I’ll confess many things in the following post: loves, affinities, state of mind, memories, gluttony and passions…
But before I begin, You should know that I can’t stand those who walk and deal with a city with a guidebook in hand … I belong to the category of travelers that are able to let all scents of life guide them throughout their trip… Wandering the streets, to taste the essence of the city and express how delicious it feels…
To my eyes, in the Spring, Paris is a beautiful embracing city that makes one come back to his senses and understand falling in love with everything and everyone… I won’t go into the juicy details of the city and its alluring heritage or urban infrastructure… And although, this is not the first time I visit Paris, everytime feels like a brand new time in this living museum!
I decided to stay in Paris’s first arrondissement; centralized at a walking distance of the tuileries with obvious views and easy walks to anywhere else … I spent a couple of nights at The Westin Paris-Vendôme then moved to Brighton Hotel that’s situated at a walking distance too.
The Westin offered a high end quality and service; the staff was excellent in every regard! The breakfast buffet comprised a wide variety… And yes I did enjoy eating croissant and baguette and butter… I never ate alone, always shared ! And, gaining weight was out of the equation as I spent my days walking none stop… Remember the equation ? (If Calorie in = Calorie out -> weight is maintained).
Hotel Brighton was a coup de foudre and a complete random pick (I told you, I never walk and deal with a city with a guidebook in hand). Very pleasing on the eye, unspoilt and compact, and contrary to other bustling big hotels, it offers a peaceful and lively atmosphere with hospitable staff that are very welcoming and friendly.I was assigned a very spacious, bright and gloriously decadent room decorated with carefully-selected antiques, authentic artwork, and fabrics.And behind the curtains, was a view that took my breath away… And was about to keep me daydreaming in the room …
Hotel Brighton is a member of Esprit de France, a collection of hotels and residences rich in art and history.It was one of the first hotels in Paris, built by the Lord Egerton at the beginning of the 19th century.
I was offered complimentary welcome cocktails upon my arrival and drinking those in the room while gazing at the Tuileries gardens was a captivating moment that’s rooted to my rejoicing memory banks…
The Breakfast buffet was generous offering the quintessentials of the French petit déjeuner!
TIME TO MOVE OUT FROM THE HOTEL AND HIT THE “GLUTTONY” BUTTON
AUX PRES – CYRIL LIGNAC
Cyril Lignac is a French Chef with one Michelin Star.After an apprenticeship in South Western France, he moved to Paris in 2000 and worked in the kitchen of L’Arpège, (restaurant of Chef Alain Passard that you may have watched on Netflix in Chef’s table).Five Years later, he opened his own gourmet restaurant Le Quinzième followed by the Parisian bistro Le Chardenoux, and then taking the same concept to a different location and renaming it Aux Près.
Cyril takes part of Le Meilleur Pâtissier’s Jury that is a TV reality amateur pastry competition on M6 and one of my all time favorite shows .I didn’t miss watching one season since 2012… I was hoping to bump into Cyril at his bistro, but let’s say it didn’t happen this time !
I enjoyed sharing all the dishes ordered in pictures below.The food was good. And the desserts were excellent!
Wherever I travel, I have an increased desire to trying a Peruvian restaurant as Peruvian Cuisine is one of my favorites. Enticing it doesn’t only reflect Peruvian ingredients but brings to my palate the combination of the flavors of 4 continents and is always a great reminder of how powerful this cuisine is to have the ability to incorporate the influence from different times and cultures in one dish!
The Peruvian culinary history dates back to the Incas and Pre-Incas traditional foods: maize, potatoes, quinoa, several kinds of hot peppers, lima beans, maca, etc.
When the Spanish Conquers arrived to Peru,they introduced many ingredients such as olives, grapes, dairy products, beef, chicken, and rice. When these ingredients were blended with Peruvian ones, they fused in Creole culture allowing to hot peppers, cheese and milk to blend…
Spanish conquers brought with them African slaves, that worked in the cuisines of the noble and the wealthy. Their talent in re-creating delightful dishes from food waste has produced two of Peru’s best dishes: Anticuchos and Tacu Tacu.
After the independence in 1821, many European (French and Italian) immigrants arrived in Peru and added their ingredients and flavors to the culinary melting pot.
In the mid 19th Century, the Chinese were brought to Peru to work in the cotton and sugar cane plantations as cheap labor. Being highly conservative to their cultural identity and traditions, they introduced new frying techniques and ingredients like soy or ginger. Peruvian classic Lomo Saltado is a living proof of their influence.
Later on, Japanese immigrants landed in Peru to work on plantations at a time where
in a seemingly absurd way, Peruvians looked down on fish and seafood, just in time for Japanese to add their touch and recreate Ceviche and Tiradito as we know them today!
I enjoyed this delicious cuisine at Manko and shared these dishes while enjoying a buoyant atmosphere!
I love surprises in general and this restaurant surprised me greatly on many levels; to begin with the 8 course surprise dinner created beautifully and artistically by the Michelin Star Japanese Chef Ryuji Teshima and the surprising demonstration of how a Japanese chef can sublimate French technique and produce into a cuisine that reflects both his roots and personality. The kitchen is open and seeing the cooking staff sketching with precision each plated piece of art was surprisingly alluring. I won’t go into the details of each dish as I would like you to experience it one day and collect from this restaurant marker-point dishes to be added to your gastronomic souvenirs!
One of the most talked about spots in Paris where history meets fantasy and music.During their adolescence, the Costes brothers worked as waiters in Paris then decided to open in 1984, Cafe Costes in les Halles neighborhood.Followed by other successful ventures in other places where the penchant for details and decoration was prevalent. In 1990, they bought the hotel France et Choiseul and transformed it into the Hotel Costes that opened its doors in 1995. Two years later, Costes brothers hired Stephane Pompougnac as the hotel’s resident DJ. Before embarking in his Dj’ing career, Pompougnac had worked as a waiter in Cafe Costes… In 1999, he published his first studio mix: Costes: France et Choiseul! His first three mixes collectively sold nearly half a million copies.”In 2016, Hôtel Costes signed a partnership with Apple and launched a worldwide Curator channel on Apple Music”.
An exciting bistro doing interesting things with good ingredients.Run by Juan Sanchez and Drew Harré owners of Fish La Boissonnerie, Cosi and wine shop La Dernière Goutte, all located in Saint Germain des Pres.In the kitchen of Semilla, Chef Eric Trochon, a ‘Meilleur Ouvrier de France’, prepares bright dishes with straightforward flavours to be shared and enjoyed!
VINO E CUCINA
I fell on this Italian wine bar while wandering through my favorite food oriented neighborhood in Paris: Rue Montorgueil!On that particular evening (Monday) a live jazz band was performing, transporting me to my lalaland!
This pedestrian market street (Rue Montorgueil) has a bold gastronomic character, and comprises everything to tickle any palate: cheese shops, Pastry shops, butchers, fishmongers, produce stands and confectionery shops…
The origin of the name of this street comes from the hill it ascends “Mont Orgueilleux” (Proud Mountain).Its history begins in 1183 when King Philippe Auguste created the central Paris marketplace (Les Halles) with a large covered market built for vendors to sell their commodities.As Rue Montorgueil was a principal passage to Les Halles from the North, it became the road’s end for fish and oyster merchants…
Although, Les Halles covered market was dismantled in the 1970s as part of the modernization of Paris and the merchants were expedited to Rungis, a large industrial complex on the outskirts of Paris… You can still find reminders of that market including restaurants supply shops, pastry supplies (that I often visit): Mora, Bovida and baking supply shops such as G.Detou that sells many French food specialities that fill most of my carry on everytime I visit Paris!
If you go to Orsay Museum, you will see the most famous painting of Monet: La Rue Montorgueil. If you read books and dig in the writings of Emile Zola, you will understand that this district was immortalized as the belly of Paris (Le Ventre de Paris) and worshiped by Honore de Balzac for its bumping gastronomical heart… And if you ask me about it, I’d confess that every time I visit this district it gives me the most deliciously genuine impression; that of rediscovering Paris!
LE BON PECHEUR
A pit-stop on my way to Les Halles to savor life’s little pleasures!
“SPRING IS WHEN A YOUNG OYSTER LOOKS FOR LOVE”
Oysters spawn when water temperatures rise in spring. Females release millions of eggs and males even more sperm… Acidic environments can kill oysters larvae and make it harder for oysters to form shells…Since the start of the Industrial revolution, the world’s oceans have become 30% more acidic …
Oysters are highly nutritious.They contain a variety of vitamins and nutrients including zinc, calcium, magnesium, protein (16g of proteins in 170g of Oysters), selenium, and vitamin A. They also contain especially high levels of vitamin B12, and iron.
Zinc helps the body produce testosterone, a hormone that regulates women’s and men’s libido and sexual function…Oysters are loaded with Zinc which gives them the reputation of being aphrodisiacs…
“Giacomo Girolamo Casanova, the notorious 18th-century lover, ate 50 oysters each morning for breakfast to increase his sexual stamina”…
Top of the line quality of seafood is found in this small market shop located on Saint-Honoré.If you are an oyster and shellfish lover, you must pit-stop there and enjoy life’s little pleasures!
“Sometimes the best moments in life are the simple ones, like having cheese doodles and wine…”
That’s the kind of food I wouldn’t mind eating every single day of my life and that I actually do consume frequently! In fact, recent studies in Ireland have shown that Eating cheese does not raise your cholesterol and could actually help you lose weight.Scientists have discovered that people who eat more dairy tend to have a lower body mass index.In reality, the French Paradox is the biggest proof to that!
In case you didn’t know, a glass of red wine has been found to curb sugar cravings and increase levels of the good cholesterol (HDL)… Moreover, a Harvard University study of 20.000 women found that those who drank half a bottle of wine a day had a 70% reduced risk of obesity compared to non-drinkers!
Consuming a glass of wine per day (for women >18 years) and two glasses per day (for men >18 years) promotes a longer life span, protects against certain cancers, improves mental health and provides benefits to the heart and may reduce the risk of depression!
TIME TO LIVE MY PASSION
Le Cordon Bleu Paris
“The most important ingredient in the Kitchen is Culture”
I was born and raised in a house where cooking and eating were as important as breathing… Both my father and mother find pure pleasure in cooking from scratch using natural ingredients and sharing food with family and friends to celebrate life in all its forms and to constantly show their love through food. Inspired from their passion, I developed at an early age a great sense of curiosity for food and started mixing, matching and creating recipes at the age of 10, when I baked a cake for the first time, surprising my mother… I wish she had an Instagram account back then, to keep records of my first culinary exploits…
Since that time and whenever I travel, I do my best to improve my skills and take cooking classes. During that trip, my highlight was the workshop taken at Le Cordon Bleu.
Le Cordon Bleu is a world renowned network of educational institutions dedicated to providing the highest level of culinary and hospitality instruction through world class programs. Le Cordon Bleu Paris School offers professional programs as well as gourmet courses for all food and wine enthusiasts!Being located in the heart of Paris is one of the school’s greatest advantages, contrary to other culinary schools outside Paris.
I was lucky enough to communicate with Chef Eric Briffard, a Michelin starred Chef, Meilleur Ouvrier de France (MOF) and executive Chef and culinary Arts director at Le Cordon Bleu Paris and chose “L’art de cuisiner comme un chef” workshop! I was warmly welcomed by the school’s staff that took me on a tour that made me dream during the whole day… The fascinating structure of the school, the repartition of the classes and the way the entire Cordon Bleu Paris community operated around me was just astounding and much inspiring!One day I will hopefully find myself there back again, I promise!
The workshop brought nothing but joy and satisfaction to my taste buds and inner-self. I started by watching a demonstration by Chef Patrick Calls, continued with a tasting and ended with a practical class.A trip within a trip I embarked on… The classroom kitchen overlooks the Seine with its ultra-modern style, highly equipped with the best utensils. A professional culinary translator was present throughout the entire workshop; she didn’t just add instructions in English but a lot of humor too to the overall experience.
TIME TO MAKE MEMORIES
PRESCRIPTION – SPEAKEASY
I gotta confess that the cocktails prepared were really good but the effect of discovering the place wasn’t very surprising… I’ve been to more surprising speakeasies in England and New York…
In case you’re not familiar with speakeasies, here’s a quick brief: During the prohibition era (1920-1933) the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcoholic beverages was illegal throughout the United States which pushed many to operate illegally and sell alcoholic beverages in unexpected hidden secret places… To gain access, you had to know the password, so the doorman could distinguish between visitors and federal agents.At the bar, drinkers were told to “speak easy”, act relaxed and keep the place secretly. And the name ‘speakeasy’ was born and many years later, the concept was kept and reproduced in different countries around the world.
LE SHERWOOD – PIANO BAR
My obsession with karaoke bars drove me to stumble upon this fascinating piano bar as I was wandering in my hotel’s neighborhood in search of a karaoke bar ! Unfortunately once found, karaoke wasn’t on its menu that night… So I kept on walking until musical vibes coming out of Le Sherwood captivated me… This bar has different live bands from Tuesday to Sunday and stays open till 5h00am, unlike most of the bars in Paris… The crowd is genuine, the atmosphere is buoyant, staff are friendly and the place by itself is simple which makes it much beautiful!
TIME TO EXPRESS A STATE OF MIND
RIVE DROITE- KARAOKE BAR AND RESTAURANT
It was about time on my last night in Paris to go sing and give “La rive droite” a try.It was an enjoyable experience where I managed to express my happiness, thoughts and feelings through songs… Although my throat was a bit tired and my voice wasn’t at its best, I decided to share with you an excerpt of an old time classic that I’m fond of and that dates back to the year 1962 when it was composed by Barbara and dedicated to the love of her life the diplomat Hubert Ballay.
“Au printemps tu verras, je serai de retour,
printemps c’est joli pour se parler d’amour,
Nous irons voir ensemble les jardins refleuris,
Et déambulerons dans les rues de Paris”…
A bientôt Paris’
Dietitian Nicole Maftoum