This trip started about a year ago when my sister Peggy decided that she wanted to rent a flat in Paris for a month. Then a couple of months after that Julie and Julia came out, I read Julia Child’s My Life in Paris and I started cooking Julia’s recipes. So needless to say I have become a bit infatuated with French food. The flavors are just so subtle, not at all like the bold spicy flavors that I am used to in TexMex. So I went to Paris with the idea that I would eat my way through the town and try and taste just about everything.
We arrived on a Sunday evening after a very long plane ride. Our landlord left us a list of good restaurants around the neighborhood and we went out to a bistro nearby. We were really concerned that we wouldn’t be able to still get food as it was about 10 p.m. Little did we know that no one in Paris seems to eat before 8 p.m., preferably 9 p.m. so eating at 10 p.m. wasn’t really considered late at all. Alex and I both got salads and a glass of wine for me and a beer for him. The salads were remarkable in that the ingredients were quite fresh for the middle of the city in a local bar basically. We were both surprised at just how good the food was.
We went back to our flat and attempted to sleep. I was very excited as the thing I really wanted to do was to have pane chocolate warm from the nearest bakery. Julia describes a wonderful experience in her book of getting up early and having a warm croissant and a cup of coffee that really spoke to me. I got up the next morning and went for a run. I didn’t bring any money with me and I literally must have passed at least 8 boulangeries on the run with the smell of fresh bread and croissants wafting out the door. Needless to say, as soon as I got back, I showered and Alex and I got out the door. Our first stop was the patisserie across the street from us. The pane chocolate was quite tasty and I was quite satisfied, so up the street we went in search of a cafe crema (coffee and steamed milk) to wash down the pane chocolate. We spent a good chunk of the rest of the day wandering around our neighborhood trying pane chocolate and pane chocolate aus almond (with almonds) at the the different patisseries around us. It was just delightful.
*Interesting side note about patisseries and boulangeries in France: The French government regulates what the different types of bakeries can call themselves and sell. A boulangerie just means that the person who is the baker is certified to make bread and has been tested on the different recipes that make up the different types of French bread. A patisserie means that the baker is certified in how to make the specific French pastries and will make certain ones. An “artisan” shop means that the baker is required to make and sell specific types of bread and pastries that have been deemed “French” by the government and that they don’t wish to die out. The French are not much on innovation, but they are very concerned that their older recipes will be lost and that bakers will not know how to make them. This was a similar attitude with the different types of cheese. It was all quite fascinating!