• Food
  • Lunch at Verjus

    October 22, 2013

    verjus_002 verjus_001

    What a lovely story, an American couple moved to Paris, started what they called the Hidden Kitchen, creating a restaurant of sorts in their apartment, serving spectacular ten-course dinners.  Then they opened Verjus, serving contemporary American dishes that earned them rave reviews. Then came Verjus Wine bar downstairs, serving less expensive small-plates.  And most recently they have opened the wine bar for lunch, serving sandwiches that were inspired by the gourmet restaurant sandwiches they miss from the States.  Each sandwich on the menu gives tribute to a different style of sandwich.  We’ve been wanting to try out all three places so we started with lunch this summer and hopefully will get to try out the others.

    For 15 euros, you choose one of the sandwiches, a dessert and a non-alcoholic drink (ginger beer, “limonade”, flat or fizzy water). Of course they also serve beer and glasses of wines.

    The sandwich choices we had were:

    • Mr. Chang’s Buns (Momofuku, East Village, NYC) – braised pork belly, steamed Chinese buns, hoisin sauce, pickles and scallions
    • Bakesale Betty (The hottest chicken sandwich in Oakland, CA) – Verjus’ famous fried chicken, Morgan’s buns, cabbage slaw with shallots and parsley and spicy mustard vinaigrette
    • Midnight Cuban (Paseo, Seattle, WA) – marinated and tender braised pork shoulder, roasted garlic mayo, cilantro and pickled chilies on grilled baguette

    Dusty had Mr. Chang’s Buns and I had the Bakesale Betty.  As expected, both sandwiches were delicious and the desserts were delightful.  We ate in the wine bar but you can also get everything to go which I would love to do next time because they have some beautiful parks close by that you could bring your lunch to and people watch.

    verjus_003 verjus_004 verjus_005verjus_006

    Here you can see the entrance to Verjus Wine Bar and if you follow the steps to the right it will lead you to the entrance to the restaurant upstairs.  We’ve always wanted to go to the wine bar (we’ve heard good things about their small-plates) but it’s super small (approximately 12 barstools) and as you can expect is very popular.  The times we’ve walked by in the evening it’s standing room only with a line forming of sorts outside.

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  • pozetto_002

    Our trip this summer to Paris was all about food (really, aren’t all of our trips about food) but since I was pregnant, I made a special effort to try all the desserts and sweets I could.  So, on my bucket list was an ice cream shop I had heard about called Pozzetto.

    The most talked about and maybe most famous ice cream in Paris is Berthillon, but I I’ve already had their ice cream and needed to try something new.  Plus, Berthillon has delicious ice cream but it’s sold everywhere in Paris.  Pozzetto’s has just two locations in Paris and one of them was located very close to us in the Marais.

    I went there twice this summer and still dream about their gelato.  The first time we went, we stood in line and when we got to the window I ordered three flavors of ice cream in a huge cone.  Please remember I was pregnant, it was warm that day and we had been walking for hours, and on our way back to the apartment.  After ordering, the gentleman at the window mentioned something about two spoons and I looked at Dusty and said something like, “oh no, that’s just my order”.  And I ate it all!

    Something I found out that first time we went is that they don’t charge you by the scoop but rather by the cone or cup size.  They go ahead and fill it up with as many flavors as you want!  So, I’m not quite sure what their cone sizes are but I must have ordered a cone big enough that they thought I was sharing.

    I’ve only tried three flavors, Cafe’ Costadoro, Stracciatella and a third I can’t remember, but my favorite was the coffee flavored gelato.  I don’t drink coffee but this ice cream was so delicious.

    From what I’ve heard, all of Pozzetto’s gelatos and sorbets are prepared daily, focusing on top quality milk and the best seasonal ingredients.  There are only 12 flavors at a time, including seasonal classics and some creative parfums du mois.

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  • L’Avant Comptoir

    October 19, 2013

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    The other day I wrote about our beautiful dinner at Le Comptoir du Relais and mentioned that Chef Yves Camdeborde also has a little standing room only wine shop next door that serves small plates called L’Avant Comptoir.

    This was another spot we really wanted to try because of all the hype. We had walked by a time or two but were always on our way somewhere and we were a little fearful because when I say “standing room only” I really mean it.  I’m not quite sure how many people can actually fit in the place (there’s some debate as to how many people can fit) but in comparison to any spot in the US, the place is probably the same size as the hallway to the restroom in your favorite restaurant.  And there’s always a crowd.  But don’t let this scare you off, the food and wine were beyond words delicious and the atmosphere is great!

    L’Avant Comptoir can be described as a little piece of gastronomic delight that serves phenomenal small plates (our favorite thing to eat) as well as equally delicious wines. One late afternoon we were in the neighborhood and walking by noticed that there were only a few people in the place.  After a little hesitation we ventured in.  Thank goodness our first encounter was on this slow late afternoon because on most evenings getting the bartender’s/chef’s attention is for the fierce and mighty and for newbies an afternoon visit was perfect.  The staff was very pleasant and welcoming the afternoon we went.

    After settling up to the counter and carving ourselves out a spot we were given a wine list and told to look above our heads for the food menu.  Plastic menu cards hanging from the ceiling with pictures and a small chalkboard with a few additional special charcuteries told us all we needed to know for food.  There were also crepes being sold out the street-side window (which I want to try the next time we go).

    After checking out the menu cards as well as some of the small plates others around us were eating, we picked a handful, ordered and waited for our adventure to begin.

    On the counter there was a jar of delicious homemade pickles, a basket of bread and a plate of butter for all patrons to share.  Just a side note, something I love about Paris is the communal bread.  I know people will say how unsanitary this is but I really enjoy how it makes me feel like I’m at home and the person next to me is my friend.  Everyone’s sharing.

    Needless to say, everything we ordered was amazing!  It was so much more than I had expected from such a small place.  Each dish was sophisticated with complex tastes yet simple at the same time.

    The second time we went we ended up meeting up with some Omaha friends who were visiting Paris.  We were there during peak hours and it was a lot of fun.  Once you know how to wiggle your way up to the bar (or your husband knows how to do it), order and then find yourself a cozy spot somewhere you’re set!  I wasn’t drinking (pregnant, remember) but everyone else shared a bottle of wine and a few small plates.  We stood outside the door because there was no room inside and then became friends with the other patrons.

    I’m not sure what my favorite part is about this place, the number of people who squeeze into this phenomenal little place (something that would never happen in the States–the police wouldn’t let you), the unassuming but delicious food, or how you see both locals and tourists shoulder to shoulder drinking wine and enjoying each others company.  If I can offer one piece of advice, go during off-peak hours or be prepared to get to know the person next to you!

    l'avantcomptoir_002 l'avantcomptoir_003Tataki de thon (Seared tuna tataki)

    l'avantcomptoir_004Croquettes de jambon (Ham croquettes)

    l'avantcomptoir_005Carpaccio with parmesan and olive oil

    l'avantcomptoir_006Poitrine de porc caramelisee (Caramelised pork belly)

    l'avantcomptoir_007Lou regalet bearnais tomate-jambon (Bruschetta on toasted baguette topped with ham)

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  • Le Comptoir du Relais

    October 14, 2013

    Here’s another update from our summer food adventures in Paris.  There’s been a lot written about chef Yves Camdeborde and his bistro Le Comptoir du Relais as well as his little standing room only wine bar, L’Avant Comptoir (located next door).  Maybe these two places are so popular because chefs like Anthony Bourdain and Thomas Keller have raved about them.

    Just a little history, Yves Camdeborde left a three-star restaurant to open his own bistro, La Régalade (one of our favorite places to eat in Paris and in my opinion, has the best rice pudding), which he sold years ago to open Le Comptoir, meaning “counter”. Chef Camdeborde is known as the father of bistronomy, serving high-quality food in a casual bistro setting.

    To get a table at Le Comptoir de Relais you need to make reservations months in advance for a prix fixe dinner on weekdays, or wait in line for lunch or weekends when they serve their “brasserie menu”.  On one of our last nights in Paris we stood in line to get in (I won’t mention how long we waited because I’m a little embarrassed we waited so long but we didn’t have anything else going on and the food looked delicious).  And on a side note, there were two celebrities (BJ Novak from the Office and Ben Feldman, who’s currently on Mad Men). standing in line a few people ahead of us, and if they were waiting to get a table I felt like we could too.  For those wanting to go, I suggest getting there a little before noon or early in the evening to beat the crowd and ensure that you don’t have to wait long in line.

    So, after a very long and cold wait we sat at a very cozy table outside.  In our opinions, the food was delicious, service was great, and Le Comptoir du Relais lives up to all the hype.  It’s worth the wait, and if you’re not able to wait, make sure to stop by Chef Camdeborde’s L’Avant Comptoir next door.

    Le Comptoir de Relais_001Bisque de homard bleu Europeen froide ou chaude (Lobster bisque)

    Le Comptoir de Relais_002Evening Special – Some sort of farro risotto

    Le Comptoir de Relais_003Souris d’agneau braisee semoule et fruits secs (Braised lamb, white beans, dried fruit)

    Le Comptoir de Relais_004Thon rouge rôti <bleue> a la plancha legumes de saison (Seared tuna with seasonal grilled vegetables)

    Le Comptoir de Relais_005Riz au lait cremeux sauce caramel (Creamy rice pudding with caramel sauce)

    Le Comptoir de Relais_006Pot de creme ou caramel beurre sale (Pot of cream with salted caramel sauce )

    le comptoir relais

    This is the only picture I have of the restaurant, which Dusty took with his phone while we were waiting.  I wanted him to take a picture of the “famous” people I spotted in line and who we then proceeded to watch eat dinner.  As you can see, he only got a picture of the back/side of Ben Feldman and two seats to his right is BJ Novak but he was cut off.  That’s the best he could do without looking like he was purposely taking a picture.  They had several people stop them in line to get their picture taken with the duo but Dusty said I couldn’t ask.  We sat at a table on the left where you currently see a group of women are seated.

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  • Taita

    October 7, 2013

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    I write a lot about the food we eat, especially in Paris, but I don’t write much about the wonderful food we eat in Omaha.  I’ve been meaning to write a few posts about some of our favorite local restaurants.  This post is about Taita, a restaurant serving the freshest seafood and locally sourced ingredients.  The food is influenced by the chef/owner’s Peruvian roots.

    We went to Taita for my birthday a little over a year ago.  Dusty asked the chef, José, to create a tasting menu for us.  We were so impressed by the originality of the dishes and the freshness of the fish.  Now, just over a year later, in addition to their regular menu, they are serving handcrafted sushi as well as delicious cocktails and wines.  Our favorite place to sit is at the sushi bar where you can watch José.

    Here are a few pictures from one of our trips to Taita while I was still pregnant.  Dusty ordered the Omakase or Chef’s choice.  Omakase is a Japanese phrase that means “I’ll leave it to you.”  Essentially it’s a tasting of all the freshest fish the chef has and sort of like a tasting menu, except everything is at the chef’s whim.  I ordered the Uni Pasta.

    I’m not an expert but I’d have to say that Taita has the freshest fish in Omaha and some of the most unique sushi and dishes!

    tiata_002Handcrafted cocktails (mine was a mocktail)

    tiata_003View from our seats at the sushi bar

    tiata_004Vegetarian Roll (Best one I’ve ever had)

    tiata_0053 pieces of Nigiri

    tiata_006Ceviche

    tiata_007Giant Clam Nigiri

    tiata_008Monkfish Liver

    tiata_009 tiata_010 tiata_011Uni Pasta (Chitarra Pasta, Sea Urchin Beurre-Monte, Uni Bottarga, Crab)

    tiata_012Chocolate Pave

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  • Crêpes at Breizh Cafe

    August 17, 2013

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    We’ve read that one of the best places in Paris to get a crêpe is the Breizh Cafe, located in the Marais.  So I put Breizh Cafe on my Paris Bucket List.  On our second day in Paris we thought we’d try to get our first crêpe fix and were disappointed to learn reservations are a must unless you go during non-peak hours but really, to be safe, just make reservations.  Reservations don’t need to be made really far in advance, just the day before or even earlier in the day.  A few days later we went back with reservations and I must agree that the Breizh Cafe does have (in my opinion) the best dessert crêpe and a high quality galette.

    “Breizh” means “Brittany” in the Breton language and the menu includes some of the highlights of the Brittany region. Breizh Cafe specializes in galettes.  Something I learned this summer is that a regular crêpe made with white flour is called a crêpe, and one made with buckwheat flour is called a galette. Desserts are usually served on regular flour crêpes.  Breizh galettes are made with organic buckwheat flour and filled with organic ingredients and the butter is Bordier (our favorite butter).  The beverage of choice is cider, mostly organic from small producers.

    We went while Allison was visiting so Dusty and Allison shared some hard cider and both got one of the galette specials of the day that had smoked duck, white asparagus, egg, and cheese.  I ordered one of the more classic galettes with ham, egg, mushrooms and cheese.  For dessert Dusty got the recommended caramel au beurre salé avec chantilly crêpe (crêpe topped with caramel sauce and homemade whipped cream) and I got a crêpe with chocolate and whipped cream.

    Hands down, Dusty’s crêpe drizzled with salted butter caramel was the best crêpe I’ve ever had.  Now, there will always be a place in my heart for a nutella and banana crêpe from a street vendor but nothing will compare to the salted butter caramel topping at the Breizh Cafe.  I don’t often regret not ordering something but this was one of those times (even though mine was excellent).  We loved the caramel au beurre salé crêpe so much that a couple of days before we left Paris we went back during one of those off hours and ordered two delicious crêpes drizzled with caramel sauce.  This is the kind of crêpe that you don’t share because it’s that good.  I’m still wishing we would have gone there at least a few more times.

    breizh_002 breizh_003 breizh_004 breizh_005 breizh_006

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  • Frenchie Bar à Vins

    August 15, 2013

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    One of our new favorite places to eat/drink in Paris is Frenchie Wine Bar.  I’ve talked about Frenchie a couple of times, the reservation only, 20-seat restaurant with prix fixe menu but I haven’t had a chance to talk about the no reservation, first-come first-serve wine bar across the street.  The doors open at 7pm and if you want to get a seat you should arrive early because before the door opens there’s often a line.

    We went during the middle of the week and arrived shortly after 7pm.  We got a table easily but spots filled up fast.  Once we were seated we were given a lengthy list of delicious shared plates served from the open kitchen and a list of some exceptional wines by the glass or bottle.  Of course, with so many of our favorite Paris restaurants, the menu changes constantly.

    I can’t say enough good things about this place, the staff was attentive and had great recommendations, and the food was simple but inventive.  Everything was absolutely delicious.  The ingredients were fresh and each dish was perfectly portioned.  Our favorite dish of the evening was the warmed spring vegetable salad.  Not something we would order but recommended by our waiter and it absolutely blew our minds.

    Frenchie Wine Bar will be one of our go-to places in Paris for so many reasons including the great food, wine and atmosphere.  I’m just a little disappointed that we didn’t try it out until late in our stay this summer and weren’t able to go back.  It’s no surprise that once people arrive and start eating, drinking and socializing, they don’t leave for quite some time.

    frenchiewinebar_002 frenchiewinebar_003Jambon Iberico di Bellota AOC Dehesa de Extremadura, affine 60 mois (60 months aged spanish ham)

    frenchiewinebar_004Oeuf poche, asperges, Keen’s cheddar, girolles (Poached egg, asparagus, cheddar, mushrooms)

    frenchiewinebar_005Salade tiède de légumes de printemps, petit épeautre (Spring vegetable salad)

    frenchiewinebar_006Tortelli ricotta, petite pois, menthe, ricotta salata, (Ricotta tortellini, green peas, mint)

    frenchiewinebar_007Merlu de ligne de Sain-Jean de Luz, asperges, anchois fume (Line-caught hake, asparagus, smoked anchovies)

    frenchiewinebar_008Nuggets de ris de veau, carottes, arroche (Sweetbread nuggets, carrots, 0rach)

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  • Laduree Macarons

    August 13, 2013

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    I’ve talked a lot about sweets in Paris, especially macarons.  One that I haven’t talked about yet is the Ladurée macaron.  One of the landmark places to get macarons in Paris is Ladurée. In 1862, Louis Ernest Ladurée founded his bakery and in 1952, Ladurée’s second cousin, Pierre Desfontaines, made their first macaron.   They are known as the inventor of the double-decker macaron and are still one of the best-known makers of macarons in the world.

    While on a food tour in Paris we discovered that there’s a little controversy surrounding Ladurée macarons because they are mass-produced.  As with so many products in France and Europe, locally sourced and produced is the ultimate goal.

    Even with the controversy I wanted to try the famous Ladurée macrons and I was so glad we did.  I thought they were delicious and some of our favorites.  Dusty and I tried comparing the macarons we’d had from some of the different pastry shops to determine which was the best place for macarons but ultimately we decided that it just depends what flavor you’re getting.  I would say that Ladurée is at the top of our list and had some of the best tasting macarons.  We tried four flavors, chocolat, vanille, caramel fleur de sel (caramel with salted butter), and the framboise (raspberry).  Our favorites were the caramel fleur de sel and the framboise.

    laduree_001 laduree_002

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  • Another item on my Paris Bucket List this summer was to have le chocolate chaud (hot chocolate) at Angelina.  I don’t drink coffee so my go-to hot beverage is often hot chocolate and since Paris is much cooler in June than it is in Nebraska (sometimes even in the 60s) , I thought it would be a nice treat on one of the cooler Paris days.

    One chilly afternoon I ventured out and took a stroll to Angelina for some of their famous hot chocolate and equally famous pastry, the Mont Blanc.  This delightful pâtisserie is composed of a vanilla-flavored chestnut cream, fromage blanc/chantilly (a soft fresh type of cream cheese/whipped cream) and meringue. The ingredients give the pastry a sort of crunchy yet creamy texture.  It was a little piece of heaven and was even nice enough to bring a little home to Dusty so he could try it too.

    We’ve walked by Angelina on several occasions and there’s always a line.  It’s an elegant establishment and what’s amazing is that you’ll see tourists sitting along side locals, everyone loves this place.  Because I was alone and didn’t want to wait for a table, I got my drink and pastry for a emporter or “take away” and walked across the street to the Tuileries Garden to sit near one of the fountains and do a little people watching.  I just have to comment on the beautiful packaging.  My mont blanc came in an elegant box and it was almost like opening up a gift it was so pretty.

    angelina_001 angelina_002 angelina_003angelina_004 angelina_005

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  • Chez L’Ami Jean

    June 25, 2013

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    As I mentioned in a previous post about not getting the chance to blog about all of the wonderful dinners we went to while in Paris last summer, Chez L’Ami Jean was one of those restaurants. Reservations are a must here but Dusty was able to call when we arrived in Paris and get us reservations for the first seating (they have two seatings), for a week or so later.

    If you read reviews of the restaurant you’ll find that this place is not for those looking for an elegant, quiet, and attentive dining experience.  I’d agree with all of those things but the food is so good that the loud, small, cramped quarters seem to disappear once the food appears.  I did ask Dusty about our waiter and he said that he remembers our waiter being really great (he has a much better memory than I do).

    When we arrived we were seated and heard a lot of English around us and if I were to guess, the first seating is for the American crowd.  Of course, Dusty and I were a little disappointed because we try not to be your typical tourist but we soon got over our disappointment when the delicious food started coming out (have I mentioned how good the food was)!  There are three choices for dinner: three coure menu for 42 euros, five course menu for 55 euros and then a third option they call carte blanche.

    Of course, Dusty insisted we order the carte blanche, an 80 euro option including whatever chef Stéphane Jego wants to make. And thus, the adventure began.  Some of our favorites

    chezl'amijean_002Left: Unknown creamed soup; Right: Salmon Tartare with poached egg

    chezl'amijean_003Left: Fish with citrus zest; Right: Scallops

    chezl'amijean_004Left: Turbot; Right: Squab

    chezl'amijean_005Famous riz au lait (rice pudding) with accompaniments

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