Living in England you would think the first place I would choose to go is France, that does not seem the case! I have driven through France before, but never actually stayed there, and this year I was very lucky, I actually got to visit different parts of France twice.
As you might know from other posts, or reading my blog in general, I think a big part about travelling and immersing yourself in different cultures is to consume and savour the finest foods of each place you visit, in this case the fantastic flavours of France. So here are some of my favourite and top picks of places and meals.
NOTE: anything highlight red is a link to either the website of the restaurant, location of a particular place or recipes if they are food names.
The BEST Croque Monsieur in the world! Everyone will tell you, it is just a toasted sandwich. Okay, yes, yes it is, BUT this is the the best toasted sandwich I have ever had. First of all, it differed from the traditional one, as the restaurant chose to use thinly cut, beef carpaccio style beef instead of ham. And it was the best decision they have EVER made! Let me tell you a little something about this little place, it was my favourite one in Cannes. The food was affordable, the environment was beautiful, street performers singing in a square behind us, the service was impeccable and the menu was small but the selection was still enough to cover all palettes and cravings. The options were more than enough and this little corner cafe/restaurant will be a true success. I definitely recommend it and would love to return there. Plus the food my friends had looked just as delectable.
The Steak Tartare of a lifetime. I tried steak tartare for the first time when I was 18 going on 19 in Switzerland, it quickly became one of those dishes I would always try to eat when in a French restaurant. Let me tell you, I have eaten many a steak tartare, and in the Paris section of this blog you will read that my man tried one for the first time, but this one was the holy grail of STEAK TARTARE!
We all had some amazing food here, and the service was incredible! We also quickly quenched our desires for crepes! I would recommend this, and the scenery is stunning just out of the restaurants you see all the street artists painting the picturesque St Tropez and the yachts, all the yachts. The most glamorous cars passing by and going through the tiniest roads. It is a definite must.
Paris was my absolute dreamy nightmare of a food situation! Like all girls, my biggest wish in life is to eat what ever I want without growing a spare tyre in my waist. Never going to happen, so whenever I go abroad I simply forget that this is the case and focus on trying out every food I can in a short space of time. However, top tip to not pig out while travelling is to keep your body very well hydrated! I consume around 4 litres of water a day without a problem, and yes I pee a lot, but you get over that.
Let’s talk about the manliest salad you have ever seen!
My man and I are huge foodies, and we actually googled the best place to get a Salade Landaise and here it was! It is by far the meatiest salad I have ever seen, I can legitimately say it is a plate of duck cooked in a variety of different ways, and a bit of lettuce in there to make it look prettier. TripAdvisor said this is the best restaurant for this recipe in the whole of Paris, and I cannot confirm nor deny this as we did not try it anywhere else, but I can say it was incredibly delicious! The meat was cooked to the perfect point, not bloody but still pink, the seasoning was lovely. It was just great.
We also had here braised duck with potatoes and a salad, which was equally as delicious. Again, I cannot fault the meat at all in this restaurant, it really was superb.
To make the whole affair even better, is the fact that the restaurant, even though located fairly close to a main road, was very quiet, the staff were extremely professional, but friendly and casual too and it was cheap as chips! It is so worth visiting it.
Steak Tartare is one of those french meals you either love or hate. The idea of eating raw meat scares a lot of people, just as much as sushi does with raw fish. However, I am a bit carnivorous sometimes, and beef is one of the healthiest meats to eat rare. The pinker the better, not bloody though, and steak tartare offers a PERFECT balance for those who love an alternative for your typical steak and chips.
I was very proud of my man when he braved the raw meat and enjoyed his steak! Which I tried a bit of and it was absolutely delectable. Now I know that I have done two links to two different recipes of steak tartare, however, when I tried them I can guarantee mine did not look quite so pretty. I am awful and cutting vegetables finely, so here is an article on why you should NEVER cook steak tartare at home, don’t be lazy if you’re going to do it it takes some skill!
He also tried SNAILS! Now snails are a typical dish in Portugal but they cook them differently in France and they were lovely. Cooked with butter, garlic and pesto goodness, they tasted magnificent in all their chewiness. Would definitely advise everyone to try snails one day, it may not be your cup of tea but it is an experience.
I had some chicken with some fantastic creamy mushroom sauce, but nothing too extravagant, highlight was truly James’ steak. I would say though that the service in this restaurant left A LOT to wish for. I understand that it is nice to have a chilled out environment but waiting for 45 minutes for a waiter to blink in your direction is inexcusable. From the moment we asked for the bill to when it arrived was at least 20 minutes, and let me not even discuss the fact that the waitress wasted a perfectly good pint by pouring almost half the bottle on the table rather than the glass… and did not replace it. As good as the food was, I would not visit this restaurant again.
In the final evening, we went for a bit of romance. We were all dressed up and got drawn to a restaurant that had a pianist and double bassist playing live music. Let me tell you this, the music was not a gimmick, no sir! Here we had the best French bread of the whole trip, and finally as a huge meat lover, I sank my teeth into the juiciest, lushest, most tender and perfectly cooked rump steak EVER! Even James was surprised at how well this rump steak was cooked, it was truly the most beautiful shade of pink and melt in your mouth texture.
With the same sauce and sides, my man had some duck, which was just as good! Truly an incredible restaurant, with great service, great ambience and not expensive at all. In the middle of a street filled with other restaurants but I still felt like I was somewhere special. The staff are all dressed in matching clothes, but are still friendly and jokey with customers and so pleasant. The music was just the cherry on top of a perfectly baked and iced cake.
It takes some Balls!
On our final day in Paris, my darling took me to the Pere Lachaise Cemetery where the likes of Oscar Wilde, Maria Callas, Edith Piaf and Chopin have been buried amongst many others! Now if you have not been here, you will know that this is very far east and outside of the central Paris perimeter. So we decided to go for a little gastronomical adventure and James found a little slice of odd heaven in the form of a Balls Restaurant. EVERYTHING on this menu is served as balls in bowls.
It was FANTASTIC! It was such a hipster kind of place, very cheap, the risotto was to die for! The staff were very friendly and it made me feel like the coolest kid in the world to be there.
The Creme Brulee factor
To add a bit of credibility to my food research I decided to add a common factor to all my restaurant visits, THE CREME BRULEE FACTOR!
This was never a thing but it certainly is now. Creme Brulee to me is dictated by the perfectly crisp but not burnt, sweet sugar on top, with the gelatinous but soft melt in your mouth texture of the milk cream underneath.
So here are my three Creme Brulees:
1 was delectable, a bit too liquid in texture, but the balance of the crisp caramelised sugar and the softness of the flavour of the cream was perfect. I am .almost certain it had a bit of rum and vanilla too which made it truly irresistible.
2 was far too burnt but the texture underneath was SPOT ON I could not fault the texture. Yet something flavour wise was not quite there.
3 perfect balance of all things, texture, sugar was caramelised nicely until it got to the middle and it was definitely burnt. Nice creamy flavour, but something was missing…
Needless to say true love was love at first spoonful! Truly divine after such a fantastic meal, every other creme brulee paled in comparison! The Bistrot de Victoires is – coincidentally – victorious as the number 1 Creme Brulee in my creme brulee factor.
In order from left to right… the WINNING Creme Brulee, Bistrot de Victoires, followed by Aux de trois Maillets in the middle and Brasserie Chou Chou in the far right.
Do it at home!
I LOVE cooking and trying new recipes, so as you can see, I have added a few links on each recipe name to some of the best recipes I have tried when re-creating these dishes! Please try them and let me know how you got on. I hope you have had a chance to eat some fantastic foods in your travels.
Now tell me, my fellow bloggers and readers, travellers and foodies, is there actually anything more satisfying than putting all your hopes on a meal that you purchase in some restaurant abroad, and having it come back and be exactly what you wanted if not more? France was just THAT! My visits to all these different places in France left me well and truly tummy happy. I cannot say that any of the food I ate was bad, at all! I have my favourites of course, and meals that blew me away, but overall, everything about the food in the whole time that we were there was phenomenal. And the ICE CREAMS oh the ice creams. Now that I am back to my daily routine, my thighs are burning with exercise rather than walking miles to find some bookshop or cafe that serves everything in balls, but they are also not being fed to the same standard. It is always good to cleanse the palette after such a gastronomical experience, but I have to say, I was VERY GOOD! I did not explore the land of french cheeses, as a promise to myself to control my cheesy urges. On that note, I am already looking forward to my next foreign food adventure, bring on December!