Angelina: Coco Chanel’s Favorite Hot Chocolate

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Have you ever daydreamed of sipping hot chocolate and sampling pastries in Paris with the legendary fashion designer and glitterati mainstay Coco Chanel? While that’s a lovely but unattainable fantasy, we’ve got the next-best, real-world option: paying a visit to Angelina, a world-famous patisserie-tea room on the Rue de Rivoli that was a favorite haunt of Madame Chanel—and of Marcel Proust, Audrey Hepburn and virtually every luminary in the haute-couture fashion design world throughout the 20th century. You’ll become an instant fan, too! Continue Reading →

Authentic Bistro Fare at Historic Le Polidor

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Paris is arguably the culinary capital of the world. There are countless world-renowned restaurants in the City of Light that beckon to both locals and tourists. But many of these destination eateries are outrageously expensive (easily more than $100 per person, often significantly higher, even for lunch) and are typically visited only for very special occasions. Besides, many travelers to Paris prefer to dine at authentic French bistros and cafes, where the food is affordable and prepared in time-honored fashion, often from recipes hundreds of years old. For these seekers of authentic bistro fare, there’s a true—and historic—gem on the city’s Left Bank: Le Polidor. And you might just recognize it from Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris.” Continue Reading →

Quatrehomme: Arguably Paris’s Best Cheese Shop

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Parisians and tourists alike have their favorite cheese shops, and commit to them with a fierce loyalty. But a consensus for one of the city’s best — and possibly the best — is Quatrehomme, a mini-chain of fromageries founded in 1953 with its headquarters at the incomparable Quatrehomme: La Maison du Fromage on the Rue de Sevres in the 7th Arrondissement. Continue Reading →

Saint Honore Pastry: A Classic French Dessert

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An iconic French pastry—and one I always order multiple times when I visit Paris—is the Saint Honore, a decadent dessert made of puff pastry, pate a choux (cream-puff dough), creme chiboust (a thick pastry cream made with stiffened egg whites) and creme Chantilly (the French term for whipped cream). Named after the patron saint of French patissiers this stacked pastry comes in such flavors as caramel (also called the “classic” Saint Honore), pistachio, rose-raspberry, chocolate, vanilla-chocolate, chocolate-strawberry and pistachio-sour cherry. Continue Reading →

Fantastic Fromage at La Fermette

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Fromage! Like so many other visitors to France, I have fallen in love with French cheese. Brie de Meaux. Camembert. Epoisses. Reblochon. Bleu d’Auvergne. Chaource. You name it, and I’ve tried it—and loved it. Even what some call “stinky foot cheese.” While every fromagerie in the City of Light carries the most popular cheeses, there are two Parisian fromageries that I go to again and again when I want to sample my favorites or try something new: La Fermette on Rue Montorgueil and Fromagerie Quatrehomme on Rue de Sevres. Continue Reading →

Le Petit Prince de Paris: A Latin Quarter Gem

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One of the truly great Parisian restaurants is Le Petit Prince de Paris, a quintessentially French hideaway located in the midst of a warren of tiny cobblestone streets in the city’s Latin Quarter just a stone’s throw from the Pantheon. The only LGBT restaurant on the city’s Left Bank, Le Petit Prince de Paris is housed in a site that has served as a tavern and restaurant since the year 1450. That ancient building provides the restaurant with much of its yesteryear charm, including exposed ceiling beams, pale stone walls, plush draperies, antique furnishings and dozens of candles and chandeliers. Continue Reading →

Perfect Confit de Canard? Head to Chez Dumonet

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One of the many French staples served at restaurants, bistros and brasseries throughout Paris is confit de canard (duck confit)—a leg of duck that’s salt-cured and then cooked in its own fat. It seems that it’s practically a requirement that every cook in the city makes and sells this dish. But truth be told, most Parisian eateries serve a poorly cooked canard. More often than not, you’re served a piece of duck with rubbery skin and super-greasy meat or one that’s so overcooked that it’s dry as toast. Fortunately, there are a handful of restaurants in Paris that know how to prepare a perfect confit de canard with crisp, crackling skin and moist, succulent meat, and one of the very best is Chez Dumont in the 6th Arrondissement. Continue Reading →

Mora: Everything a Pastry Chef Could Desire

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Paris is a top destination for cooks of all stripes, from amateurs looking to improve the dishes they serve to family and friends right up to professional chefs seeking top-notch instruction and unparalleled kitchen experience. There’s a Parisian destination that’s a favorite among bakers and pastry chefs—Mora, a culinary supply store founded in 1814. This large shop in the Les Halles district is crammed top to bottom with more than 5,000 items (all of which also can be purchased online) to meet just about every culinary need. And many Parisians and tourists do, indeed, head to Mora for all of their cooking needs. But Mora is absolute heaven on earth for pastry chefs and bread makers, offering more specialty items for these cooks than any other shop in the City of Light—and quite possibly in the entire world. Continue Reading →

Tracing the History of the Croque Monsieur Sandwich

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As anyone who has visited Paris knows, a very popular lunchtime meal at cafes and smaller eateries in the City of Light—and indeed throughout all of France—is the croque monsieur, a toasted ham and cheese sandwich that is one of the true staples of simple French cuisine. But how did it become such a famous French dish and land on the menus of countless casual restaurants? No one knows for sure, but a commonly accepted story involves a brasserie on Paris’s Boulevard des Capucines, a shortage of baguettes for that day’s lunchtime crowd, and the presence of the neighborhood butcher in the eatery when a patron asked about the newly created sandwich. Continue Reading →

Rue Cler: A Perfect Parisian Shopping Street

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Americans love one-stop shopping—a large grocery emporium where one can stock up on all of the foodstuffs needed for several days. And while supermarkets are becoming more popular in Paris, the City of Light’s residents tend to prefer “one-street shopping”—essentially visiting a street or small section of their neighborhood where they can find a variety of different food shops, including boulangerie for bread, a patisserie for desserts, a fromagerie for eggs and cheese, a boucherie for meat and so on. One of the best is Rue Cler in the 7th Arrondissement. Continue Reading →