Sunday, May 5, 2013

Travel Planning: What to eat in Paris

I've been researching restaurants and cafes in Paris for our upcoming summer trip (in three-and-a-half months!). As a world renown culinary haven, narrowing down the search from thousands of unique Parisian eateries has been a dizzying task. Instead of parsing through the plethora of restaurants recommendations, reviews, and food guides, I thought it might be easier to focus my search by listing specific foods or culinary experiences we would like to have and then find restaurants that would fit each category. I've consulted several articles of "Must Try Foods in Paris" and based on our taste and preferences, came up with a list of our own.

Our Paris Food List

Macarons: Of course, they're my favorite! These colorful confections are beautiful and delicious. The top two contenders in this category are definitely Ladurée and Pierre Hermé. Curiously, I've also read that in France macarons can also be found in McCafe's, a coffee shop chain owned and operated by McDonald's.

Crepes: A very thin pancake that can be filled with all sorts of delicious toppings, whether savory or sweet (though my favorite is definitely the sweet variety). I love when crepes are thin but still have a chew-able  almost doughy texture.

Steak and Frites: The old joke of whether "french fries" in France are just called "fries" can be put to rest; "fries" are actually called "frites" in French. How can you go wrong with this delicious combination?

Pastries and Breads: So many people have said that bread and pastries in France are simply amazing. I found a mouthwatering list (with pictures!) here of 38 top Patisseries in Paris.

Champagne: Sparkling wine produced from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France. What can be more romantic than a starlit evening in Paris with a glass of bubbly?

Michelin Star Restaurant: France has by far, the most Michelin star restaurants among all of the countries in the world (although Tokyo actually holds the title for the city with the most Michelin stars, Paris comes in at second). Many food guides suggest dining at a Michelin star restaurant for lunch instead of dinner as many tasting menus will be considerably more affordable. I found a thorough answer to the question "What is the best value Michelin star restaurant in Paris" here as well as a map!

Prixe Fixe Meal: A way of dining that is popular in Europe (though its becoming more familiar in American restaurants as well). The menu has a set price and usually includes several course. A restaurant that piqued my interest in this category is Les Papilles. Instead of menu options, a chef's choice seasonal set menu is served every evening to all of the patrons and all you have to do is choose the wine to go along with your meal (it's a very extensive list as the restaurant is a wine shop by day).

and a few maybes...if we are feeling adventurous
Cheese (Formage): This is a major "must" on many Paris food lists, but since Will and I aren't huge fans of cheese (especially the more pungent sort), we will play by ear on this one.

Pâté: A spreadable meat paste? It actually sounds strangely appetizing...

Foie Gras: Fattened duck liver. This popular and controversial French delicacy was recently banned in California so I guess there's no better opportunity to get "the real thing" than in France.

This is a big maybe. Something about snails inevitably grosses me out.

One of my favorite things about traveling abroad is having culinary experiences from different cultures in a completely authentic, unadulterated way. I've already heard and read so many fantastic things about the food in Paris, Will and I are going to have to get our "fat pants ready", so to speak.

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