The Bistro is Back: La Bourse et La Vie

15 September 2015

“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 […]…

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Restaurant Report: Rosemary

31 August 2015

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) […]…

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Love, Loss and the Brighter Side

5 August 2015

I never gave too much thought to the term roller-coaster – as in a roller-coaster day, week or year – until I was buffeted by my own this year. You may recall a brief mention of my cat, who we rescued mere weeks after I moved to Paris nine years ago, becoming quite ill at the start of the year. Since then, caring for her and monitoring her progress attentively became second jobs for both of us. Amid the wrenching low points of the year were several professional highs, making that roller-coaster sensation all the more challenging and confusing. There were excellent days and disheartening ones but all of them were thinly veiled with grief. We were fully aware, though we could hardly bear articulating it aloud, that her condition would invariably worsen, leaving us with a painful decision to make. Despite our greatest efforts to become an exception to the rule, that day arrived last week. Within ten minutes our trio was shattered. Now, our tiny apartment feels massive with pin-drop silence. She was our little child, our greatest stress reliever and a true friend. But beyond her role as companion, she taught us to intuit the subtler symbols in […]…

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Paris Pastry Crawl: Rue du Bac

20 June 2015

With the number of pastry shops, bakeries, chocolatiers and other confectioners that line the rue du Bac in the 7th arrondissement, the street could very well be officially monikered ‘sweet street’. Until that happens, residents and gourmands will simply have to settle for a weeklong event that celebrates the street as a delicious destination. Bac Sucré is the first initiative of its kind to pay homage to the exceptional indulgences produced on and around the rue du Bac and with resounding support from the 7th arrondissement mayor Rachida Dati and her team. 16 pastry shops, chocolate shops and confectioners have all opened their doors, and in some cases their locked boxes of secrets, to share their love of sweets with the public. As an avowed fan of chocolate and pastry, I had to go scope out the scene. My curiosity naturally fed into several purchases which will keep me content at home for weeks days. In case you can’t make it to Paris this weekend before the event ends on June 21, here are some of my favorite pastries and shops from the rue du Bac that you can bookmark for a pastry crawl on your next visit. PIERRE MARCOLINI Who […]…

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Restaurant Report: Ellsworth

26 May 2015

If anyone could get me to eat Brussels sprouts, I’m not surprised it’s Laura Adrian and Braden Perkins, the owners of Ellsworth, their new small-plate canteen located a block from their mega-successful wine bar and gastronomic tasting table Verjus. Since they opened in early March, I’ve gone for brunch and lunch four times, tasting different dishes with each visit and it has quickly climbed up the list of my favorite, reliably good restaurants. Here’s the rundown: Ambience: casual (read: yes, you can come straight from an afternoon of traversing the city by foot), unpretentious, lively in the evening when the place fills up with a more international crowd, quieter at lunch when it leans Parisian. In the kitchen: While Braden holds firmly to his position in the Verjus kitchen, Ellsworth brings on board his former second in command, Canadian chef Hannah Kowalenko who handles vegetables masterfully. She is also the brains behind the to-die-for apple beignets What to expect: Nouveau Americana fare and the same fine provenance one has come to expect and appreciate at Verjus. Beautiful produce, high quality fish and meats, homemade Sourdough bread, homemade butter, homemade ricotta, yogurt and sausage and an accommodating kitchen for shareable small plates. Coffee […]…

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