Paris

julienparisIt’s hard not to find great food when visiting Paris, but if you’re looking for a truly authentic French experience, book a reservation at Julien Brasserie on your next visit. Located a bit “out of the way” in the 10th arrondissement, it’s totally worth the trek. Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis is rather unassuming, but once you step through the ornate brasserie doors, you feel transported through time – to the days of Hemingway, Dali and Picasso – greeted by the restaurant’s Art Nouveau charm. It’s just a beautiful room, with magnificently carved mirrors, a grand mahogany topped bar and an ornately designed mosaic floor.

I was first introduced to the restaurant by designer Jean Paul Gaultier, who said it was one of his favorite places and after eating there I can certainly understand his loyalty. The restaurant offers a reasonable prix-fixe menu (about 42 euros) which features several options – including starters like traditional onion soup au gratin, duck Foie Gras with seasonal fruit chutney and brioche bread, or scallops tartar and pink shrimps from Madagascar in lime and ginger; and main courses like Charolais beef tartar, Sole meunière, roasted duck breast from South-West France with Provencal vegetables, or Grilled Chateaubriand in béarnaise sauce.

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ImageBrasserie Lipp is a magical place to me that has maintained its integrity for well over 131 years. Not much has changed with the decor, food or with the waitstaff since I was a small child. There are waiters that have been there every day for 40 years, rapidly shuffling along, flat feet and all, with huge trays of covered dishes. I love this place, period!

They have a thick Parisian attitude which means that it could take years for them to notice or acknowledge you, but when they finally do they never forget you no matter how far back in line you may be standing. The waters parts and you are summoned to the head of the line like royalty has arrived as everyone moves quickly out of the way with a confused look on their face as they try to figure out "who you are" that they are making such a fanfare over.

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An excerpt from  "Hungry for Paris"

paris1.jpg Some ten years ago, I went to dinner one night with no expectations. A London newspaper had asked me to write about Lapérouse, an old warhorse of a restaurant overlooking the Seine on the Left Bank—it was doing historic Paris restaurants, and this one’s been around forever. I politely suggested that there might be better candidates, because as far as I knew, this place was still a slumbering tourist table flogging its past: it has several charming tiny private dining rooms with badly scratched mirrors—as the legend goes, these cuts were made by ladies testing the veracity of newly offered diamonds (real diamonds cut glass).

The editor was unyielding, so off I went. The stale-smelling dining room was mostly empty on a winter night, and though the young mâitre d’hôtel was unexpectedly charming and gracious, I was more interested by my friend Anne’s gossipy accounts of a recent visit to Los Angeles than I was by the menu.

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gallery.jpgA few decades ago, my sister and I went to Paris at Christmas to see the legendary holiday decorations. Galleria Lafayette was near the top of our not-to-miss list. On the top floor was a collection of Kiosks set up just for the 30 days before Christmas that offered food for shoppers that were hungry and tired. The room was loud, too warm, and packed full of holiday shoppers but Petrossian's smoked salmon looked too good to miss so, we sat down at a tall stool and preceded to order 2 plates of salmon and 2 coupes of Champagne. We planned on just having the salmon and continuing on with our day...We sure were wrong! The smoked salmon arrived, completely covering the large 10-inch Limoge plate, hand-sliced, surprisingly thick, a pot of creme fraiche, and a plate of blinis and two coupes.

I remember taking that first bite – the room around me disappeared in a fog. I no longer was aware of the sound of the holiday shoppers, it was just those blissful mouthfuls of smoked salmon and sips of Bollinger Champagne. Our food had stopped the movement of time – looking at my Sister when the plate was empty we didn't need to say anything because we both knew we had to find the "Mother Store." We had to find the source! What else awaited us?

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