What cuisine comes to mind when you hear France? French fries? French toast? French Pressed Coffee? Surprisingly, none of those originated in France. Instead, native dishes include escargot, crepes, and macaroons.
Escargot is the French word for snails. Yes, those slimy creatures on the sidewalk are considered a delicacy in Paris, but the way they are prepared makes them absolutely delicious.
Crepes can be savory or sweet; and naturally, I like them better sweet. The best crepes I found were in the Latin Quarter. If you walk through there at night with a friend there is a creperie with a vertical red sign that says “crepes.” The man there is very nice and willing to adjust any order to create the perfect combination. My favorites were white chocolate, dark chocolate, cookie crumbs, and whipped cream on top.
Of course when I couldn’t justify a whole crepe, there were always macaroons that I had almost daily. Before my arrival in Paris, I was determined to find the best macaroon. Many attest on behalf of Laudree while others prefer Pierre Hermes. In efforts to satisfy my sweet tooth, and collect important research for my fellow sugar fiends I have visited many macaroon shops and have devised a list of my favorites and the best flavor at each:
1) Carette: Raspberry
2) Le Bon Marche: Mint
3) Lênotre: Salted caramel
4) Fauchon: Rose
5) Francois Paynard: Blueberry
Unfortunately, Laudree did not make the cut for me, I feel that it has become too overrated and not as personal as these other tea rooms or patisseries. My favorite “secret” find though, was Bruchett in Place Dauphine where I had the best café au lait and dessert. The whole ambiance helped make Bruchett my favorite place. I sat, I watched children play, Parisians read, photographers capture moments, and I have even witnessed a Longchamp photo-shoot casually over a cup of coffee. Usually I daydreamt or read outside the café, and enjoyed the “cronut”. It is croissant-donut topped with salted caramel Berthillion ice cream, and whipped cream. My taste buds are watering just thinking about that dessert right now.
However the best meal in Paris is a picnic. My favorite night was when we met up with some locals under the Eiffel tower and had a dinner on the lawn with baguettes, cheese, ham, hard-boiled eggs, pate, etc. What interested me most, was that it wasn’t cliché and there were lots of locals around us. It was such a fun evening as we played music, dined, and watched the Eiffel tower sparkle; which will never cease to amaze me. After that first picnic we were hooked, and had a few more outdoor meals on the lawn in various areas throughout Paris. Some things are best enjoyed in Paris; for instance, crepes, macarons, and croissants. However, I think picnics are international and I will definitely be planning more of them this upcoming year in the States.