I ate the most delicious thing ever and it wasn’t even chocolate: the Ispahan macaron from Pierre Hermé. Not only is the pink-colored macaron gorgeous to look at with its white cream filling surrounded by fresh raspberries and topped with a single rose petal, but the taste is unlike anything I’ve ever tried. It’s creamy and crunchy, subdued subtle flavors of rose with bursts of raspberry sweetness. The macaron itself is rose and the cream filling is flavored with rose petals and small pieces of lychee. It is fancy and fussy and uniquely French, but is also one of the most amazing desserts I’ve ever eaten. It’s the best thing in Paris, along with those croissants…
The croissants truly are spectacular. It’s easy to get used to stale croissants at the neighborhood coffee shops at home, and although I made them many times in culinary school I think that due to the labor involved, along with copious amounts of butter, I’d convinced myself I didn’t like them. Oh, how wrong I was. The croissants found in nearly every café and bakery in Paris have all been delicious with light and flaky layers and delicious buttery flavor. My mom loves the ones with the chocolate centers but I prefer the delicious simplicity of the plain.
Now, on to the meals. Friday we walked over to Notre Dame Cathedral and then on to Berthillion for ice cream for my mom. So many people had said it was a must but she seemed disappointed with her ice cream and didn’t even finish it. However, she’s gone crazy for the gelato at Amorino.
After Bertillion we went to La Rose de France for steak frites (officially pavé de rumsteck, sauce au poivre, frites maison). La Rose de France is an adorable restaurant on the quiet Place Dauphine in the center of the Pont Neuf. The staff was very friendly and helpful, even suggesting a special of the day that I would have ordered if I had not been on a mission for steak frites. The special came with an “American sauce” made from ketchup, white wine and mayonnaise.
The steak and frites were delicious. The waitress served us a side of ketchup as I imagine most Americans request it, but the frites were so tasty on their own that we didn’t need it. When I inquired about the seasoning she explained that the frites were simply salted but the added flavor came from a special variety of potato containing a high level of sugar. The steak was good too, but the focus was on the frites.
We’ve also discovered French salad dressing, which is nothing like the thick, red, bottled stuff found in supermarket aisles in the US. This dressing is a very light simple vinaigrette made from Dijon mustard, extra virgin olive oil and vinegar. Simple and delicious.
Friday’s dinner was at Allard, another suggestion by the hotel. The food was good, but we also enjoyed the company of the surrounding tables. I suppose the bistro is used to American tourists and seated us all in the same area, which turned out to be great fun. It turned out that the couple next to us was staying at the same hotel. They were from New York and around the same age as my mom and had a daughter my age, so there was plenty to talk about. A few minutes later a young couple my age from Miami was seated next to us. It turns out they were in Paris on their honeymoon.
As for the food, we ordered the prix fixe dinner again which was plenty of food at much cheaper prices than the actual menu. I had the escargots for an appetizer and sopped up the sauce made of garlic, parsley and butter with three – yes three – large pieces of baguette.
My main course was grilled salmon with a buerre blanc sauce that came with boiled potatoes. The salmon was overcooked and therefore a little dry but still edible. The buerre blanc was served on the side and was very good; it tasted like a buerre blanc should and didn’t separate. The boiled potatoes were bland but were helped by a squeeze of lemon.
I was completely stuffed by the time dessert came (okay, let’s face it – I was stuffed by the time the salmon came from all the bread with the escargots), but it was included in the prix fixe so why not? I had the chocolate mousse and stupidly ate the whole thing, but it sure was tasty.