My Culinary Weekend in ParisWritten by: Anyonita Green on
It is without exaggeration that I can say, my trip to Paris last weekend was the stuff of dreams. We were given itineraries that spanned pages and detailed event after event of food bliss. It would be impossible to recap every aspect of my trip and in trying to tell my favorite parts, I know I'll inadvertently be leaving others out. I'll do my best to relay everything the best I can and to share with you what my experience was like. Thank you again for all of your lovely votes and support during the competition. I hope those of you who took the time to vote for me enjoy this tiny glimpse of the amazing weekend I had.
On the first day, we headed to dinner at Chez L'Ami Jean headed up by chef Stephane Jego. Stephane's restaurant is located near the Eiffel Tower at 27 Rue Malar, 75007. It's a very intimate set up with customers sitting at oversized wooden tables running the length of the dining area. There's probably space for 50 covers, if that many, with Stephane and his team of accomplished chefs producing beautiful and delicious plates of food from the open kitchen situated at the back.
In Chez L'Ami Jean, you can see everything that goes on in the kitchen and many times throughout our meal, Stephane called out to us and other diners in the restaurant, carrying on light-hearted conversations while he and his team prepared our food. The thing to understand about Stephane is that he is concerned with one thing: feeding you and feeding you well. Course after course arrived at our table of delicious, intricate food in the style of the latest culinary craze to sweep through Paris: bistronomy. Stephane and his team took the usual bistro fare and have dressed up in the refinement and grace of fine dining, a movement that is gaining momentum across Paris.
We sat down to our dinner around 8:30 and six savory courses and three desserts later, finally stood to meet and thank the chef well after midnight. Being in Chez L'Ami Jean feels like being in Stephane's home. The comforting bistro food tweaked with the finest gastronomic finishing touches is like a big embrace from the chef himself. His light-hearted and down to earth persona make the entire experience inviting and memorable. And then there's the food.
The other restaurant we visited was Christian Constant's Michelin starred restaurant, Le Violon d'Ingres, situated near Chez L'Ami Jean at 135 Rue Saint-Dominique, 75007. This was my first Michelin starred restaurant and it was everything I thought it would be. From the delicate and delicious courses to the beautiful pairing of the wine by the sommelier.
Everything about Le Violon d'Ingres was refined while still being inviting. The food was absolutely stunning and although it didn't have the comfort food chord that being around the table at Chez L'Ami Jean affords, it was equally delicious. Each dish seemed to make sense, each plate was an intricate world of its own, bursting with flavor and texture.
As you would have expected, no detail went unnoticed from the apologetic waiter who hung his head in shame after a rogue knife clattered to the floor behind our table as he was clearing plates to the pleasant waiter who passed by the table between courses with a file and linen napkin, wiping our crumbs away!
We didn't just eat in Paris, although that was 95% of what we did. We also did a bit of shopping, first at Marche Saint Quentin or St Quentin's Market, where we tasted French cheeses including my favorite, the heady and indulgent reblochon. It was in this market that I purchased punnets of plump cherries and juice-filled strawberries to nibble on my bed back in the hotel.
Our shopping also took us to a classic French chocolate shop, A La Mere de Famille, and to Bon Marche's Grand Epicerie where we stared in awe at the intricate pastries and macarons.
One of the things that really made this trip memorable and enjoyable was the lovely people I was surrounded by. From the other winning candidates from Italy, Germany, Spain and France to the staff of the various Gourmandize offices, everyone was delightful and we all had a lovely time with one another. At the end of the weekend, it felt as if I had honestly gained new friends and saying goodbye was difficult.
But of course, the real reason we were there was because of our cooking and to cook. We had all been asked to design a recipe indicative of food from our region. You remember yesterday I shared my gluten free sticky toffee pudding brownies with you? Here's what the other bloggers made and let me tell you, there was a veritable feast of delicious food!
I hope you've enjoyed this glimpse of my weekend in Paris. Please believe me when I say it was a beautiful experience and words cannot convey the amazing time I had. A special thank you to Silvia for all of her hard work arranging things and making sure we all felt welcome; thank you to Chef Damien and Pascale Weeks for the support and help and hospitality. And thank you especially to the +Gourmandize UK & Ireland team for making sure I settled okay and didn't need anything. You ladies rock! Thanks as well to all the other Gourmandize teams for a friendly welcome and a good laugh. But most importantly, thank you to you for voting for me and helping to make this past weekend possible!
If you'd like to have a chance at winning a culinary weekend in Paris, join the Gourmandize UK & Ireland website, follow their social media and get involved. They're a lovely bunch of folks and I'm proud to call them friends!