Cooking in a professional kitchen at Un Jour Un Chef, Paris Bastille

My good friend Allison came to visit me in France last week. We were both looking forward to the trip for obvious reasons, but most importantly for all of the food. Fancy restaurants in Paris, seafood and crêpes in Normandy, home-cooking at my place. As we’ve grown older, we’ve both discovered our mutual passion for cooking. We have different ways of expressing ourselves in the kitchen, but we are both unmistakably gourmande. As a perfect stroke of luck, the Bon Appétit Paris issue came out a few weeks before she left. We made a list of all the different restaurants and pastry shops that we had to try, but also decided that a cooking class of some sort was in order. I spent a lot of time trying to find the perfect class, not too expensive, interesting, informative. I found one that seemed to suit us, but it was sold out. In desperation, I closed my computer and decided to thumb through my latest issue of Saveurs magazine to take my mind off of my to-do list. And there it was. Nestled in between articles and product reviews, a tiny article about a (fairly) new concept restaurant called Un Jour Un Chef*. Continue reading

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Paris restaurants: Beau Manger, and a stroll in the Passage des Panoramas

I was so disappointed when my company was relocated to the 2nd district of Paris in April 2010. We all were. We found out that we’d have to leave the quiet and cozy streets of the 5th district and the proximity to the Jardins de Luxembourg for the hustle and bustle of the heart of the city. Rue du Sentier? I was not impressed. Little did I know that I was about to be thrust into one of the liveliest and restaurant-packed areas of Paris, home to many of the city’s mythic passageways and some of the best food that it has to offer.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the Passage du Grand Cerf. This time, I strolled through the Passage des Panoramas, a huge, winding, never-ending labyrinth of restaurants, boutiques, stamp shops and jewellers, spanning from the rue Montmartre to the Grand Boulevards near the Grevin museum and spouting out onto obscure little corners of the neighborhood.

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Paris restaurants: Rice and Beans

Literally hidden on the most discreet part of the lively rue Greneta in the 2nd district of Paris, not far from the Passage du Grand Cerf, you’ll find (if you know where to look) a tiny, hip, cozy little restaurant called Rice and Beans. So branché*, in fact, that it almost seemed like an exclusive club, only accessible to those ‘in the know.’

I first heard about the place after discovering Le Camion Qui Fume, Paris’ first food truck and venture of former Rice and Beans chef Kristin Frederick. After tasting the slow-cooked and beer-infused pork sandwich at the mobile restaurant, I figured that scoping out her former place of work was probably a must.Very few visible signs welcomed me in from outdoors, aside from a barely legible sandwich board boasting guacamole! Burritos! Tacos! I had to walk past the entrance twice, first spying a busy kitchen and a trash bin and thinking that the entrance must be further along, only to double back and make my way inside.

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Warming up with spicy hot cocoa cookies and les passages de Paris

It’s cold outside. It’s cold in Normandy, it’s cold in Paris. This time of year, warming up is of capital importance, and something that occupies a large portion of my day. What better way to do so than with a quick browsing session in one of Paris’ famous (and hidden) passages*. I am lucky enough to work in an area of Paris where these gems are abundant. From the Passage des Panoramas, full of restaurants and excellent window shopping, to the Passage Brady, home to a handful of Indian restaurants to the Passage du Grand Cerf, full of chic boutiques and antiques. Located just east of the famed Montorgueil pedestrian neighborhood, the latter is a great place to wander and admire the fresh flowers, the red carpet, the antique stools and desks, the artisanal soaps…

The passageway becomes even more charming around the holidays, decked out with soft, discreet white lights and suspended sapins*. Not to mention the fact that it’s nice and warm in there, and can help you easily join the rue Montorgueil from the rue Turbigo or Saint Denis. Stop in next time you’re in the neighborhood!

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A taste of North Africa

I have so much to write about, and so much is going on, and yet I can’t seem to find the time to just do it. I have a half-dozen, half-written blog posts, waiting patiently to be finished and published. I have 10 times as many photos that I would love to use here. I have stories to tell, red tape catastrophes to recount, food to talk about, vacation dates looming… And yet I just can’t seem to get it all out. So I guess I’ll just pick a theme and go with it, hoping and crossing my fingers that I can just make it all the way through to the end.

A couple of weeks ago, after hearing about it on the internet somewhere, I set out with one of my colleagues during our lunch break to discover the Marché des Enfants Rouges*, a curious little hidden market that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard about sooner. Fellow bloggers spoke of a great, locals-only ambiance, the smell of international cuisine wafting through the halls and hand-made, fresh, real Christmas wreaths for sale by the local florist. How could I resist? How did I not know about this already?

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