36 Hours in My Paris

At last! Paris, I am here. I’ve only been away from you for 1 month and a half but it seems like we’ve been apart for years.

I was able to get away from work and San Sebastián for 3 days, and I knew I had to make my trip gastronomically memorable among other things such as much needed rest…But still, I couldn’t help myself but wander the streets of Paris, peruse through shops and sit in a corner cafe in the bright sun and have a somewhat good coffee, like all other Parisians on weekends. I was back and enjoyed every minute of it.

The main purpose of the trip, though, was to visit my parents whom I only saw for 2 days the week before in San Sebastián. I was able to show them some of my favorite pintxos bars but for us, we missed Paris. Having still felt the remnants of a cold, my mother whipped up together a great family dinner, the night I arrived. Nothing can go wrong with mom’s cooking right? RIGHT. And, she knew exactly what I wanted, home-made cantonese food. It’s kind of funny that I came all the way to Paris to eat proper Chinese food, but hey, it’s the closest I could get to in the meantime, so doesn’t hurt right?

My first night was filled with my childhood favorites, all that my mom could make with a short notice.

Chicken soup with pork bone. Simple, but something I grew up with that warmed me up during the winter months. I couldn’t help myself but put chili!

Braised pork ribs. Smokey, sweet and sour all at once.

Stir fried tofu with bean sprouts. My favorite vegetable dish.

Shanghainese meatballs and Cabbage. Just delightful!

Shanghainese vegetable. Available and best in the winter-time.

Steamed fish. Usually served at the end of a meal in Hong Kong. Wow, it’s been a while!

Thanks mom! It was a short night, but a good one at that. And I was so fatigued by the hard-working week and so full from the mail, I rolled to bed and dosed off around 11pm.

The next day, it was a crisp morning with a bright sun but you could still feel the wine and cold coming its way through Paris. Still in need of Chinese food satisfaction, we decided to go to Mirama Restaurant serving the best roast duck in Paris. I’ve been there before and it’s a good way to taste authentic Cantonese food without going to Chinatown (which to me is more Vietnamese anyways). In the shadows of the Notre-Dame Cathedral, you will see a long line of Chinese (and foreign) clients, eagerly waiting to get a seat inside this narrow joint. At the front, you will see one chef making egg noodles and boiling wonton, while another is chopping up freshly roasted duck, and char-siu (bbq meat) with a cleaver.

I was famished just looking at him cut all those pieces of meat but my hunger was satisfied with the following.

 

 

Roast duck 

Crispy stir-fried noodles with pork and bean sprouts. Half crispy and crunchy and half soft from the sauce.

 

 

Hot pot with lots of goodies: bbq meat, chicken, squid, shrimp and fried tofu.

 

After a good ‘siesta’ at home, we ventured out for dinner. Not all great restaurants in Paris open on Sunday evenings so I perused through some local food blogs and found out that Café Constant (www.cafeconstant.com) was open in the 7th (139 Rue Saint-Dominique). It’s been a while since I have wanted to go and now was my chance.

Think of a three-course-meal starting with a nice slice of terrine de foie gras, followed by a generous piece of veal cutlet and ending with a rich, old-fashioned crème caramel. Think further that you’re in Paris, in the pretty, bourgeois 7th arrondissement close to the Eiffel tower. And now guess how much you will have to pay: 50 Euros? 60? Well, that would be true if you didn’t have a seat at Café Constant. They only charge €23 for the whole meal – and it’s hard to say why. On weekdays that’s the price of the bargain lunch menu. I, however was here on a Sunday evening, but the price is affordable, €11 for entrees, €17 for main dishes and €7 for desserts.

People, both locals and tourists love chef Christian Constant. This is a humble place with light colored walls, red leather chairs and tight wooden tables packing this small joint. The menu is straightforward, inspired by Constant’s grandmother’s cooking such as lentil soup with foie gras. 

Food is good here, it is even excellent. He’s an old-fashioned man and it’s old-fashioned food. Can’t go wrong with that. 

What we ordered:

Entrées…

Velouté de Cèpes, Ravioli de Foie gras (Cream of Cèpes Mushroom soup with Foie gras ravioli). Rich and sweet.

Tartare de saumon, hûitres et bar relevé au gingembre (Salmon, oyster and seabass tartare with ginger)

Saumon mariné façon hareng, pommes de terre à l’huile (Salmon marinated like herring fish, baby potatoes)

Plats…

Filet de bar grillé à la plancha, mousseline de patates douces (Grilled bar with sweet potato)

Basse côte de la Blonde d’Aquitaine, purée de mon enfance (Beef chop and mash potatoes ‘of my childhood’)

Pigeon en crapaudine <é Anezo>> lentilles du Puy aux dés de foie gras (Pigeon from <<René Anezo>>, lentils with foie gras dices)

Accompanied by a light Burgundy wine…2007 Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Nuit

A good find in the 7th, but no reservations can be made, so be sure to come early, ie. before 8.30pm!

The next day, I woke up to another beautiful day in Paris, but one that was equally cold. My google weather told me it was 10 degrees, but felt like 6 degrees. I wrapped myself up, and decided to head down one of Paris’ most chicest streets, Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré where among the designer shops, I frequent my favorite restaurant for steak tartare and carpaccio de boeuf – in one plate! For an unbeatable price of €14.

Called Cuisines et Confidences, it sits in the Marché Saint-Honoré, not really a market, but more like a Place adorned with a beautiful glass dome, that’s a 1o-minute walk from the Jardin des Tuileries.

A stroll through the lush streets of Paris turned out to make me hungry for sweets. I immediately knew where to go, and you can’t come to Paris ignoring all the delicious breads, pastries and chocolates that adorn the walls of many of Paris’ local and artisanal pastry shops. One of my favorites is Un Dimanche à Paris. The same desserts were there when I last was. The lemon pie definitely had my name on it!

Finally, a trip to Paris could not be the same without a visit to one of the best, and my personal favorite, Le Comptoir du Relais. When living in Paris, I literally frequented this restaurant weekly; but have regrettably posted only twice, during my first visit and then next door in L’Avant Comptoir.

It was a cold afternoon, and waiting to sit inside would be an hour’s worth, so decided to sit outside, luckily there was heating above. Most of the menu dishes had foie gras and so couldn’t ignore foie gras of course! It’s just, you know, one of my favorite things in the world. 

Terrine de Boudin Noir Béarnais, Pommes fruits en salade (Blood sausage with apple salad). Absolute heaven. 

Bisque chaud de Homard, Perles du Japon (Lobster bisque with Sago)

Creme de Marron et Céléris, Perles du Japon et Foie gras (Cream of chestnut and celery with sago and foie gras)

To follow…

Toast de Foie gras des Landes, De Sandrine Paris (Toast of Foie gras)

Poitrine de Veau Tandoori, Haricots mais Béarnais (Breast of veal with white beans)

Daube de Joue de Boeuf, Coquillettes et Carottes (Stew of Beef cheek with macaroni and carrot)

Didn’t get to meat Chef Camdeborde in the flesh but met his famous red scooter, front cover of most of his books!

The weekend could not have on a better note. Alas, I am on my way back to Spain, back to the pintxos, the tint and txakoli wines but Paris, I will be back before you know it!

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