(I’m back in French)
*lounging on the pier at our hotel in Cannes*
I could take two hours out of your first day back from a three-day weekend and tell you all about my fantastic two-week vacation in France but a) you don’t have time and b) I don’t want you to hate me
so let’s save us all some time and go with the good stuff….
Below you will find the ten favorite foods I enjoyed while traipsing around one of my favorite countries in the world. And let me tell you, the fun times are definitely over. See I gave myself until today to have some fun and eat whatever I pleased but now….I’m on a strict healthy diet. With 7 weeks to go before my high school reunion I’m kicking wheat to the curb and going back on the gluten-free train for a bit. Be sure to check in every week for gluten-free friendly recipes
But enough about the punishment I am giving myself after 14 days of pure, unabashed gorging and decadence….onto the food!!!
If you find yourself in Paris, this bakery must be at the top of your list. Known and loved throughout the city, Poilane was the only place I HAD to go to while in Paris. The shop I went to in Saint-Germain was a little hard to find but once I found it, it was as if the heavens parted and I had seen the light. Walking in I was overcome with emotion….excitement, extreme hunger, child-like wonder, basically my emotional state was hovering close to a breakdown. With many people in the bakery I hurriedly picked out an apple turnover and a small roll, not knowing if either were exactly what I wanted (for the record…they were EXACTLY what I wanted. I didn’t even get down the block before both were gone!). While paying I noticed their famous “punitions,” in a small basket at the register. These little butter cookies are available for sale in bulk but the bakery lets you grab a few for free to enjoy as you pay and leave…..I went a little overboard and ate five
2) Goose Liver Macaron
I believe the first thing I ate on the trip was a sign of good things to come….while drinking cocktails in the garden of our fabulous hotel (Le Bristol), we were given little bites to snack on. One of them was a divine goose liver macaron. Famed for their delicious sweetness, I never thought one would be so darn tasty when made savory. I studied the bite size revelation and in one second it went down the hatch. The entire moment made me wish my girl Sarah was there to enjoy it with me….her love for foie gras rivals my love for custard.
3) Prosciutto & Melon
On nearly every menu in the country, this dish is so simple and yet it doesn’t taste as good when I have it at home. For one thing, the melons in France are FAR superior to the ones available in the US. I don’t know how, but they are so much sweeter and flavorful. I, no joke, had this dish as a starter five or six times on the trip.
4) Breakfast in Provence
There is nothing like eating a morning meal on the patio of your spacious suite in one of the most beautiful places in the world. As part of our stay, our breakfasts were gratis and could be enjoyed at the hotel restaurant or in our rooms. Needless to say we ate on the patio both mornings. There was nothing fancy about our meal….yogurt with fresh fruit, coffee, fresh fruit juice, cereal and simple scrambled eggs and toast but when served on the patio with a view of the french countryside that seemed to go on for miles…it was pure bliss.
You cannot go to France and NOT get escargot. Covered in garlic, parsley and butter, these dozen little snails were exactly the type of food I thought I would be gorging on the entire time I was in France. Funnily enough, this was the first and last time I saw escargot on a menu during the entire trip. And the restaurant I had them at? La Gloire de mon Pere was one of the most spectacular restaurant scenes and one of the best meals I had in France. I would do almost anything to hang and eat here again. Have a look at this and I bet a big part of you wants to hop on a place right now and drive to Seillans…..
Simply put…we drank more wine in two weeks than I probably have drunk in my lifetime. Every lunch and dinner we ate was accompanied by a bottle or two of rosé. You would think I would need a break from it, but it had the complete opposite effect….keep the rosé coming!
7) Baguette Sandwich
I was starving….literally starving. After a long night out on the town I woke up absolutely famished. Sure, I could have moseyed on down to breakfast at the hotel but what I needed was a sandwich….a big freaking sandwich on a fresh-baked baguette to help soak in the alcohol still sloshing around in my belly. This kind of search required some faith and I was not sure if I would find exactly what I was looking for.
But ten minutes later I was chowing down on a fresh-baked baguette stuffed with lettuce, tomato, prosciutto, and gruyere cheese with a scattering of herbes de provence for the paltry sum of 4 euros. It was no joke the size of my forearm (about 10 inches) and just what I needed. Soon after I took my last bite I sprung from my haze and began to take advantage of the day!
8) Lebanese Pastries in Cannes
The copious amounts of bread and butter began to take a toll as the trip winded down and frankly, I needed a break. In my brief search for the baguette I walked past a Lebanese restaurant that, at 1130am, was packed with diners and sported a line ten to fifteen people deep. So I took a mental note and went about my day.
Of the 14 days only one night did we not have a plan and so I leapt at the chance to eat at Al Charq when I could. With my friend Isaac by my side, we shared a peaceful meal on a quiet side street in Cannes. Our shared meal (a mezze plate with hummus, lamb, chicken, baba ghanoush, tabouli, etc) was good but it was the dessert that made it memorable. Once finished with our plates our server pointed us to a room filled with desserts where, across the street from our table, we could go in and pick out as many treats as we wanted.
As the Willy Wonka of Lebanese desserts led us in I couldn’t help feeling like Violet Beauregarde, but luckily my skin stayed the same color when I got to dessert and I loaded up on a variety of almond, honey and pistachio filled phyllo nibbles. When left to my own devices (say on a buffet line like this scene basically was)…my eyes are almost always bigger than my stomach and I literally bit off a little more than I could chew here. With two beers, a giant mezze plate and an endless supply of Lebanese pastries….our meal came to a paltry $33 euros. Let me tell you for the south of France that is CHEAP!
9) Sole Meunière
Like the escargot… I couldn’t come to France and NOT indulge in this classic French dish. It was crisp, buttery perfection that had only a hint of lemon and deboned for me tableside. For my last meal in France I was gonna go all out and I definitely did….what with the five glasses of wine I had alongside this seriously butter heavy and rich dish. I bid adieu to France with a classic and couldn’t have been happier. Come winter time, I am putting this on my dinner table
10) Mashed Potatoes
Holy hell…..these were the richest, most decadent mashed potatoes I have EVER had in my life. It was basically a bowl of butter with a little bit of potato mixed in and I did not care one bit. Served alongside my sole meunière, it was a duo of decadence. And as much as I wanted to, I simply could not have more than a few bites. But in those few spoonfuls I already started thinking about Thanksgiving and will take a cue from the French and load it up with butter, because let’s face it…EVERYTHING tastes better with butter