d o c t o r a n d m a m a

Linda Shiue

Linda Shiue
San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA
December 31
I am a physician and spend my free time with my husband and kids, reading everything in sight, eating, traveling, and cooking meals inspired by my travels. These days I'm spending more time at my food blog, spiceboxtravels.com. Please visit me there and follow me on Twitter @spiceboxtravels. Disclaimer: Health information presented here is not intended nor recommended as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your own physician or other qualified health care professional regarding any medical questions or conditions. © 2010-12 Linda Shiue. All Rights Reserved.

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Editor’s Pick
SEPTEMBER 6, 2011 9:39AM

A Food Tour of Paris with David Lebovitz as My Muse

Rate: 20 Flag


This summer I had the wonderful opportunity to travel for a month on a French-themed trip, which included two weeks in Paris.  I've written before about how I became such a Francophile.  Starting this week, I'll begin a series of posts on my food adventures.  Thank you for coming by, and please come back soon to hear more about my explorations.
*     *     *
My trip this summer fulfilled a lifelong dream I’ve had since first falling in love with the French language and culture in my childhood.  With more than three decades of built-up anticipation, I made sure I was prepared.   I started my preparations by tuning up my rusty high school French.  Time didn't allow for taking classes at the Alliance Française, which is what I would do the next time.  So instead I listened to the Pimsleur CDs in the car during my commute for a month leading up to the trip.  While some of the vocabulary was either archaic or overly formal (nobody I spoke to referred to les e-mails as les courielles), it was definitely worth my time to listen to spoken French and to practice my pronunciation.  I also purchased too many guides, I think six in total.  Of those, I ended up packing three.  One was the most recent edition of Time Out Paris, which provided the most detail of my three guides, but was too heavy to tote around on our explorations.  The second was City Walks Paris, a set of 50 cards published by Chronicle Books, each of which outlines a recommended walking tour in various parts of the city.  My family and I really enjoyed using these cards as a loose guide to our wanderings (it made us feel adventurous and more local), and the detail map on the back of each card was generally better and easier to use than any of the Paris city maps we had.
And as a food lover and blogger, I of course needed advice on the best places to eat in Paris.  Who better to ask than David Lebovitz, former Chez Panisse pastry chef and American-expat-in-Paris food blogger extraordinaire? Alas, lacking the connections to ask him directly (he does not read this blog), I had to make do with reading his witty memoir with recipes, The Sweet Life in Paris.  His amiable and chatty style makes you feel like he is ton ami, and I was so grateful for his "personal" recommendations I jotted down in my Moleskine notebook I brought along in lieu of my laptop.  More than just my source for les meilleures choses a manger in Paris, I found The Sweet Life in Paris to be my best cultural guide, hands down, to les Parisiens.  David does this through funny, self-deprecating anecdotes about his own personal follies as an expat in Paris, and he's not shy about sharing.   These tales are threaded through The Sweet Life in Paris, but for a brief introduction I encourage you to check out his "My Paris" post on his blog.  On this he has distilled some essential tips to having your own Sweet Life in Paris, some obvious and others not so much.   Par exemple,
"It’s taken me a few years to get used to the fact that I can’t run to the corner bakery for bread wearing sweatpants and flipflops, nor can I wolf down pastries on the métro without getting disapproving stares. So don’t be afraid to dress a bit better than you would at home and to practice a few words of your high-school French."
"Don’t assume your waiter is rude just because he doesn’t introduce himself by name and tell you his life story and rush over to refill your water after each sip."
"There is a perception the French are rude which is probably because you never come across anyone rude in America. In Paris, it’s imperative to say ‘Bonjour Madame/Monsieur’ when entering a shop or restaurant, and ‘Merci Madame/Monsieur’ when leaving. There is an equally incorrect perception that Americans are impolite since they don’t acknowledge the salesclerks in their shops, which is like being invited into someone’s home and stepping inside without saying hello."
*     *     *
So with the words of my trusted guide and mon ami imaginaire, David, in my head, I dragged my husband and kids along on several food treks, hunting down some of David's favorite places in Paris.  These are just a few of the many that were well worth the trip.  I've listed them with their street addresses, arrondisements, and closest Métro stop.  For opening hours, check before going, as these seem to change on a whim, particularly in August, when most of Paris shuts down for its annual congé.  (Live and learn.)
Angelina 226, Rue de Rivoli (1st; M: Tuileries)
This is the place to go when you're looking for an elegant salon de thé near the Jardin des Tuileries and the Louvre.  Angelina is best known for its rich, dense hot chocolate, called Le Chocolat Africain on its menu.  We enjoyed that smooth, rich, chocolate brew along with a sampling of macarons, and were lucky enough to be seated next to a table of women who were having a tea party straight of La Belle Epoque.  

 *     *     *

Au Levain du Marais 28, Boulevard Beaumarchais (11th; M: Bastille)

David likes this neighborhood boulangerie for its croissants, which he thinks are the best in Paris.  And who am I to disagree? They were flaky, buttery and crispy, perfect with jam or chestnut paste.  We also picked up a beautiful tart for dessert, filled with pistachio cream and topped with red fruits.

*     *     *

Pierre Hermé 72, rue Bonaparte (6th; M: Saint-Sulpice or St Germain de Pres )

This is an iconic place to get macarons.  We braved a surprise rainshower and lined up with other tourists outside the tiny shop near the Jardin de Luxembourg to see what the fuss is all about.  The display was dazzling and the flavors exotic.  We tried olive oil and vanilla, jasmine, milk chocolate and passionfruit, and salted caramel.

*     *     *

Poilane 8, rue du Cherche-Midi (6th; M: Saint-Sulpice)
I knew that the rustic, round loaves of miche bread here are famous, but I did not know until later how crazed people around the world can get about le Pain Poilane.  Apparently there are forums and fan pages dedicated to the subject.  We found the Poilane bread to be very good, especially heated or toasted.  But to be honest, I think we're spoiled by the bread at Tartine in San Francisco, which, lucky for us, is not only just a few minutes away, but also-- dare I say?-- far superior to Poilane's.


*     *     *
I did not have a chance to visit another one of David's recommendations, A La Mere de Famille (35, rue du Faubourg Montmartre), a legendary traditional gourmet shop which sells pain d'épices, a honey-rich, dense spiced bread,  among other French classics.   I had a chance to try a slice of pain d'épices elsewhere, served alongside paté.  I found it to be sweeter and less spiced than I had expected.  But I was intrigued by David's take on the classic recipe-- his version has the untraditional but faultless addition of rich chocolate.  Reading the description made me think of the chocolate chai I so enjoy sipping, so I had to try it out. I'll be sharing the results in my next post, coming soon!
© 2011 Linda Shiue

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Your photos are lush, but loading a bit slowly this a.m... will come back for more. Later. Delish.

Looking forward to reading more. (I was wondering where you have been off to... now I know.)
I remember some of these places when we were in Paris. Loved the photos, especially the tea party.
Oh Paris you are a grand Dame.Thanks for bring back all the memories.MMMmmmmmmm.Welcome back too!
- wonderful to see your article. You have been away too long.
great post, linda. i went with my daughter some years ago to soak up as much as we could in a little over a week's time in paris, though we spent more time on the left bank. laduree has my favorite macarons, and i agree with you about the bread at tartine. i'll find those croissants that you ate, though, if i ever get back over there! looking forward to your following posts.
Thanks for taking us on this food tour of Paris with you, Linda! That tart looks so beautiful...my grandma had a currant bush in her garden, & just seeing them makes my mouth water from the tartness... :)
Linda, very nice to see you back and what a wonderful culinary adventure you were on this summer! After visiting Paris and these many delightful restaurants it would definitely feel like you were had been at the pinnacle of the food world!
Ok, I'm stowing away on your next trip. Love this post. And since you're not into the whole social media thing, I'm posting this on Lebovitz's FB page. Will report back.
Beautiful post. Enjoyed the commentary and the photos. Envious!
When the student is ready, the teacher appears! Thanks so much for this lush post. My husband and I will be in Paris this winter and I long for hearty cassoulet and some nights before the fire. I'm stocking up on
recommendations, but trying not to make too many lists ... I want to approach this visit as a flaneur, though I'm not too sure about strolling in February. Thanks again for a wonderful piece, beautifully edited (just the right quotes, etc.).
Thanks for coming by, everyone!

Lucy, thanks for the publicity.

babettesfeast-- so jealous of your upcoming trip! If you haven't already, I recommend watching Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris and the DVD "Paris Je t'Aime" for context, ideas, and inspiration. Please stay tuned here, too, for more.
That whetted the appetite. I went to a couple of those places whe nI was working in Paris in the 80s and 90s and as I'm now planning a trip there next spring, you've validated my interest in returning.
What a delectable tour! I've heard of some of these places, but have only tried le pain Poilane...which isn't the best bread I've ever tasted, either! I'm glad to read that from a foodie! Thanks for the lovely pictures and I'm so glad you had such a great time!
Ma petit seour! Je t'aime Paris aussi. What lovely places you ate. I rented a studio in Montmartre, summer of 2006 and cannot look at images of Paris now without tearing up. You just never get over it. Yes, and even the dogs are polite.
Welcome back!! Wonderful article. Loved the pictures and am looking forward to more about the trip and the food of course!
And this made "Editor's Pick" and cover because . . . ??????
A beautiful, luscious post Linda. Loved traveling with you on this.
I hope You invite us on the next Paris trip.

I met a lovely Woman etc., last Thursday.
Thomas Berry is the 'Executive Chef' @
Elizabeth's Gone Raw. They are Vegans.
Raw ones. She sprouts almonds. Yummy.
The Catering Company 'of' Washington.

www.elizabethsgoneraw.com /

www.thecateringco.com /

thomas@thecateringco.com /

The prepared meal was melons.
They buy local grub and share it.
202-347-8040 / 1341L. Street, NW
(Vegan goulash ) Washington, DC 2005
Goulash is not the proper word. Treats.
Linda, you lucky, lucky girl! I admire you for not squandering the opportunities Paris presented to you. I remember on my last day in Paris, after living there for a couple of years, a very proper older Parisienne told me I had to go to Angelina and have chocolate and a Mont Blanc (a pastry with sweetened chestnut paste and whipped cream) before I left. So I did--it was delightful. I'm so glad you got to go there too!
A feast for the soul. Merci, Linda.
Thank you everyone for coming by. It's nice to see you all here.

@Abrawang, how lucky for you! Bon voyage!

@Alysa, thanks. I'm so envious that you live there.

@Greenheron, I'll post something about "our" neighborhood, Montmartre, coming soon. I can picture you there.

@Felicia, I saw the Mont blanc but did not have it-- so much to eat, so little time.
Yum! Fantastic post and the extraordinary photos were worth the time it took for it all to load!
Linda. . . Congrats on the E.P. (and what's with OSer From the Midwest???) I see you've also got a recipe and photo published today in an NYTimes online article. To my delight, I just looked in to discover I've got a recipe selected there as well.

So glad you're back.
@Vivian, thanks! Congratulations to you, too!
I'm in a full swoon here! Lovely pictures and all. I'm a fan of David's blog as well, and it's nice to know that in Paris you're supposed to greet and say good-bye to shopkeepers or salespeople, because that's customary in the South as well. (And probably other areas of the country as well?) It's something everyone should be in the habit of doing no matter where they live.
Linda, very nice to see you back and what a wonderful culinary adventure you were on this summer! After visiting Paris and these many delightful restaurants it would definitely feel like you were had been at the pinnacle of the food world!
Linda, very nice to see you back and what a wonderful culinary adventure you were on this summer! After visiting Paris and these many delightful restaurants it would definitely feel like you were had been at the pinnacle of the food world!