Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Adventures in France, Day 7

Today was our first overcast day. It was a nice break from the sun, but it also made both of us a little sleepy. (Of course, that could also be attributed to the fact that we've been walking between 5-10 miles every day, and then eating and drinking more heavily than we ever have in our entire lives.) But I digress.

After a late morning start, we decided to head to Saint-Germain-des-Prés, home of two favorite shops in Paris: Pierre Hermé for macarons and Jean-Charles Rochoux for chocolate. (It would not be an ice cream day, bien sur.)

We started at a very cute cafe in the 6th for coffee and ham sandwiches on outstanding Poilâne bread. Surprisingly awesome:

Then it was off to see Pierre and his other-worldly cookies. Although we were less than thrilled with this season's flavors (no vanilla or white truffle!), the quality cannot be denied. We took them to Jardin du Luxembourg to properly enjoy them.

Here's Scott with one of the new flavors, Eden, that combines peach, apricot, and saffron:

And here I am with one of the old standbys, Mogador, which combines milk chocolate and passion fruit.

We also sampled rose, chocolate, salted caramel, and two more of the new flavors: Mosaic (pistachio and kirsch) and Huile d'Olive (olive oil and vanilla). My favorites are still the salted caramel and the traditional vanilla, which they didn't have in stock.

Here are a few more shots of the Jardin, although I have to admit that I much prefer English gardens to French gardens. I like a garden to be a lush, romantic mess that you can run your fingers through. The French prefer to chart theirs out in exacting quadrants, and then bar you from getting within ten feet of any of the plants. Ah well. They do, however, give good statue.

Here are a few photos:

We then went to visit Jean-Charles, who in addition to being a master chocolatier, is just the nicest man. I bought my usual bar of milk chocolate filled with caramel, and then he gave us a taste of his newest creation -- gourmet Nutella! Of course, we had to buy a jar to bring home. Jean-Charles joked (in French) that I could use it on bread, in crepes, or just eat it right out of the jar while Scott watches soccer on TV, unaware. Hee hee. You can (and should!) visit his shop from the comfort of your own home by clicking here.

On the walk back, we passed this building. I think it might be the senate, but regardless, it had more French flags per square inch than I thought possible:

It was suggested to us that we should pay a visit to Patrick Roger, another master chocolatier in Paris. Although I was loathe to cheat on Jean-Charles, I was definitely curious. The shop was rather intimidating -- kind of like walking into Cartier while wearing sweat pants -- but the chocolate looked lovely. Scott and I split a delicious mendiant of almonds, ginger, and dried apricots covered in chocolate. It was the size of my palm and quite good, although I'm in no hurry to return. I'm of the belief that chocolate should be fun, not snobby.

We walked back through the Marais toward our apartment, which is essentially a 5K. We walk at least this much twice a day, every day, when we're in Paris. Yesterday we walked for 8 hours and covered more than 10 miles when all was said and done. So I guess I shouldn't feel too bad that we took a nap this afternoon before dinner. We wanted to be fully on our game for our decadent meal at foodie favorite Le Gaigne.

And oh, what a meal. Here are a few of the highlights...

A delightful amuse bouche: a tiny cup of richly zesty in-season cold tomato soup:

One of the starters: it involved warm white asparagus, Parmesan crisps, pig ear tempura, and a whole lot of awesome:

A main course: perfectly prepared duck breast, with a side of duck "burgers" sandwiched in what I believe were poached turnips:

Dessert sampler: in-season strawberries in mascarpone, a coconut soup with kiwi, mango and papaya, and a rhubarb baba:

We paired all of this with an apperitif of kir fraise, a bottle of white Burgundy, and a pair of digestifs (poire for Scott, framboise for me). We're loving the bargain prices on white Burgundy.

Scott cannot believe that this meal actually happened:

And I cannot believe we'll soon be back to paying US prices for French wine.


  1. Before you leave, pay a visit to La Belle Hortense, my favourite wine bar in Paris. It's not far from you, on rue de Vieille du Temple (at the bottom end toward the river). And whatever you do, don't go to the seats in the back, not the done thing. Cram yourself into the front with all the books. It's divine and tres French!

  2. Awesome. We'll be down that way tomorrow and will be sure to check it out!