I’ve heard a lot of superlatives about Paris – that it’s the most romantic city in the world, the most beautiful, the city of light. But I think its most-fitting top billing is tastiest.
Why? Because I got a contact high every time I passed a bakery. Because the freshly made mayonnaise at a hole-in-the-wall cafe was so far beyond what’s eaten in America that the two deserve different names. Because a 3:00am omelette at a randomly selected bistro was the best I’ve ever had. Because my first bite of entrecôte with bearnaise sauce propelled me to break my 3-day French-only streak with an awestruck, “Are you fucking kidding me?” directed at no one in particular, since I was alone.
And that’s only Paris. In Alsace, they took meat and potatoes to a whole new expletive-inducing level. In fact, except for one unfortunate breakfast, everything I ate in France was better than 90% of what I’ve eaten in America.
Granted, I am one for hyperbole. But even if you take me with a grain of salt (which, incidentally, was also more delicious in France), there’s no denying that the French have a very special way with food.
So without further ado, here’s everything I ate in France:
First row: (Alsacienne) baeckeoffe; smoked duck and goat cheese salad; camembert with pine nuts and honey; best-tasting omelette and fries; charcuterie and cheese plate. Second row: confit de canard; choucroute garnie – note the thing that looks like a layer cake but is actually the fattiest, most delicious chunk of ham ever sliced; the (weak link) omelette; smoked salmon; steak with potatoes and pesto. Third row: gluten-free croque monsieur made by philippe; coquilles st. jacques; picnic lunch bought at the only open store in a tiny alsacienne village; steak and vegetables; pot au feu (after the soup was consumed). Fourth row: smoked salmon and goat cheese salad; breakfast of cheese and jam and nutella; potatoes and lardons and extra fat; entrecôte with bearnaise sauce; chef salad. Fifth row: Homemade jams; adorable baby radishes; three glutinous things that, full disclosure, I watched my dining partners eat but did not actually eat in France (two tarte flambees and a croque monsieur).
And that brings us to… DESSERT!!!
First row: creme brulee; gluten-free canelé and madeleines from Helmut Newcake; pavlova; delightfully decorated ice cream; Laduree macarons; a chocolate-covered meringue on top of mocha-flavored buttercream – I think this type of pastry might be called a merveilleux (and it certainly was); chocolate pot au creme, caramel pot au creme, pistachio creme brulee and caramel creme brulee (aka best breakfast ever); cherry, straciatella and chestnut ice cream; rose-flavored sorbet and coffee ice cream, because we couldn’t find rose-flavored ice cream anywhere; a gluten-free madeleine; creme caramel; some sort of ice cream cake; gluten-free chocolate cake and gluten-free chocolate cookies, made by Philippe; chocolate mousse; a gluten-free religieuse from Helmut Newcake; and gluten-free tarte tatin, also made by Philippe.
The only thing on my wish-list that I didn’t end up eating and really wish I had is raclette. It sounds like God’s gift to cheese and potato lovers, but the specialty restaurant we tried to go to in Paris was all booked up and we ran out of time to find an alternative. I guess this gives me a reason to go back…