There’s something to be said about the beautiful people in Paris. And that is that I am definitely not one of them. Not only am I about three feet too short, after two days of drip-feeding myself with macarons, chocolates, croissants, crepes and er, anything else I could get my mitts on, my face is suddenly an oil slick and hello, I have three new pimples to call my own.
Not to mention the bloatedness.
How do French women stay so thin and beautiful? Does anyone know? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?!
This wasn’t our first trip to Paris, in fact it wasn’t even our second, but we decided Paris deserved a return trip to indulge me – possibly the least cultured person on this planet. Panu knows first hand the mind numbing difficulty of convincing me to visit yet another castle or church or museum because I mean, and even you all know this, I’d rather just eat.
So considering I actually all on my own with no coercion whatsoever wanted to see the Mona Lisa and the famed Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles, it was a complete no-brainer. Tickets were booked. We hopped on a small plane. We landed in Paris. Oui.
But. Ah-hah. Little did Panu know, appearing somewhat cultured was all part of my grand master plan to return to the land of le bestest patisseries. Because as categorically blond as I may be sometimes, I’m laser focused on some things. Some things like macarons. Sneaky.
We landed on Friday evening and within a matter of minutes, I’d dragged Panu out in search of crepes. We stayed in the Latin Quarter, which is far more my scene than north of the Seine where we’d previously stayed. The Latin Quarter buzzes with life after dark with street vendors selling one thing, and selling it well ~ fresh crepes.
Geezus look at my shiny forehead. Pimple incubation.
Saturday started with me stuffing my mouth with two croissants. At the same time. That went down nicely and was followed by a very cultured trip to the famous Louvre, which was sadly made more famous by Dan Brown’s mostly fictional but somehow everyone thinks it’s real novel, The Da Vinci Code.
I distinctly remember Brown’s vivid description of the parquet flooring and as I moved through the gallery, I felt rather clever, if only for a minute. We spent 4.5 hours wandering the galleries and battling the crowds to catch a glimpse of the Mona Lisa. Well, this is her…
… in all her glory behind glass and about 20 feet away.
Mona Lisa done. Lunch time!
Lunch on Saturday took the form of Le Fumoir, recommended to me by the wealth of knowledge that is Twitter. Located directly next to the Louvre (read: perfect for tired feet), it is perfect for those seeking solace from an influx of culture (read: me) and the food ain’t bad also (read: white asparagus soup YUM, chicken ceasar very good, duck delish).
Actually, I lie. One thing annoyed me about the duck. Where’s the skin and fat?! They removed the skin and fat! Oh wait, maybe this is why French women don’t get fat.
Well. Clearly dissatisfied with the lack of fat I managed to pump into my system, we then sought out the legend that is Pierre Hermé. There was a queue. Of course there’s a queue. So we queued. And it was all worth it.
My precious precious macarons! *mwahahaha!*
Dinner on Saturday night deserves a post all to itself, but it ain’t gonna get one because a) I’m lazy and b) I’m lazy. Recommended by a tall, thin, gorgeous French lady, Pershing Hall is a swanky, modern hotel which [random trivia time] commemorates American General, John Pershing.
The restaurant is set above a bar, the venues sharing a two-storey wall that is quite literally a living piece of art.
Stunning, yes? Wait til you see the food.
Pershing Hall serves modern cuisine ~ European influenced by Japanese or vice versa, I really couldn’t tell. The menu ranged from beef tartar to sashimi, black cod to a traditional steak. We started with an amuse bouche of white asparagus and truffle soup and instead of choosing starters and mains, Panu and I opted to share five dishes:
My favourites for the night – salmon tataki with miso sauce and avruga eggs, and beef tartar. The salmon was fresh and distinctly sweet but in all the right ways, and the tartar – a hefty serving for a starter size – was mouth watering.
Next favourites – pan fried foie gras which was served atop the most delicious roasted pear in all the universe, and caramelised black cod, an oldie but a goodie.
And lastly, not that it wasn’t good but rather was just quite ordinary, the crispy prawns, served with three dipping sauces. And that there is my Green Peace mocktail of kiwi, cucumber and green apple juice, served with cucumber sticks and dipping yoghurt. Fun!
Panu and I couldn’t decide on desserts to end this fabulous meal so ah, the creation of all creations, the tasting platter:
- pear sorbet
- roasted apple vacherin with light caramel cream
- chocolate soufflé
- creamy cheesecake
- Pershing style chocolate eclair
- rosemary pannacotta with sangria poached strawberries
The apple vacherin was by far my favourite, the mix of apple and caramel tantalising my taste buds. Most impressive however was the Pershing style chocolate eclair. I mean just look at the thing. A chocolate caramel mini burger on steroids. YEAH.
Needless to say I crashed and slept like a baby that night.
Sunday! Rise and shine and ready to tackle the Palace of Versailles. Everything in the Palace of Versailles is stunning. Seriously everything, not the least of them the 70 meter long Hall of Mirrors.
Again exhausted from sheer culture, I’d planned to re-charge at the renowned Breizh Café whose crepes are meant to be crazy-delicious-orgasmic. All at the same time. But alas, without being too melodramatic, I’ll just say the service sucked and we walked out. Without eating. Period.
And so it became that Sunday lunch ended up being an omelette at some touristy place. I was left a rather unhappy chappy and Panu, this is why I keep him, he tried to cheer me up by buying me some Ladurée macarons. I smiled a little on the inside but didn’t pose for any photos because clearly, I was still cranky on the outside.
Dinner on Sunday night was something I’d been aching for for weeks. I read this review from LondonEater ten months ago and have since been hanging out for the best steak he’s ever had. Big call, that one.
Le Basilic oozes old Parisian feel with lofty leather couches, hanging lamps and a large cock (the rooster kind) in the middle of their floor space. Hidden away from the main thoroughfare of the Latin Quarter, the clientèle is also predominantly local, which is a good sign. Us and the locals, just the way I like.
I started with escargot, a delicacy made famous by the French but made more famous by Julia Roberts’ endearing “whooops!” as she accidentally flings one across the room in Pretty Woman. I almost did the same. Almost. The squidgy little bastards are hard enough to wriggle out of their shells but the clamp itself is a contraption to be reckoned with.
Panu had some sort of baked eggs with foie gras, served with toast and lettuce. It sounded plain on the menu but wow, the creamy foie gras and creamier eggs and possibly some added cream made this starter a total delight. For once, I wanted his. Gah.
The main event and what I’d been patiently waiting for: fillet of beef (and I didn’t care what sauce it came with). I don’t think it needs much explanation because just look at it. Perfect medium rare. Not melt-in-your-mouth but not chewy, just enough so you know you’re dealing with some serious meat. It tasted phenomenal. I inhaled the whole thing and oh, the mash was nice too.
Never one to pass on the sweets, Panu had the crème brûlée and I the passionfruit tiramisu – a curious combination that worked remarkably well. Strangely, what stole the dessert show were these black grapes, all lumpy and funny looking and most likely picked from their garden. Astoundingly sweet and firm and honestly the most perfect grapes I’ve ever had!
Enroute home after dinner I had another crepe. And yes, I get it. This is why I have pimples.
I know this post has been epic and then some, but stay with me we’re almost there. Last but certainly not least, my new hero, my new love, Sadaharu Aoki. How I lived so long without knowing of his existence I don’t know. Finding out that his stores were closed on Mondays (late on Sunday night) was like a dagger through my little heart, but alas, we always have the Galeries Lafayette:
And in this fine Galeries Lafayette, we have a Sadaharu Aoki counter which well, firstly they didn’t allow me to take any photos, but secondly, the counter? It was like heaven. HEAVEN. In our whole weekend in Paris, I don’t think I paid attention and studied anything in greater detail. Not the Mona Lisa, not the Palace of Versailles, hell not even the menu at Pershing Hall (and certainly not the breasts at Le Crazy Horse).
I spent a long time looking at every single item on offer. A Long Time. And after A Long Time, I chose my poisons:
A giant matcha dome with an oh-so-incredibly-cute mini matcha macaron stuck on the side; chocorons (chocolate coated macarons); chocolate coated candied orange; bonbons (LOVE!); caramel truffles; matcha sticks; chocolate biscuits.
So that was Paris.
And I wonder why I’m bloated. And pimply. But so incredibly happy 🙂
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