I am off to Paris. Now, in many people’s eyes, Paris is home to some of the greatest food and restaurants in the world but, these days, I think it’s less impressive than it once was. Whereas as a teenager and twenty-something, I reverently brought back bread, coffee, chocolate and a bottle of, frankly, substandard red wine (how was I supposed to know that only winos and foreigners bought their tipple in a supermarket?), these days I can get the same, and a lot better, in most supermarkets in Britain. It is rare that I break my back with a heap of Lindt ces jours-ci. However, having said all that, there are certain things that only France, or Paris, can provide. Here are my favourites.
A dinner at Le Villaret, with its perfect, affordable menu and its brilliant ‘cheese house’ (a small ‘building’ full of the stuff that they leave at your table; no piddling pieces here, you can eat what you like) is the sort of French restaurant experience that I dream of. There’s no fanfare, no fuss, just wonderful food that is reasonably priced, with none of that London b***ocks about how trendy it all is). A Lebanese chicken sandwich in the 16th, the lemony-yogurty sauce dripping down the paper; somehow the ones in London always taste like, well, just a kebab. A bouchée of red wine at the Marché d’Aligre, served in those diddy little round-bowl glasses, with a cornichon and a slice of charcuterie, eaten after doing the rounds of all the food stalls. A couscous in Chez Omar, where the queue is always out of the door because you can’t book. Oh and a decent coffee (hard to find in Paris) at Le Café Français on place de la Bastille, with one of their delicious tresse pastries to go with it. These are my treats, my Parisian loves; what are yours?
I’ll be back next week with some more recipes, promise!