Saturday, October 29, 2011

What’s In A Name?

If we’re talking about names of places to eat in Paris, there’s plenty to digest. Here is a brief synopsis of types of restaurants and shops with the kinds of foods they traditionally serve.

Bar A Vin:
The wine bar is just as you would expect, a venue selling a broad selection of wines, many by the glass and food to go with them. Although many serve entire meals, some critics say we should be ordering the charcuterie and cheese plates, and judging by some wine bar menus, it seems they are well stocked with both. Examples of food served: charcuterie plates, cheese plates, simple one pot meals like stews, braised meats, duck confit, and as one might expect, wine.     Les Pipos Bar a Vins' Menu

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This word actually began being used in Paris to describe small restaurants that served simple meals, in a modest setting at moderate prices. Of all the bistros in all the world I had to walk into CHEZ PAUL in the Bastille neighborhood of Paris. It serves Parisian comfort food and is an archetypical bistro, although linens are not typically used in bistros.  Examples of the food served: escargots, pate de foie gras on brioche, stuffed cabbage, filet mignon with green peppercorn sauce, tarte tatin, baba au rhum. Chez Paul Menu
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To put it in simple terms, a boulangerie is a bakery where bread is baked and sold. The simplicity ends there, because many Parisian boulangeries also serve ready made sandwiches, desserts and pastries, blurring the line between their offerings and what used to be the domain of pastry shops. BOULANGERIE-PATISSERIE BANETTE is an example of the boulangerie/patisserie with a little cafe tossed in for fun. As soon as I photograph a classic boulangerie, I'll add it here. The baguette sign is not Banette, but a bakery in the Montparnasse area. What you can expect to find: croissants, baguettes, breads, pain au chocolat.
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At present a brasserie is a more upscale restaurant with linens on the tables, while still maintaining a casual atmosphere. They are usually open throughout the day and were once associated with breweries. Brasserie Lipp is probably the most well known Left Bank brasserie, but  BRASSERIE BALZAR is where I recommend you go for a classic brasserie meal. The people who own Lipp bought Balzar a generation or two ago. Their waiters still wear floor length, white aprons and their service is outstanding. Examples of food served: French onion soup, smoked salmon with creme fraiche on a blini, steak tartare, steak in green peppercorn sauce, potatoes au gratin, seared duck breast. Brasserie Balzar's Menu
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Coffee and other libations are most often associated with the Parisian café, but you can easily find a light meal in one. Salads, sandwiches, and desserts are usually offered on their menus. Café Flore and Les Duex Magot are two very famous cafés on Boulevard St Germain in the Latin Quarter, but we found Cafe Pause in the Marais by talking to a young shop owner and asking where she liked to go for dinner. Examples of foods served: salads, soups, egg dishes, quiches.
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We are all probably familiar with this term being used for cured meats and that is where it originated, but it is also used in reference to the shop that sells salt cured meats. Think of it as a delicatessen. Who wouldn’t like sausage for lunch, aside from vegetarians or vegans? If you pass a boulangerie, buy a baguette, then walk into a charcuterie to find rillettes and pates to spread on it. Examples of food available: fresh sausage, cured sausage, rillettes, pate of goose or duck, bacon, ham.
Don’t stop there, head over to a fromagerie for some cheese. Since the French word for cheese is fromage, it is not a stretch to name their cheese shops fromageries. If you haven’t already tried any of the following French cheeses, I recommend that you do: Bleu d’Auvergne, Brillat Savarin, Cabecou, Comte, Coulommiers, Fromage de Meaux, Morbier, Pierre Robert, Pont l’Eveque, Roquefort, St. Marcellin, and a young, soft Brebis. Fromagerie Veron on Rue Mouffetard has a nice selection of cheeses and the owner was patient and very helpful considering neither of us spoke the same language. He suggested the Coulommiers that I purchased along with some Comte. My favorite cheese website is ARTISANAL out of New York, I find their information very useful when it comes to planning trips to cheese producing countries.
You guessed it, the patisserie is a bakery specializing in cakes, pastries, and my favorite French treat, the macaron. But that’s not all, they also make quiche, flat breads, and some savory tarts. PATISSERIE BLAVETTE DANIEL on the Contrescarpe is a classic example of a patisserie that I highly recommend, but unfortunately there is no table service, so you must stand at the counter with your pastry and drink. If you want a pain au chocolat or a croissant this is the place to find one. Some patisseries do provide  tables with their coffee, tea, or hot chocolate to go with their flakey, delicate, butter laden pastries. The patisseries are my choice for an inexpensive breakfastat about half of what a hotel will charge. Examples of food served: pastry, cakes, quiche, pain au chocolat, fruit tarts, macarons, croissants, bread,  sometimes sandwiches.
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When you want to spend a small fortune try dining at a restaurant. Yes, you dine at a restaurant and eat at all the other venues I’ve mentioned. CAFE MARLEY is a misnamed restaurant referred to as a brasserie, but calling itself a cafe; an identity crisis if ever there was one.. Sitting in the courtyard of the Louvre, it offers panoramic views of the I. M. Pei pyramids as they glow in the dark. I’m glad we only went for dessert, as it set us back about $45. Ouch! I hear the food is delicious, but I’m afraid I’ll never know first hand. Another  restaurant, more confident in its identity is LA TRUFFIERE at number 4 Rue Blainville on the Contrescarpe. It served exquisite food that I will always remember.  Examples of food served: Nouvelle Cuisine, sophisticated versions of classic French dishes.  La Truffiere Website
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