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A l’Etoile d’Or

bonnat bars

You get a little lazy living here. At least I do. And because I’m not as spry as I used to be, if someone proposes a trip that’s more than one métro change away, I usually find a way to opt out of it. Arrondissements that are far, far away, like the 15th or the 17th, may as well be on the outside of the périphérique (or l’hexagone, for that matter) and I haven’t stepped foot in the likes of them in years.

One place that’s worth going out of my way for is A l’Etoile d’Or, and I broke my cardinal rule when Cenk from Café Fernando came to Paris for a visit and he asked me where to meet up.

cenk & denise french chocolates

I’ve known Denise Acabo, who lords over her confectionery wonderland, even before I moved to Paris, when I’d stop in and gawk at all the amazing chocolates and confections.

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A Great Kouign Amann, in Paris

frenchpastries

I’m not going to say a thing, because I’m certain I did the same thing back in the day. But a lot of people who are en route to Paris ask me where they can find things like bouillabaisse, a true salade Niçoise, or Kig ha farz, and when I answer, “You can’t”, they either don’t believe me, or get irked because they think I’m being elusive and keeping those addresses a secret and probably say mean things about me behind my back.

To get those things, you need to go where they originate; they just don’t travel outside their particular region in France. I’m not sure if it’s because in America, we’re used to things being available whenever and wherever we want. Or because of our “melting pot” status, we readily accept foods from other parts of the country and the world with a little more fluidity than they do elsewhere.

But I’ve been duped one too many times in places like New York City, that advertise “San Francisco-style” burritos, which are about as close to the original as most of the rice-plumped salades Niçoises you’ll find on the Île-de-France are.

(The true salade Niçoise should only contain raw vegetables: cooked eggs are allowed, and in some cases, canned tuna or anchovies. But that’s it, folks. And don’t get me started on those New York City burritos…and I use the term “burrito” loosely. If you cut it in half and can see any air pockets, it’s not a burrito.)

I’ve learned my lesson and will stick to Black & White cookies, corned beef sandwiches, and the Halal stand in Manhattan.

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Paris Gastronomy Tour

Doing a culinary tour in Paris is always fun, because not only do I get to meet some new people and make new friends (important…since the old ones keep deserting me), but I get to revisit my favorite places in Paris. And this week, we made a detour in Lyon as well. So there was a lot more to see, and eat…

bernachon chocolates

Lyon is a wonderful city. Kind of a miniature version of Paris, but younger, more spacious, and more relaxed. The people are plus cool, and in less of a rush—perhaps because they are so busy digesting all that rich food down there.

thermometer dial chocolategrinder

I’ve written about Bernachon before, and this trip, we had an especially warm greeting in their adjacent café, starting with puffy brioche and warmed pitchers of hot chocolate, made with the famed bean-to-bar chocolate that’s fabricated just a few doors away.

brioche copper pots

It’s no secret that I love Bernachon chocolate.

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Puerto Cacao

chocolate chaud

I keep a piece of paper near my front door. On it are places in Paris that I want to visit. When I hear about a place that sounds interesting, on the list it goes. Unfortunately, it seems as soon as I cross one off, a few more get added. And the list gets longer and longer and longer and longer and…

One particular spot that I’ve had my eye on for too long was Puerto Cacao, located in the farthest part of the city from where I live, requiring more than my limit of two métro changes. The focus of the shop is chocolate équitable, or fair trade chocolate.

So I was surprised when I was walking near the Marché d’Aligre and the store with the pricey mid-century modern furniture that I used to covet was gone. And in its place was a new hot chocolate spot.

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Bernachon Chocolate

bernachon coffee bar

For my birthday, back in December, Romain presented me with a Kalouga bar from Bernachon, handwrapped personally for me by Denise Acabo of A l’Etoile d’Or, one the best, and wackiest, candy and chocolate shops anywhere in the world.

I’ve been afraid to open it since I know what’ll happen once I do. So I’ve been saving it for a special occasion, or a WTF moment. And yes, I’m aware that it’s a long time, but I guess things have been going pretty well lately.

sideofbarsblog

Well, that is until a recent trip to my bank to simply change the status of my account since I found out I was being overcharged up the wazoo for services I didn’t understand or use. (Like, even though she insisted I did, do I really need two free money orders a month? I think the last time I used a money order was in 1998. But I’ve learned that not speaking picture-perfect French can easily tack on 20-30% to the cost of things.)

The banquière hefted a thick dossier of paperwork so voluminous, it made the Sunday New York Times look like a pin-up flyer for a lost cat. It took my breath away, and I spent an hour and a half going through it and just to get out of there, I signed away whatever it was they wanted me to sign away.

When I got home, that bar was certainly tempting me. And I held off.

But I don’t need to hold off any further.

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Les Barres Anti-Stress

anti stress bars

All I can say is—I hope they work…

Les Chocolats Bernard Dufoux
32, rue Centrale
La Clayette
Tél: 03 85 28 08 10

Also available at:

A l’Etoile d’Or
30, rue Fontaine (9th)
Paris
Tél: 01 48 74 59 55

The Good News and…The Good News

blogbread&jam

I have two bits of good news that are going to make you very, very happy. Okay, they make me happy. You, on the other hand, might not give a rat’s derrière.

One is that the bakery that makes the sesame baguette is going to stay open for an indeterminate amount of time. That means that I won’t be cut off from my Crack Baguette. What that does mean is that I’m going to delete the post where I gave out the address and I want all of you out there to clear out your cache, trash your bookmarks, then delete your hard drive, and forget you ever heard of the place. Thanks.

Another tranche of good news is that I recently revisited a bakery that’s really out of the way, which I never would have found had it not been for a tip-off by Clotilde. Good, sturdy grainy breads aren’t as common here as baguettes and other crusty loaves.

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Paris Favorites: Eating, Drinking and Shopping

A number of folks consult the site for information about Paris, but it’s always best to get some second opinions. So I asked a few friends and in-the-know colleagues about their favorite places around the city, and I’m happy to share them with you.

paris

Included are links, when available, for complete addresses and additional contact information. Hours change and places close in Paris without notice so it’s best to call first before visiting. For restaurants and wine bars where food is served, reservations are strongly advised.

If there any Paris favorites that you’d like to share, please feel free to do so in the comments. I’d love to hear about them.

lucques olives


Favorite Outdoor Market

“Paris markets are one of my favorite subjects. I can go to the same market every day of the year and still always find something new. I regularly visit the boulevard Raspail market, a “regular” market Tuesday and Friday, organic (and expensive!) on Sunday. The fish merchants there are incredible on all days, and I adore the poultry people at the Tuesday and Friday market. I love testing one fish market or cheese stand against the other, grading them on each purchase. For 20 years I lived near the rue Poncelet market and still have a soft spot there, especially for Alléosse cheese and coffee beans from Brûlerie des Ternes.”

“When I have time, I also love the President Wilson market on Wednesday and Saturday, where of course one finds the famed produce from Joël Thiebault but also wonderful fish, fresh crêpes, and Lebanese specialties. The market is near my dentist’s office so I always schedule a Wednesday morning appointment.”

Patricia Wells, of Patricia Wells.com
(Author: Bistro Cooking and The Paris Cookbook)

Favorite Steak Tartare

“As an American in France, getting into the French staple of steak tartare means getting past it’s resemblance to an uncooked hamburger patty. At Les Fines Gueules (2, rue la Vrillière, 1st) near place des Victoires they have cap-and-gowned the French standard by hand chopping Limousin beef (the best in France) and tossing the raw meat with white truffle oil, parmesan and sun dried tomatoes. Certainly not a traditional preparation, but an unbelievably delicious part of this American’s weekly diet.”

Braden, of Hidden Kitchen

Continue Reading Paris Favorites: Eating, Drinking and Shopping…