Today the book spotlight is a bit more foodie-licious than normal at Traveling With T! Velvet Morning Press is releasing their first cookbook and ya’ll if the guest post that Didier Quemener wrote does not make you want to travel to Paris RIGHT NOW- well, I don’t even want to talk to you anymore 😉 😉 As a bread lover, I feel that my first stop will be the bread places that Didier mentions (next stop: CHOCOLATE!)
Prepare to drool.. starting in 3,2,1……
Didier’s Top 5 Must “Do-Eat-Drink” When Visiting Paris!
By Didier Quémener
Go to a bakery, and pretend to be a Parisian! More than 2 billion sandwiches are sold in France each year, and two thirds of those are baguette sandwiches. Parisians are greatly responsible for this statistic. So, as you can imagine, you’ll find them pretty much on every street corner in the City of Light.
However, make sure you go to a “neighborhood” bakery, one that says “Artisan Boulanger” on the sign. This is where you’ll find the best bread (specifically the “baguette Tradition” made with natural yeast) and get great deals. Most often, for under 8 euros ($9) you can choose a “menu” including a sandwich, a drink and… a pastry! Admit it: This is pretty much why you came to Paris, right? The old-timer “jambon-beurre” (ham and butter sandwich) will for sure please your taste buds. Oh, and by the way, make sure to grab a croissant or two while you’re at it. You’ll take care of that diet once you’re back home!
Walk along the Seine river, enjoy the scenery, and savor your sandwich while singing “La Vie en Rose.”
2) Chocolates and caramels
There is only one place to go to treat yourself: Jacques Genin (two locations: 133 rue de Turenne 75003 and 27 rue de Varenne 75007). There aren’t enough words to describe the wonderful goodies you’ll find at his shops!
So what exactly do we find in Genin’s chocolates? This pastry chef and master of chocolate only uses 5 ingredients (6 for milk chocolate). That means he doesn’t add anything superfluous to obtain a pure product accompanied only by ganaches, hazelnuts, dried fruit, spices and fresh herbs to bring us savors and scents from around the world. Vanilla from Madagascar, Tonka bean, Jamaican pepper, licorice, basil, lime, cardamom… Eat one of Genin’s chocolates with your eyes closed, and you’ve taken a voyage.
As for the caramels, the inevitable mango-passion fruit is simply addictive! The caramel is tender and melts in the mouth. The flavor is powerful and simply divine. Let’s say you won’t leave the shop the same way you entered. These little treats will forever change your life!
France equals cheese. I guess we all know that by now. You find cheese everywhere in France, and Paris has a good amount of independent cheese shops where you can buy some of the best (and sometimes stinky!) products. Enter one of the shops, look around, and ask questions. They sure know what they’re selling, and they love talking about their products. They often have you try different varieties to get a sense of what kinds of cheeses you like, then they start making some recommendations. Want cheese to pair with a certain wine? Or maybe to pair with certain foods? Oh, and you want the cheese to be perfectly ripe 3 days from now? Or a week from now? No problem for these experts! Some suggestions: Buy a nice variety of cheese for a quick tasting/dinner/get-together, or create your own personal “Tour de France,” choosing cheeses from various parts of the country. It’s always fun to taste each region’s specialties. And remember, taste/eat in this order: from the mildest to the sharpest. Now you will do me a big favor and opt for raw-milk cheeses (unless you have food allergies/restrictions or compromised immunity), and ask the vendor what’s best at the moment, as the production of artisanal cheeses is seasonal.
A few addresses:
Au Cœur du Marché
28 Rue d’Aligre 75012
62 Rue de Sèvres 75007
Fromager Marie-Anne Cantin
12 Rue du Champ de Mars 75007
Now we’re getting serious! So allow me to give you the #1 rule: Do not buy wine at the supermarket! Why? Well, first of all, it’s very impersonal. Entering a wine shop will save you time and money. Wines are not more expensive at independent wine sellers, and whoever will be there to greet you will target your tastes and direct you to the best choice for your budget. French “cavistes” are on almost every street corner, just like bakeries. And believe me, Parisian wine shops are fun to go to since you often get tastings and off-the-beaten-path wines. You’ll also make great discoveries among the big names, which you’ll find much cheaper than in the U.S. Remember that cheese you just bought? Goat, sheep, cow: Whatever the milk, whatever the taste, there is a wine to match your treasures. However, one important note, and I regularly repeat this same sentence to my friends and guests: Do not drink your best wine while eating cheese! Why? Because wine flavors are so delicate and cheese can be so powerful that you might just end up wasting one, the other or both.
Bottom line: Wine is not a matter of money, it’s a matter of taste! A 5-euro bottle will enchant you as much as a 25-euro one. It all depends on your mood, your crowd and your curiosity!
You can’t leave Paris without having either lunch or dinner at a bistro! Typically small and crowded (which is part of the fun!), this type of Parisian institution is the place to go for a fantastic and affordable meal. A bistro is recognizable by the food served, the modest setting and the traditional French home-style cooking. Stay away from the trendy, fancy, overpriced bistros that are tourist traps! A good bistro is usually a few blocks or streets away (or farther) from the most well-known sites. You’ll recognize one when you see locals sitting there for lunch or dinner with a “carafe” of table wine. From omelets to the unavoidable steak & fries, from the duck confit to the “salade de chèvre chaud” (salad with warm goat cheese on toasts), you’ll find yourself becoming a true Parisian: enjoying your food as you watch people go by, and ordering dessert because you are walking all around the city and don’t care about calories!
Where you must go:
Le Bistrot d’Henri
16 Rue Princesse 75006
The average 3-course meal (appetizer, main and dessert) will come to a total of 30 euros ($33), all included. My recommendations? Get the “petit chèvre chaud, magret de canard au miel, gratin dauphinois, and tarte de saison” (warm goat cheese salad, duck breast with honey & potatoes au gratin, and the seasonal fruit tart). Then walk a good hour and a half after your meal to open up your appetite for the next meal, and start over again!
Chef Q in Paris: The Fall Collection
By Didier Quémener
A Parisian private chef shares his favorite fall recipes and anecdotes in this delicious collection with French flair!
As fall arrives, let’s change more than just our wardrobes—let’s reinvent our cooking with seasonal products! Too difficult or time-consuming? Not with these tips and quick and easy recipes from chef Didier Quémener. Didier’s cooking is all about seasonal ingredients (no strawberries on Didier’s table in November). He grew up in the French countryside, picking fresh fruit and vegetables in his grandmother’s garden and preparing flavorful meals at her side. Today, Didier brings that love for seasonal products to his guests and to you. As a result, your meals will be tastier, easier to make—and less expensive.
Is this a purely French cookbook? No! Didier, who’s traveled throughout the U.S., Europe and China, is greatly influenced by his voyages, and his cuisine is the perfect reflection of this. So if you like cookbooks with a seasonal and international touch, you’ll find this one especially delightful!
About Chef Q:
Didier is the author of Chef Q in Paris: The Fall Collection. He discovered his love of cooking as a seven-year-old growing up in the French countryside. Today, Didier, as “Chef Q Paris,” offers private chef services to tourists and locals in Paris, and teaches at The Michel Roux Jr. Cookery School in London. He worked on a pastry documentary with Chef Michel Roux Jr. for the BBC Four as well as “Kitchen Impossible” on U.K. Channel 4. Didier lives in Paris with his wife and daughter. He is a regular at the local markets and always enjoys a good coffee at his local café.
*So, are you drooling yet? Have you purchased a ticket to Paris? Or are you ready to buy the book?*
Happy Reading and Bookishly Yours,
T @ Traveling With T