ice cream cone

Compagnie des Glaces, 75005

compagnie des glaces paris

As soon as the sun comes out in Paris, I scrabble for alternatives to Amorino. Fortunately, last week, I found a new place which is worth sharing with you: La Compagnie des Glaces.

ice cream, sorbet, caramel beurre sale

Strictly speaking, it’s a franchise and they currently have twelve outposts all over France – stretching from Honfleur in the north, to Pornic in the west, Antibes in the south and Strasbourg in the east. If you want to get your lips around these ice creams in Paris, you have to head down to the bottom end of rue Mouffetard, in the 5th.

(N.B. There used to be a shop on rue de Rivoli, but it closed sometime in 2013-4.)

The ice creams and sorbets for “La Compagnie” all come from the mothership “Glaces des Alpes.” It’s a kitchen headed up by Stephane Vindret, a 45 year old man hailing from Annecy, who was recognised as a Maître Artison Glacier in 2010. Far from being made in an industrialised factory, I am told that the ice creams are still made in a small artisanal workshop.

At 3 euros for a single flavour, it’s more expensive than I’m used to paying in Italy… but this is Paris and this is the price we pay. The boule that I received actually turned out to be a very generous portion, especially compared to Berthillon.

There are twenty-odd different flavours to try but based on what I have tasted so far, I’m going to enjoy working my way through the whole range. Because Stephane Vindret has been trying to replicate traditional recipes, the ice creams – but particularly the sorbets – have a much higher fruit content than you commonly find, even amongst artisanal glaciers. Fruity and refreshing. Yum!

ice cream cone

 


Essential Information

Address: 138 rue Mouffetard, 75005

Telephone: 09 54 64 13 03

Website: Compagnie des Glaces

Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday, from midday til 7pm.

Tiger Paris, 75006

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Tiger opened in December 2015 and embodies the latest development in the ever-evolving Paris craft cocktail scene.

We’ve seen a specialised whisky bar (Sherry Butt), we’ve seen rum (CopperBay), we’ve seen absinthe (Lulu White) and so it was hardly surprising to see Paris’ first dedicated gin bar.

There’s been a boom in small-scale gin production around the world in the last few years. People have finally caught on to how easy it is to make an aromatised, un-aged spirit – not like whisky, which you have to age in costly barrels for years, nor like vodka, which is still perceived as being cheap and nasty. Gin hits a sweet spot and it has not been by chance that we’ve seen such a rise in its popularity.

At Tiger, there are some clear Spanish influences; it was the Spanish, after all, not the English, who made gin-tonics trendy again. Drinks are, for example, for the most part, served in large balloon glasses.

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What I find more rather surprising about the opening of the Tiger Bar is actually its location. Rather than the haut Marais (where you’ll find Candelaria, Mary Celeste and Little Red Door) or the Pigalle area (Glass, Dirty Dick, Lulu White, Entrée des Artistes), Tiger in a part of Saint Germain where I have long been going thirsty. It’s not that Rue Princesse is short of drinking spots, it’s just that I no longer am 18 years old and have very little desire to frequent rowdy pubs.

It’s for that reason all the more to see a carefully put together offering from professional bartenders who geek out on making their own shrubs, infusions and mixers. The team at Tiger make their own tonic water.

The cocktail menu divides into three parts – gin tonics, classic gin based cocktails, classic cocktails. The bar boasts what is possibly Paris’ largest range of gins – with everything from the commercial brands (Tanqueray, Hendricks, Bombay, Plymouth…) to the niche products (Monkey 47, Dodd’s.) The majority of cocktails are priced at the industry standard of 13 euros. As well as liquids, the (ever-changing) menu offers tasty Asian-inspired small plates to sate a hungry stomach.

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For full disclosure, I worked for one of the partners of the Tiger several years ago. That’s the problem of having a small industry where everyone knows everyone else…


Essential Information 

Address: 13 rue Princesse, 75006 
Telephone: 09 77 42 07 30
Website: Tiger ParisFacebook
Opening Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 6pm-2am. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Walrus, 75010

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Have you wondered where the young, hip and unshaven hang out? The answer is the Walrus. It’s a welcome addition to a quartier which doesn’t have much to offer besides stolen iPhones.


Think I’m joking? Just spend a couple of seconds on the crossroads of boulevard Magenta, rue Maubeuge and rue de Dunkerque (near Gare du Nord) and you’ll hear “psst, psst, iphone.”


Actually, no, I exaggerate slightly. Adjacent to the Walrus, still on the rue de Dunkerque, is the new Smart Place Paris budget hotel and to the other side, a decent Italian deli “La Campanella.” The street has definitely got a lot cleaner (in every sense) than it was 8 years ago when I had a boyfriend who lived there.

The Walrus is a large, modern space; one third of which is the bar, one third is seating and the final third a music shop. It’s a record store AND café and this is refreshingly original for Paris.

There is seating for approximately 25 people. In the morning, you can come here for the breakfast menu (a croissant + orange pressé + coffee = for 5 or 6€) and to flick through the newspapers. In the afternoon, you come for a drink and to meet a friend or simply read a book. The music is not so loud as to disturb your concentration. In the evening, you come here for the ambiance and the cheap beers.

Open for now already a year and a half, it has developed a predominantly young and local clientele.. the majority of whom address the staff by their first names and visibly don’t even need to state their order; a coffee will promptly appear in front of them.

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A coffee at the bar (it’s Illy – nothing special) costs a very reasonable 1€ at the bar. (2€, if you sit down to enjoy it.) And if you’re feeling peckish, you can sate your hunger with chocolate cookies at 1.90€.

The drinks menu includes other staples such as Luscombe Hot Ginger Beer and Fever Tree Tonic. There’s Brooklyn IPA (4,5€ for un demi /25cl) and when I popped by, they were doing a Rhub’ IPA as Beer of the Month (5.50€ for 33cl.) The wine list was not overly exciting but would you really want a glass of wine here?

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So whilst you have the bar on one side, you just need to turn around to admire the other half of the room which is completely dedicated to vinyls. Apparently the two women, before opening Walrus, worked for Fnac. They wanted to open up their own record shop but were realistic enough to conclude that in this day and age, they needed to offer something else.

Monochrome music posters line the walls. There are three booths where you can listen to the the vinyl of your choice. If you love indie and rock music, you’ll be in heaven here.

After just a few minutes at the bar, I realised that it was really little wonder that the locals hang out here. The vibe is so friendly and relaxed that for a moment I forgot I was in Paris. I’ll be back!

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Essential Information 

Address: 34 ter, rue de Dunkerque, 75010 
Telephone: 01 45 26 06 40
Website: WalrusFacebook
Opening Hours: Tuesday-Thursday 9am-10pm. Friday 9am-9pm. Saturday 10am-9pm. Sunday 3pm-8pm. Closed Monday.

Du Pain et Des Idées , 75010

I woke up in a cold sweat this morning as it dawned upon me that I am yet to write about Du Pain et Des Idées on this blog. It’s a rather shameful confession, I must admit.

Christophe Vasseur is one of the best bakers in Paris. His shop, Du Pain et Des Idées, is where the geeks go. It’s very common to see people queueing – even in freezing temperatures – to get their hands on his baked goods.

If you’re the kind of person who gets excited when you hear words such as organic flour, sourdough starters and super-long fermentation times, this will become your mecca.

Must try: the croissant au beurre (of course!) and the Pain des Amis… oh and pick me up an escargot chocolat-pistache while you’re there! It’s the most divine thing I’ve eaten recently. No kidding.


Essential Information 

Address: 34 Rue Yves Toudic, 75010
Telephone: 01 42 40 44 52
Website: Du Pain et Des Idées 
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday 6.45am til 8pm. Closed Saturday and Sunday.

Festival des Pains de Monsieur Habhab, 75020

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Just ten minutes from the hustle and bustle of the busy city, there lies a relatively unknown quarter of Paris and it feels like you have stepped into another world.

We talk about Saint Germain and the Marais having a neighbourhood feel… but unless you’ve lived there for the last twenty years, chances are that you’re seeing a neighbourhood that’s wearing a full face of make-up for her visitors.

Stand outside the Eglise Notre Dame de la Croix on a Wednesday around midday and you’ll see a true neighbourhood. It’s in the 20th arrondissement; situated near Belleville (known for its large Chinese community) and Ménilmontant (where the number of lively nightlife spots has exploded in recent times) but it is neither one nor the other.

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The church was finished in 1880 and – fun fact – it is the third longest church in Paris!

The streets are largely pedestrianised and as such, you’ll have to dodge the kids zooming around on their trottinettes. Wednesday is a particularly good day to stop by because the schools typically finish at midday and so you’ll see many families going about their daily business.

It is very much a residential area. It doesn’t boast the same gastronomic richness as the more central arrondissements but you won’t starve here either. For lunch, I’d suggest fashionable Italian restaurant Dilia (who offer a midday menu of entrée-plat-dessert for 18€) and then in the evening the local dive bar Demain, C’est Loin.

Around this particular square, there are a couple of smaller cafés – perfect for watching the world go by. On a warmer day, you can escape the crowds by winding your way up to the beautiful terraced Parc de Belleville or alternatively, finding a shady spot in the Père Lachaise cemetery.

I generally don’t find boulangeries labelled Festival des Pains or Banette particularly noteworthy, although I admit they can make decent local options. Personally, I believe that if you’re going to make the effort to go to a special bakery, make it an independent one.

That being said, the sheer number of people pushing open the door of this particular boulangerie piqued my interest. It was still fairly early in the day and I hadn’t had anything to eat yet.

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It is common knowledge that I have a chronic weakness for a good croissant. Just check out this tag “Croissant Competition” to see the scale of my addiction!

Once again I proved that curiosity and hunger are a wicked combination. A minute later, I have a croissant au beurre – this boulangerie still makes margarine croissants so it’s important to make the distinction – a pain au chocolat and a baguette de tradition, for good measure

It’s quite possibly the most phallic looking croissant I’ve come across so far. And even though I’m sure no one else was paying even the slightest bit of attention to me, I still decided to tear the croissant in half, before putting it in my mouth.

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But whaddyaknow, the croissant was actually surprisingly good! It was flaky and crisp; the layers of pastry were well formed and retained their shape. Unfortunately, it didn’t unravel like yarn around a bobbin – which is a sure-fire way to make me dizzy with excitement – but it was cooked evenly throughout and had a good flavour.

In short, this neighbourhood is a fun, multi-cultural, vibrant area to wander around. It could not be further off the typical tourist track… and now you know that you won’t go hungry!


Essential Information

Address: 5 rue Julien Lacroix, 75020
Telephone: 01 43 58 65 18
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 7am til 1.30pm and 4pm until 8pm. Closed Monday.

Here’s What You Didn’t Know About Galette des Rois

We tend to translate Galette des Rois as “King Cake” in English. Yet, the translation is rather deceptive.

Despite sharing a name, King Cake, the colourful cinnamon cake found in New Orleans around Carnival and Mardi Gras, has nothing in common with the pastry that is traditionally eaten in France at Epiphany. Actually, I lie; both versions have a little figurine inserted just before the cake goes in the oven… but that’s as far as the similarities go.

The galette is traditionally made with puff pastry and frangipane (almond paste) and you find this version in every single boulangerie in Paris and northern France at the beginning of January.

What I bet you didn’t know is that there’s actually a second type of Galette des Rois in France.

In the south of France, the flaky frangipane version would be called a Galette Parisienne – with a hint of derision in the pronunciation – because they have their own version.

A crown-shaped brioche, flavoured with orange flower water and dried fruit…. it reminds me (but remember that I’m practically Parisian by now) slightly of a baba au rhum. This version is often referred to as a Gateau des Rois or a Couronne des Rois. Click here to see what it looks like.

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Me trying my hand at a Galette des Rois a few years ago.

Yet what is all this talk of Kings? Gold, frankincense and frangipane..?

Funnily enough, the Galette des Rois (in either version) has very little to do with the (supposed) visit of the magi to baby Jesus.

The tradition of electing a “King” for a day was actually a Roman tradition, during the Saturnalia festivities, the period around Christmas when all bets are off. It was during the Saturnalia that the strict social structure was turned on its head; slaves would be elected as master for the day and the real masters could behave as naughtily as they liked.

You may be familiar with the Shakespeare play, Twelfth Night…? It’s referring to this period of topsy-turvy mistaken identities and people no longer assuming their traditional roles in society.

Can I cite an even more obscure reference? The Roman poet Catullus. If you haven’t heard of him before, let’s just say that he was rather fond of excesses. He even wrote in one of his poems “Saturnalibus, optimo dierum!” (The Saturnalia, the best of days!)

The Romans of the 1st century AD would hold huge feasts over the Saturnalia, during which a cake would be served with a bean or figurine inside. Whichever of the slaves discovered this token would become master for the day. Sound familiar..?

It just so happened that when Christianity became more popular (4th century AD, under Constantine I, the first Christian leader of the Roman Empire) it was decided that Jesus’ birth should piggy-back upon an existing holiday… and the idea of the cake and inverting the general order of things was adopted into the religious calendar too.

Nowadays, often the youngest member of the family will go underneath the table and call out which slice goes to which person. Whoever gets the token – la fève in French – gets to wear the crown for the rest of the day.


If you are in Paris, click here to see which five galettes the Paris by Mouth taste-testing-team (of which I am a proud – but now very overweight – member) voted were their favourites this year.

 


P.S. Trouver la fève au gateau is a traditional French expression meaning to make a good discovery. It seems particularly fitting that the bi-annual sales started today! 🙂

Who Is Saint Honoré?

If you want to get to grips with French pastries, you simply have to start with Saint Honoré.

Honoratus, bishop of Amiens, lived sometime in the 6th century AD. He was made a saint after his death and is venerated in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches.

It’s not entirely sure when the association between Saint Honoré and patisserie first started.

We know that in 1202, a local baker named Renold Theriens donated some land in Paris to build a chapel in honour of Saint Honoré. Was this just chance or had there already been the start of a legend…? In any case, the chapel soon became one of the richest in Paris and gave its name to streets Rue Saint Honoré and Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, which run through the heart of Paris’ 1st arrondissement.

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It was definitely in 1400 when the bakers of Paris established their guild in this church – the church of Saint Honoratus – and started to spread his cult. He was subsequently also adopted by the guild of confectioners and pastry chefs as their patron saint.

This became such serious business that, in 1659, Louis XIV ordered that every baker observe the feast day of Saint Honoré (16th May) and to give free pastries out to their local community.

Nowadays, Saint Honoré is probably most commonly mentioned in reference to his eponymous pastry.

It is a classic but very complicated French dessert, traditionally composed of a puff pastry base, a ring of filled choux pastry balls and finally a very generous swirl of whipped cream (either chiboust or chantilly.)

However, because there are so many different components, it’s a very challenging cake to make and you won’t be surprised to hear that there are many different interpretations. Variations include using flaky pastry – pate brisée – instead of puff or diverging from the traditional vanilla cream.

If you want to find a Saint Honoré pastry while you’re in Paris, some of the best can be found at Patisserie des Rêves, Angelina, Dalloyau… and you should also try Carl Marletti‘s own version – called Lily Valley – with violet and blackcurrant flavourings.

RAP Épicerie, 75009

IMG_20151121_213223766aThere are many Italian delicatessens in Paris but there are very few who have such high-quality products as the RAP Épicerie.

Alessandra Pierini arrived in Paris in 2010 and her mission was to source the best of Italy and bring it to France. Still independent, she currently stocks over 1000 products, purchased directly from more than 300 different producers all over Italy. IMG_20151121_213550937a

In a space that is barely larger than a shoebox, you will find what is, without a doubt, the best selection of extra virgin olive oils, vinegars, condiments, jams, sauces and tipo 00 flour in Paris… You’ll find a range of fresh pasta, home-made lasagne (well, made on-site), Italian cheeses and cured meats to die for. To satisfy any sugar cravings, you can stock up on panforte, panettone and chocolate. IMG_20151121_213237800a

That’s before you go downstairs. There you’ll find an enormous selection of wines – everything from Prosecco through to Passito. As with the food upstairs, Alessandra only works with small producers and everything is utterly delicious.

Credit: RAP Facebook Page
Credit: RAP Facebook Page

As a quick side note, Alessandra has also established herself as a leader on Italian cuisine in France. As well as having written three books (on polenta, parmesan and smoke, if you’re interested), she is often to be found talking on the radio about pesto or judging culinary competitions.

N.B. Let it be known that I first met Alessandra in a professional capacity, but there is nothing in this blog post that I would not stand by any day of the week.


Essential Information

Address: 4 rue Fléchier, 75009

Telephone: 01 42 80 09 91

Website: RAP Épicerie, Facebook

Opening Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 10h30 – 19h30 and Sunday morning from 10am til 1pm.

“Les Goûters du Cœur” / Upcoming Christmas Charity Event 2015

STOP PRESS!
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Photo credit: Sortir a Paris

Normally, I only write about upcoming events on my Facebook page. There are so many delicious diary entries for every single day in Paris that to put them on a static blog would make them quickly out of place and out of date.

However this particular event is particularly special, thus I am making an exception.

Between 4 and 6pm, from the 8th until the 18th December, the prestigious Café de la Paix (yes, the one with the fabulous view of the Opera Garnier building) is offering a special deal:

A glass of vin chaud or a chocolat chaud
&
Gingerbread (pain d’épices) or lemon cake
for just 5€ !

The entirety of those five euros will be donated to charity. The money will go to a French association called the Mécénat Chirurgie Cardiaque. They bring children born with heart defects to France for specialised hospital treatment which would not be available in their countries.

You can sit down to enjoy your goûter in the café (if there is space!) or take it to-go. In any case, you will simultaneously warm up your chilly hands with the vin chaud and your heart for having donated to charity.

More (in French) here: Sortir à Paris. Please share!


If you are in luck, you could sit on the steps of L’Opera and take a moment to enjoy listening to Youri….. or as he was (rather cruelly) called by Prête Moi Paris “That Effing Guy in front of L’Opera.”

La Buvette de Camille, 75011

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La Buvette de Camille is one of the main spots where people in the natural wine industry in Paris like to hang-out. This thimble-sized bar opened late 2012 but I just didn’t want to talk about it on the blog until now. 🙂

It is located on a quiet, fairly unremarkable side street in the trendy 11th arrondissement. Like many wine bars of its ilk, there is no gregarious exterior. No cute and quaint Parisian lettering, nor typical sidewalk seating. No, just a very contemporary pane of glass and no name.

Inside, there are a handful of closely packed wooden tables. No tableclothes or fancy place settings. Just a pot packed with cutlery and napkins from which you help yourself.

Yet that is precisely the reason why this bar is so popular.

It has a very casual, neighbourhood feel. You don’t need to dress up to come here – it’s much more a laissez-faire, ‘come as you are’ kind of place. Despite that, the selection of predominantly natural wines that Camille has made makes this bar stand head and shoulders above the others in the area.

The wines are served alongside various seasonal small plates… and this is very much on-trend for what are now known as a cave à manger. Think: a small burrata with olive oil and preserved quince, pork paté with pistacchio, a delicate salad of bitter leaves with a spot-on vinaigrette dressing.

 

P.S. Absolutely NOTHING to do with La Buvette in the 9th. Should you happen to ask me for information about the American implant in vicinity of Pigalle, I will cough politely and give you directions to the 11th. 😉

P.P.S. You can also just stop by to buy a bottle of wine to take-away.


Essential Information

Address: 67 rue Saint Maur, 75011
Telephone: 09 83 56 94 11
Website: Facebook
Opening Hours: Wednesday & Thursday evenings only (5pm-10pm.) Friday 11am-3pm and 5pm-10pm. Saturday & Sunday from 11am til 10pm. Closed Monday and Tuesday.
Reservations: not taken.