Monthly Archives: June 2009

Culinary trip in France


I haven’t posted in a while on Hungry Frenchman. I know I should be ashamed, but I actually have a very good excuse: I was on vacation in France, eating and drinking with friends & family. We ate so much. We made that trip a real culinary trip that I’m going to try to share with you in this post.

We arrived in Paris at 7:30am, took the train from Roissy to downtown, then a taxi to our hotel. We checked in, left our luggages in our room, and after a nice shower, left straight for the closest Brasserie around, which in our case, was Brasserie Capucines, next to the Opera. By 10am, we were eating a “Plateau de Fruits de Mer” (seafood platter) with a nice bottle of Muscadet, on the terrasse, watching people go by. That’s one of the most amazing thing in Paris: we can do whatever you want, whenever you want, even much more so than New York. That evening, we met our friends Shannon & Gael on the Ile St Louis, where we had a picnic along the Seine at sunset (we actually were exactly on the right of the first tree to the right of the picture on wikipedia). Fresh bread, fresh charcuterie, good company. Life couldn’t get any better.

The day after, I had booked a table at Gaya, a restaurant by Pierre Gagnaire. A friend of mine told me it was really good. It turned out to be one of the best culinary experience we’ve ever had. I don’t know if it’s because of the context (vacation etc…), but it was truly amazing. Gagnaire manages to play with tastes in your mouth, and make you wonder what’s going on. It basically takes your brain, turn it upside down, and make you feel extremely good about it. The high note was clearly the sable de dorade royale. Vicky even had a tear in her eyes while she was eating her dish.

That night, after a very well deserved nap, we went on the Champs-Elysees, to eat at l’Alsace. L’Alsace is one of those very famous Brasseries Parisiennes, with a focus on food from the east of France. So yes, a good old choucroute was on a menu (after the mandatory oysters as a starter). It had been so long, and it tasted so good. All this rinced with a nice pinot gris, and we were in heaven. Actually, it was so good, that at the end of the meal, we decided to order another bottle of wine, sat on the terrasse in the middle of the Champs-Elysees, and stayed there until 3am. 

We then had to leave Paris to go to Cannes, where our friend Andrew was getting married. After the nice excitement of forgetting my suit at the hotel and had it fedexed to me, we settled down in Theoul/Mer where the wedding was planned to take place. Andrew is a food addict. Sometimes, I think he’s even more crazy than me about food. So we had to expect an amazing dinner at the reception. And boy, we had some of the most amazing meal ever. Lobster, wild saither fillets, lamb and some amazing music. Mix this with some of your best friends, and you make a unique moment in your life. 

We left Theoul/Mer to go to Cassis where we stayed overnight in a very nice little hotel, and obviously gourmet restaurant. I ordered a “Bouillabaisse“, and once again was in heaven. It’s very hard to get a very good bouillabaisse in the US. After a well deserved night of sleep, we drove to les Baux de Provence for what we expected to be the best meal of our stay at l’Ousteau de Baumanieres. That place was very peaceful, and a great location to rest and re-energize. The dinner was very good, very fresh, with some crazy little asian influence, which is quite rare in the South of France. 6 courses later, it was bed time. We had a long drive the day after.

After 3 hours in the car, we finally arrived in Lyon, where my sister was waiting for us. Lyon is the capital of food in France. If you like food, you like Lyon. We had dinner in a “bouchon”, and even though it wasn’t one of the best meal, it’s the experience that’s just great. Simple, easy, friendly. The plan was to go to my family house in Burgundy, but not before stopping at the famous market Les Halles. This is one of the best place in the world to buy food. It’s all very high quality, fresh and every single person who sells a product knows how to cook it. If you buy something, you end up talking for 5-10 minutes about how best to cook your dish. It’s just an amazing experience. We ended up buying Turbot, a fish that I can’t find in San Francisco, scallops (the real ones, not the white ones full of water you find in the US), and lots of meat. We needed enough to survive 3 days.

At the end of the week-end, we took the train for Paris, our last day in France, before getting back to work. We were quite tired, but enjoyed a lot seeing some friends for drinks in the afternoon. We didn’t know if we would be able to go out for dinner, but at the last minute, we decided to go to Charlot, Roi des Coquillages, place de Clichy. We ordered the “Tresor des Mers” platter, which basically includes lobster, crab, oysters, prawns, etc… It’s huge, and delicious. After that, I was ready for 15 hours in a plane