Jump to content


Welcome to the eG Forums!

These forums are a service of the Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to advancement of the culinary arts. Anyone can read the forums, however if you would like to participate in active discussions please join the Society.

Photo

Daddy-A's Excellent French Adventure


  • Please log in to reply
85 replies to this topic

#1 Daddy-A

Daddy-A
  • legacy participant
  • 3,240 posts
  • Location:Burnaby, BC

Posted 15 October 2006 - 02:28 PM

I was in France 18 years ago as a backpacker … Paris and Cannes in particular. Aside from a couple of cheesy shots in front of the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame Cathedral, I couldn’t tell you much else about the place. I was probably drunk most of the trip.

18 years later, with a travel-loving wife and a new appreciation for food and wine, I returned to France for a 3 week vacation:
  • Week 1: Rent an apartment in Paris for the first week and attempt in some small way to live like Parisians.
  • Week 2: A walking tour in the Dordogne.
  • Week 3: A visit to Burgundy … Beaune in particular.
This is not going to be a “checklist” blog. There was no agenda that ensured a visit to La Tour d’Argent or L’Atelier de Joel Robochon. Yes, we had a list, but if we never made it to a Michelin-starred establishment, that was fine. If we ate saucisson sec in the Burgundian countryside, that was fine too. This blog is about our attempt to experience food and French culture as accurately as we could as tourists on a 3 week trip.

#2 Daddy-A

Daddy-A
  • legacy participant
  • 3,240 posts
  • Location:Burnaby, BC

Posted 15 October 2006 - 02:35 PM

We arrived in Paris via CDG at 1 in the afternoon. Our apartment was a cute little 1-bedroom on Place Dauphine, a triangular-shaped park on the western tip of Isle de la Cite. Pont Neuf was on our front door step and Notre Dame Cathedral was 5 minutes walk away. The plan was to eat breakfast and dinner at the apartment and have restaurant lunches.

Severely jet lagged after a 10 hour flight (from Vancouver via Calgary!) we started with a general walk-about our new neighbourhood. Stop number 1 was a streetside crêperie.

Posted Image
Crepe with Egg, Ham & Gruyere Cheese

Nothing new here, except something I was to experience many times in Paris. I am not bilingual, but can survive just fine with my seldom-used university French. Crêpe-guy insisted on speaking English to me even though I insisted on speaking French. I understand the frustration many Parisians must feel during the tourist season with millions of folks speaking poor French (if any at all). If they can speak English to an Anglophone it has to be easier for them. But dammit, I was there for the total Francophone experience. “Bonne journee monsieur!

Lunch/dinner (remember, we were still jet-lagged) was at a sidewalk bistro. Cliché? Perhaps, but we were in no condition to pull out the eGullet guide. We were just hungry.

Posted Image
Grilled Andouillette w/ Frites

Posted Image
Beef Carpaccio

When I ordered the carpaccio, the waiter asked “Does monsieur realize the beef is rare?” I assured him I did without giving off too much “duh!” vibe. When he returned I was served two plates of carpaccio. “Monsieur looked hungry” he said. Turns out it was the end of their lunch rush and I was the lucky benefactor.

The rest of the day was a quick your around Isle de la Cité. We returned to our apartment to pick up dinner and go take in this:

Posted Image

Another in a series of Paris clichés, but in our defense there were many other Parisans doing the same thing at the same end of the island.

Posted Image

That night was also the 1 year anniversary of my mother’s death. We dined on saucisson seche and brie, and toasted her life with a nice Bordeaux.

#3 Daddy-A

Daddy-A
  • legacy participant
  • 3,240 posts
  • Location:Burnaby, BC

Posted 15 October 2006 - 02:37 PM

Posted Image
Breakfast at rue Dauphine

Did I miss the memo that said the French idea of breakfast out is a shot of espresso or a Kir or a glass of rouge and a smoke? I saw breakfast cereals and yoghurts and such in the super-marché, so I’m certain French families have lovely breakfasts at home. That’s what we did anyway.

The only time we had breakfast out was when I wanted a Kir …

Before we left for Paris I did extensive research on eGullet and other internet sources to compile a list of dining experiences that would fit our expectations and budget. Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the France forum over the last 4 or 5 years. It was all extremely helpful.

3-star establishments were off the list. Neither J nor I have enough dining experience in France for those places to have meaning for us. We also weren’t interested in spending 2 or 3 hours for a meal. This was J’s first trip to Paris, and there was too much else to see and do!

Aux Lyonnais was the only “higher end” dining we did (sorry, no pics), and it did not disappoint. Service was attentive and professional, but not so stiff that we were uncomfortable. In fact our server (Fabrice) made me feel quite at ease, especially when he indulged my French throughout the evening, only subtly correcting me on 2 or 3 occasions.

We started with a Paté de Foie Gras for me, and a Charcuterie plate for J. The funniest point of the evening came when J’s entrée arrived. Upon seeing it I uttered a low “MMMMMM” to which J replied “Mine!” It was all poor Fabrice could do to stop himself from doubling over in laughter. Much like a suppressed sneeze, the laugh almost did him in.

Mains were Foie de Veau for me and Magret de Canard for J. Served extremely hot, the liver was oddly delicious. I say oddly because for a brief moment (i.e. when I ordered it) I forgot that “foie” was liver, and I’m not a big fan. Ah well, chalk it up to one of many such confusions I would have during this trip.

I am woefully ignorant on the subject of French wine, so put my trust in the extremely knowledgeable sommelier. The trust was paid back 1000 fold. Easily the most beautiful wine I had enjoyed to that point in my life (notice the foreshadowing? Velvety smooth with notes of berry and spice … and not available outside of France I was told. Thus I never wrote down the name.

I must admit that my Aux Lyonnais experience was initially quite intimidating. After all, Paris is the Mecca of dining out. Now that I’m back home and have a bit more experience in French dining, I’d like to go back and try it (and others I missed) again. The intimidation factor is gone, and I think I would be a better diner.

#4 Daddy-A

Daddy-A
  • legacy participant
  • 3,240 posts
  • Location:Burnaby, BC

Posted 15 October 2006 - 02:46 PM

Just a few pictures and observations from our time in Paris:

Posted Image
Posted Image
Posted Image

Marie-Anne Cantin on rue Claire. OMG! I thought I had died and gone to cheese heaven. We have a couple excellent cheese shops in Vancouver, but nothing compares to those in France, Cantin in particular. Now I’m not naive enough to miss the fact that Cantin is operating a lot on reputation. I’m certain there are less expensive shops, and perhaps even shops with better selection. We didn’t find them, but I’ll accept from what I’ve read here on eG that they exist.

What made Cantin, and in fact many of the shops in Paris, so head-and-shoulders above what we have at home was not the product. There were only a few cheeses we found in France that we have never seen at home. In fact, we have many excellent cheeses that the French didn’t have. The difference was the culture of food in France. I seriously so many bakers, butchers, charcuteries and cheese shops could co-exist where food was not deeply entrenched in the culture.

My shopping experience at Cantin was wonderful. The fellow helping me was clearly thrilled that someone from Canada was showing so much interest in their products. It helped that I knew a bit about cheese already, but the smile on his face when he introduced me to a 3 year-old Compté (love the little crystals of salt!) was worth the 40 Euros I spent on cheese that day.

Posted Image
Negroni (called Americanos(???) in Paris) at Les Deux Magots

This was my check-list experience for the trip (Hemingway fan), and totally worth it when this walked by:

Posted Image
Check out the HAT!!

People watching in Paris was a hoot!

The only other eating “must-do” we had was L’As de Falafel.

Posted Image
Posted Image
Falafel and a Lamb Shwarma

The verdict? Good. Really good. But not OMG good. And that whole district around rue des Rossiers is really a gong show after dark.

I guess the lacklustre feeling I got after L’As de Falafel probably had something to do with the fact that in Vancouver we’re exposed to so much excellent, inexpensive ethnic food. Sushi for example was almost double the price I would pay in Vancouver. Chinese and Indian were similarly priced. I doubt they were twice as good.

Besides, I was in France for French food, something I don’t see a lot in Vancouver.

Posted Image

A little pistachio escargot we picked up at a pattiserie on Rue St. Martin, near the Pompidou Centre. I show this as an example of the sort of thing I was seeking in France. I’m sure I could pick these up at home, but in Paris, this sort of thing was everywhere! And each shopkeeper would tell you his/hers were the best, and truly believe it. I wanted to eat them all!

One of my favourite aspects about dining in Paris is the ability to simply sit your buts down at a free table, grab “un express” or “un pression”, and then continue along your merry way. It took J a while to realize that we did not, in fact, have to be seated like we do at home. It was much less formal and is probably the thing I miss most about Paris right now.

Edited by Daddy-A, 15 October 2006 - 02:46 PM.


#5 Daddy-A

Daddy-A
  • legacy participant
  • 3,240 posts
  • Location:Burnaby, BC

Posted 15 October 2006 - 02:57 PM

A word of advice if you're thinking about visitng Euro-Disney, or Disneyland Park Paris, or whatever it's called today ...

DON'T

J & I are Disney fans and wanted to check another park off the list. Nobody told us that once the holiday season is over that 75% of the food services close down and rides that work are only optional.

Needless to say we were kinda hungry when we went back to the hotel, so we decided to pick up a pizza along the way.

WARNING! World's Saddest Pizza to follow

Posted Image

Actually it tasted pretty good. Especially since it was washed down with a bottle of this:

Posted Image

I could easily become an alchoholic in France. I'd heard the rumours about good, inexpensive wine in France. I'm happy to report those rumours are true! The above bottle set me back a whopping 4 Euros and was better than many $20 bottles I've had at home.

*sigh*

So after a week of Paris, it was time to head south to the Dordogne for a week long walking tour. We'd return to Paris for the end of the trip, but leaving the apartment on rue Dauphine was really tough. If you're considering a trip to Paris, or France in general, i encourage you to consider the apartment route.

I'll try to post Week 2 within the next few days ...

A.

#6 Daddy-A

Daddy-A
  • legacy participant
  • 3,240 posts
  • Location:Burnaby, BC

Posted 15 October 2006 - 03:01 PM

Here are a few names of places we ate or shopped at that I wanted to give some recognition:

La Rose de Paris
24 rue Dauphine
Paris 75001

This was the café in the building we stayed at in Paris. Thomas and his partner had just taken ownership of it 3 weeks before arrived. Good basic fare.


Le Bar du Cave
rue Dauphine
Paris 75001

Wine bar attached to the larger Le Cave restaurant. Never made it to the restaurant, the food at the bar was too good.


La Café du Marché
38 rue Cler
Paris 75007

Our favourite “un-researched” find in Paris. The Salade Gourmande with duck confit & smoked magret was amazing!


Charles Traiteur
10 rue Dauphine
Paris 75006

Best baudin blanc. Ever.


Cacao et Chocolat
63 rue Saint-Louis-en-Isle
Paris 75004

Focussing mostly on South American chocolate. The service was unpretentious and the chocolates were really high quality.


Amorino
4 rue de Buci – 75006 Paris

Chain of ice cream parlours (about 12 I think) throughout Paris. The location noted is the one we visited 3 times (!) in St. Germain. Ask them for 2 flavours in one cone and it comes out looking like a flower!

#7 prasantrin

prasantrin
  • legacy participant
  • 5,468 posts

Posted 15 October 2006 - 03:13 PM

It helped that I knew a bit about cheese already, but the smile on his face when he introduced me to a 3 year-old Compté (love the little crystals of salt!) was worth the 40 Euros I spent on cheese that day.

View Post


40 Euros?!??!!? Was that just for eating over there, or was some of it for bringing back to Canada?

I can't wait to see the rest of your trip! I would love to go to France, but it's a bit far down on my "must-go-to-places" list, so I shall live vicariously through you until I can get.

#8 Daddy-A

Daddy-A
  • legacy participant
  • 3,240 posts
  • Location:Burnaby, BC

Posted 15 October 2006 - 03:19 PM


It helped that I knew a bit about cheese already, but the smile on his face when he introduced me to a 3 year-old Compté (love the little crystals of salt!) was worth the 40 Euros I spent on cheese that day.

View Post


40 Euros?!??!!? Was that just for eating over there, or was some of it for bringing back to Canada?

Just for lunches and snacks in France. Well, it lasted through Disney and into the Dordogne for a couple days anyway :laugh: . And if you think 40 Euros was a lot, wait until you see the cheese we bought in Sarlat!

A.

#9 docsconz

docsconz
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 9,806 posts
  • Location:Upstate NY

Posted 15 October 2006 - 03:21 PM

Arne, excellent report! We have a few shared experiences in there.

Aux Lyonnais was also our debut restaurant in paris last year and was outstanding. Our son who was then six years old still can't stop talking about his dinner therre, especially a dish that mixed pasta, steak, cheese and mushrooms. I have to agree with him that it was outstanding. Marie-Ann Cantin is very impressive. Our money was well spent there. In addition, I too thought L'As de Falafel good, but not extraordinary.

Looking forward to the rest.
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

#10 canucklehead

canucklehead
  • participating member
  • 1,605 posts

Posted 15 October 2006 - 03:29 PM

Excellent pictures and commentary so far - looking forward to the rest of the report. That cheese shop would have sent me into paralysis and shock.

#11 barolo

barolo
  • participating member
  • 1,050 posts
  • Location:Vancouver

Posted 15 October 2006 - 03:48 PM

Thanks very much for the report thus far.

I'll be in France next May and at this stage my itinerary is under development, so your report comes in handy. I'm planning to do some walking as well to follow up on a great walking holiday in Italy last fall. I'm especially interested to hear about the Dordogne walking.
Cheers,
Anne

#12 Ling

Ling
  • participating member
  • 4,946 posts
  • Location:Seattle, WA

Posted 15 October 2006 - 05:05 PM

Lovin' this so far. Did you hit up any of the big name bakeries?

#13 kiliki

kiliki
  • participating member
  • 1,090 posts
  • Location:Seattle

Posted 15 October 2006 - 06:28 PM

La Café du Marché
38 rue Cler
Paris 75007

Our favourite “un-researched” find in Paris. The Salade Gourmande with duck confit & smoked magret was amazing!


We also just came back from an apartment stay in Paris (our honeymoon) and this was our neighborhood cafe for when we wanted to eat casually. The owner of the apartment had told us it's a favorite of all the locals in the neighborhood. The fact that it's on a pedestrian market street made the people watching just fantastic. We had one lovely dinner when it was just pouring cats and dogs but we were snug as bugs under the awning and heatlamp. Tres romantique.

I must admit that my Aux Lyonnais experience was initially quite intimidating. After all, Paris is the Mecca of dining out. Now that I’m back home and have a bit more experience in French dining, I’d like to go back and try it (and others I missed) again. The intimidation factor is gone, and I think I would be a better diner.


I feel the same way. On our first trip two years ago we ate mainly in cafes and brasseries. This trip we ate at some nicer restaurants but no Michelan starred places. I think I've mostly gotten over the intimidation factor and we will do so on our next trip.

Lovin' this so far. Did you hit up any of the big name bakeries?


I don't mean to hijack the thread but I have to post about my bakery experiences. We traipsed all over the city, hitting the patisseries, chocolate shops, macaron places, etc, that I'd heard recommended here...My eyes were always bigger than my stomach (I mean, you can't judge a place on one thing, right? You need three or four items) and as the week went on, our fridge and cabinets filled with half eaten tarts, macarons with a single bite taken from them, etc. I knew I was in trouble after leaving Herme (day 5) with a dozen macarons (including white truffle!), a chocolate dessert and a sort of macaron raspberry-rose cake, all of which I brought back to the apartment and just looked at before mustering up the energy to actually try. Sweets overload. On our last day I threw out a large, very sorry assortment of partially eaten sweets.

Edited by kiliki, 15 October 2006 - 06:36 PM.


#14 rjwong

rjwong
  • participating member
  • 1,511 posts
  • Location:Glendale, CA

Posted 15 October 2006 - 06:39 PM

Merci beaucoup, Monsieur!

Posted Image
Breakfast at rue Dauphine

View Post


Were you trying to imitate bleudauvergne's picture-taking? It looks so beautiful and ... so French ...

I must admit that my Aux Lyonnais experience was initially quite intimidating.  After all, Paris is the Mecca of dining out.  Now that I’m back home and have a bit more experience in French dining, I’d like to go back and try it (and others I missed) again.  The intimidation factor is gone, and I think I would be a better diner.

View Post


Be careful, Arne. Some people from Lyon may take issue with that statement. BTW, did you meet up with any eGers in France on your trip??
Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

#15 Ling

Ling
  • participating member
  • 4,946 posts
  • Location:Seattle, WA

Posted 15 October 2006 - 06:50 PM

We traipsed all over the city, hitting the patisseries, chocolate shops, macaron places, etc, that I'd heard recommended here...My eyes were always bigger than my stomach (I mean, you can't judge a place on one thing, right? You need three or four items) and as the week went on, our fridge and cabinets filled with half eaten tarts, macarons with a single bite taken from them, etc.

View Post


Totally agree. Don't leave me in suspense, though...how were the pastries? :smile: (The white truffle macaroon from PH sounds intriguing...was it tasty? And what was the filling?)

...btw, congrats on the nuptials!

Edited by Ling, 15 October 2006 - 06:51 PM.


#16 Abra

Abra
  • participating member
  • 3,186 posts
  • Location:Bainbridge Island, WA

Posted 15 October 2006 - 08:04 PM

Hurray, you're back, and it sounds and looks like you had a fantastic time. I'm eagerly waiting the next installments.

#17 Daddy-A

Daddy-A
  • legacy participant
  • 3,240 posts
  • Location:Burnaby, BC

Posted 15 October 2006 - 08:22 PM

We traipsed all over the city, hitting the patisseries, chocolate shops, macaron places, etc, that I'd heard recommended here...My eyes were always bigger than my stomach (I mean, you can't judge a place on one thing, right? You need three or four items) and as the week went on, our fridge and cabinets filled with half eaten tarts, macarons with a single bite taken from them, etc.

View Post


Totally agree. Don't leave me in suspense, though...how were the pastries? :smile: (The white truffle macaroon from PH sounds intriguing...was it tasty? And what was the filling?)


Sort of answering Ling's query via kiliki ...

We didn't really go seeking out any of the "name" patisseries. We saw a few, but as has been noted, there's only so much pastry eating one can do ... unless of course it's Ling we're talking about. We paid a visit to a number of chocolatiers, not just in France, but in Sarlat and Beaune as well, but that's yet to come.

I had to laugh at the remark about throwing out things at the end of the week. As you'll read when I talk about the market at Sarlat (in the Dordogne) we had the same problem with cheese!

A.

#18 Daddy-A

Daddy-A
  • legacy participant
  • 3,240 posts
  • Location:Burnaby, BC

Posted 15 October 2006 - 08:27 PM

Posted Image
Breakfast at rue Dauphine

View Post


Were you trying to imitate bleudauvergne's picture-taking? It looks so beautiful and ... so French ...

That's high praise indeed! Thank you so much ... and yes, Lucy's photo's have always been an inspiration.

BTW, did you meet up with any eGers in France on your trip??

Nope, not this trip. We were moving around quite a bit and in reality meeting up would have been tough. Besides, we wanted this to be "our" trip. Next time.

A.

#19 wkl

wkl
  • participating member
  • 770 posts
  • Location:Delaware

Posted 16 October 2006 - 07:33 AM

great report! my favorite city in the world.thanks for doing this.

btw, the wine upthread is not bourdeaux but looks like saumur champigny. which is a cabernet franc from the loire valley. a great region for price to quality wines both red and white.

#20 Daddy-A

Daddy-A
  • legacy participant
  • 3,240 posts
  • Location:Burnaby, BC

Posted 16 October 2006 - 08:41 AM

btw, the wine upthread is not bourdeaux but looks like saumur champigny. which is a cabernet franc from the loire valley. a great region for price to quality wines both red and white.

Damned eGullet people! :laugh:

Thanks for that ... I didn't write the name down, so I used "bordeaux" for poetic reasons.

A.

#21 Daddy-A

Daddy-A
  • legacy participant
  • 3,240 posts
  • Location:Burnaby, BC

Posted 16 October 2006 - 09:49 AM

Week 2

Our second week in France was something both J & I had wanted to do for a long time.

France is terrific place to walk. The entire country is criss-crossed with walking trails known as the Grand Randonnée(GR), extremely well marked and well thought out trails that allow one to experience the French countryside on a much more personal level than more automated modes of travel.

Many companies will organize tours utilizing the GR system. For our trip we chose Sentiers de France. They booked all our hotels and arranged transport for our luggage during our 8 day trek through the Dordogne. We visited countless pre-historic sites (the cave paintings at Lascaux, Roche St. Christophe, etc.) and medieval castles (Beynac, Castelnaud, etc.) and finished with one of the best markets I have ever seen, in Sarlat le Canéda. If you enjoy walking (we averaged 18 km per day) and want to see France at a very leisurely pace, I highly recommend Sentiers de France.

One of the side benefits to a walking tour is that it affords one the opportunity to eat more. For us, this was a good thing considering the Dordogne is one of the countries leading producers of walnuts, truffles, and …

Posted Image
Posted Image

Foie rules the table in these parts. There are producers in every village, corn in every field and foie appears prominently on every menu. For our tour, we ate foie in various forms at all but two dinners. I never thought I would say this, but I’ve had enough foie for a while.

Breakfasts and dinners were arranged at each hotel. Breakfast was the espresso-croissant-confiture variety; dinners were of the prix-fix menu variety. Out of 6 dinners, there was only one we would have classified as sub-standard, and one produced the best meal of the entire trip.

These are the hotels we stayed at:

Hotel Le Lascaux (Montignac) – Thierry & Agnes Pralong run this hotel and dining room. On our first night, Thierry cooked me the best piece of beef I have ever eaten. The hotel is nice and clean, and the dining room is solid.

Hotel Le Moulin de la Beaune (Les Eyzies de Tayac) – Quiet hotel beside its own little creek. The dining room here is fantastic! Easily the best meal of the trip, and perhaps our best restaurant experience ever. The requisite foie, duck confit, trout, black truffle risotto ... all excellent, although for the life of me I can't figure out the love for Rocomadour Chevre! Every restaurant we visited on the tour served this as their cheese course. I know there are many other cheeses in the region, why not feature them?.

Service was intuituve, and my french was indulged and politely corrected throughout the evening. Thanks to the sommelier, we also had one of the best bottles of wine we’ve ever enjoyed, a 2003 Château Des Eyssards L' Adagio from Bergerac. We tried a lot of wines from Bergerac on the walking tour and thoroughly enjoyed them all.

Hotel Du Chateaux (Beynac) – The only thing this hotel did wrong was come after the hotel in Les Eyzies. The dining room was quite busy the night we ate there since all the other dining rooms in town decided to close. They were a little short-staffed but handles the crowds really well.

Hotel Plaisance (Vitrac) – Not much in this little town, but the hotel had the only pool we saw the entire trip. Apparently though, not many folks swim during the last week of September in France. We hardy Canadians were given a few odd looks, but it was warm outside and we’d been walking all day. The dining room was serviceable, but clearly geared towards the seniors’ bus-tour circuit. Having said that, they served me a lovely walnut stuffed trout.

Hotel La Couleuvrine (Sarlat) – The hotel sits right on the edge of the town square, so if you’re there on market days (Wed. & Sat.) be prepared to be woken up by vendors setting up for the day. The dining room here was highly touted in many of the guides we read, but our experience was not that great. In fact, I would classify many of the dishes as poor. I’ll be fair … we were given the least expensive of the 3 set menus. But at 30 Euro it was already more expensive than the excellent meal we had at Les Eyzies.

Outside of the hotel meals, we were on our own. That meant a quick shopping trip in the evening before we hit the trail!

Posted Image
Posted Image

This is what lunch looked like pretty much every day: cheese, charcuterie, fruit, chocolate & wine while seated on our Gortex looking at stunning scenery. The scenery was spectacular, especially as we came into the Dordogne valley. The picture above shows Beynac Castle in the distance. Castles were a pretty common site, and eventually became referred to as AFC’s.

Shop owners everywhere, but especially in the smaller towns, were more than happy to let you know about local specialties. In the Dordogne, this was foie virtually every time, but the freshly baked breads (usually with walnuts) made regular appearances in our back pack.

Posted Image

I show this because after 3 weeks of purchasing cheeses, we found this to be the SMELLIEST cheese in France. You have been warned.

#22 kiliki

kiliki
  • participating member
  • 1,090 posts
  • Location:Seattle

Posted 16 October 2006 - 08:33 PM

I'd love to do one of those walking trips-yours sounds fantastic.

Don't leave me in suspense, though...how were the pastries?  (The white truffle macaroon from PH sounds intriguing...was it tasty? And what was the filling?)


The macaron had a fairly plain shell, white truffle oil filling, and a little roast hazelnut filling. It's odd to say I didn't LOVE something with white truffle but this didn't really do it for me. I guess I'm more traditional when it comes to macarons. Herme makes a foie gras and chocolate one, and a fig, foie gras and "creme d'egalitine" (? I'm looking at the glossy ad they gave me but I don't know what that is) one during December, btw.

While I think I could rank the macarons I tried, I'm not sure I could with the patisseries. I ordered different things at most places, so it's hard to judge. I honestly didn't have a bad item anywhere, though I was somewhat disappointed with the eclairs I got (I think they suffer sitting in a case, and I can make them at home). Jean Millet might have been my favorite. I didn't get to try the things that LOOKED most spectacular (like the large cakes at Fauchon and Lenotre) simply because I couldn't seeing buying such a large, expensive item I knew we couldn't even make a dent in. I was tempted, though. And as for items like croissants, the apartment owners told us the best place in the neighborhood was right across the street at Putnam Bertrand Boulonger. They were phenomenal and convenient, and I never even tried any others.

#23 Daddy-A

Daddy-A
  • legacy participant
  • 3,240 posts
  • Location:Burnaby, BC

Posted 16 October 2006 - 08:38 PM

J & I visit markets wherever we travel, and were extremely excited to be visiting Sarlat le Canéda at the end of the walking tour. In fact, we had scheduled the tour so we would arrive in Sarlat on a Friday, just in time for the market in Saturday.

Posted Image

We were awoken on Saturday morning by the sounds of vendors setting up their wares on the street below our hotel room. It was 7am. I sat for about an hour watching the women load her table with carrots, leeks, artichokes and other produce. In between visits to her truck she would stop, have a drag on her cigarette and a drink of what I assume was wine.

We left the hotel just after 8 and walked towards the city square. Vendors, having finished their displays were now drinking red wine and catching up with each others. The locals were starting to filter into the city, each carrying some variation of the same wicker shopping basket. The air was a mix of smells; freshly baked bread, cut flowers, prunes, sauccison and many other items.

Posted Image

OLIVES!!! I lost count how many varieties ... something like 20

Posted Image
J tells me Olive-Guy is cute :rolleyes:

Posted Image

This was the most amazing thing for me. These were much like tent trailers when they arrived, and unfolded into the most amazing shops-on-wheels.

Posted Image

Cheese-dude is slicing off part of what turned into a 50 Euro cheese order. Definitely more cheese than we needed :wacko: , but it was so good. We gave a lot of it away.

Posted Image

The left pan has a tartilette of cheese, potato and sausage, the left, paella.

Posted Image

Sauccison ... 5 different varieties at 4 for 10 Euro. There was duck, porc, bleu d'auvergne, boar, & mushroom (cepes). There were many other such suppliers at the market, each with his/her own favorites.

Posted Image

Of course you need bread to go with all that cheese and sausage ...

Posted Image

... and beer! 3 flavours: truffle, nut (walnut) & chestnut. I tried the walnut (for breakfast at the market) ... and went looking for the red wine :laugh:

Posted Image

One of the many foie producers at the market. Jean Jardel is his name, and he's really proud of his product, and a pretty good salesman to boot. I spent the rest of the trip with 3 cans of foie in my pack!

Posted Image

In addition to foie gras and noix, Perigord is also known for prunes. They bake with them, make liqueur from it (very much like an eau-de-vie) and even stuff them like chocolates (those will make an appearance later on).

So that was market day in Sarlat. An amazing collection of local product mixed in with a little of the touristy aspects of the area. Definitely worth scheduling around.

More on Sarlat later ...

Edited by Daddy-A, 16 October 2006 - 08:57 PM.


#24 rjwong

rjwong
  • participating member
  • 1,511 posts
  • Location:Glendale, CA

Posted 16 October 2006 - 09:34 PM

A walking tour of France? I never thought of that!!

Pardon me for being so crass, but money-wise, did you find that with a walking tour, you had a better connection to the French people, their culture, their cuisine, ..le terroir... ? Is autumn a better time to visit, or perhaps spring?

And you can answer this question towards the end of your trip: Which did you like better, the city or the countryside? And why?
Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

#25 Daddy-A

Daddy-A
  • legacy participant
  • 3,240 posts
  • Location:Burnaby, BC

Posted 16 October 2006 - 09:53 PM

Pardon me for being so crass, but money-wise, did you find that with a walking tour, you had a better connection to the French people, their culture, their cuisine, ..le terroir... ? Is autumn a better time to visit, or perhaps spring?

Crass? You?? :laugh:

It's a really good question. When we started the trip, I expected we'd have that sort of connection with the culture & food. Truth was, the distances we covered prevented any sort of "poking about" to get to know the locals.

We did see more fields of corn than I've ever seen in my life (and we drive through Chilliwack, BC man times a year), saw vineyards that were so beautiful they made me weep, and even experienced the wonderful aroma of drying tobacco (I'm serious about the wonderful comment). So while we may not have connected with the culture so much, we did connect with the country.

When we return to France, we'll walk again, because it does get you much closer to things than a car or a tour bus can. What we'll do differently is rent ourselves an apartment and do much shorter trips.

And you can answer this question towards the end of your trip: Which did you like better, the city or the countryside? And why?


Stay tuned!

A.

#26 MelissaH

MelissaH
  • participating member
  • 1,359 posts
  • Location:Central New York via NEO, CO, Pittsburgh

Posted 17 October 2006 - 07:43 AM

A walking tour of France? I never thought of that!!

Pardon me for being so crass, but money-wise, did you find that with a walking tour, you had a better connection to the French people, their culture, their cuisine, ..le terroir... ? Is autumn a better time to visit, or perhaps spring?

And you can answer this question towards the end of your trip: Which did you like better, the city or the countryside? And why?

View Post


My husband and I have not done a walking tour, but we've done a few cycling tours (on our own rather than with a tour company, carrying all our gear on the bike). And we've always fallen right into the swing of things, and somehow even been mistaken for locals once or twice. I think any non-car mode of transportation is a good one to forge a connection. Anywhere.

MelissaH
MelissaH
Oswego, NY
Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

#27 Abra

Abra
  • participating member
  • 3,186 posts
  • Location:Bainbridge Island, WA

Posted 17 October 2006 - 08:59 AM

Ah, the walking tour would suit me to a t, but not, alas, my vehicle-preferring husband. And while walking I'd gladly try a walnut beer, followed in short order by a chestnut beer. Uh, I'll skip the truffle beer, thanks anyway. Now, prune beer sounds good...hey, it's 9:00 a.m., is it time for beer?

#28 Daddy-A

Daddy-A
  • legacy participant
  • 3,240 posts
  • Location:Burnaby, BC

Posted 17 October 2006 - 09:56 AM

hey, it's 9:00 a.m., is it time for beer?

View Post

It's ALWAYS time for a beer!

A.

#29 Daddy-A

Daddy-A
  • legacy participant
  • 3,240 posts
  • Location:Burnaby, BC

Posted 17 October 2006 - 10:03 AM

One of the downsides to having a fixed amount of time for vacations is your ability to “free-style” is limited. If you find a little village you want to explore beyond the time allotted you’re out of luck. Such was the dilemma we found ourselves in with Sarlat. True, we could have delayed our trip to Beaune, and then our return to Paris …

Sad, isn’t it?

Sarlat has been inhabited since Gallo-Roman times, and by the end of the 8th century was a prosperous city. It has been home to abbeys and conquering armies, and until the 1960’s had fallen into “ghost town” status until the loi Malroux saw the restoration of one of the most beautiful medieval cities in France.

The old town is essentially divided in half by rue de la Republique. Republique is where you’ll find most of the basic shops and services. The old city is where most of the restaurants are (touristy and otherwise) along with the Tourist Centre and many many tourist shops. This is where you’d find foie gras, nut wines and other regional treats. We found the prices better at the market, but the selection better in the stores.

The rest of market day was spent poking around the city, visiting churches, ramparts and other such fortifications. We decided we wanted something pretty low key for dinner. After a week of 4 course meals, we just wanted … pizza.

Pizzeria Romane was suggested to us by one of the vendors we met in the market. “Pizzas cuites au feu de bois” and a nice Cahor rosé and we settled in for a great evening of relaxing and watching the young Italian waiters (again, their cute-ness being confirmed by J) hitting on the young women of Sarlat. This was the only time that cigarette smoke was an issue for us … it took 3 days for our jackets to be completely aired out! However, the pizza was excellent, the service good, and the price very reasonable. Make reservations!

Pizzeria Roman
3 Cote de Toulouse
05 53 59 23 88

Breakfast the next day was on rue de la Republique

Posted Image

Forgive me, as I have forgotten the name. I think it may be:

Salon de Thé Mourroux
27 Rue de la République
05 53 59 47 00

... but I’m not positive. Whatever the name, the pastries were beautiful, and those we ate:

Posted Image
Walnut & Caramel Tart

Posted Image
Walnut Cake

… were delicious. Have a look at what we didn’t order!

Posted Image
Posted Image
Posted Image

Being able to slow down a bit, we were also able to pay closer attention to other shops. One chocolatier – B. Decaix (also on rue de la Republique) offered some of the most amazing chocolates we had seen to date:

Posted Image
Posted Image
Posted Image
Some of these will make an appearance on the train to Beaune

Henry Miller once said of the Dordogne, “Here is the Frenchmen’s paradise.” I must admit that were it not for J, I would have passed over the Dordogne for other “sexier” locals. I am so grateful we didn’t.

One small plug before we move on to Burgundy … the cab driver who took us to the train station is a fellow named Philippe Mouret. He runs a company called “Allo Philippe Taxi” that provides taxi service as well as guided tours of the area. In the hour we spent with him before we left Sarlat (15 minute drive, 45 minutes gabbing before the train left) we learned more about the area than we did from any of the tourist guides.

Allo Philippe Taxi
06 08 57 30 10
05 53 59 39 65
allophilippetaxi@wanadoo.fr

Edited by Daddy-A, 17 October 2006 - 12:47 PM.


#30 barolo

barolo
  • participating member
  • 1,050 posts
  • Location:Vancouver

Posted 17 October 2006 - 10:28 AM

Wow! Those pastries and chocolates look great.

For those who are readers, a good book about the Dordogne region is: From Here You Can't See Paris

A quote from the Publishers Weekly review:

With his wife and young daughter, Sanders spent a year in southwestern France, in the village of Les Arques, tracing the rhythm of rural life and the restaurant at the town's heart.
....

Sanders also investigates French country ways, devoting entire chapters to foie gras and truffles and explaining the history of a region where every house has a name and children grow up on four-course school lunches. He unveils a culture wholly at odds with fast-food America. The book's back matter offers advice for travelers, but Sanders's account is so lovely, and Les Arques so sensuous and ripe with magic, to visit seems vaguely sacrilegious.


Cheers,
Anne