My husband Robert and I just returned from a fabulous two week vacation in France and Spain, celebrating our seventh wedding anniversary. What an incredible trip! Our trip began with two nights in Paris, then we ventured to the Landes area (or “department”) in the Southwest area of France to visit my college friend Beth Thrasher-Broidy and her husband Marc at their home outside of Castelner for 5 nights, one of which we spent together with them in Bordeaux. From there we went to San Sebastian, Spain for 2 nights, then to Biarritz for 3 nights. I am going to be posting a series of blogs focusing on the wonderful food we experienced, along with a few restaurant recommendations. For this post I’m focusing on Paris, providing four restaurant recommendations.
Two fun places for lunch in Paris
1. Carette on the Place des Vosges. Our flight from the US landed in Paris early – around 8 am – and our room wasn’t ready at the hotel, so we set off for a long walk that included a stop at Carette for lunch, on the beautiful Place des Vosges in the Marais section of Paris. The Place des Vosges has always been one of my favorite places in Paris. Built by King Henry IV in the early 1600s, it is a symmetrical square comprised of what was originally 36 houses, 9 on each side. What made it unique at the time of its construction was that the house fronts were all built following the same design which had never been done before:
We headed to the restaurant on the square that was my mother’s favorite in Paris, mainly because she liked their salads and other lighter fare. Here she is enjoying lunch on the square, during her last trip to Paris with my Dad, which I think was in the early 2000s:
(Clearly something caught her attention – something I don’t think she approved of based on the expression on her face!)
There is still a restaurant in the same location, but it is not the same one – although they still have the same pretty pink tablecloths! The well known French patisserie and tea salon Carette opened a second restaurant in the same space in 2009. We decided to have lunch there, in mom’s honor.
Robert enjoying a glass of Rose wine at Carette
While Carette is known for its pastries, my favorite dish was my salad, due mainly to its presentation (although it was also delicious!). The lettuce was bundled inside thin slices of prosciutto, and surrounded by slices of mozzarella cheese and fresh tomatoes, garnished with black olives and chopped chives:
I am definitely going to try this presentation at home!
If you go to Carette, take some time to walk around the square and enjoy its beauty. You can also pop into the Victor Hugo Museum which is there.
2. Café in the Jardin des Tuileries. Another beautiful site – okay, most of Paris is a beautiful site, but these are my favorites! – is the Jardin des Tuileries, which is located between the Place de la Concorde and the Louvre Museum. We decided to take a bike tour of Paris one morning, and our lunch stop on the tour was at the café in the gardens. Not the best food in Paris, but I did have a good crepe, and it’s a wonderful location to sit, eat, sip on a glass of wine and watch the Parisians strolling through the park.
Robert (in the black baseball hat) reviews the menu in the cafe
Wonderful ice cream at Berthillon on ÎIe Saint-Louis
Back to the first day – after we finished eating at Carette and strolling around the Marais, we headed over to another lovely area (with probably the most expensive real estate in Paris) – ÎIe Saint-Louis – for ice cream at Berthillon. Truly the best ice cream in Paris, and some of the best in the world. I especially love the dark chocolate. The flavors are very intense, with a super creamy and rich consistency. While you can buy Berthillon ice cream at other retailers around Paris, I think it’s the best at one of the flagship shops on the ÎIe.
Memorable, delicious dinner at Les Papilles in the 6th Arrondissement
Following the recommendation of our fabulous travel agent (and my best friend since grade school) Katey Hartwell, we had dinner one night at the restaurant Les Papilles in the 6th Arrondissement, near the Pantheon. Primarily a small wine shop and grocery store featuring locally sourced products, Les Papilles also serves lunch and dinner.
There aren’t very many tables – maybe 8 or 10 inside. And don’t expect your typical restaurant experience for dinner. To start, there is no menu, and no choice. When you arrive, the very nice and gracious host/owner (who speaks English) will tell you what they are serving that evening. We had four courses including a cheese course, which I think is typical. You select the wine you want to drink with your dinner from the various bottles on the store shelves, and you pay the store price for the wine plus a 7 Euro corkage fee – which means you can enjoy some fabulous French wine at a great price! The owner is happy to provide wine pairing recommendations. Here is the French white burgundy wine he recommended for our dinner that we loved:
Unfortunately my photos of our food didn’t come out (battery died!), but it doesn’t really matter because if you go, chances are very good you will be served something different than what we had, since the menu changes daily!
My next post will include some fabulous dishes we enjoyed in the Landes area at our friends beautiful home outside of Castelner. Stay tuned!
Last March, my husband Robert and I attended a fun event raising money for the Denver Dumb Friends League, called Give PAWS. During the live auction, Robert bid on and won (well, actually drank a lot of wine, then started bidding and somehow won) a 5-course dinner with wine pairings for eight people, provided by Denver’s Gourmet Fine Catering. Last month, we finally cashed in our prize – and it was a truly memorable evening.
We invited 6 foodie friends to join us and enjoy our windfall. The evening started out with passed hors d’oeuvres (sorry, I forgot to take pictures of these – too busy eating all of these scrumptious items! – so you’ll have to use your imagination) paired with a yummy Mionetto Prosecco Brut:
Blackened Rare Ahi Tuna
on a crisp gaufrette with wasabi mayonnaise, soy syrup and pickled ginger
topped with wedged brie and spiced pear & apple chutney
Wild Mushroom and Boursin Corn Fritter
served with a sweet roasted corn and scallion crème friache dipping sauce
Braised Duck Confit on Zucchini Cake
served with sun-dried cherry chutney
It was impossible to pick a favorite – they were all perfectly prepared and oh sooo good!
Next we moved into the dining room . . .
. . . to the first of our five courses – a wonderfully light and flavorful Gourmet Wedge Salad that was paired with a Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2011:
Wedge of bibb lettuce with candied pecans, sliced green apples and grape tomatoes, drizzled with a fall pear vinaigrette and garnished with herbed goat cheese medallions and bread sticks
Second course was a fabulous Butternut Squash Ravioli, paired with a Fess Parker Chardonnay 2011:
Hand-made winter butternut squash ravioli served with a vanilla bean-vin blanc garnished with toasted pine nuts, shaved grana cheese and chiffonade of fresh sage
Third course was Spanish Sea Bass paired with Chime Pinot Noir North Coast 2009:
Paprika and chive oiled seared sea bass garnished with a fresh cilantro pesto and roasted corn relish and served with marbled purple and gold mashed potatoes
Over halfway now, and everything has been over-the-top fabulous . . .
Fourth course was Petite Filet paired with Francis Coppola Cabernet Sauvignon 2009:
Grilled beef tenderloin tournedos drizzle with a roasted shallot zinfandel demi glace and garnished with fingerling shoestring potatoes
And the finale – Chocolate Dipped Tiramisu paired with Robert Mondavi Masco D’oro 2007. Truly incredible – to die for – I dreamed about it, it was so fabulous!
Individual chocolate dipped tiramisu slice with creme anglaise, seasonal fresh beries and garnished with pulled sugar
Gourmet Fine Catering did an incredible job. Here is our wonderful chef for the evening, Bill:
Unfortunately the photo of our server, Sarah, didn’t come out – but she was great too! They did all of the work from beginning to end, including setting the table, providing all linens, dishware, glassware, cutlery, etc. – and, Robert’s favorite part, they cleaned it all up!
I would highly recommend Gourmet Fine Catering – we had no complaints, and all gave them a 10 out of 10!