June 5, 2011

I Was Meant to Live in France

...And we’re back. We had a fantastic vacation with the fam in Provence (and a few days in Paris, too). We lived like the locals in Provence in a rented villa, where we had lots of togetherness, a good amount of rain, a bit of sun, and LOTS of food. There are some frightening stats associated with this. In the week we were in Provence, we eight consumed:

38 bottles of wine (excluding wine that was consumed at restaurants)
3 bottles of vodka
11 salamis
21 baguettes
72 croissants
14 yogurts (purchased only because of the cute glass jars they were sold in)
10 different types of cheeses, at least

Okay, so maybe we didn’t eat like locals. We ate like pigs. Very happy pigs.

The highlights:

Hitting up favorite pastry haunts in Paris

I have to say, I don’t have must-have restaurants in Paris yet (but I am confident one day I will), but I do have must-have patisseries that I hit up whenever I’m there. The last time I was in Paris, my mom and I discovered Eric Kayser. We immediately fell in love with what I'd argue are the best croissants in Paris, and we went there for breakfast every single day on that trip. So, I had to show Zach. We had the croissants, and one afternoon, we also stopped in for this treat. Love this place, even the cranky woman who makes the cappuccinos. (And yes, I just said I have encountered someone in Paris who is cranky, but this is not the norm!! Don't repeat it.)

My other favorite patisserie in Paris is Laduree—a classic and best known for its macarons. But my favorite thing there is the Rose Religieuse. It’s filled with pastry cream that tastes faintly like rose water and is studded with fresh raspberries. It’s one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten. And the place couldn’t be classier. China and silver. You feel sophisticated just by sitting there.

Pork for lunch

I think this is actually an un-highlight. As I’ve said before, I am compulsive about planning out where we’ll eat on trips. It's too easy to get mediocre food otherwise. Once when my mom and I were in Rome, we trekked probably 5 miles (ok, maybe an exaggeration), but it was out of the way. All to find the perfect place for bucatini with black pepper and pecorino. At the time she thought I was nuts, but I know that she was glad once we finally ate. We were so delirious from waiting to eat for so long, that we ended up in a giggling fit in the middle of the restaurant and couldn’t pull it together. It’s a good memory.

So, of course, this time I had my list of places scoped at as well. David Lebovitz reco-ed a place called Rubis on his blog, and it was right by the Louvre, so we decided to go there after looking at art one day. I had forgotten the address, so we very very quickly turned the data roaming on on my phone, and in my haste to get the data roaming turned off quickly, I skimmed over the address. Rue Saint-Honore was what I thought it said. But, no, it was really Rue du Marche Saint-Honore. So, we went down many many blocks on Rue Saint-Honore until we got to where the street number should have been, and there was no Rubis. I was thoroughly confused by this. So, we turned around and went down past where we started wondering if the numbers started over again (I know, not likely).

Finally, miraculously, we figured out what had happened. And we found Rubis.

I walked in expecting something fabulous.

I started to get nervous when we were sent up a narrow staircase to an extra dining area.

I started getting even more nervous when the waitress spoke no English. I can usually get by with what I know in French, but it usually comes with some help in English. She figured out fairly quickly that we’d have trouble communicating, so she took us back to the kitchen to show us what they had left for lunch (we got there close to 3pm). This was certainly a new experience.

It was slim picking, but I was happy with the lentils I thought I’d be getting.

I was a little surprised when this came out, this big piece of pork. (What cut of pork is that, you ask? I'm not sure. And I'm not sure I want to know.) Yes, I ate this. Yes, it tasted good. But now I look at it, and am not sure why (on both accounts).

Famous Jerry

This story happened the same day as the Rubis debacle. Clearly, it was a doozy of a day.

On our second night in Paris, we went to a place called L’Ami Jean. I had had quite a bit to eat that day (what, with that ginormous pork thing and the pastry I ate immediately after to make myself feel better) and was feeling rather green. We were setting up for a fairly uneventful dinner as I picked at my entree, until I heard the two ladies sitting next to us say something about someone famous just walking in. “I hope they don’t screw up his reservation,” she said.

I didn’t think much of it b/c I didn’t recognize anyone, and the two “famous people” sat down at the communal table between us and the two women. Super dapper in their black suits and unbuttoned white shirts. Super friendly. Definitely gave off a could be famous vibe, and based on the conversation they had with the women on the other side of them, they were. But we had no idea who they were! It’s been driving us nuts. This is what we think we heard:

Famous-er of the 2 named Jerry
Lives in Toronto
Dining partner (and I think life partner as well) “produces his stuff”

We have google searched and google searched. We cant figure it out. If you do, let me know.

(He said he was going to check out my blog after he commented on the fact that I was taking pictures of my food. So, someone famous could be reading my blog. Score to that!)

Because I wasn’t feeling great, I barely made my way through the entrée. I somehow regained my appetite when they brought out this rice pudding bar of sorts. A HUGE bowl of probably the best rice pudding I’ve ever had, with caramel mousse, and meringues.


When we were in Provence, lunch was a major highlight. It often looked like this: cheeses, salami (my favorite one was studded with walnuts, so delicious), olives, a fresh fig, about half of a baguette, and a smear of Nutella. And a glass of Rose of course. I should eat this for lunch here in the states. Not sure why I don’t.


Love the markets in Provence. Every day, it’s in a different town. We did the Coustellet market the first day we were there, and also did the Gordes market another day. A total feast for the eyes. Countless cheeses, countless salamis, fruits, veggies, soaps, spices, rotiserrie chickens. Even a friendly barrista who swirls an "M" into the foam of your cappucino because you're from Minnesota. And gives your dad free limes for his vodka tonics.


Why don’t we have takeout Paella places in the US? After a string of nights where we cooked at the villa, we decided to get takeout Paella one night. They do this in Provence. You put down a deposit for the paella pan and get to take it home. I’ve decided that I’m going to try to master paella in the near future. Lovely. Especialy when consumed on a patio overlooking a pool in Provence with your favorite people.

Cherry nectar

This was my favorite find at the Coustellet market. Cherry nectar. It was intriguing all bottled up with no label. I had to try it. But to be honest, I was worried it would be ridiculously sweet. How silly of me. It was amazing. Cherry-ish, perfume-ish. Sweet but not too sweet. I can’t explain it. It tasted more like cherries growing than actual cherries if that makes sense. J I enjoyed exactly one and a half glasses. The rest was mixed with vodka by the boys and enjoyed in the pool. Sigh. I will ask every farmer I ever see with cherries at a farmers market if they make cherry nectar for the rest of my life.

Goat cheese

See the goat cheese rounds on the right? They were the most tasty, perfect, goat-y little goat cheeses I’ve ever had. I seriously think that maybe they were the single best thing I ate on the trip. And luckily there aren’t many goat eaters in my family, and I largely enjoyed the four I got by myself.

Dinner at La Bastide

No story here, just amazing food. I had a crab and avocado salad, lamb chops with pesto-y spring vegetables, and red fruits with a basil black olive sorbet that was amazing. Zach got this chocolate stunner. You have to order your dessert when you order your entrée b/c they take that long to put together (Zach had blueberries cut in half on his for decoration). And then as if you can’t be pleased beyond your mind enough already, they bring out little candies to have with your coffee.

Amazing, that place, amazing.

1 comment:

  1. Sarah, thanks for all those luscious details and photos! Feel as if I've taken a vicarious trip to France.