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French connections make for great food connections around the world 🙂 My friend’s friend’s daughter (does that make sense?) spent some time living and working in France and came back to the US around the time I left for Paris. We finally met her in the US and she talked about one of her friends who opened up a French Creperie in Westwood, so of course we had to try it out! It turns out that Irina, the owner, is Russian, as is my neighbor and her child so there will be another international introduction shortly! La Table de Sophie is named after Irina’s mother, Sophie, so the place is named in her mother’s honor:)

Irina serves authentic Brittany crepes, using organic buckwheat flour for the savory galettes, and even the flags at the entrance proclaim her allegiance to the origin of the delicious crisp holder of savory delights.

I started off with a cappuccino and the wonderful flavor and texture was a good portend of the food to come.

One of us had the forestière with free range chicken, egg, mushrooms, gruyère, and onions cooked in hard Cider for $21. Sophie obligingly cooked up the egg that is normally sunny side up (au plat in Paris, or mirroir in Brittany) for the American palate.

I chose the Printanière with gruyère, egg, spinach, asparagus, zucchini,sweet peas, and bell pepper for $20. The galette was probably the best I’ve ever eaten, perfectly crisp and the ingredients were so fresh and beautifully presented that I didn’t want to disturb the artwork! It was also a large portion, so I had no room for dessert 😦

They have several items from Farm Shop for sale, so I took a pain au chocolat home to enjoy the next morning 🙂 They were voted the best pain au chocolat for good reasons; flaky layers around valrhona chocolate make for the answer to your dessert or breakfast pastry quest.

I also took home a bar of Bovetti chocolate, just because I loved the design as well as the quality of the chocolate bar!

La table de Sophie has a marvelous gem of a bar adjacent to it and they serve happy hour between 5-7pm, so you can taste a bit of the French tradition of apéro in Los Angeles. La Table de Sophie made me a bit less homesick for France 🙂

When friends whom I’ve known for decades, come in from other countries to spend time in Paris with me, it is a given that we eat at a French bistro:) One surprise guest from Tahiti, two from Belgium, and one American who got to spend the day getting a taste of life in Europe with Europeans and expats:)

The coordinator of our lunch and our subsequent visit to Atelier des Lumieres (2 blocks away) chose 3 Passages based on reviews and the reviews were spot on, because not only was our meal fantastic, but our serveuse was as personable and funny as everyone at our table 🙂

I love steak tartare and I was so happy to find that my order was knife cut, using quality meat and served with fresh accompaniments befitting this classic French dish.

My American friend ordered the pasta special with quality ham and cheese unlike what would be served in most American restaurants.

One of my Belgian friends devoured the saucisse that was as hearty and savory as it looks in the picture.

The Tahitian guest chose the vegetable fish dish served in a crusty wrapping with a light tomato sauce.

The menu at lunch offers two courses for only 14 Euros or three for 17 Euros, so the prices are wonderfully reasonable for the quality and skill offered, not to mention the fun service!

Our wonderful serveuse who took our picture and entertained throughout our meal 🙂

Milestone birthdays should be celebrated, and what better way to celebrate than to enjoy a Michelin star meal in Paris? Especially when the person has never eaten at a Michelin star restaurant and loves food 🙂

Montée is a tiny 15 seat restaurant in the 14th, and before it became a starred place, it was my favorite place to eat in Paris. It is now under the helm of Takayuki Nameura and the evolution of status in the culinary world is very well merited. They offer a lunch or dinner menu that is set by whatever is is in season and / or ignites the chef’s creative fire. Dinner is 10 courses, but they served 2 additional amuse-bouche and because it was a birthday celebration, they also presented us with a birthday plate.

I chose a lovely 2014 Graves that was mid range priced to accompany the meal and we took Le Cab there and back so that we could enjoy the entire bottle 🙂

I neglected to take a picture of the veal/spinach schnitzel, probably because it was one of my favorite courses and I enjoyed it so much I completely forgot about documenting it, but that is a good sign of living in the moment, rather than seeking to preserve it.

Enjoy the feast for your eyes until you can get there to feast your palate on these incredible flavors.

Multi layer amuse bouche

another amuse bouche with candied walnuts, dried shitake, and puff pastry

tomato ice and corn souffle

 blue lobster, cashew, and caviar

 foie gras, banana, and smoke

 cod, potato, and sorrel

 white asparagus, almond, and chives

 flounder and leek

 amazing veal, spinach and schnitzel that I forgot to photograph,

then this apple, cider and saffron dessert

 chocolat

 crisp powdered sugar oreillettes

 fabulous wine

 and a lovely birthday plate 🙂

My favorite way to spend my birthday is sharing great food with friends, and as an added gift, we dined at my friends’ restaurant, A Food Affair. Babette and Christian welcome everyone as friends whether it is your first visit or fiftieth, so my friends who had never been felt as welcome as my friends who revisited.

The whole branzino with grilled lemons served with a side a sauce of mint and parsley was perfectly cooked and I completely forgot to add the side sauce because the clean fresh flavor of the fish was so delightful.

The lamb shank tagine was a special that was actually delivered in a tajine! The meat was falling off the bone tender, redolent with Moroccan spices, and the portion was enough for two meals (I devoured the leftovers the next day).

You may not see the escargot because they are smothered in a smooth garlic, parsley and cream sauce over potato, but they are like hidden gems that burst with flavor. If you have never had escargot, this is a perfect introduction, and if you are an escargot fan, you will be enthralled by this version.

For vegetarians, the hearty Farmer’s Market Casserole with eggplant, brussel sprouts, mushrooms and a spaghetti squash and tomato terrine could be a main dish, or large a vegetable side dish.

We chose a nice Bordeaux to accompany our meal.

And even though we only ordered one dessert, the marvelous Royères sent out practically every dessert on their menu with candles and birthday wishes!

The coconut crème caramel was my favorite, filled with lots of coconut, passionfruit coulis, and sprinkled with pepitas, the textures and flavors all complimented each other.

My birthday wish is a secret, but it’s no secret that I love A Food Affair!

Loving food and living in Los Angeles for most of my life, there are a few chefs I have followed as they have moved around town. Some of my favorite places are the ones where a chef left the steady income of a big name brand to open a smaller, more personal, and casual place where they can showcase their talents without anyone reining them inside a certain kind of menu. The risk for doing what they love means their wallets will pay if the gamble with the public palate craps out, but after years and sometimes decades at the helm, hopefully the sixth sense of balancing creativity with cash flow comes as second nature, and they find their groove with their groupies.

Lunetta and Lunetta All Day share a kitchen and the captain at the helm is Raphael Lunetta with some partners who know food. I loved JiRaffe, and I have enjoyed his skills at Broadway Deli and Patina over the years, but Lunetta All Day may be my favorite iteration to date of the mélange of Mediterranean sensibility with Californian cuisine. Even the decor reminds me of the seaside cafés in the South of France, so of course I started with a nice glass of vinho verde for $6 during an afternoon Happy Hour.

There is a small but inviting outdoor patio with a small nook, providing outdoor dining when the temperature permits (which is most days in Southern California).

I came for the octopus tacos $9 for two, and they did not disappoint with tender morsels and good vegetables. Of course I also added hot sauce, and of course, they had three options 🙂

I was invited to an evening tasting of their new summer menu at Lunetta and enjoyed the meatballs for $16 so much that when I came back with a friend for lunch I raved about them, so she ordered them and literally cleaned her plate! This side salad came with the tender meatballs on creamy polenta, so it was a hearty but balanced meal.

I was going to order the grilled fish until I learned that it was salmon…so disappointed that even in California, Americans will eat salmon, but rarely eat any other fish. I understand restaurants can’t stock fish no one orders, so please EVERYONE in the USA, order a fish besides salmon and tuna!!!!! I beg you!!!! Try one that has a head and tail, that is NOT tilapia! Ok tirade over….so instead I ordered the tuna Niçoise which was delightful for $18.50 and came with a salad on the side like the meatballs!  The tuna was seasoned correctly, and I loved the farm egg with the rich yolk, cooked to perfection! I was carrying my French gray salt so I added some to my salad for the extra oomph I love, but I think most people would enjoy it was it was served.

We saved room for dessert and we were eying the table next to us eating the lemon ricotta pancakes (yes for lunch), so we ordered a brownie $3.25 and one pancake $5.25 with blueberry butter and maple syrup as a dessert 🙂

We discovered the brownie had chocolate chunks in it!!!!!Surprise hidden treasure of decadent richness that was just the right amount of sweetness. Spending time with a good friend is always a sweet experience, but sharing a meal together at Lunetta All Day made it a mini vacation to the mediterranean 🙂

There are many options for a meal at CDG, but when one of them is Frenchy’s Bistro, it’s an easy decision. Gilles Epié was given a Michelin star when he was only 22, and was the chef at the famous l’Orangerie in Los Angeles. It was a fitting place to eat before my flight at a restaurant run by a chef with a long history tied to Los Angeles.

As you can see from the menu, prices are very reasonable for a quality meal inside an airport. Set menus promise that you will be served within 30 minutes so you can be sure to make your flight at the gate just a few steps away.

My friend ordered the pasta special which was a filling dish with the cream sauce and cheese. It was not particularly noteworthy, but a good option for vegetarians.

I chose the classic Steak Frites with salad and a glass of wine, all for under $25 USD. The steak was tender and cooked rare as I requested, served with a light red wine sauce, the fries were crisp and hot, and a small green salad with a vinaigrette on the side made for a classic French bistro lunch.

Part of me will always be in Paris, no matter where my physical address may be 🙂

Finding a favorite restaurant is always a pleasure; the joys of great atmosphere, professional service, and delectable food, combined in one place is as rare as winning the lottery.
La Cantine de Marius is a winning jackpot, with a view of the Chateau from the terrace, efficient, knowledgeable service, and a chef who uses an array of fresh products in beautiful presentations. They could easily charge twice as much for their menu, but in keeping with what makes them remarkable, they keep their prices affordable enough so that you can go frequently enough to know everyone by name; on several occasions the clients had inside jokes with the servers, bantering as friends, breaking the invisible French wall of reserve between client and establishment.
Lunch menus range from 16,50 Euros to 21 Euros ($18-$23 USD), depending on whether you have 2 or 3 courses. Wine is a modest 5 Euros ($6 USD) per glass and delicious whether you choose a white or red.

The interior is as comfortable as the terrace, even more so on hot muggy days or cold chilly nights.

The first course on the lunch menu was a light salad of shrimp and grapefruit in a citrus vinaigrette that was as refreshing to eat at it was to look at on my plate.

Another appetizer was a variation on the same theme, with avocado replacing the grapefruit.

Dinner service began with an amuses bouche, or tempting taste offered for the table. One night it was a creamy velouté of zucchini; even though we were a table of three, they gave us four, and we fought over who got the extra one:)

The fried smelt and calamari appetizer was plenty to share or even make as a course if you are not too hungry. The homemade tarragon mayonnaise was a nice side, even though the appetizer was good with just lemon and salt. At only 8 Euros ($9 USD), it was a bargain for the skilled light touch of the chef and the generous quantity.

 They do slight variations on classics, like this beef tartare with a basil pesto.

One night the special was filet of bar with a side of confit leeks for under 20 Euros ($22 USD) that was as expertly cooked and seasoned as a plate twice the price elsewhere.

Lunch menu portions are a bit smaller, but equally satisfying, with fish like Merlu on a bed of polenta.

We ordered their meringue and fruit dessert along with the chocolate cake with pistachio ice cream for dessert (sorry the pictures did not come out), and they gave us this chestnut tiramisu for dessert, just because three people shouldn’t have to share 2 desserts! All were fine endings to our meal and range from 6-8 Euros each ($7-9 USD).

No meal is complete in France without a café

sipped with a view of a chateau 🙂

I have friends who live all over the world, from Australia and Brussels to New York and Philadelphia. Now that I finally have all my furniture, clothes, and cookware here, I am beginning to feel at home here, but I miss my friends from Los Angeles even more than I miss the weather there! Every Parisian has reacted the same way when they hear where I moved from; they say, “Really?!” then they look up at the sky imaging blue, warmth, and smile at me like I’m crazy to have traded. I’ve only been able to endure the rainy gray skies and cold weather because I love living here in spite of the winter weather, so maybe I am crazy, but I’m happy 🙂

The spots of blue and sun this winter have cheered me with hope of spring and summer, and I had visitors from L.A. who came bringing me even more hope of friends who will come. After they spent the day sightseeing without me, we met for dinner at La Table des Anges. It was a perfect place to bring Angelenos. With a friendly casual vibe and fresh market ingredients, it was as if L.A. came to Paris and my friends liked it so much they wanted to bring it back to L.A.!

The Pigalle area used to be the red light district until new chefs found the rents affordable and made this area the new food mecca. The charming welcome was enhanced by the fluent English speaking servers because neither of my visitors spoke French (we were the only people speaking English in the restaurant, so this was definitely not a tourist destination). With lunch menus for 2 courses at 16€ ($20) and three course dinners for 32€ ($40), this is a bargain for food by a chef who has worked in places where the menus run 3-4 times more. We ordered a bottle of Sancerre for 39€ ($55) which was a lovely compliment to our fish dishes.

A savory amuse of consommé with fresh coriander was a warm and savory way to welcome us and awaken our palates.

We looked at the menu with three courses, but none us us could imagine eating that much. When we saw what neighboring diners were ordering, we asked the waiter what the dishes were and decided to order the specials. The whole bar (bass) for 25€ ($30) looked so good I had to order it and loved the fresh fish atop luscious cepes mushrooms, roasted eggplant, carrots, and root vegetables. It was a hearty portion and I enjoyed every bite.

My friends ordered the skrei 23€ ($28), a kind of cod fish with the same vegetables as accompaniments, but a different sauce and they both ate every bite.

If I had any room after my main course I would have ordered a dessert. Both my friends wanted dessert and ordered the pistachio crème brûlée. They insisted that I taste it and I was glad I did because it was much lighter than most and was not too sweet.

When we asked for our bill, we were treated with apple shots. They weren’t too strong or sweet like a grappa or sambuca, more like a light clear apple juice with alcohol, an adult dessert:)

The best meals are shared with people who bring sunshine and warmth with their presence:)

Most Americans have at least heard of Bastille Day, July 14, which marked the beginning of the French revolution in 1789. The Bastille was the infamous prison which was the prison that was symbolically linked to the end of the arbitrary rule of the monarchy and the beginning of democratic ideals. This monument stands where the prison was and is now the site of markets, demonstrations, a traffic hub, and numerous cafés.

Since part of the reason for the revolution was food, and most notably bread,

I headed over to Café Des Musées for lunch in the nearby Marais. Filled with a truly international crowd, including Japanese, Australian, and French tourists and locals. I loved that the waiter asked if I spoke French rather than assuming that I did not; I realized when some local Japanese came in that they were used to locals who may look like tourists and tourists who may look like locals, so they never made judgments. That attitude made me smile, as much as the fact that they opened a new bottle of wine for me once I asked for a glass of red, and actually gave me a taste to approve before serving me (of the house red whch was less than 5€ or $7)!There are five locations of this Café in the area, so if you’re in the 3rd or 4th arrondissement, this is a great place to come. They have set menus from just 13€ (about $18USD).

They had a variety of menu items ranging from fresh fish to duck, and entrecôte de boeuf (steak), but the lamb special caught my eye and for 24€, this delicious tender roasted lamb with a side salad, roasted onion, and potatoes was presented to me by the chef himself! The meat was lightly salted, the fat was crisp, and the bone portion was so good I wanted to pick it up and chew on it (but I didn’t, somehow I cut off every sliver of meat with a knife and fork). This was a very hearty portion (for Paris) and I still managed to finish every bite. Service was efficient and friendly, a rare combination in any capital city, so I would come back

I wanted a crêpe to make up for the really bad ones I had on Île Saint-Louis, so I walked around and found a small stand called OH 58 where I got a wonderful crêpe a sucre (with sugar). It was tender, hot, perfectly sweet with a hint of butter and only 2€ (about $3USD). This stand is directly across the street from Monoprix, on Rue Saint Antoine, about two blocks from metro stop St. Paul.

I wandered over to the Place des Vosges with its impressive arches, sheltering art galleries and restaurants overlooking the green square in the center.

There was an exhibit off one of the arches to commemorate Breast cancer survivors; those are pink ribbons set onto two sculptures.

A bit of video inside the Place des Vosges looking back to the arches from inside the square.

The top of this church looked “normal”,

but the entrance had red doors!

I saw a store specializing in Bordeaux with HUGE bottles called La Maison des Millesimes in the 6th arrondissement. Their prices were not great, but if you want something rare, this is the place to find that rare vintage or cru if you can’t find it anywhere else.

A day that started in the Bastille and ended with Bordeaux, what could be better?

The best remedy for a sad love affair is a new one which is better.

A Food Affair is the perfect antidote to my grief of bad owner attitude and a revolving chef in residence from my formerly favorite French bistro. I had to keep eating out until I found a better combination of food and service.

Tonight I found the perfect neighborhood French bistro. Not only is the food superb, but the couple who own it are professionals who know how to be personable. This place only opened 4 months ago, but from my experience tonight, they will be here for as long as they wish to be.

This is truly a place for a friendly feast, and BYOB with no corkage means you can enjoy your meal with your favorite wine.

They offer nice rustic bread, butter and olives on the table.

I started with a charred romaine salad with crispy pancetta, blue cheese, pomegranate seeds and roasted bosc pear for $8 that could have been a meal in and of itself. Great combination of flavors and lovely presentation.

I chose the Boeuf Bourguignon for $18 which came with wild mushrooms, paparadelle, pearl onions, turkey bacon and carrots that was so perfectly done, I don’t think I will ever go to the trouble of making it myself again. The portion was so generous that I ended up taking half of it home.

I tried the Bouillabaise another night and it invoked memories of Nice with fragrant fennel, leeks and grape tomatoes in a light seafood broth. The fish and seafood were cooked perfectly and I highly recommend this dish to anyone who wants something filling yet light.

For dessert my eyes immediately went to the Tahitian Vanilla crème brûlée which was absolutely perfect with the lightly burnt sugar topping and the creamy vanilla custard.

Even though I was full, I still wanted to taste a chocolate dessert, so Babette (one of the owners) suggested the 3 chocolate terrine since it would pack to go nicely if I couldn’t finish it (I took half of it home). The other owner is the chef, Christian, who came out and greeted every diner, making sure everything tasted as good as it looked.

They source as many of their ingredients locally and organically as possible, so you can rest assured that they are not skimping on quality. Since they still cater, they are only open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday, so stop by and enjoy a taste of rustic French cuisine without having to endure any jet lag 🙂

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