Europe 2012: Paris Walking Food Tour – a gourmand’s dream!

So yes, where was I? 😀

Ah, the pastries, the cheeses, the foie gras, the award winning cured sausages and the pate. Now it’s the continuation, where my “exclusive private” Paris Walking Food Tour now progressed to Rue Mouffetard, a few streets away from the St Germaine market/area where shops and shops of gourmet delights flanked both sides of the street.

Europe Trip, Paris (1)

But before that, we continued our gluttony at the St Germaine market; this time with cheeses!

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Cheese is serious business in Europe and the assortment available is stupefying. These cheeses came in sizes capable of knocking you out cold if required. :DD

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It’s difficult to describe them one by one, but I assure you that each and every one of these cheese has its own distinctive flavour and texture. I love my cheeses, and I have given up on those Kraft singles long time ago. My preference goes to older cheeses, as the depth of flavours are more developed but I won’t say no to younger cheeses either.

In KL, I shopped at gourmet supermarkets for my cheeses but the range is no where close to these!

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The one on the top right below is the Comte, a personal favourite of my guide’s. He reckon it’s the BEST in France.

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So of course his “protege” of the day has to sample some of it.

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This food tour at Euro 90 (RM360) includes tasting at some patisseries and shops so over the course of the tour my guide did purchased some baguettes, cheeses, pastries and wines for sampling. Frankly, most shops offers free samples anyways (except for the bread shops & patisseries) so the RM360 paid is mostly for the convenience and knowledge such tours brings.

Another thing about buying cheeses in Europe is that you are allowed to buy from as low as 50-100g. So if I live in Europe, I’ll definitely be buying and sampling different cheeses everyday; unlike in KL where I had to buy a big packaged block from Cold Storage/Jaya Grocer/Ben’s at Publika and struggle to finish it all on my own. Most of the time, I ended up throwing them away, as I like variety and got bored of them before I finish it!

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Then for comparison, he showed me another shop that sells “re-packaged” cheese. This is Fromagerie Veron on Rue Mouffetard, Paris.

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This shop is famous as well, but they do not make their own cheeses but sourced instead the best from around France and Europe and “re-sell” them. Some of the interesting cheeses here comes with added ingredients such as herbs, nuts, peppers and chilli, etc.

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My guide said the Camembert is probably the most famous and the most popular French cheese. Camembert cheese is named after a small village in the Orne department of Lower Normandy.

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Happily for me, he bought a slab of Camembert for sampling! 🙂

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Fromagerie Veron also sells gourmet ingredients such as espelette peppers, foie gras and jams.

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Then my guide asked if I wanted coffee and chortled when I said I don’t drink coffee. I asked for hot chocolate and he said hot choc are for sissies and everyone drinks coffee in Paris! Anyhow I insisted on my hot chocolate and we ended up here.

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Coffee for him, hot chocolate for me and Comte cheese to share! 😀

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Drinking hot chocolate in the sun on the walkway in a cafe in Paris. Now, that’s the Parisian life! :DD

Rebecca saw in paris

Next we visited some churches in the area (but that shall be another post) and then we returned to more gourmet pursuits.

We strolled along Paris alleys…

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…and he even showed me where Ernest Hemingway used to reside.

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Some shops are underground like these wine cellars. It was too early and this shop wasn’t opened yet else I would have gone down to explore!

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I wondered about residences since most of their buildings are several storeys high and the ground level are always shoplots.

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Does anyone resides at the top?” I asked my guide.

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He said yes, and as an example he showed me these entrances to the residences. As you can see below, the residents would enter through the grille gates and there is usually a courtyard inside before the entrances to their quarters. I admit I qdidn’t quite understand how it works exactly but since I do not know any Paris locals, I wasn’t able to see for myself the home of a Parisian. Not this trip anyways.

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We continued strolling and he continued to talk.

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We hit another bustling street which was like a market with plenty of shops and activities.

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People were shopping, music was playing, business is brisk and everyone’s smiling!

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I had a ball; seeing food, food and more food! 😀

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My guide remarked that the seafood here is very fresh as the French are very particular about their ingredients. These crabs below were still alive and will be till they hit the pot.

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Boxes of the sweetest and freshest strawberries were in abundance.

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I was in Europe during the season of white asparagus. These highly valued stalks are really expensive in Malaysia and during this season you’ll see it on “special/featured menus” in Cilantro, Sage and other fine dining restaurants. Naturally it was much cheaper here in Europe.

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This stall was emitting the most delicious smells!

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Not surprising since it was selling roasted -on-the -spot potatoes, pork ribs and chicken.

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I was contemplating buying some but my guide said there will be a few more stops for food later so we ambled along. Then I saw this!

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There was a perpetual queue outside this patisserie and it was easy to see why! After my Melbourne trip last year and now Europe, our Malaysian subways and O ‘Briens and well, sandwiches sold in general are pathetic in comparison.

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Now this is what I call a real pizza!

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The cakes, tarts and pastries were gorgeous!

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Sadly my guide hurried me along. He had realized by now that if he doesn’t, I will be stuck at every bakery. 😛

This was one of the shops that he recommended for olive oils and truffle salt. Oliviers and Co. has boutiques in over 14 countries around the world. Started in 1996 by  two men united around a common passion, the olive tree, they had spent sixteen years of visiting orchards and meeting with producers throughout Provence and the Mediterranean basin, forging a new image of the olive tree.

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The idea grew that, like grapes and wine, the olive tree deserved to have its exceptional vintages recognized.

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They stock olive oils in its purest form as well as flavoured ones. Examples includes herbs, lemon, chilli and so forth.

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The very experienced “olive sommelier” was generous with his ideas and knowledge.

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We spent quite some time here, sampling chocolates (yes, you can take as much as you want from the bowl below), olive oils, balsamic vinegars and vinaigrettes.

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Below: The famous Balsamic Vinegar of Modena.

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Flavoured vinegars.

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Sampling time!

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I sampled 2 different oils and preferred the one from Croatia rather than Greece. The naunces of flavour are subtle but I thought the Croatia one was less “acidic” and gentler on the palate.

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Next, he showed me pairings of the olive oils with some of the flavoured vinegars and balsamic.

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Below: Flavoured balsamic – Hony and Ginger, Figs, Pomegranate, Mango and more.

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Just a tiny drop with the olive oil will do; he demonstrated.
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Hhmm…

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The verdict? It was really good! The drop of flavoured balsamic gave an entire different taste to the olive oil. Such pairings can be fun and useful in creating new dips and dressing for cooking or salads.
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You can help yourself to their free brochures that comes with helpful recipes.

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Other than olive oils,  Oliviers and Co. sells truffles, truffle salt, truffle oils, spreads, jams and even breads!

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Below: Tortas – Sweet biscuits with olive oil (what else??) and aniseed.

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Below: Sea Urchin with Saffron, Tuna with Green Olives and Sardines with Dried Tomatoes. I was most intrigued with “sea urchin with saffron”!

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I did buy 2 bottles of balsamic and 2 cans of olive oils plus 2 small jars of truffle oil. It added much weight to my luggage and I have yet to open them till now! Oh, I’m going to have to do so soon!

Finally we moved on to a bakery. This is my guide’s favourite bakery and he said they sell the best baguette in France.

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As with all Parisian bakeries, walking into one is like walking into a candy shop. Well for me at least it is! 🙂

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As usual I stood gawking at the display of airy puffs, croissants and hard crust loaves.

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The cakes and pies were so tempting…
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Everything is multiply by 4 (1 euro = rm40) so I really had to restrain myself from buying everything on sight.

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Can you see the amount of fruits on each slice of fruit tart? Now that’s what I would call a real fruit tart!

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Sigh, look at all these! I’m so missing Paris now. 🙁

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RM10 for an eclair (Euro 2.40). Earning in ringgit sucks! LOL.

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He grabbed a freshly baked baguette and then we headed to Pierre Champion.  Pierre Champion is a famous house of foie gras in France and their whole foie gras are still prepared following old methods; molded by hand one by one according to knowledge passed from generation to generation.

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Foie gras of all sizes and kinds are their specialty but there are other gourmet items on sale too; such as Confit de Canard, a preserved duck recipe.

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Here was where we finally got to sit sat down, eat an actual meal while sipping champagne.

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I concur with him that this was one of the best baguette in Paris. I had my fair share of baguettes in Paris, The Netherlands and Belgium over the week I was there and this still one still reigned supreme!

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Below: My guide cutting some foie gras pate for me.

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He chose one with a bit of fruits within, which was nice since foie gras is liver-ish bitter.

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On another loaf he spread generous amount of rillete ( a type of pate as well, meat cooked long and slow with plenty of fat then stripped and potted along with their juices/fat) and told me to try it. It was my first time trying rillete but as you know, I’m pretty game when it comes to food. It smelled damn good anyways! :DD

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It was a rather sinful meal but so, so very delicious! I devoured the baguette, foie gras pate, rilletes and washed it all down with half a bottle of champagne. All at about 11am. Such is parisian life huh? 🙂

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I was stuffed beyond words afterwards, as both foie gras and rillete plus a baguette is really mainly fat and carbs. Don’t forget all the cheese, preserved sausages and foie gras I sampled at the St Germaine market earlier too. Thus it’s time for a historical walk, where my guide took me to some churches, a garden and then onto Pierre Herme before we parted for the day. All in another post of course! 😀

And here’s my video – a concise version of my time in Europe! Do watch! 🙂

Wackybecky’s Europe Adventures 16th -23rd May 2012 was made possible thanks to KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Malaysia!
A fun travel prediction app to try –>http://www.travelpredictions.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/KLMMalaysia
Website: http://www.klm.com/travel/my_en/index.htm 

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More of Europe:
The BEST of macarons and croissants in Paris – the legendary Pierre Herme!
The extravagant once in a decade FLORIADE – world’s biggest Horticultural Expo at Venlo, The Netherlands – a must visit!
Smoking weed in Amsterdam – a video.. – You only live once! :DD
PART I – Walking Food Tour in Paris!

NOTE:

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is offering travelers 3 additional weekly flights out of KLIA to Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, its home airport beginning on 29 October 2012 until 30 March 2013.

Part of KLM’s new winter schedule, the additional flights from Kuala Lumpur to Amsterdam depart at 9.35 a.m. every Tuesday,  Thursday and Sunday, arriving at 3.20 p.m. the same day.

The additional winter flights will depart from Amsterdam for Kuala Lumpur every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday at 12.35 p.m. and arrive at 7.35 a.m. the following day.