There are times I miss the balmy temperate weather of Los Angeles, but sometimes I also miss my favorite restaurants. Yes, it’s true, there is world class wonderful food and wine here, but my palate misses the spiciness that is ubiquitous in nearly every neighborhood in California, from Thai to Mexican. When I am warned that something here is “spicy” that usually means it has garlic, or maybe some pepper. When I saw a Thai restaurant literally next door to Du Pain et Des Idées,  I was drawn to the aromas and the idea that I might enjoy a Thai restaurant here as much as my beloved Chan Dara in Los Angeles. It was a good idea, but as with many anticipated experiences, it wasn’t perfect. Service at lunch is friendly and efficiently bilingual in French and English, but dinner service is rudimentary at best with older Thai ladies who do not speak French (or English) very well, so be prepared to point to menu items to get what you want, and do not expect a smile.

The set menus had very good prices,

and the drinks were very nice glasses of wine

or classically prepared hot tea.

The side dish was either rice noodles

or a sauté of fresh vegetables, both good choices.

One one occasion, I ordered the spicy shrimp with basil (which was very slightly spiced, but flavorful).

One rainy day I ordered the soup with slices of tender beef and vermicelli noodles in a slightly sweet broth with vegetables and a fried “nem” which is like a mini eggroll. I’m not a fan of sweet broth, so the fact that I enjoyed this was a testament to their skills.

Thankfully, the third time was the charm, with a delicious spicy beef sauté that was still pink in the middle, and had enough spice and flavor to rank as the best Thai dish I’ve had in Paris so far.

This restaurant has several restaurants and cafés around the area, and each has slightly different service but similar menus. I would definitely recommend this as a place to introduce people to Thai food, but I’m sure there are better places in Paris; suggestions anyone?

Today is Pablo Picasso’s birthday and Paris celebrated by reopening the Picasso Museum after 5 years of renovations. Located in the Hôtel Salé, a historical former residence, the museum displays 5,000 pieces of his work (the biggest collection in the world) as well as 150 pieces of other artists such as Cézanne, Matisse, and Gauguin.

I only saw the news that the opening day was today with the regular hours of 9:30am-6:00pm, not knowing that because it was the grand opening the doors actually opened at noon. I got there at 11:15am and there was already a huge line, so I waited, knowing it would only be a much longer wait if I came back later.

The crowd control was very well organized; I heard the Museum director say she was very pleased that over 4000 people were already queued up for over five blocks at opening time. Those at the end of the line were in for at least a three hour wait to get to the entrance!

The restoration of the building was spectacular.

Three floors of various periods and mediums gave fans plenty to peruse.

This was my favorite Picasso,

but this was my favorite piece, a Gauguin :)

A purely photographic post of Parc André Citroën :)

France preserves their history and their traditions, so La Petite Ceinture, literally “The the little belt”, old railroad line  built in the 1800’s is now a beautiful greenbelt for walkers, runners, and anyone who enjoys gardens. There are several entrances, and I chose the one most recently restored, complete with an elevator for easier access if you have a bicycle or wheelchair.

Helpful markers on the trail tell you exactly where you are and how far you’ve gone.

You can also use the modern buildings

or classic old buildings as your markers for where you are or how far you’ve traveled.

Nature has taken over some of the area

artists have taken over other parts.

Some stretches have bits of both

humans and nature vying for space.

Preservation efforts have struck a nice balance

creating groomed spaces.

The modern replacement rail may not have the charm of the old,

but it has an unparalleled view :)

My name is Elaine and I am a bread addict. In fact my addiction is so all encompassing that I may have moved to France for the bread:) My favorite bread in Paris (so far) is the Pain des Amis that I’ve written and photographed constantly in other posts, but my daily bread is the baguette tradition bien cuit (cooked well done, because unlike my meat, which I like raw, I like my bread crispy). The Fournil Daguerre won the award for best bio baguette last year, so although I love my local Gontran Cherrier, I wanted to compare this winner to what I normally buy.

At the further end of the market street Daguerre in the 14th, the boulangerie has a pleasant corner location with a few seats and tables so you can enjoy a sandwich or pastry sur place (at the shop instead of to take away).

The baguette tradition exterior had a nice chewy crust with the perfect amount of crunch vs. springiness.

The center was absolutely delightful with the soft air pocketed texture and yeasty flavor that gives baguettes their worldwide reputation. Once you’ve tasted a baguette like this, you will never be able to eat supermarket bread again:)

A few blocks down Daguerre near the busy metro station where the Orly Bus stops is Moisan, on Ave. Général Leclerc, which specializes in organic breads and pastries.

Their baguette tradition was far too dense for my taste and didn’t have the finesse or flavor of the one from Fournil Daguerre. I did like their pain complet which was meant to be dense and still managed to be flavorful.

It’s said that no one does everything well, and while I didn’t like their baguettes, Moisan does the best almond chocolate viennoiseries I’ve tasted in Paris. In my opinion, they are better than La Durée or Eric Kayser. Because they use organic ingredients, the flavors are more subtle, rich, and nuanced than other boulangeries. Sorry about the slightly unsymmetrical form, but I broke off a piece before taking the picture.

Normally, I don’t finish my viennoiseries or desserts, but once I bit into this delicate pastry with a perfectly proportioned almond filling, I couldn’t stop

until I got to the back with chocolate, and yes it was enough chocolate, and yes, I ate the entire thing!

If one viennoiserie was great, two would better better, right? Yes! Their pain aux raisins was exquisite! A buttery, circular roll of plump raisins in a delicate pastry that somehow managed to be light yet satisfying without the annoying excess of sweetness that some places use as a substitute for quality ingredients. This was the best pain aux raisins I’ve ever tasted.

Having the two places within blocks of each other means I can get a great baguette tradition and wonderful viennoiseries without having to take a metro from one to the other, and in Paris, that is considered “easy shopping”:)

An American, Australian and Englishman walk into a restaurant in Paris and by the time they walk out, the only thing they remember is that they will not be going back.

The setting is beautiful, and it’s conveniently located near Notre Dame along the Seine. The wait staff was efficient and professional and they offer menus in English (a big red flag, especially in a location so close to a major tourist attraction).

The tables have hidden drawers which hold the cutlery and napkins. This little discovery was the highlight of the evening.

We had some wine and tapas, starting with the chicken and cheese croquetas. They were warm and would have been excellent with a bit of flavor enhancement which the vegetable salsa on the side did not provide. The salsa resembled cooked down leftover vegetables rather than salsa.

The peppers came with dried mullet slices, raspberries, and white beans. The chef may have been trying to create some unusual flavor combination, but this try did not succeed as it still ended up bland with the exception of the dried mullet slices which added nothing to the dish other than a bit of contrasting texture.

 The zucchini salad looked fresh and was, but again the crime of blandness applied.

The best thing we tasted was the octopus, which was tender and came with a marvelous side of grilled pineapple, but when a side fruit accompaniment is the highlight of the food, that is a sad statement.

My fellow diners wanted more food (I declined after enough bland plates in one night), so they got the Cote de Boeuf. Yes that is as small of a plate as it looks, and the grand total of the small bland plates paired with two modest bottles of Spanish wine came to 54€ each for three people, which equals about $70 US for 1.33 plates of tapas and 2.5 glasses of wine. They offer menus for 51€ which feature paella and several small plates, so you could gamble on a full meal here, but I am not a gambler.

I have no desire to remember this place*, so it will be filed away as a meal to be forgotten. Apparently the chef here changed recently, so all the previous stellar reviews of this place were for the last menu/chef.

*Because of the recent fine of a blogger for a bad review in France, I am omitting the name of this restaurant.

Now that I’ve lived here for over a year, I have finally (almost) gotten enough French food to want another kind of cuisine. I had a craving for Korean. Although I knew that the open grills found all over Los Angeles don’t exist here, I was willing to at least try to find something good. The Fork is like OpenTable, and when diners ranked Sodam 9.2 out of 10 in picky Paris, I gambled and tried it.

Like all true treasures, I had to venture outside my known world to find this gem. Their lunch menu is only 13 € ($16 US) and includes a drink (in France that means a glass of wine), appetizer and main course. Their salad is not only beautiful, but their sesame dressing is superb.

Their pot sticker appetizer was extraordinary, filled with minced pork and vegetables in a light wrapping, I could have easily made a meal of these

which were served with a sesame soy dipping sauce.

Of course all Korean restaurants include side dishes, and Sodam was no different, except that I missed having kimchee as one of my sides. Kimchee can be ordered as a separate side for 3€ ($5 US) but I found it hard to pay that much for what is a free side in the US. Imagine having to pay for ketchup for your fries :/ It looked good and maybe one day I will order it, but today wasn’t that day.

Extra points that their rice was not your average plain white.

On one visit I got the bulgogi or marinated BBQ beef which came with it’s own personal sized “grill”.

Yes, the beef came raw so that you could cook it as long as you wanted. The shallots, garlic, and beef serving was copious and the flavor was very good, although not as pronounced as I would have liked.

On another visit I ordered the spicy (I asked for spiciest) chicken sautéed with vegetables which had a subtly sweet flavor. This was perfect for someone venturing out of their normal comfort zones, but it left me wanting much more heat.

Every time I went, the service was extremely friendly and there were large tables of Korean families who were regulars. I would definitely go back to try more of their menu because it seems this is one of the rare places in Paris that comes close to bringing a taste of Korea to the city of lights.

Summer seems to have finally arrived in Paris this September. All the pleasures of warmer weather can be enjoyed with shops and restaurants open and busy with locals, which is the perfect segue to the Manger Local event last week-end at the Pont Alexandre III.

Manger Local is literally “to eat locally” and in Paris that means the venue was in the center of the city, along the Seine.

There are plenty of green spaces built expressly to provide shelter and beauty while also serving as a habitat for natural pollination.

The event itself was like all things Parisian, small and select, with well known chefs at a center station ready to cook up a meal with produce you bought at the event.

There were artisanal products from juices, to oils and vinegars.

Fresh vegetables galore

and of course bread, along with locally made charcuterie so you could make your own classic ham and baguette sandwich for a picnic with a view of the Seine.

If you didn’t want to picnic or wait for a chef to put a dish together for you, there were three food trucks serving burgers, deli food, and snacks.

There was also the option of a meal on one of the barges or permanent cafes along the Seine.

I opted for a walk to a quieter neighborhood with a view:)

Many famous American writers, artists, musicians, and performers have lived here, but my iconic expat is Josephine Baker. She lived a bit outside of the city, in Le Vésinet, about 10 miles from the center of Paris.

The small gardens and covered passages of Paris are like jewels sprinkled around the concrete and cobblestones of the city. The Seine is the main waterway, with the Canal St. Martin and the Canal de l’Ourcq offering alternatives on the north eastern side of the city. The liquid jewels of Paul de Lavenne de Choulot, a descendant of Louis VI, in Le Vésinet are the epitome of magnificent waterway design.

The center of the city is north of the train station built around the church, just like all old French cities, life revolved around religion, so all commerce gathered nearby.

Le Vésinet may be small and a bit away from the center, but it is a charming calm oasis. Many wealthy residents have made this their home because of views like this, where a pond is literally a backyard “pool”.

Even the gardening sheds are picturesque

The ponds and parks are public with benches along the walkways that offer views like this.

There’s even a trail along the ponds with huge trees and benches.

This is the house where Josephine Baker lived for 18 years (construction workers were entering so I got a look through open gates)

as I window shopped for a home of my own in the neighborhood

before heading back to Paris:)

I spent my first birthday in Paris eating in a National Monument!

Nicolas Flamel translated manuscripts and made his fortune as an alchemist turning lead to gold. Yes, literally. He also literally shared his wealth by building homeless shelters, and the last one still standing is L’Auberge de Nicolas Flamel.

The charm and history of the original building lends to the elegantly understated decor. The amuse bouche of the two cheese puffs were a savory welcome. The lunch menu includes either starter and main or starter, main and dessert, ether way you also get a drink (wine) and espresso, all for under 25 ($33 US).

The next table was having the shrimp with zucchini cream and it looked so good that I chose that as my starter. It was a wonderfully creamy soup with delicately sautéed shrimp that was presented with an artistic flourish as the waiter poured the zucchini cream in three moves to fill the spaces in between the shrimp.

I chose the Dorade Royale, or gilt head sea bream, which is probably my favorite fish in Europe. If anyone believes they don’t like fish, I would suggest they try this one. The dish was  served with an assortment of fresh green vegetables and a purée of eggplant. The fish was remarkably tender and the green vegetables as fresh as they were pretty. I didn’t care for the eggplant purée, mostly because it was bland.

I did not get the menu with dessert since I wanted to get my dessert elsewhere, but just as they welcomed me with an amuse bouche when I arrived, they also presented me with two pâte des fruits at the end of my meal that were just the right amount of sweetness and apricot fruit.

I may be a year older, but I’m not as old as the Auberge :)

I wanted chocolate for dessert, and since it’s been awhile since I’ve had Pierre Marcolini, I headed over to one of their stores.

Every shop is slightly different, and this one on Rue Scribe offers not only his chocolates, but also his macarons.

This 34 piece box for 30€ ($40 US) was my introduction to this chocolatier and I discovered I loved his intense dark single origin chocolates, so I picked a few of my favorites as my birthday dessert.

The raspberry heart added just the right amount of bright flavor and color to my selection.

My birthday cake was Pain des Amis because my life is already sweet and filled with joy:)

 

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