While Uncorked and Cultivated Tours of France are in full swing there is no way to not be effected by the food, vista and people of Paris. That’s where my tour begins!
This time around the Marais, a very cosmopolitan and easy part of the big city in the 3rd arr.
After all this country of 64 million endures more tourists than any other, about 83 million, and most come from Europe!
For a huge city I find the locals very accommodating, increasingly English-speaking and appreciative that they may not gain a table in their local brasserie too often while tourists descend, and have to wait until winter.
However I struggle with aspects of the food scene; and certainly with the cuisines. My informant this year was Christian Holthausen, writing his insider’s guide to the best wine spots in the city on a luxury website.
You can easily enjoy yourself but two words Christian uses describes a good bit of the eating experience; timeless and stagnant. Where is the new which an Australian inhabitant like me expects and receives weekly? It’s here and difficult to locate unless assisted.
And that is not very easy when the Paris Office of Tourisme et des Congres publishes a booklet clearly deficient in what exists in its Paris Gourmand Good Food Guide. It should be 50 mm thick, bulging like Sydney, to be credible. Not so.
A better read was South Australian Jane Paech’s clever little book: Delicious Days in Paris which gives more than a food experience, moreso an easy find travellers’ interest and must sees that go beyond the obvious. It’s terrific and hard to put down; in my case to read and use the more interesting parts of the Marais.
Like the understated Bob’s Kitchen in rue 74 Rue des Gravilliers, 75003; +33 9 52 55 11 66 ; quite bohemian but delicious, hearty (read nutritious) and warming; such as veggie soup which is a plate of vegetables bereft of liquid, but correctly cooked so the carrots and beans are not soft (the French habit is to overcook regularly).
And then to be served an amazing short black which was correctly made (uses artisan roaster Lomi), not the usual short long black without any texture and flavour (read low quality imported coffee beans).
The barista was Brisbane-born lady – Natalie who has a French husband and a new baby; but importantly is plugged in to the international and Asia-Pacific skills that come with serving modern coffee drinkers.
Life is fun in this city, it just has to be lived and given the direction you choose; using guidance or exploration time.
And by the way, I discovered that a good Parisian short black might come my way if I used the Italian word “ristretto”, not petite, and I am going to give it a go.
It might mitigate the ugly compounds of lesser standard green beans too; probably from Vietnam instead of the delicious Brazilians now abundantly available.