If there’s one thing the French know how to do well, it’s food. Food is more of an art (and for some, a quasi religion) in France, and so I knew I would be remiss in my duties to readers of paris-eiffel-tower-news if I did not go and seek out Paris’s finest gastronomic glories for you. Sampling the following is not an option – it’s a must!
In Part I, we discovered Paris’s finest fromageries in Androuet’s 5 Parisian cheese shops and real French bread at Poilane’s. Now, we bring to you two more of those glorious Parisian gourmet food places.
Lafayette Gourmet – a Riot of Tastes and Colors
The Galeries Lafayette is one of the most distinguished and famous shopping landmarks in Paris. Their high-fashion displays and grand old-world architecture (including a very fine stained-glass dome) make any shopping there a remarkable experience. I have to admit though that I tend to spend most of my time loitering around its breathtaking Gourmet food court.
The food court is located on the top floor of the Galeries, and is a veritable riot of tastes and colors. There you’ll find everything and more to tantalize the dedicated gourmet: a bakery with a dizzying array of specialty breads and pastries (testament to France’s continuing love affair with baked goods of every description); a cheese counter with at least a hundred different varieties of cheese (both French and imported); meats and seafood; a deli offering the very best specialty foodstuffs; and fruit and veggies of every origin from all around the world — all products flawlessly fresh.
There is even a large section dedicated to every spice imaginable. The luxury chocolate and candy displays are worth a prolonged visit. I usually stock up here on all kinds of European chocolates when I’m in town as many brands can’t be found in the US and all of them are sold cheaper in Paris.
To top things off, Lafayette Gourmet also boasts a ‘wine library’ unlike any other: 1,800 of the world’s finest wines, classified and presented with enough loving attention to satisfy demanding wine connoisseurs.
40, boulevard Haussmann 75009 PARIS
Metro: Chaussée d’Antin La Fayette
BE – Tasty and Classy
Boulangépicier, or ‘BE’ for short, is owned by two of Paris’s most famed and respected chef and baker: Alain Ducasse and Eric Keyser, respectively.
BE’s name and concept result of the fusion of ‘boulanger’ (baker) and ‘épicier’ (grocer). Its culinary creations are inspired by simple, traditional French recipes.
BE is housed in a smart, typically Parisian building located not too far from the Arc de Triomphe, and close to the Parc Monceau. This makes it an ideal spot for a take-away lunch near one of Paris’s loveliest green expanse.
On sale is a carefully selected range of fine products and a tempting selection of sandwiches, homemade soups and fresh salads as well as pastries and desserts, whether to take away or eat in (there is a seating area that takes about ten).
On the grocery front, BE sells a range of gourmet goods (unusual spices, condiments, jams, chocolate, candy, pasta etc.), and a small selection of organic produce and dairy products.
On the bakery front, they sell Mr. Keyser’s renowned breads, made on the premises, whether as a loaf to take home or in the mouth-watering array of ready-made sandwiches. I had never actually tasted Keyser bread, and was genuinely surprised to find that it was far superior to almost anything I tried from other Parisian bakeries, including the famous Paujauran bread.
The array of breads is carefully displayed; they are made from various combinations of high-quality ingredients and are all at once tasty, crusty, fresh and moist, a welcome break from the ubiquitous mass-produced chewy white bread.
I was particularly intrigued by their concept of ‘Sandwich Brochettes’, an assortment of mini-sandwiches on skewers. After much deliberation, I went for the ‘Brochette Riviera’, which was comprised of little buns of black olive bread filled with tapenade (olive paste) and slices of fresh goat cheese; tomato buns filled with tomato ‘caviar’ and basil turkey; and then basil buns filled with pesto and sun-dried tomatoes. Wise choice.
I washed down the lot with a bottle of Orezza, a sparking mineral water sourced from springs near Rappagio in Corsica. I’d never tasted it before, and had expected to find the more common French mineral water brands such as Chateldon and Badoit, but it was a pleasant surprise – Orezza has a fine flinty aftertaste and delicate levels of natural gas.
Naturally, this ‘designer food’ isn’t the cheapest: sandwiches start at 5 euros, and my Brochette Riviera set me back 7.5 euros. But it was worth every cent.
Tuck into BE’s tasty and classy food on the go or to take away at 73, boulevard de Courcelles, 75008 Paris