May 17, 2013 by culinarysavant
I really had no expectations for my first time to Paris, other than I knew I had to get it under my belt. Belt, being my culinary prowess. I traveled by way of the CHUNNEL. Do they still call it that? It was on my husbands bucket list as it had been completed the year after he moved back to the states from Glasgow. I slept. Are we here?
We stayed in Le Marais Apparently, called the NYC West Village of Paris, no wonder I was in heaven. Ahead of my arrival I had booked two food tours back to back for the following day of our arrival. I only had four days in Paris and wanted to knock out the local food scene quickly and see what the guided walking tours had to offer.
First was Paris By Mouth 10am start time, 6 couples, one guide. Catherine was our culinary host for the next 3 hours. We started off in Poilane, Greeted by sliding glass doors that magically opened and we stepped into the foyer of the tiny retail portion of Poilaine’s Cafe. I could have tasted butter in the air if I just would have poked out my tongue. Catherine came alive when she began to tell us the history behind “miche”, honestly I’m more sweet than savory and found myself torn between looking at the crusty croissants, pain au chocolat and the apple tart glistening in its own caramelized natural sugars and trying to force myself to listen about rye and wheat flours. I pulled myself back together-focus, listened to the story of the daughter taking over the family business and saving the day now let me get to that pain au chocolat and get that pastry cloud melting in my mouth. Next stops were local AOC cheese and charcuterie shops and a traiteur or two and then a lovely picnic on a ping pong table in a park that was once the site of The Knights Templar and where Marie Antoinette, Louis XVI, and son were imprisoned in the tower. For dessert we meanandered toward Jacque Genin Again the luxurious pull of glass sliding doors as you step up to the boutique and instantly hit with a temperature controlled environment suitable only for chocolate. Here I tasted the best caramel that ever graced this palate. This two inch strip of heaven was a combination of passion fruit and mango caramel that was the color of light amber and probably radiated the same beautiful spectrum of light had I not instantly unraveled this treasure and popped it in my mouth. I came close to tears and we’ll leave it at that. Side note: we passed Mary’s Gelateria, Catherine pointed out this was the gem of gelato in Paris and Mary was from Milan. I could see my husband light up with excitement! A fellow Italian, finally someone that understands me! Avocado Gelato, another teary moment.
Catherine was a lovely culinary host, made us all feel comfortable, appropriately pushed the right people to try the rabbit terrine and offered a great deal of culinary history that is rooted in France. We were due in 45 minutes in the 6th for the second leg of our culinary tour of the day with a new company and a new guide. We were met and greeted and told that the only other couple canceled last minute and we had the guide all to ourselves. What a let down. I wished we never let Catherine go. Every shop we went in, I felt pressured to purchase and quizzed and lectured on on the history of France.
Paris by Mouth was such a culinary delight full of knowledge, friendly, passionate and uber welcoming. Catherine even turned me on to a Tonka bean supplier! Only for EU use, of course.