Cafes

Paris 2019

10/12/2019 11:45:00 PM

Place de la République, Paris
Place de la République

Hi everybody! So, if you follow me on Instagram, you'll know I just got back from a wonderful three-week holiday in Germany visiting the in-laws! So much bread, ice-cream, cake, and sausages! It was the best! As usual, I managed to squeeze in a little trip to Paris to visit BFF Clarice and eat all the food, woohoo! Today's post is all about the Paris visit. This will be a long post; grab a cuppa and enjoy!

This time I did a two-night trip, going up on a Friday afternoon and coming back on a Sunday afternoon. After arriving, I had a few hours to myself before meeting Clarice when she finished work in the evening. A good coffee was definitely high priority! As soon as I arrived, I walked directly from the Gare de l'Est station to Dreamin Man (140 Rue Amelot, 75011 Paris, France) for a great flat white.

Dreamin Man Coffee, Paris
Dreamin Man Coffee

I loved this cute little cafe! It was super cozy and chilled out, and had a distinct Melbourne vibe. The coffee was excellent too. From pre-trip stalking on their Instagram, I learned they do a gorgeous-looking flan/Japanese pudding. Unfortunately, they only do it on Saturdays, so I couldn't get it. (However, Clarice got one a couple of weeks after my trip, and she said it was awesome!) But not to worry, I was more than happy with my coffee. Aaah... delicious.

Flat White, Dreamin Man Coffee
Flat White, Dreamin' Man Coffee

From here I went to Clarice's place to drop off my bags and catch up with her awesome boyfriend and their super-cute three-year-old. He's recently started speaking, (the son, not the boyfriend), which is so adorable! Bonus: I was also able to pull out some rusty high school French to chat to him. (For fellow lapsed language-learners, a good thing about talking to toddlers is that they don't care about your terrible accent or horrendous grammar; they're just trying to understand you and make themselves understood, so there's no need to get embarrassed about repeating yourself half-a-dozen times until you understand each other. This also worked well for German conversation with Sandra's three year old nephew, hah).

OK! From there I said goodbye, and headed out to meet Clarice, making a little detour through Lafayette Gourmet (35 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris) on the way, to stock up on my French favourites - Kusmi tea, Pierre Hermé macarons, salted caramel sauce, Bretagne biscuits and more. I love shopping there! (I'll share the picture of the things I bought at the bottom of the post).

And then Clarice and I met up and went to dinner! We had a 10pm (!) reservation at Verjus (52 Rue de Richelieu, 75001 Paris). Verjus is a cosy little restaurant that offers a sensational seasonal five-course degustation menu. We did the matching wines as well. Woohoo, girls' night out! Clarice had dined here before (just a couple of months prior, actually), but was happy to come again as "it was one of the most amazing gastronomic experiences of [her] life!" I'll blog the dinner in full, but wanted to share a few highlights.

My favourite of the savoury courses was the lobster risotto, which had a base of red camargue rice, tomato, loads of herbs, and summer truffle. It was perfectly balanced and so delicious!

Tomato, Lobster, Summer Truffle with risotto of red camargue rice;
Wine: Fattoria San Lorenzo, Marche, Le Oche 2015

The dessert was a lovely peach melba, with ice-cream, peaches, fresh raspberries and fresh raspberry sauce, encased in a beautiful crisp meringue dome.

Peach Melba, Verjus
Peach Melba, Verjus

And the petits fours were these beautifully presented corn and caramel macarons. The shells were made with cornmeal and had a wonderful texture to them, complementing the caramel filling, which itself had little pops (hah) of popcorn inside. Divine!

Corn macarons
Corn macarons, Verjus

And actually, we were gifted an extra petit four from the chef - some dried muscat grapes enrobed in Valrhona Guanaja 70% cocoa chocolate. (I think he must have noticed me from my extensive pre-trip insta-stalking and enthusiastic commenting, hehe).

I would definitely recommend Verjus if you're in Paris. I loved the cosy, intimate atmosphere, the food was wonderful, and the staff were really lovely. They all seemed to speak multiple languages as well (we heard French, English, and Spanish), so I think it would be a low-stress option for non-French-speaking visitors to Paris as well.

It was very late at this point, and we were very full. We pretty much crashed out as soon as we got home!

We started slowly the next morning, and Clarice made a lovely light breakfast of smoothie bowls (banana, mango, blood nectarine, coconut water, guarana, açaí) with granola, and coffee.

Smoothie Bowl
Smoothie Bowl

We then took a slow stroll through the nearby Marché Charonne on our way to lunch.

Le Marché de Charonne
Le Marché de Charonne (Charonne market)

Early Autumn means PLUM SEASON! Mirabelles (the little yellow ones) are my fave.

All the plums

For lunch, we splashed out on a seafood platter at Clamato (80 Rue de Charonne, 75011 Paris) in the 11th arrondissement. They're a casual and youthful restaurant offering extremely high quality seafood. The atmosphere is cozy and a bit eclectic - think exposed brick flooring, mismatched wooden tables, friendly waitstaff in jeans. I'll blog the meal in full soon, but let me share a couple of highlights.

First up: seafood platter!

Clamato Seafood Platter
Clamato Seafood Platter - €65

This magnificent platter included half a rock crab, whelks, six almond clams, six parlourdes clams, six praires clams, and six natural oysters. With spicy butter, aioli, grainy mustard mayonnaise, and fabulous bread by Ten Belles. Everything was incredibly fresh and so delicious! I'm a huge fan of clams and they're not that prevalent here in Australian restaurants, so I was thrilled that there were THREE different types offered on this platter. Fresh crab is always a lot of work to crack and eat, but it was totally worth it.

Our respective partners are both seafood avoiders, so this platter was an absolute treat for both Clarice and I! And speaking of treats... we shared a maple syrup tart for dessert.

Clamato Maple Syrup Tart
Maple Syrup Tart, whipped cream - €8

It was absolutely incredible. Crisp sablée pastry with a warm gooey maple syrup filling, with a generous cloud of whipped cream on top and a fine shaving of fresh nutmeg. The filling was, impressively, not too sweet and had a rich maple flavour rather than just pure sweetness. Absolute perfection.

Clamato
Clamato. Hoping the big grin distracts you from the crab stains on my dress.

After lunch we took a walk around to pick up ingredients for dinner - there are lots of cute little grocers and other great food destinations in the area. (Bistrot Paul Bert, for example, is nearby, as well as famous patissier Cyril Lignac's trio of chocolaterie / patisserie / restaurant).

One of our stops was at L'Ami Txulette (120 Rue de Charonne, 75011 Paris), a really excellent Basque butcher, where we bought a Scottish grouse! Grouse was, I suppose, an unusual choice, but Clarice had spotted them in the window a few days prior, and thought it might be a nice option for our dinner. I heartily agreed! Grouse isn't available in Australia, and you may remember that during my Sarah Discovers How to Eat days, I made Nigella's Young Grouse with Mascarpone and Thyme using quails instead of grouse. I was super keen to try the real thing.

L'Ami Txulette, Paris
L'Ami Txulette, Paris

They sell so much cool stuff! All sorts of meat, in different cuts, fresh and dried sausages, pates and terrines, hams and preserved meats, salads, brioche sausage rolls, Basque groceries, and more.

L'Ami Txulette
L'Ami Txulette Butcher

Basque Butcher Counter in Paris
L'Ami Txulette butcher

Shopping there was actually quite an experience. The grouses ("greese"?) are sold with head, feet and feathers all attached, to prove that they are real grouse. Our friendly butcher took his time preparing the grouse perfectly for us - removing the head, feathers, wings and feet; blowtorching the skin (not sure why, but I trust the expert); removing all the innards and selecting the good parts for our sauce; wrapping the breasts in streaky bacon; trussing the grouse with string; and finally, garnishing with a little sprig of parsley. Such care and love in his work!

Butcher at work
Butcher at work

We were chatting to him as he was working (I say "we" were chatting; I mean Clarice was chatting to him in French, and I was smiling and nodding politely), talking about how we were planning to cook the grouse, where we're from and so on, and when he finished preparing the grouse, he said to us: "Ladies, I'd like to give you a little gift", and walked out the back and came back with a yellow and green ceramic terrine dish! Wow! (It didn't quite fit in with Clarice's aesthetic, so she kindly offered for me to take it home with me, woohoo! You can see the terrine in the picture at the bottom of this post).

And here's what the beautifully prepared grouse looked like. I thought it looked like it was wearing Lederhosen, heh. (Bacon-hosen?).

Prepared and trussed grouse

We had a chill afternoon at home, and then started cooking dinner. All Nigella recipes, of course! It had been a long-standing dream of mine to cook Nigella recipes with Clarice again, and we did it! Yay! (The last time was back in 2006 in London/Cambridge, zomg). We made grouse with mascarpone and thyme, and sweet and sour cabbage (both from How to Eat), and sweet potato macaroni cheese from Simply Nigella.

Sweet and sour cabbage; Roast grouse with mascarpone and thyme; Sweet potato mac & cheese

It was so fun, and both cabbage and mac and cheese are excellent. And the painstakingly-prepared grouse? Well, I think perhaps grouse is not really for me. I found the meat a bit too bitter (especially the leg/thigh), which may have been exacerbated by the red wine in the sauce. But, it was such fun shopping for it and cooking it, and I'm so glad I finally got to try it!

Clarice had splashed out on some super-fancy high-end pâtisseries for our dessert - a Yann Couvreur mirabelle rum baba, a Yann Couvreur mirabelle tart, and a Pierre Hermé Paris Brest. Wow!

Pastries: Pierre Hermé Paris Brest; Yann Couvreur Mirabelle Rum Baba; Yann Couvreur Mirabelle Tart

It was such a treat to have mirabelles, especially in such a fancy presentation. The rum baba was well balanced and not too strong (unlike the paint-stripper strength rum babas I remember from French restaurants in Melbourne many years ago), and the mirabelle tart was a joyful combination of crisp, sweet, cakey, and fresh. Simple and perfect. And the Paris Brest was absolute heaven! It had a wonderfully roasty deep nutty flavour, a really crisp shell, and super smooth cream. (Fellow Paris-Brest fans, other great versions are at Bistrot Paul Bert and Jacques Genin).

Ok, so Sunday morning! Clarice made a little pick-me-up of coffee and carrot juice to kick-start the day.

Coffee and carrot juice
Coffee & Carrot Juice

We had breakfast at Le Servan (32 Rue Saint-Maur, 75011 Paris), a gorgeous yet relaxed little bistro run by sisters Tatiana and Katia Levha. The sisters were born in Manila and grew up in Paris, and Chef Tatiana previously worked at L'Arpége and L'Astrance, both of which have three Michelin stars (source). Le Servan has just started serving breakfast, and was reasonably quiet when we got there bright and early on Sunday morning. Again, just sharing the highlights here as I plan to blog the meal in full.

Comté Brioche with Sage Butter, Le Servan
Comté Brioche with Sage Butter €6, Le Servan

Comté brioche with sage butter. Four of my favourite things, together at last! I couldn't NOT order it. This brioche was warm and soft and melty and delicious!

Wonton Soup and Salmon Brioche, Le Servan
Noodle Soup with Pork Wontons €12
Salmon Brioche with raw cream €13

We also shared a wonton soup, and toasted brioche with smoked salmon and raw cream. I wouldn't normally think to order an Asian dish while in Paris, but I'm so glad we got the noodle soup. After having been in Germany for nearly three weeks, I was totally missing noodles and chilli! The salmon brioche was mega indulgent - the brioche was nice and fluffy, with a light char on the edges. I'd never had raw cream before ("crème crue"), and it was incredibly rich and decadent with a gorgeous tang. I think I'm in love.

Clarice knew that 10 Belles Bread (17-19 Rue Breguet, 75011 Paris) was just around the corner, so we headed straight there after breakfast. You may remember that I'm a fan of the original 10 Belles coffee shop near the Canal Saint-Martin, and we'd loved the 10 Belles bread at Clamato, so I was super keen to check out the bakery! Unlike the tiny bolthole coffee bar, 10 Belles Bread was huge! They (obviously) bake all the bread there, and there's a little courtyard out the back if you want to eat in.

10 Belles Bread
10 Belles Bread

They sell bread by the kilo (€9.50-11 per kilo depending on the type), and Clarice bought some to take home. (She had some with scrambled eggs the next day and said it was excellent!)

10 Belles Bread Bread
10 Belles Bread Bread

I was about to return to Germany (the land of bread), so didn't think it was sensible to buy a loaf, but I did buy some cookies for the train ride home. (One chocolate chip, one chocolate rye, one sesame cookie).

Cakes and Cookies at 10 Belles
Cakes and Cookies at 10 Belles

And given that I was at 10 Belles, I couldn't resist buying a quick coffee! (Despite the two coffees I'd already had that morning, whoops). Fabulous, as expected.

Coffee at 10 Belles
Coffee at 10 Belles

After this we took a walk through the nearby Bastille Market on the way. It's one of Paris' largest markets and a great place for a wander.

Bastille Market
Marché Bastille

Marché Bastille Cheese
Marché Bastille Cheese

Marché Bastille Mushrooms
Marché Bastille Mushrooms

And from here it was a teary goodbye and then to the train back to Germany! Here are the 10 Belles cookies I ate on the trip. (Well, I ate about half of each of them on the train, and slowly finished them over the next few days). They were incredible. The chocolate rye cookie was super dark and rich, with a nice nuttiness from the rye flour, and the choc chip cookie was a great example of one of my favourites. The sesame cookie, however, was the star. It had little flecks of black and white sesame, and a fantastic pop of salt. I have no idea if they used tahini or just roasted sesame seeds, but it had a really deep sesame flavour. I loved it!

10 Belles Cookies
Ten Belles Cookies - Dark choc & rye; Choc chip; Sesame

And finally (yes, we're getting there), I just wanted to share the goodies I bought while in Paris. I think I'm slowly getting better at being realistic about the amount of things I buy. (And now that I've been home for a few weeks, I can confirm that I've been consuming these, and not just preciously hoarding them in the pantry until well past the use-by date, haha).

Parisian Goodies

A summary.
Pierre Hermé Macarons - The best! I love the mogador (passionfruit and chocolate), and got four of them, but also enjoyed the Infiniment Vanille de Madagascar, the Barbade (chocolate, vanilla, tonka bean), and LOVED the Infiniment Praliné Noisette.
Fines Gallettes - pretty good, but I think I prefer the classic Biscuits Sablés de Normandie by the same brand.
Crême de Salidou - salted butter caramel in a tube! I've been having it on crepes, but am tempted to squeeze it straight into my mouth.
Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse - intense bean-to-bar chocolate production, expensive and exquisite. The little box of bonbons were a favourite from a previous trip, and this time I splashed out on the chocolate spread as well, with hazelnut praline and peanuts inside. It's great and I've been spreading it on toast, on crumpets, pancakes, anything! And everything.
Kusmi Tea - my new favourite. I like the spearmint tea, and the Alain Ducasse special edition white tea. (I was upsold a Tropical White tea, with peach and mango, also lovely).
Blue and White serviettes; Wooden Plate - A very thoughtful gift from Clarice, that could definitely be used for my breakfast Instagrams!
Yellow Terrine - gift from the friendly Basque butcher at L'Ami Txulette. I don't know if homemade terrines are in my future, but I reckon it'd be perfect for cakes or puddings.

AND FINALLY THE POST IS DONE! It's taken me ages to write it up, but I really wanted to record the entire weekend, and was so excited to share all the details with you. I just couldn't think of what to cut out. Massive thank-you Clarice for a lovely trip and being an excellent host! A big thank-you also to José and the little guy for their hospitality and being super nice and super cute! I hope to see them all again real soon!

Previous trips to Paris:

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