during the week can become a 3 to 4 hour (true story) dinner on a saturday or a sunday if your parents are having friends over.


Lesson #2:  ALWAYS look for places with daily menus and handwritten chalkboards to ensure the food is Fresh + Seasonal.

AND, even if it goes without saying, if you see pictures of the dishes, just run away…. And Ambiance? Why does it seem like food tastes so much better when I’m eating off rustic wooden tables, Woody Allen-esque quirky decor surrounds me, and that lighting is just right by candlelight?

JEANNE MOMENT: This is actually a thing that I really don’t like in New York, that rule according to which, the trendier your restaurant is, the less you can see and hear because trendiness goes with loudness and darkness. Why is that so? (Dear Native New Yorkers, if you have an answer, please comment back).


 Ladies and Gentlemen, we have arrived to the point of this posting. Nous vous présentons: Le Bistrot Authentique, Buvette (à NYC!).

Buvette, 42 Grove St. West Village, NYC


Buvette “Gastrothèque,” 28 Rue Henry Monnier 75009, PARIS!!!

It is quite rare to find the ideal Bistrot in Paris amongst the hub of tragic tourism. It is also quite rare to find authentic French food in the United States. Buvette, a small Bistrot in the West Village, hailed by French “NYC foodies” and et nous, is super. L’Ambiance Quality Service (decked out in traditional black and white attire) Food quality and authenticity to origin? For all whom declared their hatred for Paris after touring the Louvre behind an Asian school group for three-hours, please take yourself out to Buvette this weekend and renew your faith in France, and the wonder of its food and dining culture. Intimate, well executed, simple, affordable, atmospherically delightful, small but filling proportions, daily menus, loyal customers, and quality ingredients Buvette’s got you handled. 

Now that we’ve revealed the restaurant, here are the review of some of their dishes.


Lesson #3: Know your dishes!

French food is reknown for its regional dishes, so even though there are many modern variations on them today, you’ve got to get their origines down before you know what tastes and traditions you should be looking for. One reason why we LOVE BUVETTE is that its got its classics down. Let’s start off with the Brandade, of which although not our favorite on the menu, is still a reason why you’re spending your semester abroad in le Sud.

*Pretty cute plating, ay?


And now it’s time for you to meet my mum, an incredible cook (and I swear I’m really not saying that because she’s paying for my fabulous year in NYC. I even suspect some of my friends to hang out with me for the sole purpose of eating her food). She comes from Marseille in the South of France, so the only thing she knows, is Provençal food (French Mediterranean). Of course, preparing this column, I called her to get her opinion about the food (yes, she can even review food she didn’t eat).

Brandade comes from Nîmes and can be described as being a mashed salt-cod mixed with olive oil and milk. A good brandade was traditionally crushed by hand. Another tip she shared is that a proper brandade is cooked without mashed potatoes. I discovered that one of her food crusades (she has so many, it’s hard to keep up) was against the fact that in dining halls, they did use mashed potatoes and still called it brandade. What, you don’t find that outrageous? Anyway, what you have to know if you wanna try out a brandade in a restaurant here, the French way to serve it is just some warm (gratin) or cold (with some toasts) brandade with some black olives and croutons. 



*Check out that luscious drip- needing a little more salty-cod zing to it, damn can you talk texture or what?

Steak Tartare

Now unfortunately this dish may not photograph too well, or really translate its proper deliciousness into words gracefully, but I’m going to really recommend it here. Not one of France’s most “prestigious” of recipes, Steak tartare is just what it sounds like, except without the cooking. Finely chopped raw meat with onions, extra little something (ex. capers, raw egg), and a mastery of seasoning. Quality ingredients are a must, or else this gets dangerous with unhappy cows. *Tip: Never order a steak “Bleu” (well done) or else you will be handed an intentionally charred plate of ashes. They know what they’re doing over there and go for the juste à point

Poulet Rôti avec Herbes des Provence et l’aioli

Definitely recommend this odd hybrid, but just for clarification poulet rôti, is simply chicken roasted in Herbes des Provence (Sud), which for all you Diane Keaton (Something’s Gotta Give, btw the restaurant in Paris= actually atrocious food) fans, you’ll automatically worship the dish. However aioli (garlic mayonnaise in essence) although also provençal in its roots, is typically served aside a fish dish. JEANNE: Minor drawback here, from a purist French point of view, you’re not supposed to eat aioli with roasted chicken… But hey, who cares if it was good! 


Consensus? Splurge and take yourself (or accompanied lover/paying parent) on a date to Buvette to experience some true authentic deliciousness. And now, I’ll leave you with Jeanne’s final words on her perceptions of what the heck is French food culture and how that might have changed since her arrival ici!


All in all, some of the key typical French elements were there: simple French food, good bread (I think I asked the waiter ten times “plus de pain s’il vous plaît !” but hey, I have to stock up here) and French-speaking, slightly disagreeable waiters. I was happy to pay for what I had because the most simple dishes are often the hardest to cook. Their starter, camembert with some honey, was de-li-cious. To put it in a nutshell: if you have something to celebrate (or not), treat yourself and pay a visit to La Buvette, you’ll be able to say, whether you liked it or not, that you experienced some traditional French food. Don‘t be afraid of the cultural shock!


Tips, Tricks, Advice, Recipes suggestions etc: PARIS VS. NEW YORK LES BISTROTS

Favorite Paris Dining Selon Jeanne: Chez Léna et Mimile


Favorite Paris Dining Selon Amelia: Bistrot Paul Bert


Further Readings!

Meal Tradition via USA:


French Food Bloggers in NYC:



Le Ventre de la France

Paris versus New York von Vahram Muratyan

      Le Ventre de la France

La Rencontre: « One must eat to live, and not live to eat » Molière, L’avare, Act III, Scene 1. Apologies Molière, but that might have been one of the times when you were wrong…


“Oh my god that was good, I love my people”


Sometimes things can get lost in translation, but when it comes to expressing that pure ummyummyohMYGODgoodness of sensory ecstasy, c’est facile! These were the words of Jeanne Bernard, a visiting student at Barnard this year from the one, the only, Paris, and also one of your future guides to Le Ventre de la France. So introducing my Francophone “Watson,” the expert du goût and accomplice of all things French food : Jeanne, a twenty-year-old Parisian, baguette obsessed, and now re-impassioned French food enthusiast. Bienvenue et bon appétit!


This is a column about eating, learning, and finding out all about French food, culture, and the best places to discover the closest thing to its authentically delicious flavors in New York. Feeling your palette beginning to dawn a shade of blandness ? Check in with us every other week to spark your curiosity in the delectable ! That being said,  Vous aimez vos croissants bien croustillants et vos époisses forts en goût? You’re just absolutely deprived after that glorious semester abroad in this sushi and yoghurt-on the go culture? You’ve never even heard of coq au vin, but Hell, doesn’t that just sound good? Point in case, all food enthusiasts’ welcome !


Now that brings us to the term you’ve been dreading to hear, dare you call yourself a “food-ie”? While right off the bat, I’ve just got to be frank with you– je déteste ce terme de “foodie.” “Foodie” implies an elite club that turns the simple recognition of a daily sensory MIRACLE into a dreaded image of pompous eaters that like the connotations that surround the wine and cheese clan today, are too “high class” for me and full of jerk-like snobbery (both the genre hipster and old-men included). So dear World, please do not do to America’s wonderful young generation growing more and more food-conscientious what you have done to the poor people of the vines, and soon to be cows too. Let’s keep food real and call ourselves “enthusiasts” because as Americans, we’re a little late to this whole art de vivre scene when it comes to loving good food, and it’s about time we just became hungry over food’s amazing quality to inspire our quotidian!

So some guidelines to becoming a good ‘ole “enthusiast”: the simplicity of good food lies in three things: Seasoning, Seasonality, and Simplicity- that is in regards to the crucial aspect of quality ingredients! And personally, being synesthesia-obsessed, I’m going to throw in Aesthetic Artistry of Craft in there, because however much I’ll acknowledge a good boudin (yea seriously google it if you haven’t dared tread the waters of « blood sausage ») does taste strangely good, you’ve got to dash some fleur de sel and speckle some REALLY bright greens on there to disguise that black blob of subconsciously hidden, but oh so really disgusting looking deliciousness before me. As however dubious it may be it’s actually a proven fact that color does influence our perception of taste! (http://www.eufic.org/page/en/page/FAQ/faqid/food-colour-structure-influence-taste/)



But here is where we arrive at our next fundamental issue; who am I to assert all these claims about food? Still working through some late philosophy homework here now, I’ll answer Hume’s jargon-filled Standard of Taste stipulations: What makes you a good critic and can taste be educated? Well, my name is Amelia and I’m also a new transfer student this year at Barnard. Long story short, I took a year off after high-school and went to culinary school in England for a while, did some pastry training in France, and came back and somehow started running my own little odd catering “company” (although let’s just say “lucrative operation” for now in case any Board of Health & Sanitation devotees are lurking in the background). Fortunately, the following year, I was lucky enough to spend my first semester abroad in Dijon, France, la maison de l’escargot, la moutarde, le cassis, et le MEILLEUR vin du monde (my apologies to all Californians reading). Anyways, my time in France, mostly thanks to my formidable host family, changed my whole conception about food and life, and most of all, how passionate I had become about food just through a culture (oh yes, did I mention my motivation in first learning to speak French the year before was mostly so that I could spend a semester EATING in France? Hey, don’t judge ok, food is puissante!). Fast-forward to my phase of one day aspiring to become a cheese-monger, all the way to last Spring when I found myself literally writing my transfer essay about the metaphorical education of “liberal arts through artisanal cheese” et me voila la bienvenue dans la ville de mes rêves, la capitale américaine de la gastronomie! So here’s a quick “taste profile” speed-dating: My last supper would consist of copious amounts of Mont d’or, a good bottle of Nuits Saints George Red année 2009, Belon Oysters, the deepest darkest chocolate hazelnut espresso dacquoise on earth, crispy duck with a huge pot of moutarde à l’ancienne on the side, Serrano ham, King Trumpet mushrooms, and spankin’ pink raw tuna- omg wait I forgot Humbolt Fog Goats Cheese on Polâine bread with lavender honey OF COURSE ! I know, the collected combination probably makes you wants to barf slight, and even in saying it aloud myself am slightly disconcerted- well, welcome to the world’s funkiest palette.


Alright, now before I lose you, here’s my quick “philosophy” on Hume’s second stipulation; educating taste (in the realm of food). Here’s the thing, of course “good food” (well-prepared with quality ingredients) is going to taste good, that’s an innate sensory reaction that we all posses. But, like walking into MOMA and staring at a painting that makes you feel something inside- some sort of emotion, but you just don’t know what or why. Donc, being a cook will help you be able to identify and appreciate ingredients and original stimulating combinations. Secondly, being exposed to a lot of different flavors and good dishes in your life, will ultimately help you get from just Pepperidge Farm, to asking for that brioche bun actually, s’il vous plaît. Thirdly, growing up in an environment that appreciates or places importance on food might make you more prone to love this artistry we forget to classify as an art form often (Fact: The shaping of taste preferences begins in the womb and continues through the rest of our lives. Even Though our ancestors have gathered taste experiences, our own food behavior is rarely mere intake, but rather coupled with emotions, social aspects, and digestive processes that may influence the mere exposure effect (http://www.eufic.org/article/en/health-and-lifestyle/food-choice/artid/how-taste-preferences-develop/). That being said, I am no child of diverse Brooklyn-hipster parents, and sure my mom threw a Greek yoghurt in my lunchbox, but I didn’t grow up particularly obsessed or interested with good food (but to my wonderful mother’s defense, thank-god she never let me buy Fruit Roll-Ups). I’m a cook (leaning more towards aspiring pastry chef/cheesemonger one day!) but I’m no “pro,” and I still haven’t crossed Ethiopian or Kimchi off my list. All I am, is a girl who loves to cook, eat, encourage others to recognize the daily delicious art form we can experience every day, and someone who fell in love with a particular cuisine through a culture where food is life. So here’s the prerequisites guys for French “food-ist” appreciation initiation: To appreciate food- French or not- just please get hungry, in both the literal and figurative sense, to be more conscious of the miraculous in the seemingly mundane, and just maybe why it is so. To be a true enthusiast, is to just be hungry.


Bon, finally this is a blog about French Food, but why so? Because it’s what I love and I know (and am still learning myself!), not because French food ranks high on some stupid “hierarchy” of worldly cuisines. French food has got a Hell of a lot of history, a lot that makes it no better than, but definitely special, among the world’s cuisines, and is more so a living part of culture that so fiercely defines its patriotic roots in the distinctness of its wonderful people, who in turn identified themselves originally by hundreds of years of strongly regional culinary traditions- of which these days will literally they will do anything to protect (heard of the AOC? Google away!). So here we go, a gourmet parisienne et une américaine obsédée par le monde francophone, are here to guide you through the best places to find “authentic” French food in New York (and Paris!), the ins and whimsical details of its food and cultural education, and of course, offer some mouthwatering tips and tricks to recipes, shopping, and finding l’esprit du ventre français in your everyday life. So don’t be afraid- yea, you’re twenty-something and you’re hungry to be enthusiastic about French food.

Bon Appétit à tous !


Check Back in a few days for our first OFFICIAL post on demystifying le “Bistro” and get to know our newly arrived frenchy – you know that one who’s in such a tiff over all the yoghurt she has been eating while walking. 



A.A et J.B


Postcards from Paris: Chocolate Manufacture of Alain Ducasse

...just browsing

Paris is full of wonderful chocolatiers. From the big names like the Maison du Chocolat and Jaques Genin, to neighborhood confiseries and chocolate shops, you don’t have to look far to get your chocolate fix in this town. Paris has everything chocolate — from fine, delicate pralines, to nutty rochers to giant, kitchy bunnies for Easter and long strands of chocolate-covered “guimauve” (or marshmallow).

However, up until about a month ago, Paris lacked one thing : an actual chocolate manufacture, where everything from sourcing and roasting beans to the final enrobing of chocolate happens in the same place. And not only do we have our own chocolate manufacture now, but it just so happens to be under the auspices of Alain Ducasse himself.

Visiting the chocolate manufacture of Alain Ducasse feels a little bit like being Charlie when he finally enters Willy Wonka’s factory (minus the oompa-loompas, of course). Walking in from the noisy, bustly (and slighly sketchy) streets of the Bastille area, the chocolate manufacture is located in a small courtyard, sheltered from the noise and confusing of the neighborhood. The building is also, in large part, made of glass, which permits one to see everything from the sacks of raw beans to the roasting machines to the chocolates in the process of being made.

What also makes the chocolate manufacture of Alain Ducasse a unique place is that not only is the chocolate itself produced on site — but all chocolates are single-origin, coming from places as diverse as Java, Madagascar, Peru, Equador, the Cote d’Ivoire… the list goes on and on. What’s more, even the fillings (what the French call “praliné” is made in-house (something that few manufactures do, apparently) and comes in incredible flavors like “pate d’amande pistache” (almond-pistachio), “pralinee croustillant, mousse caramel” (crunchy praline-caramel mousee) and “noix de coco fruit de la passion” (coconut-passionfruit).

Although these chocolates are expensive (4 bars came out to about 50 dollars), the price is honestly not incredibly outrageous for the product. This is seriously some of the best chocolate I have ever had — for one of the first times in my life, I actually tasted flavors of coffee, red-fruits etc. that all the chocolate connaisseurs tell you that you “should” taste. It’s amazing how incredibly complex these chocolates are. And even if they were double the price, I’d still go out of my way to buy them.

Absolutely incredible.

Postcards from Paris : Amorino Gelato

The last few days here in Paris have been beautiful… sunny and at least 50 degrees. After the last few weeks of feeling almost completely frozen, subjected to bleak, gray, cloudy skies day after day, it feels as if Paris is breathing one giant sigh of relief. Spring has finally begun to sprung.

And to make things even better, warm weather means ice-cream weather.

Amorino is a european franchise, based out of Italy, that specializes in high quality gelato, italian pastries, chocolates and finally, coffee. As such, you can go to an Amorino for whatever sweet you’re craving around 3 PM between afternoon classes. And the quality is very, very good. The coffee here, sourced from Italy, is way better than Starbucks, and much of the gelato is organic.

So, to commemorate the first real day of spring, I treated myself to a cone with my two favorite flavors : pistachio and inimitable (chocolate-hazlenut AKA Nutella). However, had I wanted to, I could have technically asked for any number of flavors even in my one small “cornetto.” And, to top it all off, freshly whipped heavy cream, or “creme chantilly” as say the French.

Walking though the Luxembourg gardens, gelato in hand and sun streaming through the trees on a warm, Parisian spring day? Sublime.

Postcards from Paris: Le Relais de l’Entrecôte


There are moments in life where only one thing will do : steak. Then there are other moments in life where only one thing will do : fries. Thankfully, the French understand this universal truth and have blessed us with “steak-frites.”

When in Paris, one can get steak-frites at pretty much any bisto. But even though you are in the culinary capital of the world, there is no guarantee that what you will be served is meltingly-tender beef and hot, salty and perfectly crispy fries. Trust me… I’ve had my fair share of shoe-leather steaks and limp, sad, soggy potatoes. But not at Le Relais de l’Entrecôte.

Founded in 1959, this Parisian institution has maintained its old-school image : uniformed waitresses, red leather bench seats and most importantly, their house recipe for steak-frites, which is the only thing served.

Crème brûlée

First, after you take your table, you are asked if you would like an apéritif, which I didn’t get since I was so hungry I could have started knawing on my own arm. Next. the waitress asked not what we would like to eat, but instead one simple question : how would you like your meet cooked? In true French style, I ordered my meat “bleu,” which translates to a little more rare than rare, which leaves the meat so red that it is almost blue. Yum.

Then we were served with a normal, nothing-special green salad. Which was to be the only fiber or vitamins present at this meal.


Then arrives the steak-frites. Half the plate comes filled with skinny, crispy, salty and still-hot fries, leaving the other half with five slices of beautiful steak covered in their house sauce, which is probably a LOT of butter infused with parsely and thyme. As already mentioned, the meat is cooked to perfection, no matter how you ask for it to be cooked. For me, my “blue” steak was incredibly tender and despite the fact that is was almost raw, every bite, even from the center of the steak, was warm. Finally, the frites were crazy-good, especially those that spent a good ten minutes soaking in meat-juice and thyme-butter.

And to top it all off, profiteroles with a delicate, bitter-sweet chocolate sauce a delicous crème brûlée, perfumed with vanilla.

I. Love. Paris.

Postcards from Paris : L’as du Falafal

Who would have thought that some of my favorite falafal would be found in Paris, home of cuisine about as far as it gets from the fresh, spicy and vegetarian delights of the Middle-East. But hélas, Paris really is the capital of all cuisine, no matter its orgins.

L’as du Falafal is located in the Marais, the historically Jewish quarter of Paris. However, this area of Paris has not always been historically Jewish. During the Middle Age, the Marais (which translates from French as “marsh”) was at the furthest eastern edge of the city. This location was strategic for two reasons. For one, this area was home for France’s medeival Kings, explaining why the Marais has been characterised by royal and aristocratic residences since the Middle Age. Secondly, as this area was at the edge of the city, it was easier to flee Paris in case of invasion or revolt, securing the safety of the King. This in turn drew Paris’ Jewish population, one reason being for the poltical protection of the King, and the second being for the ease of fleeing in case of an anti-semetic and thus dangerous environment.

Although the Jewish population of the Marais has been historically of Eastern-European descent, today the Marais is largely dominated by Middle-Eastern Jews, primarily coming from France’s former North African colonies. Thus the unique culinary melting-pot of the Marias : on one street-corner, there’s a falafal stand, and on the other a shop for all matter of Eastern-European specialties.

L’as du Falafal, being located on the winding medievial street of “Rue des Rosiers” is reputed to be the best falafal in Paris. While one of my friend’s would beg to differ that the place across the street is better (you know who you are), I can’t say as I can decide between the two. All I know is this : the mixture of hummous, tahini, pickled cabbage, harissa, cilantro dressing, crisped falafal balls and soft, tender fried eggplant all wrapped in fresh pita is undeniably delicious. As I slathered spoonfull after spoonful of spicy harissa on my sandwhich yesterday afternoon, looking out onto some of the oldest streets of this amazing city, it all hit me — how lucky I am to be able to spend my morning walking through the Marais, working up an appetite that I satisfied with a taste of this neighborhood’s own history.

And that fried eggplant? To DIE for.

Ladurée, and Macarons in New York

I had my first macarons a couple summers ago when I was visiting my friend Diane in Paris and she took me to her favorite Ladurée pastry shop. The scooter ride over had been quite perilous: after weaving in between moving traffic, zipping in front of cars in the incredibly chaotic Place de l’Étoile round-a-bout, and the sudden stops that pushed us both to the very front edge of the scooter seat at every red light, I was glad to make it to our destination in one piece. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to suggest that Diane is a bad driver, and despite the danger it was pretty fun to feel like one of the many Parisians who travel everywhere around the city on their scooters. But I nevertheless was happy to arrive there with all limbs unscathed.

Anyway, the macarons proved themselves more than entirely worth the adventure it took to get our hands on them. To begin with, that particular Ladurée pastry shop boasts an elegant decor and sophisticated atmosphere, as should be due for such a delicate and beautiful pastry as the macaron. I ordered the rose flavor, and upon Diane’s recommendation, the orange-blossom one as well. I was not disappointed. These confections exhibit a wonderful diversity of texture and delicate flavor: the outer cookie shells are crispy on the outside and soft and almost uncooked on the inside, and the airiness of the filling beautifully complements the almond nuttiness of the outer cookies.

The summer after that initiation into the macaron world, I went on a macaron-making craze. I was determined to recreate those delicate pastries myself, but after countless less-than-perfect batches of caramel, coffee, chocolate, and wild blueberry flavor attempts, I finally decided to succumb to partial defeat and leave it to the professionals. These little delicacies had seemed easy enough to make, but I soon figured out that they require so much precision as well as a reliable oven. I’m not the biggest fan of baking with exactitude and didn’t have an oven suited for the task, so I wasn’t able to produce quite the results I’d hoped to achieve. It’d be best to enjoy the ones from dependable pastry shops instead.

As of last week it’d been a while since I’d had my last macaron, so when I found myself craving one without wanting to have to trek all the way over to the Upper East’s Ladurée boutique, I decided to walk a few blocks from campus down to the Silver Moon Bakery. I wasn’t even able to wait to get back home to sit down and thoroughly enjoy my macaron; before I was halfway back home, the only evidence left of it was a few crumbs on my fingers. It hadn’t been rose or orange-blossom, but it felt so good to bite into the familiar outer crunch and chewy inside, with the exterior nuttiness and more delicate filling flavor. I’d missed eating macarons a little more than I’d thought–I won’t be making myself wait quite so long for the next one.

Postcards from Paris

This week’s Postcard from Paris comes from Yael, who touches on many a subject that crosses the mind of study-abroad students: culture shock, homesickness, a very strong desire for bagels…

In general, my lunch these days consists of a boulangerie sandwich, and there are only three or so options to choose from (I do have quite a thing for those curry chicken sandwiches that are somehow so weirdly Parisian, but that’s another post). Trust me, you can put pretty much anything on a good crusty demi-baguette and I’m a happy girl… but sometimes I just need something different.

In the weeks leading up to our departure, we were warned about the imminent prospect of culture shock. We were told that we would be unable to understand the customs of the French at first, and that we should go eat American food or watch a movie in English if we were feeling too country-sick. Well, I have yet to experience this sudden desire to go back to the world of hamburgers and greasy, inauthentic Chinese food… but I’ll fake some culture shock any day if it means I have an excuse to eat at Bagels & Brownies.

Yes, you read that right. There are two categories of students in the Columbia-Penn Program in Paris at Reid Hall—the first group, when I say I got lunch at Bagels & Brownies, responds with “Huh? What’s that?” and the second group responds with something along the lines of “OMG THAT PLACE IS SO GOOD.” Continue reading Postcards from Paris

Foodie News: Paris Cookbook Fair

After a month of being absent, Amanda makes her return to the Culinary Blog with extreme apologies, wiping tears from her eyes as she miserably leaves Butler Library.  I missed you, Culinary!

While I’ve been too busy with classes to actually write my Cheese Fiend posts (but hmm, I still managed to spend money on fancy cheeses…*) or review restaurants**, I have been keeping food in my heart, as always.  Even though the actual act of keeping food in my heart sounds a bit dangerous.  Let’s scratch that and go with – I’ve been keeping food in my email.  Just go with it.

One of my various newsletters informed me that this past weekend, there was the 2011 Paris Cookbook Fair!  Darn, should’ve skipped studying for finals and hitched a ride to France.  It’s the world’s largest fair for cookbooks and wine books.  Hundreds of publishers, chefs, distributors, and enthusiasts descend upon Le 104 in Paris, France to promote, network, and sample.  The first two days are only for the industry professionals to collaborate and chitchat and discuss important business matters, and then, the public is invited to partake in cookbookery festivities.

Continue reading Foodie News: Paris Cookbook Fair