Monday, May 21, 2007

Paris 2007: The Rest of It (Food Review) Part 2

This is the last part of my food review in Paris and also my favourite restaurants in Paris.

Cafe Le Faubourg
Rue La Fayette
This cafe is located just around the corner from our hotel. Not till the 3rd day of our stay in Paris did we give this cafe a try and we were delighted with our decision to have our lunch there.

Plat du jour: Quiche Lorraine
"Silky, creamy, savoury, yummy..." These words kept repeating themselves as we savoured this dish.

Confit de Canard (Duck confit)
"So good, so good, I love you...."
This is basically duck braised in its own fat over long hours then pan-fried to get the crispy skin and usually served with potatoes sauteed with leftover duck fat and garlic and a serving of green salad. No gamey smell or taste whatsoever, even non duck-lovers will give their thumbs up.

Infact, so impressed were we with this little bistro that we went back for dinner on the same day. But ok, I admit, they weren't many options open since we had just finished shopping (late night shopping on Thursday) and it was close to 11p.m. and most kitchens were already closed for the night.
French Onion Soup
Cheesy goodness (melted cheese over pieces of bread) on top of a hearty broth. Perfect for a cold night.

Confit de Canard, round 2 (notice that this looked different from the one we had earlier but tasted just as good)
So you can imagine how good this was, no further explanations required...

Roast Chicken
Something similar to confit de canard, only that this is chicken. Good but not as good as the original confit.

A block of gouda cheese. Creamy with an underlying bitter taste, this goes very well with the somewhat sweet muscadet (a type of dry French white wine) that we enjoyed rather generously that night.

Le Faubourg, lovely at night as well....

Cafe du Marche
38 rue Cler (at rue de Champs)
Do a Google search and there are quite a number of reviews on this place inlcuding this one. This restaurant is located along the cobblestone street of the Rue Cler. In the earlier part of the day, the street is lined with a variety of stalls selling groceries that is reminiscence of a market place that was a slice right out of the 1950's. Too bad we missed that....

Confit de Canard
I don't think we would get sick of this dish just yet... The crispy skin, tender meat and tasty potatoes. This dish comes highly recommended for this place and I am not surprised. But honestly, I would not say that this was better than Le Faubourg's though. Both were equally good.

Plat du Jour (Dish of the day) - Poached Fish served on top of sauteed snake beans with a Asian-influenced slightly spicy bean sauce
This is another winner! A big chunk of fish with meat so tender and fresh. And the sauce that came with it complimented it perfectly. Truly fantastic!

Dessert: Warm Chocolate Cake with home-made Vanilla Ice-Cream
Nothing exciting as this dessert had become so common but what's even more important is that it tasted absolutely divine. A gorgeous souffle-like chocolate cake with a rich melted goeey center; and with the vanilla ice-cream to give a cold contrast to the warm dessert, it will send you directly to chocolate heaven...haha


Paris 2007: The Rest of It (Food Review) Part 1

Leon de Bruxelles
63 Av des Champs Elysées
This picture was taken at about 8:30p.m.
This is a popular chain of restaurants throughout Paris with reasonable prices and their specialty? Mussels! Cooked in various styles. My friend and I shared their set meal (mussels+fries+dessert).

Complimentary basket of fresh baguette.
Moules à la Marinière
A bucket of mussels cooked in particular style? Initially, I thought Marinière means Marinara (tomato-based seafood style) but no, it was actually cooked in its natural form. Meaning, the mussles are cooked but there is no sauce whatsoever. So although fresh, they were a little "too fresh" for my liking. I could literally taste the sea! Well, luckily the Tabasco sauce helped quite a bit.
Frites à volonté
One good thing, it comes with free-flow of thick-cut fries. Yummy!
Gaufre au sucre
Plain waffle with a dusting of sugar. I remember reading somewhere that their waffle came highly recommended so we ordered this and ended up being somewhat disappointed. It wasn't "bad" but it's just waffle, plain and simple. With a dusting of sugar; no butter, maple syrup or any other condiments. It might have been promising if the waffle was served warm but sadly, it wasn't.

Chez Clement
123, av des Champs Elysées
12 charming restaurants in Paris and Paris area. The chef prepares a simple and authentic cuisine.....
We sat outside with a fantastic view on the "Arc de Triomphe" on the Champs-Elysees although I should say that the interior is also very charming indeed. Reasonable prices, they are rather well-known for their rotisserie menu.

I like their sliced fresh baguette. Just the right amount of crusty and chewy factor.

French traditional "pâté"
Erm, although not mentioned in the menu, somehow I envisioned it to be a block of duck/goose liver pate but instead, we got some kind of terrine served with gherkins. Fallen short of expectations, this dish was already doomed from the beginning in my eyes....

Half a dozen of fresh oysters
Very fresh but not big enough (I found out later that they actually came in different sizes, the bigger the pricier lar....)

Rotisserie" Slice of beef, pork spare ribs, Loué "label Rouge" farm chicken "
A little bit of everything, it was done very well with a tasty and creamy mash topped with a brilliant brown gravy.


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Paris 2007: Buddha Bar

The infamous Buddha Bar of Paris. Check out the cool interior (before the stroke of midnight, this place will be jam-packed with the trendsetters of Paris and..... a load of tourists too.)

and the most yummilicious champagne cocktails!

and also one very cute and friendly bartender.....(not pictured, unfortunately)

Buddha Bar
8 Rue Boissy d' Anglais M. Concorde


Memorable Meals (Bouillon Chartier & Cafe Les Deux Magots)

Most memorable meals in Paris, not the best meals but they are memorable in terms of experience.

1) Bouillon Chartier 7 RUE DU FAUBOURG MONTMARTRE (Near Opera: Boulevard Montmarte)
Extracts from its official website:
"Classified historic building in 1989, the restaurant has already known two centuries and is well prepared to get through this brand new one. It is both a prestigious actor of the restaurant business and a privileged witness of parisian life. In this wonderful place, favourable for sweet nostalgy, fifty billions bellies have been satisfied since its creation.So the description below that would like to satisfy your curiosity will of course not replace a nice visit 7th, rue du faubourg Montmartre, in the ninth district, the best place to feel Paris.It seems that you enter to work at Chartier as if you intend to enter in religion.This principle is tacitly admited as only four different owners have ruled the place since its creation in 1896. As well the crew "makes" the place, daily honouring their engagement dressed in their traditional room clothes, le rondin (a black waistcoat with many pockets) and the long white apron..."
Actually, we discovered this place by chance. We were walking along a street when I saw a busy restaurant located in a small alley just off the street. I pulled my friend into the alley to check the place out and saw a very busy and crowded restaurant (although it was just about 7p.m., a time considered very early to have dinner in Paris). We then decided to go back there for dinner later since our hotel is just about 5 minutes walk away. Returning at about 9pm. we regretted for not remembering to make reservations earlier for the place was full and the queue was like 10 persons long and still growing. Unbeknownst to us until later, this place is a classic/historical food institution (read excerpt above).
Twas a rainy night
Interior of the restaurant

True to its description, the place is a simple and no-frill place serving simple and authentic, no-frill dishes. So crowded was the restaurant that we had to share the table with 2 other people. Majority of their waiters were in the "senior citizen" bracket. That also means that they have a lower tolerance level to any ignorance (helpless or not) to their national language which we would later learned. In fact, this is the only place that we dined at which we truly felt helpless at ordering. And the lack of help (and also the lack of any willingness to help us) coupled with the impatience with our "Ah Gong" waiter did little to improve the situation. We wanted to order their suggested dinner set (consisting of 1appetizer, 1 main & 1 dessert) plus 1 additional appetizer to share. But our "Ah Gong" waiter said that we have to order 2 mains (at least that's why I made out from his frenzied gestures) so I just told him to choose another main for us for I didn't want him to leave and then come back to us later (his last attempt at this took almost 20 minutes).

Salade de tomate et concombre 2.20 € (This is part of their suggested menu. I didn't know it would really be just tomatoes and cucumbers only - Almost RM10 for this small dish. Adui...).
6 escargots French-style (not the usual cheesy sauce that we are accustomed to). This was good.
Main: Roti de porc gratin de choux fleurs (what looks like pork chops with potato gratin and cabbage stew). Very rustic and hearty flavours - good!
Main (recommended by waiter): Escalope de veau panee milanaise (Milanese veal escalope with sauteed potatoes). I don't know how on earth our "Ah Gong" waiter could have think that a petite Asian lady could finish this dish. One whole plate full with strips of veal. The flavour was good but the meat were a combination of tough, chewy and tender pieces. Obsviously, I prefer the tender ones. I think I gave up less than 1/2 way through chewing.
A very nice bottle of apple cider that we ordered.
Dessert: Coupe de creme chantilly (some kind of chestnut pudding topped with creme chantilly). The pudding was seriously (and sickeningly) sweet. We could only managed a couple of spoonfuls. This was also the time when the earlier other 2 diners at our table left and 2 younger men (1 French and 1 Italian who was quite a looker) joined our table and started chatting to us (that was how we learned about this restaurant's famous history). They were pretty entertaining and funny so it brighten up the otherwise forbidding ambience that we were feeling from the restaurant's waiters' austere facial expression.

Cafe Les Deux Magots (6 place Saint Germain des Prés)


Another cafe that is rich in history, it was a regular "hang-out place" for legendary figures of the art and literature world such as Verlaine, Mallarme, Oscar Wilde, Guillaume, Dora Maar, Picasso, Jean Paul Sartre and Earnest Hemmingway. During the pre-war days, the area of Saint Germain was the intellectual centre of Paris.

We stopped here for a much needed break during a shopping day at the left bank and area of Saint Germain. Food wise, nothing to shout about.


Salade Deux Magots: Green salad, chicken, ham, boiled egg, tomatoes. Rather uninspiring...


Beef carpacio with green salad: Ok but not the best... And the best? The complimentary fresh mini baguettes. I love the crusty exterior and soft, chewy interior. If only they would give me some olive oil and balsamic vinegar to go with the bread.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Paris 2007: Meals: Outside Paris

1) Light Meal at Creperie Au Chat Gourmand - La Boule
One of my favourite dining places during my trip. We discovered this place by chance. What seems to be the only place open for a late lunch, it was a really cute and quaint restaurant that serves crepes and galettes (aka creperie). The owner must be a serious cat lover because the entire place, from tip-to-toe (including bathroom accessories) are decorated with cat's motifs.

The savoury galettes were all great! Light yet filling at the same time, I could eat galettes everyday!

The dessert crepes were wonderful as well! And the nicest accompaniment to these meals, apple cider! Mmm..... refreshing and slightly sweet and boozy at the same, it's perfect for a lazy, sunny afternoon.

2) Favourite Meals - Salads (Cafe in Nantes, near main shopping square)
I have always love salads. One of my biggest disappointment is the lack of good salads in PJ/KL ,so imagine my delight when big variety of salads are found everywhere in France. Here are some good ones that we had for brunch before shopping in the city of Nantes.
Grilled Saint Jacques (Scallops) Salad with sesame dressing
Smoked Salmon Salad
Thai-styled Poached Chicken Salad

3) Dinner at La Croisette, La Baule
We were lucky to get a place within 20 minutes at this place without prior reservation, especially given the fact that after we sat down, we saw the queue grew to more than 10-feet long. One of the best restaurant dinners that I have had in France.
Steak Tartare with some kind of Moroccan sauce
Beef Carpacio in 2 Styles - so exquisite!

Best Salad - Their house salad that has a bit of everything - mixed greens, foie grais, confit de canard (slow braised duck), bacon, cold cuts dressed in simple balsamic olive oil dressing (they give you a cute miniature bottle). The serving was huge and more than sufficient as a main meal!

Main Dishes with Scallops - The scallops in this town is so fresh, huge and juicy!
Pizza Marinara - Again check out the generous amount of scallops!

Best moments: Dessert Time! Tiramisu (ok) and Creme Brulee (delish!)