My schedule for Saturday in Paris began with a food and wine tour called Paris Treats in the 17th arrondissement. I arrived at the meeting place, Boulangerie Nature de Pain, to meet my guide Michelle. There were only two people sitting at tables and as it was about 15 minutes before our meeting time, I got myself a pain au chocolate and wandered the area. Apparently my broken French fooled Michelle, because she was there waiting for me, her single tourist! Michelle is an American ex-pat originally from Boston, married to a Brit and living in Paris. So needless to say, we had a lot in common and my being her only client of the day didn’t bother us at all. 🙂
We started there in the boulangerie, going behind the scenes of the bakery to watch Louis, the boulanger, in action. I learned that it can only be called a “boulangerie” if the bread is made on the premises, which is exactly what I got to watch. The second nugget of awesomeness I learned is that each boulanger has a signature in the vents they make on their baguettes. Louis’s was five small slits across the top. I got to perform the signature myself though it took me about five tries before Louis pronounced my work okay. 🙂 After touring the bakery, I sampled a few breads and the most delicious éclair I’ve ever had. I cut into the éclair cold, and the chocolate filling felt dense and rich. But upon tasting it, the crème melted softly in my mouth surrounded by a choux with a crispy inside and icing so rich and glossy it was more like ganache. Amazing.
Our next stops included a deli where we sampled some cheese quiche fresh out of the oven and a fromagerie where we chose a chevre and comte to have over wine at a cave later in the tour. My favourite stop was a shop specializing in artisan products from Provence where the 50 Euro in olive oil comes in. We sampled olive oils of different stages of production from green to black. Then came some flavoured olive oil, including truffle and tangerine, and the best balsamic vinegar I’ve had maybe ever. As everything was from small producers and unlikely found anywhere else, I had to take advantage of the no liquid limit on the Eurostar and stock up.
We had our cheese in a small wine shop, or cave, again stocked with producers the owner knew personally. With a bit of white wine, the chevre and nutty comte went down a treat. Our final stop was a champagne shop called Bulles. The premise behind Bulles is making champagne fun and accessible, as evident by the packaging and price point: only 18.50 Euro for a bottle of their Brut. The other distinguishing quality is that instead of a cooperative which most producers use to have enough supply to make their brand, Bulles is made from grapes all on their own land. A bottle of the Brut rounded out my shopping for the day.
All of that before 1pm and I had to take a little disco nap before heading off to do more exploring. I ended my day on the Ile St. Louis, beating the rain in a café over more champagne and writing in my journal. Finally, I had to have a little taste of the famous Berthillion ice cream I first tried back in 2007, although I chose a rhubarb sorbet this time. Superb.
Dinner Saturday requires its own post, so stay tuned for that. 🙂
© Jennifer Konopasek and GoodTravelerKarma, 2013.