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Here are my favorite dishes of our trip:
Steak Frites with Marrow Bone at Aux Tonneaux des Halles in Paris, France. In this David Lebovitz recommended bistro, the steak was perfectly cooked and the fries were the best on the trip. The marrow bone was the perfect amount of added decadence to put this dish as number one. We ate outside and watched as our waiter got into a French-styled argument (angry whispers, finger pointing, and cursing) with a women walking her dog. Alex roughly translated the fight for me:
Waiter: “Don’t bring your dog here, this is where people are eating.”
Woman: “This place is no different than a cafe”
Waiter: “Something in French”
Woman: “Something in French,” with finger pointing.
Waiter: “French cursing,”
Woman: “French cursing,” she continued her finger pointing and got right in the waiter’s face, before leaving with her dog.
Steak Tartare with Salad and Homemade Potato Chips at Le Bonheur Suit Son Cours in Vaison-la-Romaine, France. One of the couples at our B & B thought that this restaurant was a little “full of themselves,” because they had a very large wine list. Don’t show them the Canlis 75-page wine book. The tartare was served without egg and shallot. So the beef was the star. I scooped it up with the homemade chips.
Falafel Sandwich at L’As du Fallafel in Paris, France. Mark Bittman calls this the best falafel anywhere in Europe. Lenny Kravitz has endorsed this place. It has 4 stars through 983 Tripadvisor Reviews. And 4.5 stars through 515 Yelp reviews. It’s just pita, falafel, hummus, pickled red cabbage, salted cucumbers, fried eggplant, and spicy-hot harissa. There is always a line. But it moves fast. The Brits in front of me wanted a Sprite but got a Coke. They were too shy to correct them. I ate this under an eve while people danced in the street. With all of the hype you expect the sandwich to be underwhelming but it was one of the best sandwiches I have ever had.
Foie Gras, Cream, and Eggs at Au Lapin qui Fume, in Tours France. Three of the top ten dishes came from Au Lapin qui Fume. I don’t know if it was strictly the food or perhaps it was knowing that this was our first taste of French cuisine or maybe it being the our meal after this day but this place served some of my favorite food on the trip. This rich dish was one of my favorites. It was served with sliver slices of sweet rye bread. And when that was gone, I sopped up the rest with torn pieces of baguettes.
Chocolate Mousse with Sweet Biscuit and Vanilla Meringue Cookies at Au Lapin qui Fume, in Tours France. This dessert featured the most intense chocolate that I have ever had. And the crunchy biscuit was the perfect pairing to go with it.
I ordered this dessert on our second time at the Au Lapin qui Fume (the only restaurant we went to twice on the trip). And the waiter/owner had been teasing me about my French the first time we went. So on the second visit, he got up, announced to the entire restaurant that I would be ordering my meal in front of them, in French. The restaurant suddenly silenced. I gulped hard. And ordered. In front of everyone. And every mistake I made he would correct me until I got it right.
Reine Crêpe (ham, cheese, olives, mushrooms) at La Droguerie du Marais, in Paris France. When I got back from my France trip in 2012, I was haunted by one meal. Actually one crêpe. It was a crêpe I ordered at random place in the Marais. I didn’t know the name. Or the address. But it was one of the best crêpes I have ever had. Alex wanted to visit the Marais during our time in Paris. And when we got there, I ordered us to walk street by street in a grid until we found it. The chef lets the overflow cheese hit the crêpe iron and burn slightly. This is the key to a life changing crêpe. Alex almost fainted from hunger while waiting for hers. She admitted later that it was worth every minute she waited.
Timbre Poste Crêpe (ground beef, onions, potatoes, egg, swiss cheese, and cream) at Le Timbre Poste, in Tours, France. I love savory crêpes. I love runny eggs in my meals. And when I find myself in a new restaurant, I try to order the dish that they put their name on. Check, check, check. We found this place randomly walking toward old town. A group of college students sat a couple of tables over. I cut into the yolk and watched it ooze out over my crêpe. Perfect ending to a day of wine tasting.
Rigatoni with Eggplant, Sausage at La Voglia in Nice, France. Rigatoni with Eggplant and Sausage at La Voglia in Nice, France. With Nice so close to Italy, you expect some good Italian. Rick Steves said that this place serves great Italian at great prices. This is exactly what you want to hear toward the end of your trip. We sat outside engulfed in the warm Mediterranean breeze (maybe that was just the heat lamp). Two college aged girls next to us asked if they could smoke after their meal. Of course we said. The crispy bits of cheese and pasta made this dish a winner.
Strawberries, Vanilla Ice Cream, Whipped Cream, and Shaved Almonds at Au Lapin qui Fume, in Tours France. After several bites of this dish, I claimed it was the best whipped cream I have ever tasted. Completely sober and back in the U.S.A., I still believe it. Such a simple but wonderful dish at a wonderful restaurant.
Foie Gras and Toasted Bread, at André GOUTORBE & Fils, in Damery, France. Aunt Paula asked our host if she made lunch for us. Our host laughed and said she gathered the components from local producers around the area. She did pick each element to pair perfectly with the Champagne. And it paired perfectly. This was a lunch I could do every day.
There were other amazing dishes but these ten stand out to me.