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.

Walrus, 75010

IMG_20160219_170317485

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.

IMG_20160219_164929

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?

IMG_20160219_170124301

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!

IMG_20160219_164842


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.

Festival des Pains de Monsieur Habhab, 75020

IMG_20160120_121700692_HDR

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.

IMG_20160120_121639120
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.

IMG_20160120_121629353_HDR

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.

IMG_20160120_121748938_HDR

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.

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.

La Buvette de Camille, 75011

camille

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. 

L’Auberge Bressane, 75007

IMG_20151109_222235670

It’s not that there is a dearth of high-quality restaurants in this part of the 7th. You only have to stumble a couple of paces in any direction before you land upon L’Arpege, La Fontaine de Mars or L’Ami Jean… not to mention Jean-François Piège or David Toutain or Il Vino…

It’s just that Auberge Bressane hits the spot at every single level.

Auberge Bressane, as the name would suggest, specialises in Burgundy cuisine. Think creamy sauces, soufflés and lots of chicken dishes with the signature Poulet de Bresse.

It’s a traditional restaurant; the tablecloths are emblazoned with the regional flag and images of the fleur de lys, the menu is also beautifully illustrated and the wine list proffers a range of Burgundy crus to die for.

Our table of four had: a dozen snails, foie gras, and a couple of Comté cheese soufflés. These were followed by coq au vin, the apparently famous chicken in a vin jaune sauce with morel mushrooms (which I highly recommend!!) and hearty partridge dish. Dessert (not that we needed them!) consisted of a caramel soufflé, apple and calvados soufflé, crêpes suzette and the most enormous baba au rhum I have ever seen.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Everything was absolutely delicious and the portions were more than generous. Even the chips (fries, if you’re from the other side of the Atlantic) were on point. Could not fault a single thing.

Our waitresses also fully deserve a special mention. They were the embodiment of professionalism all the way through the evening. They were very happy to patiently explain the dishes to us in English, the wine service was spot-on and we never had need for anything. Serving soufflé or flambée-ing crêpes suzette at the table was not able to faze them one bit either.

Speaking with one of the waiters outside as he was on a cigarette break, he told me that he couldn’t remember how long he had been working at L’Auberge Bressane… but it was at least five years on and off. That showed.

 

It’s not easy to find snails, frogs legs and coq au vin on the menu of the trendy restaurants anymore.* Those staple dishes fell victim to the bistronomie movement a few years back. L’Auberge Bressane is a great choice if you are looking for a classic French gastronomic experience. It suits both entertaining visiting parents and romantic dinners.

As you can see from the menus above, the prices are not for everyday eating (main courses between 25 and 40€ and wine from 30€ to upwards of 300€)… but this restaurant would be perfect for a special occasion, birthday or anniversary.

*Check out Café des Musées if you happen to be on the rive droite / Marais area. They also offer a traditional menu but without the same professionalism (or price point!) of L’Auberge.


Essential Information

Address: 16 avenue de la Motte-Picquet, 75007
Telephone: 01 47 05 98 37 
Website: Auberge Bressane
Opening Hours: Open for lunch and dinner every day of the week, except Saturday lunch. 
Reservations: Recommended. Call a couple of days in advance. 

Bontemps, 75003

There is a traditional French expression which says that “a good friend is one who brings food.”

Photo credit: Bontemps
Photo credit: Bontemps

Well, I’m not sure if that expression actually exists but, if it doesn’t, there ought to be something like it.

It was my birthday this past weekend and one of my oldest friends in Paris was so kind to bring me a box of treats from the Bontemps Pâtisserie.

Bontemps is a pâtisserie shop in the Marais – on Rue de Bretagne to be precise (full details below) – run by two sisters, which opened at the start of 2015. It is specialised in sablés – “sandy” biscuits made with tons of butter, salt and top-quality flour.

At Bontemps, these treats come in three formats: miniatures (as pictured above), a heart shape (which they recommend for two people) and a flower with five petals (= five servings.)

Photo credit: Bontemps
Photo credit: Bontemps

The biscuit is so light and delicate that it is the perfect vehicule to carry the cream filling. The fillings vary through the year but even if raspberries and passion fruit are out of season, you should be able to find flavours such as chocolate tonka bean and zesty lemon curd.

The décor of the shop – with its beautiful but quaint window design and its very girly interior – rather reminds me of a dolls’ house… but who cares? It’s the goods that count and these are exceptionally good. Get yourselves there ASAP!


Essential Information

Address: 57 rue de Bretagne, 75003
Telephone: 01 42 74 10 68
Website: Facebook
Opening Hours: Wednesday-Friday: 12 noon – 8pm. Saturday: 10am – 19h30. Sunday: 10am-2pm. Closed Monday & Tuesday. 


Bocamexa, 75005

IMG_20150826_154331841_HDR

One of my great discoveries recently has been the Mexican restaurant “Bocamexa” at the bottom end of rue Mouffetard. I had walked past several times, always appreciating the delicious smells coming from the kitchen, when finally I rally myself and a friend to go and check it out.

In short, it was wonderful! The restaurant itself is no frills, but the space is bright and colourful. The menu consists of solidly Mexican dishes (there’s no fancy fusion here!) Burritos, tacos or quesadillas – that are composed in front of your very eyes. It’s fast food… but it’s also fresh and tasty.

The really great thing is the fact that they keep serving all day (known as “service continu” in French) seven days a week. You can grab a bite at 3 or 4 o’clock in the afternoon and no-one is going to raise an eyebrow.

We grabbed a burrito each (they were enormous AND spicy – perfect!) and sat outside on rue Mouffetard to enjoy a few rays of sunshine and pretend we were no longer in Paris. Average cost of a burrito – ten euros.

IMG_20150826_154325909

P.S. The restaurant is part of a wider Mexican-French alliance. Check out the website below to find out about the cultural events that they organise.

P.P.S. The Señor Boca food truck is also part of the Bocamexa family.


Essential Information

Address: 127 rue Mouffetard, 75005
Telephone: 01 73 77 28 22
Website: BocamexaFacebook
Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday 11am til 10pm. 
Reservations: not taken. 

La Cave de Don Doudine, 75018

don doudine
(c) Martin Parr

There’s been a huge hullaballoo around the opening of la Brasserie Barbes this week. Apparently, we’re supposed to be up in arms about how the area around Barbes-Rochechouart station is being reclaimed by hipsters.

Apparently, (if you take notice of what people who previously only ever dared to go as far as Tati say) it’s scandalous how a bar designed to appeal to everyone is actually an exclusive club reserved only to those stupid enough to want to spend 5 euros on a coffee or upwards of 8 euros on a beer.

— I’m sure I don’t need to remind you of the New York Times article in 2013 about How Hipsters Ruined Paris? (But fortunately there were counter-articles, such as this one on Paris by Mouth.) — 

If only the people who write the articles and who speak on television – dare I mention the famous words “no-go-zone“?? – actually LIVED here? Yes, here, in this neighbourhood. The ghetto. Yes. Here.

If they did, they’d realise that the 18th is one of the most culturally interesting arrondissements. It can change from the picturesque Amélie Poulain scenes of the Café des Deux Moulins, to the old Pigalle hostess bars by just crossing a boulevard. Equally, you can walk from the Islamic Cultural Centre to the Ganesh Hindu Temple in just a couple of minutes. Yes, there are places (such as around Château Rouge métro station) where you don’t want to linger (but it is safe to walk through)… and there is certainly also room for a high-end café/ restaurant/bar, even in a place like Barbes.

Gosh, this is Water. Off a Duck’s back.

Actually, I watch this general expulsion of hot air and find it really quite amusing. Those who live here know that there have long been seriously good places in this neighbourhood: Table d’Eugene, for example, on rue Eugene Sue, which finally won its first much-deserved Michelin star last year. Supercoin, for its craft beers. Café Lomi, for its craft coffee. Bob’s Bake Shop for its bagels and 2 euro unlimited coffee.

Another such example is La Cave de Don Doudine. A shoe-box-sized cave catering to the local community rather than passing tourists; a grandfatherly figure supplying his neighbour with good booze.

You find craft beers (from the neighbouring Brasserie de la Goutte d’Or, naturally!) As well as some natural wines (e.g. Drappier Brut Nature, Christian Binner and the Domaine des Poithiers to give you just a taste.) There are top-range whiskies from LMDW such as Nikka From the Barrel, Great King Street from Compass Box, Calva from Christian Drouin… all rubbing shoulders with artisanal ice-cream-maker La Tropicale.

Generally only open in the afternoon until early evening, it’s worth remembering that they’re open both morning and afternoon on Saturdays. This area of the Goutte d’Or.

P.S. They’re also the masterminds behind the local wine bar and restaurant Le Tout-Monde which opened in Jan 2014 and is located at number 4 rue Affre, 75018.

If you really want to be avant-garde, head there to drink your craft beer and I can guarantee, it will cost less than eight euros!


Essential Information

Address: 16 rue Myrha, 75018
Telephone: 01 42 54 98 50
Website: Facebook
Opening Hours: Tuesday-Friday 16h-21h; Saturday from 10h30-13 and 16h-21h; also Sunday mornings 10h30-13h.

La Quincave, 75006

IMG_20141030_115036

Packed with bottles, from floor to ceiling, lovers of natural wine are sure to find many labels that they recognise. La Quincave is a small, relaxed wine bar, where, curiously, they don’t serve wines by the glass. I suppose the logic is that if the wine is good, you shouldn’t need a small pour!

The vibe is very rustic and informal. There are no tablecloths or sleek wooden bistrot tables; but you feel at home straight away.

La Quincave is managed by the the very welcoming duo of Fred and Audrey (ex-wife of Christian Binner, the Alsatian winemaker – in case you didn’t know.)

The wine bar proposes a limited menu, largely of charcuterie and cheese plates… but, as a little bonus, if you fancy oysters (during the winter months obviously!) you can pop next door to the fishmongers and they’ll bring a dozen freshly shucked mollusks to your table!!

Come with thirsty friends!


Essential Information

Address: 17 rue Brea, 75006
Telephone: 01 43 29 38 24
Website: La QuincaveFacebook
Opening Hours: Tuesday-Friday from 11h-13h and 17h-21h. Saturday 11h-21h. Sunday 11h-14h. Closed Monday. 
Reservations: not taken.