Paris Dining: Au Passage (video)

It's an exciting time to live in Paris. In fact, that's been true for the last five years as I've watched sleepy neighborhoods and fringe enclaves come alive with interesting food concepts, niche boutiques and a creative energy I never thought I'd feel in the city. My own neighborhood, the 11th arrondissement, has seen perhaps the most dramatic changes and most of them have been in food and drink. There are a number of establishments that can be credited with inspiring food-conscious Parisians to leave their familiar quartiers and travel to the 11th to dine (some of which I will talk about in my book!) but Au Passage ranks high on the list of relaxed bistrots that have radically shaken up the Parisian dining experience, with an approach that feels at once completely French and yet completely novel.

 Bon Appétit magazine just released a new video that takes you inside Au Passage and manages, in only a few minutes, to tap into what is so special about the place and what continues to draw in crowds. Watch below!

(email readers, click over the blog to watch!)

Ps. today kicks off the two-week photoshoot with Charissa Fay for my book! Things might get a little quiet in these parts temporarily but we'd love for you to follow our adventures as we go along:

Instagram: @LostNCheeseland @Charissa_Fay
Facebook: www.facebook.com/lostincheeseland

Lost In Cheeseland Food and Restaurant posts


5 Things You Didn't Know About Paris Markets (featuring Emily Dilling)

If you subscribe to my monthly newsletter, you had an advanced look at Emily Dilling's new book My Paris Market Cookbook: a CulinaryTour of French Flavors and Seasonal Recipes (not subscribed yet? Click here!*), which looks at the true artisans at Paris's many markets and food shops. Inspired by the slow food movement still dominating California, she was determined to seek out the individuals trying to revive the artisanal lifestyle in Paris. With beautiful photography, fascinating anecdotes and easy-to-make recipes, there's no better book for the market lover. 

In honor of the book's recent release, I asked Emily to share a few things you may not have known about Paris markets. Any surprises? 

1// They aren't all “farmers” markets
Even though Paris markets may ressemble what we call Farmers Markets in the States, Paris markets are often lacking an essential element of American outdoor markets: farmers. Most of the vendors at Paris food markets are resellers of wholesale, often imported, produce. While the city counts over 80 neighborhood markets, many are completely void of locally grown produce, and others may have only one farmer among the stands. Luckily, one farmer is enough to cover your seasonal produce needs! Check out my list of farmers at Paris markets

2// “Bio” isn't necessarily best
Paris has three exclusively “bio”, or organic, markets which are great places to get a wide variety of certified organic produce, meat, cheese, and other artisanal foods. I love these markets, especially Saturday's Marché bio des Batignolles, but organic comes at a price in Paris and at the end of the day I'd rather support a local farmer, who may not be certified, but who respects tradition and the environment in their farming practices. For fresh, locally grown, affordable fruits and vegetables I shop at my neighborhood market and enjoy local agriculture and whole foods at totally fair prices that I know go to supporting a family farm.

3// They're everywhere
Paris markets are kind of like metro stops- you're never far from one! With the exception of Mondays, dozens of outdoor food markets are open every morning across the city. Unlike American farmers markets, the marchés of Paris take place throughout the week and serve the hyper local community, with each arrondissement having a selection of markets that are a part of local residents' weekly routine.

4// They're full of hidden treasures
While there are many similar elements in each Paris market- the fishmonger, the butcher, and the fruit and veggies vendors are staples- each market has it's own personality. Exploring the city's markets has taught me that you there's always something new to discover; a Polish man selling pierogis, a French woman selling authentic English muffins, a local farmer making fresh pressed wheat grass juice, these are just some of the surprises that await around every market corner!

5// Not only old ladies go to markets
While women of a certain age are among some of the coolest people you'll meet at the markets of Paris (they have the best recipes!) you'll also run into a wide variety of people while shopping for food. Those with 9 to 5 jobs are more likely to be out at the weekend markets, where you'll find young couples and families as well as tourists and locals alike. Throughout the week the markets are calmer, but still frequented by people of all ages and origins. It's a refreshing sign that supermarkets and chain stores haven't stamped out the neighborhood market, and the tradition and shopping rituals that come along with your local marché.

Thanks for these insights, Emily! Pick up a copy of Emily's book: My Paris Market Cookbook, now available! For other stories, check out Emily's blog, Paris Paysanne

*Sign up for my monthly newsletter to receive exclusive updates and news about my book (work in progress!) before they're published anywhere else! 


The Bistro is Back: La Bourse et La Vie

"Where can I eat traditional French food in Paris"? This is a question I have fielded frequently in recent weeks as a surge of travelers prepare their itineraries for an autumn getaway in Paris (my favorite time), but it is one that has become distinctly more challenging to answer.

In fact, I can count on one hand the positive dining experiences I have had in the last year at establishments where more traditional dishes figure front and center on the menu. As I've mentioned before on the blog, many traditional or "old school" brasseries and bistros have cut corners in recent years in order to ease the brunt of high social charges, labor costs and pricey commercial spaces. This means they’re excising homemade quality to rely on canned ingredients and frozen meals that simply need to be microwaved.

As a visitor, especially one who may not have researched all of their meals in advance, it's not always an easy task to discern whether the restaurant you're considering will live up to the image of culinary excellence you have probably constructed in your mind. The bistro, known for classic dishes like steak-frites and pot au feu, among many others, has become a dying breed, supplanted by neo-bistros that run to modern, creative, market-driven menus that would look entirely foreign to some of the world’s most renowned culinary voices about French food like Julia Child or Auguste Escoffier. I adore neo-bistros. They have played host to some of the best meals I’ve ever had – particularly at places like Le Richer, Pierre Sang, Clown Bar and Le Galopin but the only thing inimitably French about them is a technical base and rigor.

Fortunately, there are a handful of chefs turning their attention back to heritage dishes, simplifying and sprucing them up with better quality ingredients. Just last week, French-trained American chef Daniel Rose opened his ode to the bistro, La Bourse et La Vie, to great fanfare. The well deserved: each dish is a soul-warming reminder of the beauty in simplicity and a lesson in how old can merge with the new in magical ways. The restaurant is also quite a departure from his contemporary, tasting menu table, Spring, that earned him accolades from French food writers and international diners alike.

It was a great honor to get to speak with Daniel at length about his vision for this new dining experience and write about it for The NYT T Magazine. To read more about La Bourse et La Vie (open for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Hooray!), click on over to T.

La Bourse et La Vie
12 rue Vivienne, 75002
Métro: Bourse (line 3)
+33 (0)1 42 60 08 83
Reservations strongly recommended

Lost In Cheeseland Food and Restaurant posts


Five Tips for Biking in Paris

If there is anyone I would go to for cycling advice in Paris it would be fellow writer and friend Anna Brones, a Swedish-American from the Pacific northwest with a profound love for the outdoors and years of experience with biking on all types of terrain. Cycling and the lifestyle around it - informed consumption, healthy eating, endless picnics and other hedonistic pleasures - are at the heart of her first book, The Culinary Cyclist: a Cookbook and Companion for the Good Life , a book I devoured as soon as I got my hands on it. In honor of the book's just-released second edition (available here), I asked Anna to offer her tips for navigating Parisian terrain and its warren of narrow, one-way streets, by bike - a unique undertaking all its own. 

Here are her top 5 recommendations! Have something to add? Share your tips in the comments section!

I remember the first time I rode a bicycle in Paris. It was to get home from Gare du Nord after a weekend in Alsace. There were enough Vélibs in front of the station, and after an enjoyable train ride, I certainly didn’t want to ruin the trip with a ride on the metro. It was time to learn the art of riding a bicycle in Paris.

Riding a bicycle is, after all, what I have done in many other cities. It has been my way to get groceries, my mode of commuting, my way to explore new places. For me, being on a bicycle is a combination of exhilaration and freedom, be it on a stretch of road I could pedal on with my eyes closed, or in a new place where the names of the streets are foreign and unknown.

But riding a bicycle in Paris isn’t as easy as just pedaling and holding on to the handlebars. Let’s be honest: biking in Paris is one hot mess. It’s a constant chaotic dance, between you, the cars, the taxis, the buses and the scooters, not to mention the pedestrians. This is a city that has worked hard to implement an infrastructure that will encourage more and more citizens to ride, but it is still one that will require exponentially more changes before the city will be any kind of “bike-friendly” place.

I guess that raises the question: why ride in Paris? I am sure you could come up with a laundry list of reasons to not ride. But I’ll give you one reason: because being on a bicycle is a glorious thing. Since being a metro mole is less than desirable, and the beauty of a bicycle ride is that there’s always some element of serendipity - the discovery of a new street, a new cafe, a new park - I’m convinced that for despite the difficulties of riding in paris, quite frankly, there’s no other mode of transportation I would choose.

Want to ride in Paris? Here are a few essential tips that will help you pedal calmly and safely.

1// Bike lanes aren’t always your friend
Try as it might, the city of Paris didn’t always do a great job with its bike lanes. Some of them are fantastic, most of them are however are laughable at best. Just because there’s a bike lane, doesn’t mean it’s going to make for an easy or safe ride. Boulevard de Magenta is an excellent example. here, where the bike lane is part of the sidewalk, you are constantly dodging pedestrians who don’t see the bike lane, and walk into it without thinking. That’s not necessarily their fault; at many spots the lane is poorly marked. You’re better off navigating the back streets to get to your destination.

2// Research your route beforehand
When you’re riding, you want to pay attention to what’s going on around you. That means not staring at a map or a smartphone the whole time. Research your route to your destination before going, so you at least have a general idea of how you are going to get there. If you need to reference a map, pull your bike over and stop.

3// Make no assumptions
Sure, you might think that the taxi isn’t going to turn right just because he doesn’t have his blinker on, but there’s a good chance you’re probably wrong, and passing him on the right just might be the worst idea you have had all week. I have found that in Paris, it’s better to always have low expectations of what cars, buses and pedestrians - not to mention fellow cyclists will do. They may not always make the logical, or legal move, so don’t assume that they will, or you won’t be as well equipped to react and ride safely.

4// Don’t trust a red light
I cannot count the number of times a light has been green for me and I am perpendicularly crossing a pedestrian crossing and someone walks right across, completely oblivious to my presence. In their defense; I jaywalk too, but I do try to look ways, for this exact reason. While pedestrians may be well trained to lookout for the sounds of a bus, scooter or a car, they are much less aware of cyclists, and even if you have the right of way and the pedestrian light is red, proceed with caution.

5// Ride on Sundays
Seriously, if you want a quintessentially, glorious bike ride in Paris, go on a Sunday when there’s less traffic and people out and fewer places are open. If you can get up early on a Sunday morning, that’s the ideal time to ride. Pack a picnic-friendly brunch, your thermos of coffee and pick a nice park on the other side of town as your destination. Riding in Paris has never felt better.

Anna Brones is a writer, producer and the author of The Culinary Cyclist and Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break. She is also the founder of Foodie Underground. More of her work can be found at annabrones.com.


Restaurant Report: Rosemary

The dining buzzword in Paris in recent years has unequivocally been neo-bistrot, which describes well-priced, market driven restaurants, but few food entrepreneurs have explored its (big) sister concept from across the channel: the gastro pub. The two are very similar, blending gastronomic quality ingredients and dishes with a more laid back atmosphere and kinder price points but some of the signature dishes may vary. At Rosemary, Paris's first gastro-pub, both the interior and the menu lean English but doesn't forget the French twist. 

Ambience: Casual. The front of the space is reserved for craft beer, wine and cocktail drinkers and bar goers, setting a more animated vibe, while the back dining room is intimate for concentrated conversation during lunch or dinner. The addition of vintage, floral wallpaper and small flowers centered on each table adds a feminine touch to the wood and brick space.

In the kitchen: A Franco-English duo: Aurélien Sérugue and Joseph Rawlins, trained at Gordon Ramsay's school and at Jadis, the 15th arrondissement restaurant. Fun fact: the very first Rosemary menu was tested in Josh Eggleton's Michelin-starred country pub in Bristol, Pony & Trap. 

What to expect: Gastro-pub, English-inspired fare (beef wellington, beer braised lamb shanks, roasted quail or monkfish) in a comfortable space with great craft beer (like Deck & Donohue, BapBap & Brasserie de la Goutte d'Or) and solid service.

Strengths: Rosemary shakes up what we think we know about more traditional English cuisine by using top-shelf ingredients (cheeses and meats from Leeds, ciders and juices from Devon farms) executing with refined precision. What's more, every stage of the meal is spot-on, right through to dessert which you should definitely plan to order (during my visit, I ordered the tea sablé accompanied by a caramel mousse and rosemary yogurt sorbet and nibbled on the carrot cake which was fancied by slivers of whiskey-imbibed popcorn). Specialty coffee thanks to Terres de Café single-origin beans completes the meal beautifully. Bonus: a lunch and dinner formule option

Penalty point: There is not much they can do about it but a large space means that when it is not filled to capacity, the vibe suffers.

Overall: A great value in a sleepy section of the Marais and a welcome addition to the Parisian food scene!

4 rue Crillon, 75004
Metro: Bastille (1,5,8), Quai de la Rapée (5)

*All photos courtesy of Petits Béguins 

Lost In Cheeseland Food and Restaurant posts


Versailles by Bike (+ Giveaway!)

Visiting Versailles is a non-negotiable when traveling to the Paris region. It offers grand insights into the country's royal past as well as its horticultural prowess and caters to both those who enjoy lengthy museum visits and those who prefer to spend time exploring the outdoors.

But what can make the experience even better - or perhaps, I should say, more interesting - is seeing it from a different perspective. I have found that simply jumping on a bike and gliding through verdant countryside is all it takes.

Now imagine that experience in Versailles, riding to the city's open-air market to pick up picnic provisions, then throughout the lush gardens along trails and tree-lined paths toward Marie Antoinette's hamlet and onto the grounds immediately surrounding the Château where those handy bikes act as your fast pass inside, allowing you to skip the lines entirely.

That's what you'll get with the Versailles Bike Tour with Fat Tire Tours. And they've kindly offered two spots on the tour for two of my readers on their next visit!

Enter to win: 
1/ Leave a comment below describing your favorite memory from Versailles. Or, if you haven't yet visited, what you'd most like to see there. 

2/ For an extra entry, follow both Lost In Cheeseland and Fat Tire Tours on Facebook, then leave a separate comment saying that you're now a new follower. If you're already following, you can also begin following on Instagram: @LostNCheeseland and @FatTireParis 

And if you don't already have a trip planned, there may be a chance to win one. Fat Tire is currently running a contest (through September 30) for an all-expenses paid trip to Paris including:

-5 nights at the Fat Tire Flat
-Customized itinerary of Fat Tire tours
-Picnic provided by Paris Picnic
-2CV tour with 4 Roues Sous 1 Parapluie 

To make it easy for you, you can enter that competition directly below as well!

Entries on the Versailles by Bike contest will close August 30th and the winner will be announced at the bottom of this post, in the comments section of the blog and by email. Bonne chance! 

UPDATE: congratulations Julia! You will be receiving an email with next steps. Thanks for playing, everyone!

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