Whenever I tell someone that I’m going to be spending some time in Paris they always ask, “Where are you going to eat?” I suspect they are hoping to hear that I have a long list of “serious” restaurants, perhaps even a two or three star hot spot with a fancy chef at the helm.
Truth is, that is just not part of our Paris itinerary.
I am here with my Mom who certainly loves good food but would far rather spend her euros on an expensive chocolate bar (don’t even ask what the Bernachon bars cost!) or a bag of fancy salted caramels than some multi-course menu that is going to take her three hours to eat.
My Mother also prefers to eat her main meal at lunch which, it turns out, is very French. She is not a huge fan of overly formal service or line-ups or spending 18 euros on a hamburger. My Mom loves good, honest bistro food that is cooked with love, served with care and fairly priced. She also loves to get on her iPad to research where little gems that meet her criteria may be hiding in Paris and I must admit that her due diligence has never let us down.
Some of our very favourite finds have been relatively small, out of the way places that have just a few tables and offer a lunch menu for less that 20 euros. The cook may also be the owner with his/her brother or wife/husband or mother working the front of house. In this scenario you are pretty much guaranteed good food and service which is nothing to sneeze at in a city like Paris.
When we aren’t seeking out great little lunch bistros we are always on the hunt for the best places for sweets or spices or bread or croissants.
My Mom and I had read about the bakery Du Pain et Des Idées and had even managed to find the tiny store in the 10th Arrondissment after we had enjoyed a lunch at Chez Prune close by. I knew that the baker, Christophe Vasseur was self taught and has so much passion for baking that he has managed to catapult himself to the top of Parisian bakeries for his thoughtful selection of outstanding pastries and bread. You need to click on the link above and listen to the bakery soundtrack that accompanies the beautiful visuals of Du Pain’s website. The sounds will transport you to this special jewel box of a bakery where you won’t find a massive selection of cakes and pies and breads but a selected few that are done so well, made with such care that you won’t think twice about getting up early to schlep all the way across the city to pick up a bag of the very best croissants you have ever had. You might even want to share them with the people you love and happen to be travelling with…
From what I have read, baker Christophe chooses his ingredients so very thoughtfully and then mixes them with great care. He allows his croissant dough to rest and develop over 34 hours. When you buy one of these extraordinary croissants (for a mere 1.30 euro) you are duly rewarded. The long rest period yields a croissant with a deep, rich flavour that I have never experienced before. You can see the many golden, thin, buttery layers. More fine, buttery layers than I have ever seen in a croissant.
I tend to be a bit of a purist when it comes to croissants but then, just today, I tried one of Chef Christophe’s other puff pastry creations.
The l’escargot chocolat pistachio is a snail shaped puff pastry round that has pistachio pastry cream and small chunks of chocolate baked into the swirls of buttery pastry.
I happen to have a bit of a thing for pistachios and a growing chocolate obsession so, for me, this pastry is pretty much the perfect way to start the day. It looks like this…
I will be back tomorrow to talk about French demi-sel butter. Another growing obsession… xo J