(Why am I up at 4:30 am? Must be jetlag.)
Food fun in Paris: good eats all around. We mostly ate in cafés or at the apartment. For several days we bought two baguettes every morning from one of the three or four boulangeries on the island. The low cost of bread (0€60 for a baguette) got us into a discussion about the importance of bread to European (and especially French) history—see Jacobs’ Six Thousand Years of Bread for a fascinating treatment of the role of bread in the French revolution. After the first couple of days we branched out: pain de campagne, pain au chocolat, viennoise, croissants.
Apartment lunches and suppers were also provided by the boulangerie—we bought slices of quiche or puff pastry filled with spinach, ham or chicken curry and supplemented them with fruit from the produce shop on the Rue de Deux Ponts.
We only had one bad café meal, at Soleil d’Or at the intersection of Rue de la Cité and Rue du Cloître Notre-Dame—its badness was augmented by the dozen chain smoking Italian teenagers we were jammed up against. It was late in the week and my kids’ tolerance for cigarette smoke was wearing thin. We had a couple of nice meals at Café Panis just west of the St-Michel/Notre Dame metro; one was very late at night after visiting the Eiffel Tower. I tried to order the plat du jour when possible; the kids tended to order slightly safer (or more familiar) looking food.
We had one real restaurant meal, at the Fin Gourmet at 42, rue Saint-Louis en l’Ile. My daughter started with a wonderful cucumber mousse with tomatoes, cheese, chives, and more cucumbers, followed by salmon with eggplant caviar, and finishing with a chocolate coconut tart. Everything but the eggplant caviar was a big hit. My son had green and white asparagus with a soft garlicky cheese dip and vinaigrette, then veal medallions with turned potatoes and shallots, and for dessert, three beautiful crè me caramels (ginger, cinnamon, licorice) decorated with a caramel lattice. The veal dish produced sighs of rapture from my 14 year old. I had the asparagus starter as well, then the day’s special: rumpsteak a point with mushrooms and pesto sauce. My dessert was a variation on tarte tatin: phyllo pastry formed into a sack, filled with caramalised, diced apples and pears, and served with a scoop of ice cream.
After successfully negotiating several courses (and their many forks), we relaxed with espresso (me) and mint tea (kids) before venturing out into the cold rain for our big two block walk home. A good time was had by all.
We also managed to only have one fast food meal, after a long morning of sightseeing at the Louvre. The Carrousel du Louvre, under the Louvre, has a huge food court packed with tourists. My son chose a a taco and after eating it agreed it might not be best to order food from the wrong continent. My daughter was suffering from severe sensory overload and just pointed and nodded at things from the Asian counter and wound up with fried rice and battered fish. I had couscous with chicken from the Morrocan place, probably the most successful choice of the three.
And then there was the ice cream. My children were determined to try as many flavors of Berthillon as possible, but the shop was closed Monday and Tuesday. They resumed their noble quest on Wednesday, and also discovered Amorino Italian gelato just up the street, which they pronounced better than Berthillon.
Regrets? I drank no wine and didn’t have nearly enough cheese (imagine! a week in Paris and not a sliver of brie passed between my lips).