Saturday, 13 February 2010

PARIS - Food Glorious French Food

The French are known for their love of and flair with food. Paris is filled with fabulous restaurants and last weekend I had the opportunity to eat at a few of them. As part of my prize trip to Paris we were treated to meals in Restaurant 51 at La cinémathèque, Les Bateaux Parisiens and Le Saut de Loup. All come highly recommended and the latter two are a tad on the pricey side so I certainly wasn't complaining.

We arrived at the hotel to a gift of Laduree macarons in a rainbow of beautiful colours. My friend and I sampled the flavours over the course of the weekend and we have another friend who is a big fan of these sweet treats so we decided to bring a box back home for her. It went down rather well too.

At the hotel, we were also treated to champagne and a selection of savoury and sweet finger food. Check out those fab meringues!

Dream weekend in Paris, Feb 2010.
Dream weekend in Paris, Feb 2010.
Dream weekend in Paris, Feb 2010.

Once we were all sorted it was off to Restaurant 51 for lunch. I chose a starter of cheese and ham crostini which to be honest filled me up quite nicely... then it was on to the main course. Chicken with mashed potato and a nice big dollop of mustard. Delicious and all washed down with a nice glass of white wine and a cup of the best peppermint tea I've ever tasted, ever!

My friend chose the same main as me but went for the soup starter - it was potato, tomato and asparagus and again, I think she didn't need a main after it. Others in our party went for pudding too, but knowing there was a 3 course dinner on the menu I wisely resisted.

Dream weekend in Paris, Feb 2010
Dream weekend in Paris, Feb 2010
Dream weekend in Paris, Feb 2010

Dinner was planned in at Les Bateaux Parisiens for a cruise on the Seine along with some light entertainment in the form of a French singer who did the most beautiful French songs, before jazzing things up after dessert with a little bit of Tina Turner and an 'interesting' version of Reggae Nights.

After an aperitif and a cute little olive muffin while we waited, I ordered the scallops to start. They came served in a green herb and chestnut sauce with spinach and it truly was one of the best things I've tasted in a long time. Creamy and full of flavour. I've never had chestnuts at all before, but I'll definitely be throwing them in a dish or two at home now and again. My friend went for the swordfish with sesame and coriander but with all the menus in French she hadn't realised it would be raw... I tried a bit and found it to be pretty delicious but my friend wasn't so keen.

For main I chose the fillet of beef with black truffle sauce and my friend went for the chicken in a foie gras sauce. I didn't take pictures as we've all seen what a bit of chicken and beef looks like. Our mains were accompanied with garlic, creamed mashed potato which was swimming in butter and lovely seasonal vegetables.

For dessert we decided it was best to go half and half to try two things on the menu instead of one. One dish was the restaurant's signature chocolate dish - the crousti bato, and the other gooey lemon and citrus tartlet. I did make the mistake of eating the grapefruit off the top in one go... what, it looked like orange?!

Dream weekend in Paris, Feb 2010
Dream weekend in Paris, Feb 2010
Dream weekend in Paris, Feb 2010
Dream weekend in Paris, Feb 2010

Our final meal of the weekend was at Le Saut de Loup near the Louvre. Another 3 courses of yumminess. My friend got the pumpkin soup which I tried, I dread to think how much cream was in it but it sure tasted good. I had the salmon with dill, lettuce and balsamic. We both got a club sandwich for our mains, mine with langoustine and then came the best part of the meal... the dessert.

My friend had her eye on an apple tart the whole weekend and her eyes lit up when it was on the menu. The apples were beautifully caramelised . And I gave in and went for the chocolate melting pud which was served with a mango sorbet - it was the most amazing combination and one that I'll be trying to repeat at home myself.

Dream weekend in Paris, Feb 2010
Dream weekend in Paris, Feb 2010
Dream weekend in Paris, Feb 2010
Dream weekend in Paris, Feb 2010

What I learnt about French food... if you are a vegetarian, then Paris isn't for you. There are very few, if any, vegetarian options on menus at French restaurants - it doesn't really suit their food ethos. Also, don't expect the waiter or waitress to speak English and don't expect to get a menu in English. Do a bit of research before you go, or be willing to try new and interesting things and you'll probably have some of the best food you've ever tried in your life.

Nom, nom, nom...



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