Locomotoring

Seven continents, seven seas, seven billion people and seven thousand good eats …

Archive for the ‘Paris’ Category

If I could go back to Paris for just one day

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Breakfast…espresso and croissant…what else!


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Written by Som

June 8, 2013 at 7:22 pm

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Crepe fix in Paris

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Bacon and egg galette

Located in Montparnasse, Cafe Josselin co-exists with several other creperies within a 300 ft radius, but Josselin is heavily croweded and others no so much. To avoid long queue during lunch hour, arrive at noon or earlier. Inside, it is warm and cozy – like a busy brewery. Service is fairly prompt and very soon you will find yourself sipping a dry cider.

Galettes and crepes are pretty much alike except one is made from buckwheat and other from regular flour. Galettes happen to be my favorite buckwheat concoction. Although, my mom-in-law’s buckwheat paratha stuffed with spicy potatoes is not too far behind. Galette should be crisp and lacy like an Indian dosa. The nutty flavor of buckwheat is perfect counterpart for butter. Not that galette needs any sprucing up, but I decided to order mine with bacon, egg and stuffed onions. My husband ordered one with ham, egg and stuffed eggplant caviar. Both were excellent, far nuttier and crisper than the ones we had at Breizh during our previous visit.

Cafe Josselin

Apple Cider

I love sweet galettes as well – buckwheat works really well with orange and chocolate flavors. If I had paid more attention to David Lebovitz,  I would have asked for a sweet galette at Josselin. But since I hadn’t, we ordered a basic crepe flambe to share which unfortunately was very forgettable.

Written by Som

December 29, 2012 at 4:11 am

The numbered duck (Le número de votre Canard: 1115233)

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La Tour d’Argent, a restaurant by Seine in Paris with a view of Notre Dame.

It is hard to not be enchanted by Tour d’Argent. I confess I was a just a touch concerned upon arrival. The downstairs seating area, with its mini-museum display of table settings of the bygone days, was a bit tired looking. However, a quick champagne, hors d’oeuvres and an elevator ride later we are seated at the table of the main dining area where all my concerns disappeared. Dining area is shiny with slivers, crystals and chandeliers. Rapidly, the room started filling up. We were seated at the center of the room. From where I sat, the view of Notre Dame was occasionally interrupted by Jeeves like accoutrement of the servers. Facing me was the duck press station, where an old gentleman went about the task of meticulously pressing ducks. I would have described it as an assembly line process were it not for the exaggerated rituals associated with the task.

Number of servers far exceeded the number of guests. While their movement in and out of the kitchen seemed chaotic, service at the table was a well choreographed dance. A couple of waiters coordinated placing the food on the table while the senior of the two took time to describe the food. A similar coordination took place when plates were removed from the table. Pacing was perfect. Nothing felt hurried, nothing felt delayed, no ho hum moment. One particular ritual felt quaint in this age – my husband’s menu had the prices and not mine. Wine pouring on the other hand could only be described  as elaborate. A lot of deep inhalation, swishing and slurping happened before we were served ours.

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Written by Som

December 28, 2012 at 4:50 am

Posted in Europe, France, Paris

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Day 2 in Paris

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Our last visit to Paris was in the interstice between summer and spring. We had tired ourselves walking the greater part of two weeks. By the time my mind was made up about walking up the stairs of Notre Dame church, my feet had defected. So we decided to climb the stairs early on in this trip.

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Written by Som

December 5, 2012 at 6:58 pm

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Christian Constant’s Les Cocottes

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Christian Constant’s Les cocottes, near Eiffel tower.

This time it was only a week’s stay in Paris. It was colder than last time and a lot less sunny. Not much appeared to have changed for Les Cocottes in two years. We were still one of the first people to arrive at the restaurant and were seated at the same table as last time. The restaurant had filled up rapidly with tourists and locals. I usually decide between tourists and locals by their shoes. If attired in something comfortable and ugly, I put them in the “tourist” bucket. Right in my line of view was an petite old lady who appeared to be a regular. She sat at the counter and ordered a range of different cocottes, and ate with a gusto any young foodie would be proud of. Next to us sat a young dame in red stilettos with a large pet dog at her heels. She had an appetizer and a glass of wine for meal. I am always grateful that there is something to look forward to as we age!

For starters we ordered a cold tuna, eggplant caviar and tomato jelly. The dish arrived in a jam jar shaped glassware with tuna layer sandwiched between eggplant and tomato jelly. Richness of tuna was well offset by the smokiness of eggplant resulting in a refreshing and flavorful dish. For entrees, I ordered the langoustine ravioli. Perhaps I was dreaming of Robuchon’s ethereal langoustine ravioli, and I shouldn’t have.

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Written by Som

December 3, 2012 at 10:28 pm

Tucking in at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon

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We may have gone a bit overboard while ordering. Our favorite – langoustine ravioli with truffle sauce.

Roasted bone marrow on toast, sitting atop a bone

Roasted bone marrow on toast, sitting atop a bone

Quail with truffled mashed potatoes

Quail with truffled mashed potatoes

Tower of eggplant, cheese and sundried tomatoes

Tower of eggplant, cheese and sundried tomatoes

Egg foam with mushrooms

Egg foam with mushrooms

Softshell crab tempura with avocado puree

Softshell crab tempura with avocado puree

Langoustine ravioli in truffle sauce

Langoustine ravioli in truffle sauce

Mashed potatoes that didn't kill Omar Sharif - 1/2 lb butter to every lb of la ratte?

Mashed potatoes that didnt kill Omar Sharif - 1/2 lb butter to every lb of la ratte?

Strawberry and basil gelato. May I recommend dessert at Eric Keyser a block away?

Strawberry and basil gelato. May I recommend dessert at Eric Keyser a block away?

Written by Som

April 16, 2011 at 7:13 pm

Les Fines Gueules

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Outside Inside
Steak tartare Six leaves of brussel sprout

Located near Place Victoires, on rue Croix des Petits Champs, Les Fines Gueules is beautiful both inside and out. I will remember it for two things:

  • One of the best Loire reds that I have had so far.
  • Eating la ratte potatoes with le boeuf tartare, the later being a specialty of this restaurant.

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Written by Som

April 14, 2011 at 12:11 am

Space invader in Edith Piaf’s Paris

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Edith Piaf is exciting. A guided tour in the neighborhood where Edith Piaf was born, not so. However, it was our only trip to the edges of Paris. An added bonus was Père Lachaise Cemetery. What stood out on the trip, besides graffiti on Oscar Wilde’s tomb, was this odd art work above a specialty food store overlooking one of the oldest churches in the city. Didn’t quite realize what we were looking at until we saw Banksy’s movie “Exit Through the Gift Shop”. If I am not mistaken, this is work of Space Invader. I forgot to take down the name of the church but it is one of the two churches in main Paris with an attached cemetery and only one with everyday public access to the cemetery.

Distant view of the church

Distant view of the church

Church and the epicerie

Church and the epicerie

Space invader art above Epicerie

Space invader art above Epicerie

Behind the church

Behind the church

Written by Som

January 27, 2011 at 8:22 pm

36 Views of Paris

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For a slideshow, click here.

Written by locomotoring

January 24, 2011 at 12:01 am

Posted in Europe, France, Paris

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Le timbre, French tranditional cuisine by an English Chef

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Mackerel with beet puree

Mackerel with beet puree

Blood sausage with mashed potatoes

Blood sausage with mashed potatoes

Fatty pork on a bed of lentils

Fatty pork on a bed of lentils

Outside Le Timbre

Outside Le Timbre

Located near Jardin du Luxembourg, Le Timbre is another small and delightful bistro serving traditional cuisine. Yet another place where I had to restrain myself from eating a big block of foie gras with a bottle of wine and loaf of white bread.

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Written by Som

January 20, 2011 at 9:01 pm

Posted in Europe, France, Paris

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A traditional Parisian lunch at Le Comptoir

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Le Comptoir Bar

Le Comptoir Bar

Outside seating at Le Comptoir

Outside seating at Le Comptoir

Californians eat lunch early, what with getting up early in the morning for the 5 mile jog or an hour of hot yoga or both. A Californian tourist in Paris arrives early at restaurants during the lunchtime and gets a seat. An hour later would typically mean an hour long wait. Except for one or two of the trendiest restaurants, a reservation thankfully is not needed. Most places in Paris, one gets by with a few words in English, a few in French and lots of energetic hand gestures and facial expressions. Try doing that on the phone. So yes, I am grateful for the no reservation needed situation.

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Written by Som

January 14, 2011 at 8:46 pm

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Chocolatiers and pâtisseries of Paris

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Macaroons from Pierre Hermé

Macaroons from Pierre Hermé

Living a block away from Pierre Hermé and being restrained was perhaps the hardest thing I had to do in Paris. The first thing we tried was a small box of macaroons – jasmine, vanilla, cassis, rose, various chocolates, balsamic vinegar, pistachio, orange – if I had to recommend one, it would be cassis. Each was a bit sized piece but even in that single bite sized piece, there were three distinct textures and flavors, one that of the soft cookie on the outside, the second that of the tart jelly on the foot of the macaroon and third that of the rich, sweet and soft cream filling.

Mille-feuille (napoleon) was the one we just had to go back for the second time. It is a layered pastry with rich layers of soft chocolate and flaky layers of puff pastry – if you a need a reason to believe in Pierre Hermé’s genius, then this is it. They also had a bread advertised as chocolate bread but really was a chocolate croissant – a perfect take out lunch accompaniment.

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Written by Som

December 25, 2010 at 11:51 pm

Lady in the Lake, hardboiled crime in Paris

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Hot chocolate slurry

Tea House at Passage Christine

Of course in all great cities you walk and walk and walk. In Paris, you like me, perhaps choose to walk in good looking shoes. So, by the time evening rolls around, you are left sitting somewhere with very tired feet.

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Written by Som

December 18, 2010 at 7:53 pm

Le Reminet, a perfect Californian meal in Paris

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Le Reminet and neighboring wine bar

Le Reminet and neighboring wine bar

Le Reminet, Cozy interiors

Le Reminet, Cozy interiors

Food in Paris can be overwhelming. Particularly after a week of breakfasting on croissants, lunching on baguette and pâtés, and dining on delicious cuts of game birds, and pigs cooked in clarified butter and fortified with bacon jus. And crème fraiche topped pastries in between meals. How can you not eat well in Paris? But you can be also be overwhelmed by the craft – thousand layers in Pierre Hermes’ mille-feuille, minced pig’s feet stuffed in small potatoes at Christian Constants’ Les Cocottes, Joël Robuchon’s langoustini ravioli with truffle sauce to name a few. Le Reminet by Seine, near Notre Dame, is a tiny restaurant where we ate one of the most delicious meals this Paris trip. And we could have been eating in San Francisco.

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Written by Som

December 3, 2010 at 8:54 pm

Les Cocottes, eating near Eiffel Tower

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Neighbor with a morning cup of coffee and cigarette

Neighbor with a morning cup of coffee and cigarette

One nice thing about traveling from San Francisco to Paris is the hour you wake up on the very first day  – it was three in the morning for us. Paris is beautifully lit and quiet at that time. We waited eagerly for our first taste of croissant and coffee at the neighborhood cafe. Early signs of dawn breaking are the activities around these breakfast cafes. Morning load of pastries and bread arrives, the chairs are placed out, the waiters share a few moments over their morning cigarettes. I notice a neighbor popping her head out of, what I assume to be, her bathroom window for a smoke.

Dressed in our freshly bought European style attire, we headed out. After a week, my beautiful shoes and the cobblestone paths of Paris parted ways but not on the first day. We decided to combine the two most quintessential symbols of Paris, Siene and Eiffel tower in one shot, walk along Siene to Eiffel tower. From Place Michel Debre to Blvd Saint-Germain to Rue De Bac to river Seine. Even with our hundred stops for photographs, we were near the tower in a couple of hours. Does a slow saunter work up an appetite? No. But sight of delicious pastries from the storefront definitely does.

Cafe near Les Cocottes

While waiting for Les Cocottes to open

Canelés, baked flour cakes soaked in syrup

Canelés, baked flour cakes soaked in syrup

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Written by Som

November 27, 2010 at 1:57 am

Breasts, patchouli oil, mint tisane and a Bangla conversation at the Parisian hammam

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Sleeping at Jardin de Plantes

Sleeping at Jardin de Plantes

I like a good deep tissue massage to undo the damages caused by hours of sitting hunched over on the computer. My local massage spa in San Francisco Bay Area is less of a spa and more of a therapeutic center. Housed in an ugly building in a strip mall, the masseuse pummels the life out of you, kneading and elbowing and kneeing your muscles into submission. All knots begone. I thank the American immigration system that brings me the expertise of traditional Chinese massage techniques at my doorstep. When traveling, I try to get one in a strange city or airport with the purpose of undoing the tortures of the airlines seat. The tale of Korean massage where they turn you into a minor contortionist is for another occasion. This time, the story starts at a hammam in Paris – this is a story of oiled breasts, steamy dark rooms, minty potions and odd snatches of conversations.

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Written by Som

November 11, 2010 at 8:12 pm

Posted in Europe, France, Paris

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One river to bind them all

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In cities like Calcutta or Paris, the river is the precious that brings together the livelihoods and lifestyles of the people of the city. There is no denying the differences of course. In Calcutta, Ganges river is wide. Wide enough that on a regular traffic clogging business day, crossing one of the two bridges can take an hour or more. For many in Calcutta, the river is everything. They live in small precariously placed shacks along the riverside, cooking on crude stoves, bathing, urinating, defecating in the river, making a living off odd jobs by the riverside. Every once in a while the city police comes by and tears down the shacks and the cycle starts up all over again. For other Calcuttans, the riverside is a sanctuary from the hot and muggy interiors of the city. Often in the evening, when the rays of setting sun make the silt laden water look like gold, the Bengali babus can seen heatedly debating politics and cricket accompanied with roasted peanuts and hot chai. The local train line is just by the banks so every once in a while the toot of the train pierces the surrounding noise and the din. Is it just the mugginess that makes everything feel slow even in that throng of moving bodies? Large ferry and cargo boats crawl past without attracting attention. Tiny little picturesque boats offer rides to young lovers who can perhaps steal a kiss away from the throng of hawkers and gawkers. Nothing spectacular but nevertheless stunning.

Goddess idol being prepared for immersion

Goddess idol being prepared for immersion

Traveling priest or a homeless person

Traveling priest or a homeless person

Live music between Ile de la Cite and Ile Saint-Louis

Live music between Ile de la Cite and Ile Saint-Louis

Notre Dame and cruise boat

Notre Dame and cruise boat

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Written by Som

October 27, 2010 at 8:06 am

I tat I taw a puddy tat, I did taw a puddy tat … in Paris

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Zlebia from Tunisia

Zlebia from Tunisia

 

One watches travel channels and food TV and begins to think that one knows it all. Nothing should come as a surprise and often, nothing does. And then one finds Zlebia from Tunisia in the Latin Quarter of Paris!

What is this strange looking shiny pretzel like thing?

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Written by Som

October 11, 2010 at 7:31 pm

Crepes and cider in Le Marais, Paris

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Inside Briezh Cafe

Inside Briezh Cafe

September in Paris is not supposed to be rainy, is it? It rained a good bit during the first half of September this year.  On a rainy day, I prefer to do nothing but curl up with a good book and snack on samosa-chai. I did have Simenon with me, I like detective fiction and police detective Maigret brings that in a Parisian setting. It felt a little lame doing that during a prized vacation. So, on one such rainy day this September, after wandering around Marais district of Paris in drizzling rain, I found myself warming up with some cider at a popular creperie, Breizh, that served Brittany style crepes.

Egg and jambon crepe

Egg and jambon crepe

Valrhona chocolate crepe

Valrhona chocolate crepe

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Written by Som

October 11, 2010 at 1:19 am

Place des Vosges on a damp afternoon

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Place des Vosges in Marais, built in early 1600s, in one of the oldest squares in Paris. And one of the most loved ones in the city. The following is perhaps my favorite picture of the arcades surrounding the square.

Youth and the homeless

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Written by Som

October 11, 2010 at 1:09 am

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Coco & co, cutest little bistro serving ‘am and eggs

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What can one do in a 200 sq ft of space? One can start a little bistro that serves eggs in all sorts of ways.

Egg candy Cocotte
English muffins and poached eggs Menu at Coco & Co
Coco & Co Coco & Co

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Written by Som

September 30, 2010 at 8:51 pm

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Croissant and Coffee, s’il vous plaît

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Croissant at Le Parisiene

Croissant at Le Parisiene

Day 2: Breakfast at neighborhood cafe – Le Parisiene – coffee, croissant and omelette. This is the second thing on the list of living like a Parisian. First being the early morning trip to boulangerie for a baguette.

On day two, the breakfast is at 7:30 a.m. and on day six, at 9. There is no feeling of rushing about at any hour of the morning. Am I projecting my lack of urgency on the world around me? Everyone around me seems to have time to sit about, to chat with the cafe owner or read a paper. Judging from their shoes, they are Parisians. Yes, the shoes give you away. Tourist is in “comfortable” shoes and Parisians in good looking ones. There is a cafe or two on every block, each with customers. How does the economics work? Most prefer to sit out, including the tourists. It had seemed attractive when looking at Paris on television. But the first five real minutes are sufficient for me, I am soon overpowered by the smoke blown my way by the skinny Parisians.

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Written by Som

September 29, 2010 at 8:18 am

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First supper

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If one likes traveling then every journey builds up anticipation regardless of how seasoned a traveller one might be. Not everyone has George Clooney’s sang froid. But this anticipation must eventually face the reality of air travel. Yes, we are inured to our water bottles being taken away in the name of security. Yes, we know that we will have to contort ourselves into seats that serve dual use at Guantanamo. But we are still not used to the truly execrable food airlines see fit to serve to their hapless passengers. This was our first meal at the Air Canada flight from SFO to Toronto.

Dinner on Air Canada

Dinner on Air Canada

Some Air Canada employee has a cruel sense of humor to inflict a Cup O’Noodles at poor folks at 30000 feet. And they made us pay $3 for the privilege too. The sandwich was no better – third rate bread, soggy cold cuts, some unidentifiable sauce. Hmmmm, maybe it is not sense of humor but an actively malicious intent behind this. Only that would explain why they could not source good bread from a city that houses Acme Bread Company.

But hey maybe that was a flight from US to Canada, practically a domestic flight. And we are used to getting peanuts, literally, on domestic flights. Maybe the next leg from Toronto to Paris would be a little better.
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Written by Sachin

September 6, 2010 at 2:29 am

Posted in Europe, France, Paris

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