Au revoir Paris.
As always, you never seem to have enough time to properly say goodbye to a city that you love. Especially when you go on a marathon food shopping spree to somehow bring a little sliver of French cuisine back with you.
With a Saturday flight, it took careful calculation and planning to make sure that I hit all my favorite spots- but not too early in advance (for freshness' sake, of course).
The day before shopping, it was off to see Paris, je t'aime (Paris, I Love You). If you speak French, go see it. A love letter to Paris, I thought it was the perfect ending to my magical 10-month life there. It's a collage of 20 different 5-minute clips, each taking place in a different arrondissement in Paris, each filmed by a different director. I left the movie even more in love with the city than before.
Fueled by such great entertainment, it was off to shop and say goodbye to the places I loved:
- Micouleau in the 7ème: tiny tins of pure foie gras, cute cans of terrines. They have a restaurant in the back that looked promising, even though I've never eaten there before.
- La Grande Epicerie (Bon Marché): powdered veal stock (hey, I can make my own but this is for emergencies!) and Wattwiller water.
- Pierre Hermé: I confess- I went there twice in one day! The first time for Christine Ferber's amazing passion fruit, strawberry, & rhubarb jam. The second for the 7 perfect macarons and a tart for the plane ride.
- Patrick Roger: Brazilian lime caramels and a lime bouchée as a gift. Plus a bag of dark chocolate- covered almonds for me!
- Eric Kayser: two loaves of walnut bread, one baguette Monge. The walnut bread held up well during travel, the baguette not too well.
- Le Quartier du Pain: My favorite place to grab lunch at school, I wanted to pick up a roasted pork, potato, and mustard sandwich on cheese bread for the plane ride. Unfortunately, they were out of sandwiches when I got there, so I ended up with a tartine of lardons, onions, and cheese instead. Poor me!
- Berthillon: one last taste of ice cream perfection- a scoop of Mandarin orange and a scoop of passion fruit. The Mandarin orange was divine, but I like the passion fruit gelato at Amarino better.
- Cheese shop: There's a cute shop at Metro Maubert Mutualite that vacuum seals cheese. I ended up with a crottin chavignol, a semi-aged chevre, brie de Meaux, some Manchego, and even a square of quince paste. All sealed up and ready to travel home with me!
All this shopping would make any girl hungry. I decided my last meal in Paris would be a memorable one: Le Comptoir Hôtel Relais Saint-Germain was smack dab in the middle of my shopping trail and would be the perfect farewell morsel of Paris. (Sorry, no pictures- I was there to thoroughly enjoy myself!)
I was lucky to nab a table on the sidewalk overlooking the touristy yet fun carrefour de l'Odéon. One of the chalkboard specials was a terrine aux pot a feu, and it arrived with a bright green vinaigrette drizzled on the side, and little romaine hearts sprinkled with fried garlic. Although pot a feu is traditionally a winter dish, I loved Yves Camdeborde's twist to make it summery and chilled: layered luscious meat cooked in bouillon and tender vegetables that all came together to make a refreshing starter.
There was a slight miscommunication regarding my main dish and I ended up with a pied de cochon (pig's feet) instead of the lamb I had originally wanted. I chalked it up to fate and stuck with the dish, since it was my second choice anyway. It was meat pulled off the bone then breaded and fried. Some people don't like the gelatinous texture, but I thought it was great- using unpopular parts of an animal can really showcase a chef's talents. It was served with mashed potatoes in a jus and the same little romaine hearts and fried garlic that came with my starter.
The glass of rosé I chose was divine. I usually don't like rosé's much, but this was almost amber in color- perfectly chilled and so smooth and well-rounded I stopped for a minute just to really savor how it danced on my tongue. On the hot summer day that it was, I almost ordered a second glass to extend the magic I felt sitting at the Parisian sidewalk table. But Berthillon beckoned, so I refrained myself.
The total bill was 29 Euros, a steal considering the high quality of food and wine. Unfortunately, it's difficult to get a reservation there, and I had walked past it hundreds of times without even thinking of trying to get in for dinner. But at least lunch is a no-reservation policy, and the food there is much better than the other touristy spots you will find in the area.
So my whirlwind food shopping day gave me a chance to visit all my favorite shops and bring back a little taste of Paris with me. It's been almost two weeks since I've been back in the US, and most of the foods I brought back are almost gone. I've got to slowly savor them- who knows when I'll be back?
Paris, je t'aime!
Hôtel Relais Saint-Germain
9, carrefour de l'Odéon
Tel. 01 44 22 07 97
Bistro at lunch (no reservations), 42 Euros at dinner (set menu, reservations mandatory)