Just the word “Paris” conjures images of bustling cafes, intimate bistros, sparkling brasseries, and pastry.  Oh, Parisian pastry.  Stop me before I write a sonnet to thee. 

Now that I’ve (sort of) gotten over my jet lag after my Parisian adventure, I’ve realized I can’t keep the foodie beauty just for myself.  So in the spirit of Foodie Friday, I have completed the daunting task of choosing the 10 most perfect bites of food I enjoyed in Paris this past week.

The 10 Most Delicious Things I Ate in Paris

IMG_3033.JPG1. Macaroons from Ladurée: There’s a reason the macaroons from this charming, pastel-colored bakery and tearoom are so famous.  They’re soft, slightly chewy, and filled with pastry creams spiked with flavors ranging from lemon to coffee to bergamot to raspberry to vanilla bean. Oops, I accidentally tried them all!  Check out Ladurée’s lovely website at Ladurée.fr.

2. Radishes and Sea Salt at L’Affriole: This bistro was recommended to us by a family member who has Parisian friends–always a good sign.  And everything about it–from the crusty bread to the gorgeous food to the reasonable price to the cheery decor–was a pleasure.  But one thing that stood out was how they began the meal with a simple plate of fresh radishes and chunky sea salt for dipping.  The satisfactory crunch of the radishes–which were mild in a lovely way–paired with the zing of the salt really woke up our taste buds.  Here’s a NY Times review of L’Affriole. 

3. Orange Flower Marshmallows at L’Affriole: With your coffee at this fabulous place, they bring you a box of homemade marshmallows flavored with orange flower extract.  The confections are fluffy, coated in whisper-fine powdered sugar, snow white, and with that pleasant zip of citrus, an experience to remember. 

IMG_2953.JPG4. Chocolate Caramel BonBon from A l’Etoile d’Or: The great Paris-based food blogger David Lebovitz calls this candy shop “the best in Paris,” and I see why.  Tucked into a residential neighborhood north of the touristy area of Paris, the shop is a delightful carnival of candies, caramels, and chocolates.  The lovely proprietress, Denise Acabo, made a dramatic stretching gesture when she pointed out the chocolate caramel bonbons in her case–and was she right that they were beautifully oozy and soft inside!  Outside, they’re enrobed in a perfectly rich dark chocolate that makes a pleasant snap when you bite into it.  Why, oh why did I only get one to sample (that’s it in the bottom right of the photo)?!  Click here to read David Lebovitz’s article on the shop.  

5.  Salted Butter Caramel from A l’Etoile d’Or:  One of the things that brought me to A l’Etoile d’Or in the first place was that Madame Acabo is apparently the only shop in Paris to stock renowned salted butter caramels by Henri Le Roux, who David Lebovitz refers to as “the best caramel-maker on earth.”  I was too late in the week to get a jar of the sticky stuff (sad…) but I did pick up handfuls of caramel candies that are perfectly chewy, just soft enough, and laced with a lovely sea salt that pulls the candy back from the edge of “too-sweet.”  Ooh la la.  Click here for David Lebovitz on Henri Le Roux. 

IMG_2903.JPG6. Roast Chicken at Brasserie Lipp: This Left Bank brasserie was a mere 10-minute walk from our hotel, and we wound up dining there twice–and having precisely the same meal both times.  Why mess with a thing of such simple beauty?  Blanched leeks in Dijon vinagrette, ratatouille, haricot vert…and roast chicken. Everything from the smell to the appearance to of course the flavor of this dish just screamed “CHICKEN!”  We would have licked the plate if there hadn’t been bread available to deliver every last bit of the rich pan sauce that was like a liquid version of the warm, tender meat.  Here’s the Brasserie Lipp website (and here’s a photo of me with a chicken-happy smile on my face)

7. Profiteroles at Brasserie Lipp:  Or is that smile on my face from Brasserie Lipp’s profiteroles, complete with fluffy pâte à choux, ultra-creamy vanilla ice cream, and insane chocolate ganache sauce?  So hard to tell.  Another fun fact about Brasserie Lipp: Earnest Hemmingway adoringly wrote about it in his “A Movable Feast,” mentioning that he sat on “the bench against the wall with the mirror in back.”  Look familiar?  Love it when that happens.   

IMG_2828.JPG8. Smoked Salmon Plate at Mariage FrèresThe Parisians really seem to love their omega 3s, between the avocados, almonds, and smoked salmon that showed up on menu after menu.  I enjoyed smoked salmon on a crusty baguette, chopped up with avocado and cucumber, and most notably, as a lunch plate at the historic Mariage Frères tearoom. They served silky strips of salmon with thick, juicy slices of lemon, orange, and lime.  Two sauces–horseradish and dill–accompanied the plate, as did a warm, yeast-y piece of green (pistacio? parsley?) bread.  The permutations of bread, citrus, salmon, and sauce were practically endless…and all delicious.  Click here to visit the Mariage Frères website.

9. Shrimp Risotto at La Société:  This restaurant, hidden inside what looked like a library across from the St. Germain church, is a “see and be seen” kind of place, complete with Amazonian, black-dress-clad waitresses who stalked the aisles as if they were on catwalks.  We were concerned that the cuisine wouldn’t match the fashionista hype, but wow.  The shrimp risotto that I had was finished with the most flavorful cream I’ve ever tasted, and it elevated a dish I don’t normally think of wh
en I imagine “French food” to a whole new level.  Click here for a review of the restaurant.

10. Chartreuse Verte Liqueur at La Société: This gorgeous pale-green digestif packs a powerful punch–and why shouldn’t it, it’s somewhere around 140 proof!  If you can find it, it’s worth tasting for its multi-layered herbaceousness (apparently it’s the only liqueur in the world that’s naturally green in color, from chlorophyll).  Chartreuse Verte is made by Carthusian monks, and it is said to contain over 130 herbs that are known only to the monastic order that makes it near Grenoble in southern France.  Check out this Answers.com page that describes the drink as having a “minty, spicy” quality–I wholeheartedly agree.

Do you have any Parisian favorites to add?  What’s your favorite foodie travel destination?


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