One sunny winter fall morning a few months ago, Danya and I were having a business meeting regarding an upcoming project, when they guy we were having the meeting with mentioned that he was going to Paris in February for an international cookbook festival.
Danya looked at me. Paris. Cookbook festival. You and me. She didn’t have to even say the words out loud. Within days we had the whole thing booked. Flight,check. Apartment, check. The last thing I had to do to prep for the trip was to do research in the culinary department. (Those that know me well enough know that I’m not the kind to fly to Paris without an exact culinary itinerary).
My work life and personal life were so hectic in the few weeks leading up to the trip that I didn’t have the time to do the proper research. Literally three days before the flight, I found a hole in my busy schedule and sat on the computer to research away. Once I had the document ready with all the relevant information (restaurant names, addresses, opening hours) and a google map to go along with it, I began emailing and calling the restaurants to make reservations.
I shouldn’t have been surprised when not one of the places had a single place on any of the five days we were going to be there. But yet that didn’t stop me from still trying, asking to be placed on the waiting lists for lunches, dinners, whenever!
For five days in Paris we ate. We ate a lot and we ate well. In the food department we had what we called “Paris luck”. Here are two of those experiences.
"Spring is a prix fixe menu of what we like to eat. It is a very personal exploration of French cooking. It is what happens when the market meets our appetite. The menu changes weekly, sometimes more often. We are cooks, waiters, and wine enthusiasts: all trying to provide a good time".- From the Spring website.
Spring was one of those places on my list that I really really hoped we would be able to go to. Our flight landed in Paris on a Thursday afternoon, and by the time we got to the apartment it was around 5:00PM. We got our wifi set up, checked my email, and there it was. An email from Spring, saying a reservation had opened up that night for 7:00PM, if we were interested. Yes of course we are, I wrote them back immediately. And so it was our first meal in Paris, reservation and all.
It was a six course prix fixe meal, without any of the stuffiness I had heard about at typical expensive French restaurants. The wait staff were really laid back and very explanatory, albeit in a quite a heavy accent.
The food was incredible and walked the fine line between simple cooking with outstanding ingredients and complex cooking, with layer after layer of flavor and depth. I won’t go into everything we ate, but I can say I ate the best oyster, soup, sole fish and lamb that I have every had- in one meal.
6 Rue Bailleul, 75001 Paris, France
+33 1 45 96 05 72
I knew I would never be able to get a table at Le Severo without a reservation, and so I called a few times hoping to snatch a table at this steak haven. Twice there was no answer and once a man picked up and said he didn’t speak English. I had to move to plan B. On our last day, Monday, we would show up at the restaurant at 12:30, just when the doors opened and we would be sure to get a seat. We started that morning out early at the Pompidou Museum of Modern Art, and got caught up there longer than we planned. We got on the subway at around 1:30PM to head to the restaurant, which was quite a distance away. I had a good feeling, as our Paris luck had been following us around since Spring. We arrived at the door at 2:07, and I noticed there were several places available. We were in. Or so I thought. The man at the door looked at us and said, we stop serving at 2:00. I couldn’t move (a bit of shock+5 days of running around Pairs+freezing cold weather). We begged. Told him the truth, our flight was that night, that we came all this way. He said “come back tomorrow”. As we left the place with our heads down, my glance caught a plate on the table next to the door. That looked like the best steak and french fries I had ever seen. Our Paris luck had ended, or so we thought.
We decided to go meet Danya’s brother who was moving into his new apartment in Paris just next to China town. On the subway on the way there I started checking my IPhone app, Paris Time-Out for places to eat in Chinatown. I marked down a spot and we were on our way there, by this time (3:00PM), starving, and freezing and just pretty annoyed. We walk into this place, which looks like an enlarged hole in the wall and make our way to one of the many open tables, while checking out the food of the diners who we passed. Every dish smelled and looked amazing. We got the menu, which was in English (!) and started ordering-Danya took a beef Pho soup and I took a shrimp dumpling ramen soup. Both were so deliciously flavorful, that we decided we had to try more of what the kitchen had to offer. We ordered dim sum, spring rolls and pork buns, and everything we tried was perfectly prepared, seasoned and executed. We would’ve ordered more if we had any more room.
15 Avenue de Choisy, 75013 Paris, France
+33 1 45 84 74 44