Despite my sincerest efforts, curbing holiday indulgence and overeating was a lost cause from the very first bite of Galette des Rois (more about that below) in January. And since I had already done myself in within the first week of the new year, I decided to embrace it and allow myself to succumb to the many temptations luring me from every window and corner shop. Then I thought, perhaps looking back on each month’s activities and feasts could become a new series? A round-up of some of my favorites from each month that will include more than just food and drink (lest you think I spend all my time eating).
So with that, the first Top 5:
1// Coffee and Lamingtons at Fondation Café Chris Nielson’s northern Marais espresso bar has become a second home, of sorts. I oscillate between his filtered coffee – soft with a punch (a very simplistic way of describing the experience) – and his café crème and always save room for a bowl of granola. Rarely do I walk out without one of the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies he stocks, baked by local food purveyors Emperor Norton, but this month I took home something far more original. The duo at Emperor Norton made individual Lamington cakes especially for Fondation in celebration of Australia Day on January 26th. The Aussie treat is extremely simple, made of chocolate-dipped sponge cake and covered in coconut flakes, and wildly delicious.
For more on Lamingtons, read this lovely story in Afar Magazine.
2// Lunch at Caillebotte
Caillebotte is the more contemporary little brother of the successful restaurant Le Pantruche, a few blocks away. It was also the source of one of my favorite meals last month.
First, the decor: aligns with what seem to be the pre-requisites for a modish eatery these days – marble counter, open kitchen, Nordic stools and chairs, unfinished wood and exposed light bulbs. Somehow, though, the combination doesn’t feel contrived here. On the plate: beautifully executed, modern French cooking minus the pomp I often associate with neo-bistros. The unbeatable lunchtime value (two courses for 19€) makes this spot worth the advanced booking. Request a spot at the bar to keep your eyes on the kitchen or one of the tables closest to the window for stunning light.
3// Dinner at Verjus I’d consider myself a semi-regular of the Verjus wine bar, both for lunch and small plates in the evening, but it had been ages since I indulged in the multi-course tasting menu in their sit-down restaurant a floor above. On my recent visit, each dish worked in concert with the one before and after it, embellished by a supremely good selection of wines. As a non pork eater (among other things), I greatly appreciate restaurants who are willing to accommodate. Even better when they do so with a sunny disposition. Thanks to Chef Braden Perkins’ culinary wizardry, I left feeling revived and thankful to live in a city with such talented chefs. I’ve also found myself dreaming of the clementine cake he served for dessert.
4// Galette des Rois at Meert
Meert, a pâtisserie from Lille founded in 1761, has two outposts in Paris. Up until last month, I only had a passing knowledge of its history and claim to fame. I attribute this to their locations in an easy-to-forget pocket of the Marais (especially since the Picasso museum, its neighbor, has been shuttered for renovations for so long) and further afield on the left bank. Thankfully, Galette des Rois season was a perfectly suitable time to get acquainted with their offering. Known primarily for their small, thin waffles (gauffres) and chocolates, I wandered inside after being seized by the robust galettes displayed in the window. The shop always offers the traditional recipe, which features almond cream (frangipane), but I made a beeline for the chestnut cream & pear variety – rich but not overly sweet; a real marvel.
5// Meeting Anne Hidalgo, Paris mayoral candidate This is a big year for Paris. Aside from new museum openings, re-openings and a whole slew of cultural events, 2014 marks the year when a woman will take the helm of the capital as a successor to Mayor Bertrand Delanoë. I was invited by Anne Hidalgo’s campaign staff to be part of a small get together with other Parisians (I was the only foreigner!) to discuss the future of Paris, what we think of her plans and what we perceive to be the biggest challenges facing the city. Even after a grueling day on the campaign trail, she was warm and excited to meet us (not to mention generous: look at the size of this Galette des Rois we shared with her!). I may not be able to vote yet but I’ve been eagerly following the developments of Hidalgo’s campaign as well as the missteps and fabrications from the other candidate. If you’re curious how this is playing out online, check out my custom Twitter timeline below with highlights (some in English).
If the feed is not appearing below, please click here to open in a web browser.